Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski interviews IU’s Tom Allen, says ‘I want to damn play for you’

Midway through Indiana coach Tom Allen’s appearance on Mike Krzyzewski’s radio show “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K,” the legendary head of Duke men’s basketball made quite a statement.

“Hey, Tom, we’ve been on for about 10 minutes,” Krzyzewski said, “I want to damn play for you.”

IU’s football coach, who has the Hoosiers at 5-1 and ranked No. 10 in the country, made an impression on Krzyzewski during an appearance that aired Thursday night on Sirius XM’s ESPNU channel.

Of course, Krzyzewski has a connection to IU. He played point guard at Army with former IU basketball coaching legend Bob Knight, and Krzyzewski then spent a year at IU as a graduate assistant under his former head coach.

“I’m an MBA dropout from Indiana,” Krzyzewski told Allen. “I went one year, was doing well, but got the head job at Army.”

Krzyzewski, who went on to win 1,158 games as a head coach, had nothing but kind words for Allen. He peppered Allen with praise for succeeding at a school known for its basketball, and Krzyzewski asked Allen how he did it.

Allen shared a story from his first season at IU, when he asked players to anonymously write on postcards what they thought the Hoosiers’ record would be and who they’d lose to that season.

“I had everyone pass them up, I started flipping through them,” Allen said. “I said ‘OK fellas, when we go to play Michigan State, all you guys that put down Michigan State as a team we are going to lose to, don’t show up. Stay in your dorm room, stay in your apartment. You don’t believe.

“I flipped through a couple more. I didn’t have to do that very long, they go the point. I said ‘Fellas, I want a football team and I want a coaching staff that believes. Because if you don’t believe, we don’t got a chance. That’s how it started.”

Krzyzewski started laughing, “What a great thing, that’s a great, great — that’s so damn good. That’s so good.”

Krzyzewski and Allen discussed several other topics, including the health of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and linebacker Thomas Allen. The Hoosiers’ head coach said Penix is still figuring out when he will have surgery for his second torn ACL. Allen’s son, Thomas, had surgery and has a plate and six screws in his hip.

“But he’s going to play again. He’s a tough, tough nut,” Tom Allen said. “He’s beginning the road to recovery. But it’s been a rough few weeks for our program.”

In another segment, Allen also disclosed that he would have went for two points if IU had somehow scored another touchdown in a 42-35 loss at Ohio State, like he did in the overtime win over Penn State in the opener.

Krzyzewski then asked Allen about his recruiting philosophy, commending him for going after higher-profile players. In the 2021 class, the Hoosiers currently have two four-star players committed, quarterback Donaven McCulley and receiver Jacquez Smith.

“Sometimes a program will not go after those guys because they think ‘Well, they are going to go to some power that’s already been established,’” Krzyzewski said. “I commend you.”

“It’s kind of the same mindset, you miss every shot you don’t take, right?” Allen said. “We’re not going to back down to anybody, on the field or in recruiting.”

At the end of the interview, Krzyzewski asked Allen about the potential of playing in a bowl this postseason and implied he would be watching.

“When I’m watching that, and hopefully with my family or my wife, I’m going to say ‘I had one of the best conversations ever on my show with this guy,’” Krzyzewski said. “I wish I was in the locker room for his pregame and halftime speeches.”

Inactive updates

During his Thursday morning availability with the media, Allen updated the status of sophomore running back Sampson James.

James was inactive for last weekend’s game with Maryland, and Allen said the Avon native has been dealing with a personal situation involving his family. He has practiced with the Hoosiers this week.

“Sampson’s situation is a little bit different, he has some personal things he’s working through right now and with his family,” Allen said. “Supporting him as much as we possibly can, but he is back with us and expect everything with that to move forward.”

IU has also been without starting linemen on each side of the ball the last couple of weeks, offensive tackle Caleb Jones and defensive end Lance Bryant. Allen said they will be game-time decisions.

“Lance and Caleb are progressing,” Allen said, “so we’ll announce that decision on game day for those two guys.”

Ready for the chill

With temperatures slated to be in the mid-30s when IU kicks off with Wisconsin in Madison, the Hoosiers aren’t sparing themselves from the cold during the week.

Allen said IU has been preparing outside. If the Hoosiers are going to play in December weather, they are going to practice in it.

“Last time I checked,” Allen said, “there is not a dome in Madison, Wisconsin.”


  1. The man looks like an anteater. He went to Duke via West Point after snorting everything out Bob Knight’s brain.

  2. Allen’s enthusiasm has taken IU football from ‘flyover’ non interest to a ubiquitous ‘underdog’ curiosity spectacle. Vegas isn’t doing the Badgers any favors by making the Hoosiers 14 point dogs. The BCS bowl placement at 12 also provides further ‘billboard material’. IU might win this thing in a blowout.

  3. I don’t car who says how good coach Allen is and praising him. It is more publicity for IUFB and getting the word out about IUFB. Krzyzewski is a well known BB coach and with coach Allen going on his show gets the word out about IUFB.

    Brad I agree with you about people across the country getting to know about IU football just as coach Wilson did about IU’s offense. IU’s players will play hard against Wisconsin and I hope the defense keeps going causing take-aways with the offense improving with Tuttle at QB. This is a big game for IUFB to put the Wisconsin hex on IU away at least for a year but maybe much longer.

  4. I believe IUFB puts more pressure on Wisconsin Saturday than Wisky does on Hoosiers. After Maryland and the Penix happening I believe their necks are stiff enough they’ll not backup.

    1. With the constant threat of Penix spreading out the defense and being able to throw the ball all over the field, we still haven’t been able to put together a decent running game. The result is an offense that generates over 70% of its yards through the air. Now, we face one of the top defenses in the country, and they’re especially strong against the run. Oh, and we’re not able to go with Penix. And good teams have run the ball very effectively against us.

      We’ll need to play our best game and get some breaks tomorrow to win.

  5. I still, regrettably, predict….

    Wisconsin 47
    Indiana 10

    Reality without Penix hits the fan.

  6. I watched Wisconsin against NW and was not impressed. Yes, their defense was good, but a very pedestrian NW offense, run by an effective game-managing QB beat them. If we eliminate turnovers and play solid defense, I think we have the offensive tools to score against Wisconsin and beat them.

    1. PO, I agree that if NW can beat Wisconsin, I certainly expect IU to control the game and win it.

    2. Yes, UW has a very good run defense- for all of three games against no one in particular. But even if it is one of the best run defenses, IU can’t run against anybody. So does it make a lot of difference whether it can’t run against a good front four or a bad front four? Probably not, or at least not much.

  7. And any time Mike Krzyzewski showers an IU coach with compliments, it’s a good thing for that coach and for IU. There’s no doubt his words will enhance TA’s reputation.

    It all adds up to improve IU FB’s ability to recruit better players.

  8. Nothing pleases Duke more than to hype Indiana as a defunct basketball school via touting rare successes in the midst of a bizarre football anomaly during a pandemic. I find the whole interview insincere. Allen took the bait. Coach K was always a love affair with Bob Knight.
    He wants to reaffirm Indiana basketball as irrelevant from the day Knight was shamed and told to get out of town.
    It’s Archie Miller who will put Duke in their place.

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