Hoosiers hope to have DeBoer for bowl

Kalen DeBoer is officially the next head coach at Fresno State, but Indiana coach Tom Allen hopes to have his former coordinator under his wing for one more game.

“Our goal, we’ve talked, is for him to call the offense during the bowl game,” Allen said Wednesday. “That’s the intent, for us to make that work. Things we have to work through to get to that point. We’ve talked to both administrations with that, trying to make sure we can coordinate that, do our best to allow him to do the job he needs to do there, also be able to finish strong here.

“It’s been a special season. He wants to finish that out.”

DeBoer, who came over from Fresno State to be IU’s offensive coordinator in 2019, was announced as the Bulldogs next head coach Tuesday, replacing Jeff Tedford.

Of course, IU will face Tennessee in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Jan. 2. While it’s likely DeBoer wants to hit the ground running in his new job, there is a recruiting dead period currently, which lessens the immediate burden.

DeBoer’s scheme and play-calling have been a huge factor in the Hoosiers’ 8-4 season, their best win total since 1993. 

“You have success at a high level, people are going to want your guys,” Allen said. “That’s a compliment to what you’re doing. We talked about that to our recruits, guys that hadn’t signed yet, but getting ready to sign. I don’t think any one of them wavered. We made those phone calls, made sure they heard from us, knew they were committed.”

As far as the future of the offense, Allen wants to keep it as consistent with DeBoer’s current scheme as possible. Whether that means promoting from within or bringing in a coordinator with a similar scheme remains to be seen.

Allen doesn’t want his players grappling with a third offense in as many years.

“We do have some guys on staff that can do a great job,” Allen said of a possible internal candidate for offensive coordinator. “At the same time, to me, it’s more about being able to be consistent conceptually, that we don’t have dramatic changes.”

Allen was asked if, following DeBoer’s success at IU, he was getting more inquiries from coaches interested in the open offensive coordinator job.

He answered in the affirmative.

“My phone is blowing up, yes. It was the minute it got announced,” Allen said, smiling. “So that’s accurate.”

Not done yet?

In terms of recruiting, IU’s 18 signees from Wednesday leave only a couple of slots open.

With that being the case, Allen said the Hoosiers can be selective about who they pursue.

“I would say definitely looking for a rush end, a priority for us, to continue and pursue that position,” Allen said. “I would say best available on offense. That would be the way I would describe that.”

At defensive end, one known target is four-star prospect Jason Harris out of Arizona. There is plenty of competition for the 6-foot-7, 220-pound specimen, including Colorado, Arizona, and UCLA, among others.

Harris is scheduled to make his commitment the day of IU’s bowl game, Jan. 2, at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Coming early

Allen wasn’t specific on exact names, but he said it’s possible nine of the Hoosiers’ signees could be in position to join the program midyear.

That would be a record for Allen’s tenure.

“I think that opportunity, (left tackle) Matt Bedford would be an example of that, came midyear a year ago. It was the difference in him being ready when called upon to be able to play,” Allen said. “Probably wouldn’t have been ready had he not had that opportunity.”

That nine number likely includes graduate transfer Dylan Powell and junior college addition Luke Haggard, both offensive linemen, who are coming from other institutions.

But several 2020 recruits could enroll early, as well. Signees who have previously expressed a desire to arrive midyear include offensive tackle Luke Wiginton, running back Tim Baldwin Jr., defensive tackle Damarjhe Lewis, defensive end Caleb Murphy, linebacker Ty Wise, quarterback Dexter Williams, and center Cameron Knight.

Wiginton and Haggard, in particular, could benefit from a strength and conditioning program. Haggard, a JUCO sophomore, stands 6-7, 265 pounds, while Wiginton is a 6-5, 285-pound offensive tackle.

“Basically you want to recruit the things that you can’t change,” Allen said. “They’re not going to usually get much taller once you get them here.”

Wise, who hails from Carmel, could be in Bloomington especially early. The plan is for the 220-pound linebacker to participate in three bowl practices before the Hoosiers head off to Jacksonville.

He arrives this weekend.

“I think the biggest thing is just the familiarity, the routine,” Allen said. “He’s going to sit in the meetings. He’s probably not even going to go full pads. He’ll be limited. Have a helmet on. … Not just going to throw him in there.

“He’s super excited to be in the meetings, be in the practice, be a part of it, get a chance to hang out with your teammates, be in the locker room. Pretty cool. He’s a kid that just loves the opportunity he’s been given here. Very appreciative of it. He’ll maximize it.”


  1. I hope DeBoer can do that and I appreciate his willingness to call the plays in the Bowl game. But I’m surprised that he’s going to have the time to do it.

    The benefit of recruiting guys who are good students is that they can enroll early and get a head start in their development. Wow, to have nine guys enroll in January and begin the S&C program is excellent.

  2. When Bill Frieder took job at Arizona State, Bo Schembechler stated that only a Michigan man will coach the Wolverines….and immediately appointed Steve Fisher and the Wolverines to win the NCAA March Madness tournament.

  3. As long as the concepts,plays,and formations remain the same they should be fine the real question?is there a guy on staff he trust to call plays going forward

    1. Who’s offense is it? Who brought it to IUFB? This Gator Bowl is no time for experimenting if there is no need. That would be silly. I much rather have a preoccupied DeBoer up in the box than a rookie who has never before called plays in even a Jr. High game. Coach Allen knows the right from wrong.

  4. It tells assistants that they are inadequate. When might they have a chance to be promoted from within rather than going elsewhere. Another problem solving strategy could have been used demonstrating strength of rest of coaching staff; especially on offensive side of ball even if responsibility is divided. Yes. It’s like DeBoer doing a favor and in reality how much will he 100% be into it no matter how hard he tries with his future with Fresno hanging over his head. Balancing act and scheme comparable to husband and wife sleeping together as they go through a compatible loving divorce.

  5. Fisher and Illinois comparison is again Hoosier excuses for bad decisions. The time Bo appointed Fisher, he was on Michigan staff.

  6. Baldwin, the RB from VA, and Boyd, the safety from TX, are both 2 Stars. But I see them as immediate contributors. Recruiting rankings are not rocket science. We shall see.

  7. Anybody want to try to explain why Purdue’s last three recruiting classes were ranked higher than IU’s last three recruiting classes? It’s not good enough to just point your finger at the data and say, “see, see, I told you!” Why is it happening? There’s got to be an explanation.

    I have my hypothesis, but would love to hear others.

    1. Po,
      I thought about this and am beginning to wonder if the IU degree programs offered might have something to do with IUFB difficulties. I know there are many schools who offer similar academic pursuits to IU, but I wonder who IU might be competing with for the athletic talent? I don’t believe we can blame it on academic standards, otherwise the Northwestern’s and Stanford’s of the football would have never been able to compete. It may be there are a lot of schools competing for the talent pie in a particular academic segment, and those with the richest traditions have more leverage. Obviously, nfl aspirations also play a role in this as well.

  8. Tradition. Not that Purdue is great. Rather, IU lacks a solid tradition.
    Winsipedia stats are quite telling regarding history of both programs.
    Of course leadership, coaching, organization, focus, priorities which create perceptions and self image that leads to more exciting seasons with more and bigger wins which leads to loyal fans which creates better attendance which leads to recruits looking at Purdue as a step above IU program. Purdue has been known as a cradle for QBs since Len Dawson and often has a coach that are really good with quarterbacks. At times they have stingy defenses. These combinations have made for some Purdue big wins that IU has always lacked.

    1. t, you are right about the traditions. Also the classes are set in most cases by the previous season that players look at when choosing a school. If IU wins the bowl game it could go a long way to bringing in the better recruits to sign in the last few spots for this class.

  9. Not sure if it makes a difference for football….Both Purdue basketball arena and football stadium locations are right on campus within walking distance of student living areas. Assembly Hall (no issue because basketball has always gotten sale out attendance for big games) and Memorial stadium require transportation for most students so there could be a psychological connection for Purdue and a psychological disconnection for IU football especially if it’s not more of a traditional winning program.

  10. Podunker says:
    December 19, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Anybody want to try to explain why Purdue’s last three recruiting classes were ranked higher than IU’s last three recruiting classes?

    Purdue is still thought of as more a football school than IU….They’ve scheduled ND in the past…They’ve had more ‘Hall of Fame’ qb’s and placed more high caliber quarterbacks into the NFL in their history(as mentioned by ‘t’).
    Closer to two very large metro areas…Only 45 minutes to Indianapolis…and about 2 hrs north to Chicago. Less isolated.

    All the above adds to more exposure…(prominent and notable quarterbacks, intermittent scheduling against a traditional powerhouse in ND and close to big city markets).

    Then throw in our notorious losing history in football (without any real proof that this season may be an anomaly for what is still a very untested/unproven head coach with no major ‘breakthrough’ wins against a premier conference or non-conference football program).

    Throw all the money in the world at it…Fact remains, Bloomington is still fairly isolated from major metro areas. Football takes exponentially larger rosters and depth than basketball. Lure a couple top quality basketball players or hicks from French Lick..or New Castle…or Washington, IN…and, suddenly, you already have the building blocks of a great team with one or two recruits.

    And then you have all those quality surrounding football programs sucking up the Midwest…Inconsequential places like OSU and Michigan….and ND.

    IU Football has and will always be an uphill battle to sustain any meaningful relevancy amongst the top conference and national participants.

    Is what it is…Fix Hoops first. Give the IU fans something of a sport we can enjoy to beat the best. A basketball rebuild should be much more natural and faster given all the variables fighting against football in Bloomington ever truly ‘Rising’ in the BigTen East.

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