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Mourouzis to miss first DePauw and Wabash Monon Bell game since 1980

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sharing memories of several decades in coaching, retired DePauw football coach Nick Mourouzis (right) converses with current Tiger interim coach Scott Srnka at a Friday luncheon. Mourouzis will miss his first Monon Bell Classic since 1980 today while attending a reunion of the 1967 Indiana University Big Ten championship team, on which he coached the defensive backs.
(Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN) [Order this photo]
DePauw fans should brace themselves for the unthinkable to happen this afternoon.

Retired Tiger coach Nick Mourouzis, a staple on the sideline of the Monon Bell Classic for 31 years, will be wearing red on the day of the big game.

It won't be the scarlet of bitter rival Wabash College, but the deeper crimson of Indiana University, where Mourouzis spent eight years as an assistant to John Pont.

Pont's "Cardiac Kids" pulled off a minor miracle 45 years ago, going 9-1 in 1967, sending the Hoosiers to their only Rose Bowl berth in school history.

Forty-five years later, a reunion of that team is causing another minor miracle -- keeping Coach Nick away from the Bell game.

"This is the only reason I'd miss a Bell game," Mourouzis said. "It's the type of thing I have to go to."

The coach, who went 11-11-1 in the battle for the Bell during 23 seasons at the helm in Greencastle, has been to each game since his retirement. That's 26 percent of the games played in the oldest rivalry west of the Alleghenies.

DePauw players still know him by name, as Mourouzis remains a fixture around the athletic complex. It takes a special occasion to keep him away from the game.

But the coach pointed out that the fraternity of men associated with Indiana's Rose Bowl team is shrinking. Pont, an assistant coach, a coach's wife, an equipment manager and even one player have passed away since the 40th reunion in 2007.

"I'm 75 and next time I'll be 80," Mourouzis said. "I may not be there for the 50th reunion."

Following an informal get-together Friday evening, the 1967 IU team will be honored at halftime of the Hoosiers' noon game with Wisconsin. A dinner is planned for this evening.

Although the season ended with a 14-3 Rose Bowl loss to O.J. Simpson and the USC Trojans, it remains a special time in Indiana lore.

On Friday afternoon, Mourouzis recalled one mishap from a long Simpson run.

"I had one defensive back who missed tackles on O.J. twice on the same play," the coach said with a laugh.

Even 40 years after leaving IU, Mourouzis keeps an eye on the football team. In spite of a 4-5 record, a win Saturday puts the Hoosiers in the driver's seat of the Big Ten Leaders Division.

"If they, theoretically, beat Wisconsin, they could play in the Big 10 Championship and have a chance to get back to the Rose Bowl," Mourouzis said.

It's a long shot to be sure, but the ever-positive coach will be in Bloomington cheering for it this afternoon, just as he'll be cheering for another upset from afar as his Tigers battle the Little Giants in Crawfordsville.

The 2-7 Tigers battle the 7-2 Little Giants at 1:07 p.m. at Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

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Coach Nick is one of a kind....a very special person.

-- Posted by foxtrotter on Sat, Nov 10, 2012, at 7:31 AM

Coach Nick is a person everyone in Putnam County should know. His positive attitude is an inspiration to everyone.

-- Posted by Lookout on Sat, Nov 10, 2012, at 8:27 AM

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