‘Hoosier Daddy!’ Indiana Coach Tom Allen still the same stand-up guy Rebs remember
Coach Allen addresses New Year’s Six bowl snub, prepares to face Ole Miss in Outback Bowl
Indiana coach Tom Allen has a tough task in the time he must prepare his team for the Outback Bowl against Ole Miss. It is as if he has two opponents to battle, the Rebels and the disappointment of being snubbed for a New Year’s Six bowl invitation.
But you can bet the Hoosier’s head coach will handle the task with the same character for which he was known during his tenure at Ole Miss.
Indiana finished the season 6-1 and ranked seventh in the final Associated Press poll and instead of the Hoosiers, the college football playoff committee chose to send Northwestern to the Citrus Bowl to play Auburn.
To tackle these pre-bowl tasks, Allen, a former assistant coach at Ole Miss from 2012-2014, is putting his focus where it belongs — on his Hoosiers — even when pressed about being somewhat disrespected by the playoff committee that didn’t include Indiana in its top ten at the end of the regular season.
“The reality is that we can’t control some of these things and I’m always going to do things the right way and I am going to show them (his players) how to respond in this kind of situation.”
Indiana head coach Tom Allen
“And that is you respond in the way that reflects the love you have for the men in this room that represent our team that’s how you respond,” Allen continued. “It’s never out of emotion toward somebody else that you can’t control. It’s about the guys on this football team who you play for, who you love and who you truly care about and so we got a chance to be together here and create some awesome memories as a football team in Tampa, Florida and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
That focus is something that can be hard to come by for players who suffered just one loss this season, 42-35 to playoff-bound Ohio State. Allen knows his players cannot be shielded from what they hear from friends, family and on television. Still, he is guiding his team past those inclinations to look back at what could have been instead of what lies ahead.
“Either you don’t blink, or you do blink, either you’ve got earmuffs and blinders on or you don’t,” Allen said.
“You don’t preach those things just when it is convenient for you, you preach those things 24/7 and 365. It’s how you live your life, you have conviction, you have purpose, you have things you live by and circumstances don’t dictate how that plays itself out. To me that’s where this program has a chance to show who we are on a national stage for everybody to watch one more time, how good is this Indiana football team is. But you know what, it doesn’t matter what I say, it matters how this team performs on Jan. 2 in Tampa, Florida.”
Coach Tom Allen
Facing Ole Miss and dealing with adversity
Allen realizes once he gets his team focused, they will have a challenge in Raymond James Stadium against Ole Miss and its high-octane offense.
“A lot of respect for Lane Kiffin and the job he’s done there in the short time and the amount of talent he’s already gotten in Oxford,” Allen said. “A very, very explosive offense; I’ve watched them play a few times this year, I haven’t had a chance to dive into the film yet. But the bottom line is a very, very athletic football team and anytime you play a team from the SEC that’s what you’re going to get.”
Yet before he can get his team’s focus completely on the Rebels, Allen knows the Hoosiers will be looking to him and how he is handling a disappointing result from the regular season.
“When you lead a group of men, the key word is lead, they look to me, they will follow me, they will do what I ask them to do, they will respond the way I respond. They will learn how to handle things the way I believe they should be handled, and I think there’s a certain way to handle those situations and to me this is indicative of how I got to this position.”
Coach Tom Allen
That position has Allen in a role that not only is teaching his players how to deal with adversity, but to use it as motivation. He even confessed he is coaching with a chip on his shoulder this week although it appears it has been there for his entire coaching career.
“It (the playoff committee’s decision)’was explained to me but not necessarily to my satisfaction, but that’s not the point.” Allen said. “This team is a special group, and this team has done everything I’ve asked it to do, so I’m so proud of them. You know and the chance for us to go play in a bowl game with these guys I am not going to let anything take away from that. This group is too special, and they’ve done too many awesome things and they’ve got my absolute respect for what they’ve been through and how they’ve performed on gameday.”
Tom Allen has also earned absolute respect. On Monday, the Big Ten Coach of the Year was named a finalist for the FWAA National Coach of the Year award.
— Jon Blau (@Jon_Blau) December 21, 2020
Ole Miss and Indiana will play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on January 2nd. Kickoff is set for 12:30 pm (ET) and will be broadcast on ABC.