Ballou named new IU strength coach

A former Hoosier is coming home.

David Ballou, who lettered as an Indiana fullback from 1997 to 1999, has been named the program’s new strength and conditioning coach, IU announced Thursday.

Ballou returns to Bloomington after spending the past season as Notre Dame’s co-director of football strength and conditioning.

He fills an important position for IU coach Tom Allen, who parted ways with former Indiana strength coach Keith Caton last week. The role of college football strength coach is as important as any other assistant on staff. Strength coaches monitor and oversee off-season workout programs and have as much or more contact with players as anyone in a Division I program.

“It’s great to come back home,” said Ballou, who graduated from IU in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. “I have loved this university and football program for as long as I can remember. It’s very special to me. I could not be more excited to get a chance to work for Coach Allen, a man of high integrity and a great person. I am committed to helping this program win football games consistently, year after year, and winning a Big Ten championship.”

Prior to his stint in South Bend, Ballou spent two years as the strength and conditioning coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. In 2016, seven IMG players were laser-timed at under 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash one year after having no players achieve that benchmark. Twenty one of IMG’s 22 season-opening starters also started in the final game of the season.

While there, Ballou trained 26 players that were drafted into the NFL. He was also part of the 2016 and 2017 NFL Combine Training at IMG.

After graduating from Indiana, Ballou spent 14 years as the head strength and conditioning coach at Avon, where he worked with 80 eventual Division I athletes. He was a finalist for the 2014 NSCA National High School Strength Coach of the Year Award and has held the credential as a certified strength and conditioning specialist (with distinction) since 2001.

He’s married to the former Leah Horn, a Bloomington native and former IU pole vaulter.

“David Ballou is one of the more highly-respected strength coaches in the country,” Allen said. “I have known him for many years and have followed his work at both the high school and collegiate levels. We are looking forward to him working with our program and helping us achieve our goals on and off the field.”


  1. Sounds like a great hire. Maybe he can do a better job keeping players on the field. Still wish there would be a coaching departure still.

    1. If you are insinuating what I think you are with, “Still wish there would be a coaching departure still,” I can’t agree with you at this point. A year from now yes, but not yet. Way too early to cast judgement on the staff in any realistic assessment. Don’t think you would have gotten as many of the mid-south commitments or the east coast without a couple who have been questioned. Got to let them have a chance to get more recruits to their style of play. Don’t underestimate the value of pulling in players from the south, by and large they are head and shoulders more advanced than mid-western players. Long term seeing is believing.

      1. I agree totally with hii. They’re two I wish had not been here last year. I saw enough mistakes and poor evaluations of roster talent to know they’re unable to identify overachievers in year two.

        1. HC,

          I disagree because I see this as a very similar problem to that which is being encountered by Coach Miller and the current basketball program. Wrong personnel to run the program being implemented by the new Coach. I know everyone is looking at the offensive side of the ball, but the personnel used to run the Wilson system do not necessarily transfer to the DeBord system. Also we certainly see a drop off in the Wilson QB recruiting in the last couple years of his tenure.

          I know it is hard for the IU faithful to understand, especially with a B1G frame of reference, but you do not engineer the offensive turn around at Tennessee by being incompetent. Having a successful offense in the SEC is far more difficult than one could every imagine. It’s no accident as to who is playing for the national championship. Could have reversed the teams and still had the same result, Georgia versus Alabama.

          Not an SEC homer, just seen it up close and personal for too many years to not understand the difference. It starts in the peewee football leagues across the south. Not by accident so many from this year’s early recruiting coming from that area.

          1. Disagree till your hearts content. The Vols QB Dobbs and the RB Hurd(and his stablemates)made DeBord look good. They were recruited by Jones before MD arrived. There lies the fallacy of Mike DeBord. He has been everywhere not staying anywhere too long. His OC successes have been at locations that successfully recruit 4 & 5* talent. An OC’s dream. His personal/professional success where lower rated talent establishes the roster needs crucial evaluation to glean the playmakers and coach them to overachieve is at every juncture a down trending line on the graph. In other words he has never shines with anything less than top talent and quickly moves on. His 1 HCing experience makes those facts glaring. BB and FB comparisons don’t connect. Explain Brohm at PUke. He and Hart this year will get the benefit of a more mature OL, a 2nd crack at experienced WR’s, more QB competition and a stable of RB’s. But it is their very poor coaching decisions in ’17’ that makes it suspect the offense can manufacture the points needed to uplift a very possible drop off on D. Their experience for the task does not = acume. Do hope for the best and possibly could be wrong but Maryland, Meatchicken and PUke games cannot be argued with as decisions made were incredibly stupid.

          2. Whether anyone likes it or not, I do not foresee any changes until the end of the ’18 season. If there are similar results would be surprised not to see a offensive staff house cleaning. I think there was a 2 season window for DeBord and company to prove themselves. Contrary to popular sentiment, I do not think Wilson left the offensive side of the ball in nearly as good a shape as previously thought.

            I think the pressure is on DeBord for the 2018 season. Either he delivers or he will be out. I don’t think T.A. has a problem with the hook when necessary.

  2. Glad to have the position filled with a well respected coach who is a Hoosier. I will be looking forward to see how the players change under his tutelage. I like his goal of developing players capable of winning a B1G championship.

  3. “I have loved this university and football program for as long as I can remember. It’s very special to me. ” That statement is as important as his qualifications and experience. He and his wife are both Hoosiers, and it appears they are excited to be back in Bloomington. Looks like a great get.

  4. Other than Alabama and Georgia (who somehow squeaked by in a game they outplayed) the SEC hasn’t shown themselves to be anything special this bowl season. They are 4 wins 5 losses and it took a classic Harbaugh meltdown or they’d be 3 and 6.

    Conversely, other than the Harbaugh thing the Big Ten has run roughshod over the field.

    The Pac 12 has been more than pathetic.

  5. Yes Chet, the Big Ten has proven that it was the strongest conference in college football this year. Urban Meyer, OSU fans and all Big Ten fans have a right to be annoyed. Alabama gets into the playoffs without winning their conference Championship and has six weeks to get healthy and prepare to play in the semi-finals. History and reputation are the only reasons Alabama was allowed into the 4-team playoff.

  6. Guys,

    Come back from the pipe dreams, bowl results can be more than deceiving. For once the bowl scheduling favored the Big Ten. Four of the bowl wins were against that same Pac 12 conference, which Chet states and I agree, was particularly pathetic this year. Northwestern was the beneficiary of an inexplicable coaching decision (reminiscent of Wilson) to go for two instead of kicking the extra point and going into OT. Wisky was able to beat a Miami team fading down the stretch against tougher competition losing their last 3 games. Five of the wins were against lower rated teams.

    As much as I would love to see a return to the Big Ten glory years as the best football conference in the country, like it or not, the SEC is still head and shoulders above any other conference. Even in what most would think a down year by SEC standards, still much tougher than other conferences. Records not so good this year, mainly because they beat up on each other during the season. So bad, Alabama had to use their 3rd and 4th string 5 star players instead of the 1st and 2nd string 5 star players. Lot of inner conference upsets this year as well.

    The key is the player development from an early age. It’s a cultural thing you can’t understand unless you know the deep south high school football scene. Biggest shock of my life, always thought northern and southern high school football were on par. Not even close, regularly saw high school football teams even the best Indiana high school football teams couldn’t have stayed on the field with. Thought I was looking at JUCO ball, not high school.

  7. If you thought HS FB in the South and North were equal shows how naive you are. Where were you when Bowden, Spurrier and the U were winning 25 years ago with mostly kids southern kids. The B1G in the bowls beat teams from areas they’ve not always been successful against. There were no gifts given to them like Alabama received to get in the playoffs.

  8. HC

    I think my perspective may be somewhat larger than yours. 25 years ago I was down here watching them do it up close and had been watching it develop for number of years prior. When I speak of the Big Ten glory years I am referring to the mid 1960’s and prior. Friend, if you think Alabama was given a gift you really don’t know much about how tough SEC west football is compared to the rest of the country. Not a single Big Ten, Pac 12, or Big 12 team could have gotten through that division with only one loss (would have been lucky with only two). Clemson might could have, but we just saw what Alabama did to them.

    Like I said before, not an SEC homer, don’t even like Alabama, but I am a realist. Would love to see Big Ten football back at the pinnacle once again, but not likely to ever happen again for a number of reasons. Living in SEC country for as long as I have did make this one thing very clear, and much to my Big Ten roots chagrin. The old southern joke about the SEC (especially the west division) being the 3rd best football conference in the country really is true. 3rd right after the NFC and the AFC.

    1. Only 25 years? Maybe after you’ve lived there a while.

      The SEC had 2 really good teams this year. That’s it. The remainder got exposed when they had to play outside the conference. It’s OK. The SEC is frequently the best conference. They just weren’t this year. That was proven on the field against non-conference foes.

  9. The perspective your enamored with is homered to SEC. Make no mistake the B1G is back. Refuse to see the B1G bowl wins this year because it does not fit your slant. Alabama got in the playoffs with a gift. Yes they performed but did not earn the opportunity as the other 3 did. If you had the biggest shock of your life about southern HS FB, I did not. I saw it coming long ago. Those dynamics started happening long before you were “shocked”. I heard your joke decades ago. And indeed it is a joke.

  10. Man, Alabama’s freshmen were damn impressive though…

    What’s the excuse we’re always hearing at IU(basketball and football)…? They’re only freshman….He’s only a sophomore. He needs more time to develop. He needs to grow into a leadership role… Redshirt him and save him for a rainy day. He’s not ready…. blah…blah…blah.

    Elite programs and elite recruiters get freshman who are ready when they arrive on campus. They play with swagger and thrive for the big stage.

    Don’t care to make the conference comparisons….but Saban putting that much confidence in his freshmen to make big plays was quite incredible..and they delivered with unquestionable poise.

    1. IU also has freshman that shine IE Ball, Riggins, Whop and Ellison to name a few. We are starting to see athletes that can play early but the roster isn’t good enough yet to surround them with quality players allowing them to excel. The incoming class has several that could play a major role for IU IE Walker at RB, Reese and Penix. As this coaching staff improves the roster we should see more young players shine .

      Lets face it, IU rarely gets the quality of player that can excel early that the top schools get.

  11. Devonte Williams has/is transferring down to the Bayou. Is that 3 RB’s to transfer. Leads me to believe Gest, ME and the incoming Walker will be the rotation.

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