Indiana Football: Tom Allen’s last chance to find that LEO magic

CHICAGO, IL - JUL 18: Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen is seen at Big Ten football media days on July 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUL 18: Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen is seen at Big Ten football media days on July 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Following the departure of Kevin Wilson from the Indiana football program in 2016 due to allegations of mistreating injured players, the Hoosiers needed someone who would rally the team, build their morale, and galvanize the fanbase. In stepped Indiana native Tom Allen and his personal belief to Love Everyone.

The Love Everyone, or LEO, concept was exactly what the Hoosiers needed to begin a healing process that was just as much emotional as it was physical after allegations of abuse. The amazing thing was, as the healing continued, so did the winning, which wasn’t something Indiana was used to.

After flirting with .500 in his first two seasons in 2017 and 2018, the Hoosiers broke through in 2019. A young new exciting quarterback named Michael Penix Jr. took over the reins of the offense during that season.

The Hoosiers won all three non-conference games and then defeated the following Big Ten opponents: Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Purdue. That was good enough for Indiana to finish the regular season with a record of 8-4, 5-4 in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers had the Tennessee Volunteers on the ropes in the Gator Bowl but fell 22-23 to finish their season 8-5, which was the best year an Indiana football team had had since 1993 when they went 8-4 under the leadership of Bill Mallory.

After a successful 2019 season, the Indiana football program dealt with personal tragedy within the program as former Hoosier wide receiver Chris Beaty was shot and killed only a few weeks after player Cam Wilson’s mother was murdered. Then COVID struck and the season was in jeopardy. Allen told the IndyStar that it was their LEO mantra that held them together.

"“We talk about this (tragedy) all the time with our guys. It’s not if, it’s when. Obviously, nobody could have predicted these kinds of things are going to happen, and it happens … such serious, heavy things happening one after the next.But that’s why you have to live your life with core values and core principles. There are anchors in your life. This is what we talk about all the time, that when these storms come — not if they come, when they come — you have a rock-solid foundation that cannot be shaken.The thing about young people, they’re forming that foundation, and we’re helping them establish that foundation. Some kids are stronger than others, and some are more fragile than others. And so we as coaches and myself as a leader, we have to, in those young men, where the foundation isn’t as strong, that’s when you gotta be a part of that stabilizing structure. And have the wisdom to know what that looks like, and what can you say, and not say, what they need, and where they can find us.”"

Allen and the Hoosiers weathered the storm, rallied around one another, and their love for each other and everyone. Maybe it was talent. Maybe it was coaching. Maybe it was their LEO ideology. More than likely, it was the perfect storm of all three as the Hoosiers had a magical run in 2020 when the Big 10 finally decided to let the kids play.

Indiana football went 6-1 on the season, losing only to eventual conference champion Ohio State on the road by only one score before suffering a second straight Bowl loss. But they were winning, getting to Bowl games, and moving in the right direction.

Indiana football is going in the wrong direction

But the past two seasons haven’t been good for Allen and the Hoosiers. Indiana has only won 6 times in their past 25 games. That’s a worse winning percentage than Allen had in his first two seasons when he took over from Wilson.

Now the Hoosier faithful are questioning if Allen is the right man for the job. He has earned enough goodwill to be given an opportunity to dig himself out of this most recent hole. Obviously losing Penix Jr. to Washington via the transfer portal and seeing some of his better talent graduate that has come through the Indiana football program in quite a while hasn’t helped in Allen’s efforts to keep the winning momentum.

Related Story. Iowa Football is being held hostage by Kirk Ferentz. light

How many seasons’ will Allen be given before they pull the plug on him and his LEO mantra? It feels like if Allen doesn’t get to 6-6 by the end of next season, the Hoosier Athletic Department will be forced to make a difficult decision. Can Allen rediscover his LEO magic of 2019 and 2020? We will find out very soon as Indiana kicks off their season when Ohio State comes to Bloomington, Indiana on September, 2.