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IU’s Famous Free-Throw Diversion

Students play head games with those giant cutout faces.

Some schools’ student sections go all out in the name of free-throw diversion. Waving arms, jumping as one, a man wearing next to nothing (see Duke University’s “Speedo Guy”)—not much is off limits.

And then there are the giant heads in Assembly Hall’s Crimson Guard.

Credit largely goes to San Diego State University for starting the trend about 10 years ago. When Tom Crean was coach at Marquette, its student section adopted the tactic as well. Crean brought it with him to IU, and it’s safe to say students have fully embraced it.

About 40 heads currently make up this season’s selection, says Mark Dowell, associate director of marketing design services for the IU athletics department. That number is expected to grow as the season progresses. The marketing department keeps a list of people to add to the mix, mostly recognizable pop-culture figures. Once that's decided, faces are printed out and glued on thick, Styrofoam-like boards.

Although they tend to get a little beat up, the faces usually last the entire season, Dowell says. Interns help distribute the cutouts to enthusiastic students at the start of each half. They also keep an eye on them after the game to prevent any face-napping attempts.

In previous seasons, fans have hoisted up the likenesses of Steve Urkel, Snooki, Shrek, Dick Vitale, Richard Simmons, Subway Jared (an IU alum), Harry Potter, and Bob Knight, among many others. 

Although cutouts of former IU players' visages are usually quick to be grabbed, this season’s most popular so far is none other than Honey Boo Boo.

“That’s the big one people want this year,” Dowell says.

Photo via The Herald-TImes