Hoosiers replace Brian Knorr with Tom Allen #iufb

A major shakeup is coming to Indiana’s defense next season.

Brian Knorr is out and Tom Allen is in.

IU announced Saturday that Allen has been named the program’s new defensive coordinator after holding the same position at South Florida last fall. He replaces Knorr, who was in charge of the Indiana defense during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

“We appreciate the contributions Brian made to IU Football and wish him the best,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach, a tremendous person, a strong family man and an awesome teammate. Looking at where we are at as a program, we determined it is time for new defensive leadership as we move into the 2016 season and continue to build our program.”

That change of direction has led to a homecoming for Allen, who has deep ties to the state of Indiana. He was head coach at Ben Davis from 2004 to 2006 and previously served as the Giants’ defensive coordinator from 1998 through 2003. Allen also spent the 1997 season as the defensive coordinator at Marion and earned his master’s degree at IU in 2002.

Allen helped South Florida to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Miami Beach Bowl, while guiding three American Athletic Conference all-league honorees. The Bulls posted the conference’s top scoring defense, allowing only 19.6 points per game in league play.

“I did not know Tom personally, but was aware of his background and reached out to him when we decided to make a change,” Wilson said in a statement. “We made an immediate connection. Tom will bring a ton of energy and strong leadership, and our kids will play hard. This is a positive addition as we continue to take to our program to the next level.”

Indiana’s defense had shown some signs of making needed progress during Knorr’s two seasons with the program. After switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment with his arrival in 2014, the Hoosiers gave up 94 fewer yards per game, six fewer points and 55 fewer rushing yards per contest in Knorr’s first year.

While that progress continued to be felt at times in 2015, Indiana struggled mightily on third-and-long and against the pass. The Hoosiers also gave up a maddening amount of explosive plays — many of them on runs straight through the heart of IU’s defense.

Of the 128 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Indiana’s pass defense ranked No. 127 with 305.7 yards allowed per game. That was an increase of 44.5 yards per contest from the year prior.

Now, it will be up to Allen to find solutions to Indiana’s perennial defensive problems.

This will be Allen’s seventh school at the college level, and his fourth job as a defensive coordinator.

“I am very excited to join Coach Wilson and his staff at Indiana University,” Allen said in a statement. “It is rare to have the opportunity to return home to coach and to be close to family. To do that in the Big Ten is even more special. What Coach Wilson is building and the commitment Mr. Glass has made to the program, coaching staff and facilities is impressive. I am very much looking forward to helping this program continue to grow and develop.”

Through his 4-2-5 scheme, Allen guided a South Florida defense that made 17 interceptions by nine difference players. USF was tied for No. 13 nationally in tackles for loss (7.5 per game), tied for 14th in interceptions and tied for 24th in turnovers gained (25). The Bulls finished fourth in the AAC in total defense with 380.5 yards per game.

Prior to his one season at South Florida, Allen served as linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Ole Miss. In 2011, Allen was the assistant head coach at Arkansas State.


  1. That shouldn’t be hard w this roster and considering we usually have undersized linebackers…I love this hire, love it.

  2. J Pat you are so right. The 4-2-5 not only utilizes a S/LB called a Husky but a Bull which is a LB/DE(think Bandit)and a Rover which is described as a SS who can cover. Should be interesting. His record is very impressive. The winning % of all the teams combined he has been involved with is .777. He is an accomplished LB coach and ST’s coordinator. Hope he brings along some south Florida speed.

  3. As Hoosier Clarion states, hie resume is very impressive. As Knorr’s defense improved in some areas, it digressed in others. Why not make this move? It is obvious that KW sees with his new contract in place, there is still a sense of urgency, good to see! Let’s hope that Allen’s defensive philosophy will make a huge improvement!

  4. Looks to be a potentially great hire. We are starting to assemble defensive athletes of a higher caliber than I can remember. This just might have legs.

  5. I truly didn’t see this coming. Knorr is one and done. Welcome aboard coach Allen. I’m sure the salary increases for the coaching staff have allowed us to close this deal. Good get CKW. BOOM. Go Hoosiers!!!

  6. I think that being willing to upgrade after a single season is a positive sign for IU football. We have had plenty of experience seeing an ineffective coach being given multiple years to install a system. To me, this looks like his approach was evaluated after a single season a deemed to be ineffective.

    I’m a fan.

  7. Real tough being a PUke FB fan with sharks circling a sinking ship. In the last 3 weeks they have lost their OL coach and RB coach to other more successful programs.

  8. I was wondering about this coming change when Coach Wilson was talking about the lack of culture on the defensive side. I hate to see such a quick change especially since so much of the problem this year was inexperienced DBs due to being young and having so many injuries. When things happen with teams I always hold back judgment because I understand we don’t get to see everything that is going on in practice. Coach Knorr as an upgrade at DC but was limited with previous athletes trying to fit in to his system and lack of DB experience. The approach to practice must have been far from what Coach Wilson is wanting in practice. If this is the reason then I look forward to an improved defense that IU desperately needs to compete with the top teams in the Big Ten. We already have an offense that can beat Big Ten teams so if this change brings a defense that can compete in the Big Ten then it is a great move. I trust that Coach Wilson understood the problems coach Knorr was dealing with and saw real problems with running practice. I would suggest that Coach Wilson spend some time with the defense to help instill the “right” approach or make sure the right approach is being taken.

    It is nice to bring in a DC with coach Allen’s experience but Coach Knorr had Wake Forrest at #35 in national rankings so coach Allen must bring a real and good change to our defense. I agree with MikeC that it shows Coach Wilson still is urgent about improving IU and coach Allen needs to show real improvement in our defense.

  9. I also wanted to add that this hiring of Coach Allen shows Coach Wilson’s desire to recruit Indiana players. I hope Coach Allen’s experience as a high school coach at Ben Davis gives IU more of an inroad into the top defensive athletes of the state. Indiana doesn’t produce as many athletes as bigger states but we routinely put out top players that other Power Five teams came in and signed year after year. If IU can get 89% of the top defensive talent in the state IU would have players to be leaders in the Big Ten and the Nation.

  10. Here’s what I am hoping. The IU football braintrust identified this guy as a rising star and felt they needed to pull the trigger while he was available.

    That’s the best case scenario.

  11. Knorr was on thinning ice all season. KW wasn’t pleased with the defense in the out of conference games, he was officially in the doghouse after Rutgers, and very much on the hot seat after Michigan. No way he could survive after the bowl game, and the move to someone else wasn’t a surprise.

  12. I hope Coach Allen is a big success.


    It doesn’t matter what defense they play. IU needs football players.
    I am not surprised at the short memories.

  13. Yes, the exuberance over someone that almost no one had heard of just this morning is a bit irrational. I, too, hope he works out better than did he predecessors, but he’ll need to make huge improvements with a unit that hasn’t been Big Ten ready since Wilson’s arrival.

  14. Let’s be honest, IU’s defense hasn’t been Big Ten ready since the Mallory years.

  15. @ChampKind

    The head of the South Florida site said he was offered the Auburn job. So I can believe him or Champ Kind.

  16. There may not have been an offer but the consensus on multiple Auburn football sites was that he was the primary target for the Tiger DC position. Obviously, Auburn officials will never confirm nor deny this. He was certainly a heavy topic of conversation among the Auburn faithful.

    I have a good friend who played for the Tigers in the Bowden days and he said that Allen was the rumor de jour among many close to the team.

    I suspect we’ll never know for sure but he obviously has a good reputation in south Alabama.

  17. Who needs professional sports writers? The guys that know everything are right here in the Scoop comments section.

  18. Auburn expressed interest, but they didn’t offer it to him. The St. Pete Times and other legitimate sources in and around the USF and Auburn programs have confirmed that. That he was considered by GM is high praise, but they went in another direction. Hope he’s the solution for IU.

  19. v13, This change of DC’s is the result of Wilson spending extended additional time this season with the D during practice, meetings + paying extra attention to what D coaches and players were saying either directly or underlying. I remember in 2 videos of Wilson during the season stating the offensive coaches and players had taken on his demeanor and he was spending more time with the D to see if it was blending in over there. Obviously he found out. Even though Hill left on his own the new hire Caton was brought in to modernize physical analysis of
    the players and bring about change in the weight room. I think both new guys to be high caliber needs identified by Wilson.

  20. The primary target for Auburn was Charles Kelley from Florida State, and he publicly turned it down. They then considered several others before pursuing Kevin Steele from LSU, whom they got (which created the opening filled by Dave Aranda from Wisconsin).

  21. Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill.

    Rumored offers, contacts, blah blah. You guys are arguing over something you have no idea about unless you were in the room or bugged the phones of the parties involved and their agents. This also goes for the sum total of the reasons that Brian Knorr was fired beyond just performance on game day.

    Tom Allen is a great get on paper for the Indiana program. Our program, while improving, is still looking for someone to take on the Herculean task of getting a defense that has ranked at the bottom of the FCS for decades. The man is very accomplished and he has deep ties to the state of Indiana. My hope is that he fits the culture that CKW has developed (while failing at it in the first few years of his tenure), but is established and, most importantly, bought into inside the program.

    Knorr had success where he was prior to Indiana, too. I’m not at practice and film sessions, but it seemed more than anything that Knorr wasn’t the right guy for the culture the Head Coach wanted to create at Indiana. There’s no one way to establish a culture, but consistency IS needed. It is best for both parties to move on once that is determined. Knorr is a smart and creative DC, he’ll be fine elsewhere.

    Welcome to Coach Allen. I think this is a good thing for everyone involved.

  22. Sounds good in the long run. But he runs a 4-2-5 defensive scheme. Sounds like that will be heavy on defensive lineman and d backs and light on linebackers. IU is heavy in linebackers and very weak on d lineman and d backs. Where is he going to get the personnel for next year?

  23. 123 the 4-2-5 can adapt to different type of players not to mention IU’s LB are not traditional LBs so they should fit in. I can see Scales along with other undersized LBs fitting in and the incoming S from JC already was a hybrid payer. When I ran this D against spread teams it was because I had

  24. to finish my post – I had two big Tackles, two normal sized HS DE, two Big ILB, and a bunch of smaller athletic players. I didn’t commit to this D as my philosophy was based on 4-3 principles but I often found I didn’t have the players to stay in the 4-3. I hope Coach Allen can adapt his defense to the players IU has in 2016. It would be great if the D can be a solid group.

  25. This is great news…Start printing the “We’re Back!” t-shirts…..On second thought..

  26. A “great hire” if for no other reason than it seems that the IUFB-powers-that-be are showing a sense of urgency about improving things. Knorr looked good on paper, which is all we can say about Allen. Only two things to say about the talent: First- coaching can make a great difference; Harbaugh improved Meatchicken (thanks, HC) markedly with the talent Hoke left him. Second- I don’t get why anyone would be too worried about the “right kind” of players working in a 4-2-5, 3-4, 4-3, 9-1-1, 7 come 11, or whatever system. Sure, some are big guys and some are fast guys, but there’s about 90 players on a college football team. Is one 6’4″ 260 lb. twenty-year-old OK at outside LB for one system and not OK in another? I’m no expert a la vesuvius13, but it seems that how players “fit in” a system would have a lot to do with players’ ability to understand a system and plain old instinct. I’ve always thought it weird that a lad gets designated as “strong side safety on third and short in road games on even-numbered Saturdays” scarcely after he’s old enough to vote.

  27. Third DC in six seasons….There were repeated claims during the last two DCs that it would take time for each new DC to implement “his system” with “his sort of recruits” to operate within that system….That’s urgency? Many could argue that this type of strategy merely buys the HC more time and excuses.
    Maybe by the year 2021, five Defensive Coordinators into the experiment, 10+ years of damn good salary and two and three Cotton Candy Bowls under his Hoosier Resurrection belt buckle, Wilson can leave behind a slightly below average BIG defense and can leave it for a numbskull to take over the offense.

    A sense of urgency is replacing the head coach. And that’s basically the “urgency” many would have been advocating on Scoop if Wilson loses the season finale to PU…Let’s just say that a ‘Pit and the Pendulum Bowl of Urgency’ would have been waiting for Kevin.

    With the new hire, ‘Win Today’ stays on its 2-year hold cycle while each successive new DC gets up to ‘Win Today’ speed. It’s really quite an ingenious way to milk 10 years of salary out of 2-6 conference records and Tupperware bowls.

  28. correction:

    ….10+ years of damn good salary, two [or] three Cotton Candy Bowls under his Hoosier Resurrection belt buckle, Wilson can leave behind a slightly below average BIG defense [for the new HC numbskull] to take over the offense.

  29. At least more urgency than was shown with Mallory. And yeah, KW likely saved his job with the PU win, and I would have been one of the Scoopsters advocating that had he not won that game. The consensus here at the end of Nov. was that KW had to be “extended now or fired now” (for reasons discussed ad nauseum here) and the last two games were the criterium for that decision. It’s pretty clear that you Lord Spam had other criteria- such as a W-L record nearly identical to Lynch’s and that’s understandable. I’m with you about implementing “his system” with “his recruits;” systems should fit players and not vice versa. This seemed to be the huge problem under Mallory especially, repeatedly and completely blown coverage in the secondary is not a talent problem, it’s a players can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do problem- and that falls on the coaches.

  30. I’m going to say that Knorr was a reluctant hire to begin with. More so a “best Wilson could do at the time” hire. I believe there were reports of a couple of up and coming DCs that turned down the job before Wilson hired Knorr. In that regard, Wilson perhaps was never that heavily invested in Knorr, and probably why he wasn’t given much time. With Wilson’s new contract, it probably enabled him to attract a higher level prospect. I think if given more time, Knorr could have generated some slight progress with defense, but why going after someone with a likely higher ceiling since we had the opportunity to do so.

  31. PB, Like you I remember talk or reading back then 2 of the young DC’s Wilson was after were Barry Odom who was DC at Memphis(now new HC at Mizzou)and Todd Orlando who was at Utah St.(now DC at Houston). If true(and why would Wilson not have been after these 2)they obviously were not interested because of what the future looked like for them at IU. That would have been in January 2014 about the time of the national coaches convention. Back in September 2015 Adam Rittenberg of ESPN wrote an article about 7 up and coming DC’s all ready for a move up. He provided lots of data as to why they were looked at so highly. Odom, Orlando were at the top of the list and Allen was #3 of the 7. The 2 videos I watched of him during practice when he was mic’d up were damn convincing. He should be a very good presence on the IU D side..

  32. HC, glad to hear you could listen to Allen’s D practice; I will try and find the link as I know he was a Ben Davis but never got to hear how he coached practice. I think IU has the players in place or coming in to play a 4-2-5. I just hope Coach Allen knows he cannot sit back and expect IU’s front to control Big Ten offensive OLs. One way to getting around the problem by making the ILBs and the Husky and Bull as part of the stunt package. Stunting allows the DL to attack different gaps and not be a player the offense knows where he will be.

    It is good ESPN rated Allen so high and I sure hope he can pull in many more Hoosier HS players to come to IU and build a beast of a defense along with players from Florida.

  33. I know nothing about Allen or whether he will be an upgrade at DC. But I like two things about this hire. First, I like that Wilson was not, for whatever reason, satisfied with the performance of his Defense. Knorr simply did not deliver enough improvement in his two years, and IU was still very bad on defense during his tenure. Modest improvement over the prior year and last season’s IU team would have won eight or nine games (Rutgers, Michigan and Duke). And secondly, I like that Allen has a history in the State of Indiana. If you’re happy and comfortable living in an area, and you’re familiar with the culture, you tend to have better balance in your life, and that allows you to focus and be more effective in your job. That’s one of the things I loved about Hep. He wanted to be there. He loved the state and Indiana University, and it showed. That enthusiasm can be infectious.

  34. Tom Allen was getting paid $350,000 a year at South Florida. Anyone know what IU is paying him? I’m pleased and surprised that IU could lure a guy making $350,000 away from another school. Wow, we may actually be competing with the big boys soon.

  35. I don’t know what to think at this point. Knorr in his first year shaved off five points and about 100 yards. Heading into 2015 I was hopeful of better production and then Allen gets kicked off the team, so we lose probably our best secondary player and replace him with an inexperienced player. The gaps defensively were definitely experience related in the secondary. Our linebackers were not the fastest and overran plays, or were out of position. The DL was adequate at times but nothing to write home about.

    Now we have another new DC. We’re starting from square one. Everything the players had learned about Knorr’s scheme needs to be forgotten and a new scheme with new terminology will be implemented. We’re not the most physically gifted team defensively, and I don’t believe Allen if he was the DC last year would have fared any better.

    Before I get all hyped about Allen’s numbers as a DC at USF, I’ll remember that it is a different conference with different teams that play a different style of offense. I’m going to wait and see how he does against Big Ten teams before I anoint him as a defensive guru, and one that will have us going 8-4 or 9-3. If I recall correctly some of our east division opponents have some pretty high rated talent on their rosters, an coaches who have proven to get the most out of that talent.

    What will be the collective attitude of IU fans if Allen’s defense produces similar results as Knorr’s? Will the blame be on the scheme and coaching or a lack of talent?

  36. waitingforwins, you bring up some very good points but based on Coach Wilson the problem was Knorr wasn’t creating the attitude that Wilson wants for the defense. Looking at videos that show Allen coaching he does create the attitude that fits with what Wilson wants for the team Here are three videos that show that :

    Allen should also help with recruiting Indiana players and players from the South with his background.

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