Saturday, August 23, 2003

QB LoVecchio finds new life with Hoosiers



The Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - His apartment's broken windows and furniture tell the story.

Indiana's Matt LoVecchio has a strong arm, understanding friends and a love for the game - no matter the consequences.

"He's broken so many windows and things (tossing around the football)," roommate and IU safety Joe Gonzalez said, laughing. "We have garbage bags on the windows."

LoVecchio hasn't changed much since escaping the glare of Notre Dame. Although he's no longer the quarterback some hoped would bring the Fighting Irish another national championship, he still finds himself in the spotlight as he tries to jump-start his career with the Hoosiers.

"Being there was such an honor," LoVecchio said of South Bend. "But I love football so much that I was willing to give up all that exposure to keep playing."

LoVecchio won his first seven starts as a freshman for Notre Dame, threw only one interception in 125 passes, had a passer rating of 151.7 and led the Irish to their biggest bowl, the Fiesta, in five years.

Then came a 41-9 loss to Oregon State, and everything soured.

LoVecchio returned the next season as a starter, but some questioned his skills.

With the offense sputtering and Notre Dame facing the possibility of an 0-3 start for the first time in school history, LoVecchio was benched in favor of another sophomore, Carlyle Holiday.

"When you win football games, it's a place you want to be," he said of Notre Dame. "But it's a place you don't want to be when you're losing games."

When coach Tyrone Willingham opted to start Holiday in the spring of 2002, LoVecchio announced he was transferring. Critics questioned his competitiveness and said he wasn't a good fit in Willingham's system.

A month later, he decided to join the Hoosiers.

LoVecchio has never spoken ill of Notre Dame and says he has no regrets about going there or leaving.

If anyone can relate to LoVecchio's transition, it's Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo, who played on Notre Dame's 1973 national championship team.

"Any transfer situation is difficult, but the way you portray it maybe intensifies it," DiNardo said. "I see an experienced guy with a lot of poise, with a good arm, who's aware and who's highly motivated."

LoVecchio's back at starting quarterback, albeit at a very different kind of school. He is the only Indiana player with bowl experience. He is the leader of a team that has not had a winning season since 1993, hasn't won a conference title since 1967 and has finished in the Big Ten's top three only seven times since 1900.

LoVecchio intends to change the Hoosiers' fortunes and lead them to their first bowl since 1993, and the Hoosiers are convinced he will get the job done.

Wide receiver Glenn Johnson believes LoVecchio's a combination of two other Indiana quarterbacks - Gibran Hamdan's strong arm and Antwaan Randle El's mobility. DiNardo said he's a winner, and Gonzalez believes he was "born to be a quarterback."

Even if his apartment takes the hit.

"I'd say he's broken five or six window panes in a year," Gonzalez said. "But that's just Matt. He's always about football."

IU's 2003 schedule

DateOpponentTime
Aug. 30at ConnecticutNoon
Sept. 6at Washington3 p.m.
Sept. 13Indiana State7 p.m.
Sept. 20Kentucky5 p.m.
Sept. 27at MichiganTBA
Oct. 4at Michigan St. (TV TBA)Noon
Oct. 11Northwestern2 p.m.
Oct. 25Ohio StateTBA
Nov. 1at MinnesotaTBA
Nov. 8IllinoisTBA
Nov. 15at Penn St.TBA
Nov. 22PurdueTBA
All times Eastern.




FRIDAY'S PREP FOOTBALL
Mason 30, Lakota West 6
Middletown 48, Withrow 0
McNicholas 38, Turpin 29
Indian Hill 13, Ross 0
Roundup of Friday night's other prep football games
Photo Galleries: Mason/LWest | Midd/Withrow | McNick/Turpin
Scores, how poll teams fared

OTHER PREP SPORTS HEADLINES
Crosstown Showdown: Anderson puts win streak on line
St. Ursula tops national poll; Ursuline defends state title
Cautious approach to hot-weather practices pays off
Friday's results
Prep sports schedule

REDS
Reds 4, Astros 3
A reeling club loses its leader
Graves will return to bullpen

BASEBALL NOTES, ROUNDUPS
Oakland's Mulder has fracture in right hip
NL: Pujols plays, but hitting streak ends
AL: Orioles end Yankees' seven-game win streak

BENGALS
Thornton seeks his own identity
Ex-Bears Frazier, Fisher to clash as coaches

NFL
Dallas' QB saga to end next week
Bettis in unfamiliar spot on Pittsburgh's bench
Cardinals 27, Bears 17
Dolphins 30, Falcons 21
Vikings 21, Raiders 6
Patriots 24, Eagles 12

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Clarett suspended indefinitely
No. 7 Kansas State set to open vs. Cal
QB LoVecchio finds new life with Hoosiers
Husker facing 21 days in jail

MOTOR SPORTS
Gordon wins pole at Bristol
Helton is happy with current job
Tracy misses Molson pole

TENNIS
Williams sisters both on sidelines

GOLF
Toms, Riley atop NEC

HOCKEY
ECHL players announce strike

BASKETBALL
Dennehy's dad sues Baylor

ON THE AIR
This weekend's sports on TV, radio