Disclaimer: If you suffer from sports depression, you may not want to read this article.  It will bring up moments/memories that are extremely painful for the common Indiana sports fan.

Four years ago last night, I was sitting on my couch watching Purdue and Minnesota in an important late-season Big Ten game at The Barn.  Robbie Hummel was the key cog of a Purdue team that had shot up to #3 in the national polls and was riding a nine-game winning streak heading into that game.  Championship aspirations, and the program's first Final Four berth in thirty years, were dashed when Hummel crumpled to the ground that night in the first half. His torn ACL cost him the rest of 2010, and a re-injury in the preseason took him out of the equation for 2011. Purdue, a potential Final Four team in both seasons, ended up losing in the Sweet 16 and the Round of 32 in the next two Marches without Hummel on the floor.

That memorable (in a bad way) occassion, had me thinking about other team-altering moments in recent Indiana sports' history.  Here is a list I compiled for my lifetime:

1) The Brawl (2004)

This is a no-brainer.  The Pacers, who had led the East with a franchise-record 61 wins in 2004, were considered favorites to come out of the conference in the 2004-05 season.  They were cruising towards a road win over fellow contender Detroit on that fateful November night in 2004 when all hell broke loose (I don't think I need to get into the details of what happened).  Lengthy suspensions gutted the core of the team, and despite a respectable Conference Semifinals showing in the playoffs, the Pacers lost whatever shot they had at the franchise's first NBA championship.  It was Reggie Miller's final season, and started a six-year drought in which the Pacers didn't win a playoff series from 2006 through 2011.

2) Peyton Manning's neck "procedures" (2011)

Like The Brawl, this was an incident that didn't happen during actual play on the field/court.  The hammer dropped on Labor Day Weekend - about a week from the start of the 2011 season - when it was announced that Manning would be out indefinitely after a third neck procedure.  The Colts crashed and burned with a carousel of inept quarterbacks (Collins, Painter, Orvlovsky) and went 2-14.  It's one of only two seasons in the last fifteen years (2001 was the other) that the Colts had less than ten wins.

3) Indiana hires Davis instead of opening up the job after Bob Knight's firing (2000-01)

Indiana hadn't made the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 1994, but still wasn't too far removed from "elite" status on the college basketball landscape when they finally canned Knight in September of 2000. They hired assistant Mike Davis on an interim basis for the 2000-01 season, after most of the players threatened to transfer if he was not promoted.  IU finished fourth in the Big Ten that year, and went all the way to the Big Ten Tournament finals (to this day, it's the farthest they've ever advanced in the event), but were beaten by 13-seed Kent State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Davis was given the full-time gig shortly thereafter.  Rick Pitino filled the Louisville vacancy five days after Indiana's season-ending upset loss.  Thad Matta took the Xavier job that Spring, too.  Maybe those guys don't take the job at IU - there's no way of knowing for sure.  However, the Hoosiers never gave themselves a shot at several high-profile coaches who were on the market and who have brought their programs far more success than Indiana has enjoyed in the last decade-plus.

You can also lump in the subsequent Kelvin Sampson hiring in here, too.  I'm not sure who IU would've gotten in 2006, but it's unlikely anyone (Bruce Pearl?) could've brought them the program-crippling sanctions from the NCAA that Sampson did.  

4) Robbie Hummel's ACL tear(s) (2010)

See above.  In my opinion, it cost Purdue a Final Four spot in 2010 and if neither knee injury happened, imagine how good that 2011 squad with a trio of seniors in Hummel, E'Twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson would've been?  Even without him, that '10-11 team went 14-4 in the Big Ten and earned a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

5) Alan Henderson's knee injury (1993)

Sophomore Alan Henderson was a big part of an Indiana team that spent most of the 1992-93 season atop the national polls.  Henderson earned All-Big Ten third team honors in helping the Hoosiers run through the Big Ten at a near-perfect 17-1.  Their only loss was at Ohio State, four days after his knee injury in a late February practice. Indiana, who also upended the Fab Five twice (the preseason #1 team) that season, was never the same once Henderson went down. They did advance to the Elite 8 as a top seed that March, but were eliminated by Kansas.  Henderson played in that game, but was a non-factor, scoring zero points on just one missed shot attempt.  Along with the 2002 run to the title game, and last year's #1 ranking, it's one of just three times in the last two decades that Indiana has had a realistic NCAA Championship shot.

Others:

6) Kyle Orton's fumble (2004) - Purdue was a perfect 5-0, ranked 5th nationally, and even had ESPN's College Gameday in town for their primetime matchup with fellow unbeaten Wisconsin.  Leading by three late in the fourth quarter, Orton fumbled after reaching the First Down marker on a third-down bootleg.  The Badgers scooped it up, and the rest is history.  Purdue finished with losses in five of their final seven, and Joe Tiller's most-talented team finished a disappointing 7-5.  The program has never really recovered, going 50-68 since that fumble.

7) Tayshaun Prince's block of Reggie Miller (2004) - the Pacers were the #1 seed in the East, and gunning for a 2-0 series lead over the Pistons when the block happened late in Game 2.  Detroit won that game, the series, and shocked the three-time defending champion Lakers in five games in the NBA Finals.  The play didn't have the long-term effect that The Brawl did, but it was the team's final deep postseason run of the Reggie Miller era.

8) Nick Harper's stabbing (2005) - During a domestic dispute on the eve of the Colts' Divisional Playoff game with Pittsburgh, Harper was stabbed in the leg by his wife.  He still suited up and played, but may have been slowed down by the injury on a game-changing play.  After recovering a Jerome Bettis fumble at the goalline, Harper was tripped up by Ben Roethlisberger.  Fans have long speculated that the stabbing injury prevented Harper from cutting back on the return. The Colts missed a game-tying field goal on the drive, and suffered one of the worst defeats in their Indianapolis history.

Honorable mention: Tom Crean drawing Syracuse's zone defense in the Sweet 16 (2013), Dwight Freeney's ankle (2009), Dwight Freeney's foot (2007), The Jeff George trade (1990), Glenn Robinson's bad back (1994), Rick Greenspan's birth (date unknown).

DS