Indiana has not been a launching pad for football coaches in a long time, unless launching them into career graves counts.
Many of the coaches at Indiana over the last half century ended their careers as a head coach after being unable to build success in Bloomington.
When athletic director Fred Glass mentioned his next major investment would be an extension for current coach Tom Allen, fans weren’t sure they heard him correctly.
Even after beginning this season with a 7-2 record, it was still a tough sell. Fans who watched IU slog through a mostly forgettable if not regrettable quarter century of football found the concept of paying Allen like a competitive Big 10 coach wacky.
Not anymore. Not after the reports Allen might be the target of a college football blue blood.
Florida State coach Willie Taggert was fired yesterday, and one of the first names mentioned as a potential replacement was Tom Allen. So the coach many alums felt was the wrong guy until a month ago might be the first IU coach launched into a better position since Sam Wyche.
Wyche replaced Lee Corso for only one season in 1983. The results (3-8) were mediocre, but Wyche caught the eye of the Cincinnati Bengals with his innovative offense. They hired him and went to a Super Bowl after the 1988 season.
Indiana fans just got used to not thinking of Allen as a high school coach, so the notion he might bounce to Florida State for $5-million or more per year is difficult to fathom. If you saw people in IU gear repeatedly pinching themselves today and wincing, Allen’s new found status as a coveted coach was the reason.
Purdue had a similar problem during the past two offseasons as Jeff Brohm was pursued by Tennessee and Louisville. Those negotiations forced Purdue to crack open their check books twice. In the first extension, the Boilermakers ponied up to the tune of seven-years, $29M. When Brohm considered Louisville a little less than one year ago, the ante was raised to $36.8M over seven years.
It’s unlikely Brohm goes to that well again as the Boilermakers are 3-6 this season and unlikely to go to a bowl.
Allen is going to get paid handsomely if Indiana doesn’t win any of their remaining three games. Banking seven wins shows growth – the kind of growth that’s as rare as tiger sharks in the Jordan River, the kind of growth that smart ADs reward.
If Indiana wins one more regular season game and adds a bowl win, they will post nine wins for the third time in program history. The other two were in 1945 and 1967. If they win two of their remaining three regular season games and a bowl, the Hoosiers will win 10 for the first time ever.
That’s life with Indiana Football. A couple of wins and fans go from wondering who might be the next coach after Allen is fired to pondering what Indiana Football can be if Glass finds a way to keep him from running to Florida State.