The Long Overdue Departure of Tom Allen: Assessing Indiana Football’s Future

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Rose Bythrow/Indiana Athletics

Yesterday, the news broke that after seven seasons, Tom Allen was relieved of his duties as the head coach of Indiana University football. While this decision may have come as a surprise to some, a closer look at Allen’s tenure reveals that the move was long overdue.

Tom Allen’s time at Indiana concluded with a record of 33-49 (18-43 in the Big Ten), a far cry from the initial promise he showed when he took over as head coach. The 2019 and 2020 campaigns created an illusion of a legitimate competitor in the Big Ten East, but this success was precarious at best. The Hoosiers heavily relied on the perfect storm of a healthy Michael Penix Jr., the coaching prowess of Offensive Coordinator Kalen DeBoer, and the anomalies of the 2020 season.

The departure of DeBoer and the subsequent decline in performance highlighted the fragility of Indiana’s success. In 2021, without the key factors that contributed to their previous success, the Hoosiers faced a dismal 2-10 record, failing to secure a single conference win. The decline continued with a 4-8 record in 2022 and a 3-9 record to close out the current season.

Kalen DeBoer’s success post-Indiana, leading Fresno State to a winning record and now heading the Washington Huskies with an undefeated record, underscores Indiana’s misjudgment. The extension offered to Allen in 2020 was premature, as the athletic department failed to recognize the pivotal role played by DeBoer in the team’s success.

Looking ahead, Indiana must make strategic decisions to rebuild the football program. The obvious start, a new head coach, and I believe Kane Womack is the perfect candidate. Womack, currently at South Alabama, is on an upward trajectory in his coaching career on pace and heading to an SEC school in the near future. But he’ll need to prove himself at a bigger school to be able to get a job at an SEC school. However, his potential is evident and his current salary is a fraction of what Indiana is offering so there is definitely incentive to make the move.

However, changing the head coach alone is not enough. Indiana must demonstrate a genuine commitment to football by investing more in the program. The newly renovated locker room is a good start, but more funds need to be dedicated to the upgrading of the indoor football-only training and practice facility. This move is essential to attract top-tier coaching talent and ensure the sustained success of the football program.

While the financial commitment may seem steep, Indiana has an opportunity to leverage the substantial revenue from the Big Ten’s new media deal. This investment is not just about the football program; it’s about positioning Indiana as a force to be reckoned with in collegiate athletics.

As Indiana University enters a new era for its football program, the departure of Tom Allen serves as a necessary step toward rebuilding and redefining success. The decision to hire Kane Womack and invest in facilities would be a commitment to long-term growth. However, the journey ahead prompts a critical question: Will Indiana seize this opportunity to reshape its football identity, or will it be a mere transition without a transformative impact?

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