Allen aiming to make offensive coordinator hire soon

It may be the most important decision Tom Allen makes as Indiana football coach.

As he moves to hire a new offensive coordinator, Allen is determined to get it right.

He’s also determined to complete the process soon, aiming to fill the all-important position in timely fashion. Although Allen hasn’t established a timeline for a hiring a new coordinator, it could only be a matter of days before he’s reached a decision.

“I don’t want to drag this out,” Allen said. “I want to be very efficient with it, and we’ve already been very aggressive in the process. So I’d say as soon as possible within the time frame of being effective. You don’t want to rush things. You want to get the best possible person, for sure. It’s an extremely important hire for us, but I want to get it done as soon as possible.”

The opening came about when veteran college football assistant Mike DeBord announced his retirement on Sunday night, leaving the Hoosiers after serving as IU’s top assistant during each of Allen’s first two seasons as head coach.

When Allen moved to fill his first staff in early 2017, he sought an experienced hand to assume complete control of the offense. Enter DeBord, a 35-year coaching veteran who came to Bloomington fresh off a stint at Tennessee.

As he chooses his next coordinator, Allen is working with similar criteria. While age isn’t a major consideration, and he’s seemingly open to examining up-and-comers, Allen has one major requirement.

He wants someone with previous play-calling experience.

“It’s important for me to hire someone who has been a Division I offensive coordinator,” Allen said. “I want a guy who has called plays at this level. Not necessarily in this conference, per se. But that would be the ideal. A guy who’s been there and done that. Because I still feel like, when I think of these two roles, that I still want a guy I can hire as the ‘head coach of the offense.’ That’s how I’m going to present it to him. That’s how I’ve presented it to the individuals I’ve spoken with.

“I just think because of my role on defense and my role on special teams — which I think are the two areas I’ll still be most involved in as the head coach, with the new structure that we have — I want a guy who’s called plays before.”

It’s not clear which candidates are on Allen’s short list, but there are some names that might make sense.

Former Indiana coordinator Matt Canada, who spent last season as Maryland’s interim head coach, is expected to be under consideration. Canada, of course, is a veteran coordinator, having spent time at Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, N.C. State, Pitt and LSU after his second stint on IU’s staff ended in conjunction with Bill Lynch’s ouster in 2010. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which recognizes college football’s top assistant, in 2016.

North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell could also be an intriguing option for IU to consider. The 33-year-old is relatively green as a college coach, though he’s been working as North Texas offensive coordinator for the past three seasons. There, Harrell has served under former Indiana assistant Seth Littrell, installing an air raid style that ranked No. 20 nationally in total offense (460.5 yards per game) in 2018.

Ultimately, Allen will allow his next coordinator to implement his own philosophy. At the same time, he says, a few points of emphasis won’t change.

Allen wants to be able to establish a strong running game, and with a deep and talented stable of backs, that should materialize organically. Allen also wants to continue playing with tempo.

More than anything, Allen wants to create explosive plays.

That was one of the most glaring weaknesses inside Indiana’s offense in recent seasons, an issue that seemed to be a product of both personnel and scheme. While Indiana appeared able to consistently move the ball through the middle of the field — it finished 52nd nationally with 415.2 yards per game in 2018 — the Hoosiers struggled to cash in with touchdowns.

IU ranked 107th nationally with 4.11 points per scoring opportunity and 123rd in explosiveness, according to the advanced statistics profile published by SB Nation.

“To me, that’s just an area that we have to grow in, that we have to do, in both the run game and the pass game,” Allen said about creating more explosive plays. “Being able to throw the ball downfield and stretch the defense vertically — we have guys who can do that. That’s something that I know, defensively, gives us a lot of issues and creates a lot of challenges.

“And, at the end of the day, you’ve got to protect the football. That’s not going to change. We talk about that all the time, on both sides of the football. Create takeaways on defense and avoid turnovers on offense. Those things, to me, are foundational. How you get to that point can be different, for sure. There are different ways of doing it. And you hire guys and they have their certain style.”

Finding the best fit for the job is Allen’s priority now.

“I have to get a guy who fits our staff, fits our culture, fits in with the kind of guys we have on our staff and the kind of players we have,” Allen said. “A guy who believes that you build a team the way we’re building a team here, and in terms of how we motivate and how we lead.”

46 comments

  1. Please go with Graham Harrell i dont understand the clamour for Matt Canada,i guess i do but i dont run game at Maryland was great over 200 yards a game but…the pass game 141 yards a game thats terrible he’s a bit of an overrated coordinator for the kind of money he would command Graham Harrell is my choice more creative guy plus i admit im a “air raid” guy you need something thats kind of different thats explosive and balanced Canada’s offenses have not been productive in terms of the passing game

  2. Couldn’t agree more- hope they go with Harrell. Proven experience as an OC and could mentor qb’s since he was a highly successful one himself. I hope Allen doesn’t just hire another guy he’s worked with in the past. Kevin Wilson was smart enough to hire TA because he was the best fit for the job. I hope TA does the same.

  3. I hope there’s more possible candidates than these two coaches. U Of K ran the “Air Raid” offense with Hal Mumee ( Sp ?) and Leach were both coaches at U of K, it didn’t last long, they used Tim Couch at QB to run the Air Raid offense, and Couch was drafted by Cleveland Browns that help start the QB’s merry go round process in Cleveland.

  4. Huh?what does that have to do with what i said? Kentucky ran it 20 years ago plus Mike Leach is doing it at Washington State and they are winning and going to bowl games IU isnt different leagues but results are there and thats undeniable but thats totally irrelevant there are different variations of the “air raid” that emphasizes running the ball come on man do you watch college football

  5. Couch set a bunch of passing records at Kentucky and even beat Alabama for the first time in 70+ years. Mumee got fired not for his record but for recruiting violations. Harrell was an All American QB, has worked for Littrell and Leach and produced a Top 20 offense in 3 years as OC. If he’s successful, he probably gets a head coaching job in 3 years. But all successful coaches get other opportunities. I just hope it’s not another good ol’ boy from TA’s Ole Miss days.

  6. Yes 123 Its something different plus as you said ,top 20 offense,young guy with fresh ideas I’d take a chance or even Jeff Lebby who is a Art Briles disciple who is the QB coach at UCF, yes i know he hasn’t called plays which is one of his criteria but you have to think outside the box

  7. Read somewhere this AM about Fresno State OC Kalen DeBoer. Mid 40’s, verified success everywhere. OC for So. Ill. before E. Mich.(14-15-16). Solid resume. Each step up better than the way he found it. Would bring along a pathway to California. Appears steady as a rock. Not much not to like. recruiting.

  8. Keep in mind that your defense will practice against whatever offense you deploy. Don’t think TA is into the “spread” (ala Wilson – Johns). [Nor am I]. IU is best served with a balanced attack, especially with one of the better running back ‘stables’ for next year and beyond. This holds true especially in the last half of the season in Big 10 weather. Verticality, yes. But balance. If IU gets in a defensive foot race it’ll be disastrous.

    1. Kinda.

      Your defense will practice against whatever offense the scout team is assigned for that week.

      That being said, it is reasonable to assume that a team whose offense is significantly different from the rest of the conference will have some issues carrying over from practice to game.

  9. Seriously Brad?thats a tired and lame argument no matter the weather more than half of the league employs a spread offense, i assume that your an older gentleman right?the facts are that this isnt 1994 its 2019 the game is different and you sir have to stop living in the past and apparently you didnt pay attention to IU games because they ran the spread offense!

    1. Bomber I gotta lean hard your way in thinking. Yes well over half the B1G O systems is the spread. But during some series, every game, every B1G team runs some spread style set plays. Makes no difference whether it’s September or November. As a HC or OC if you do not have some spread in your playbook you won’t be in the B1G long.

      1. The only teams you that dont operate mostly out of 11 personnel(3 wide,1 TE 1RB) is Wisconsin,Iowa,Michigan but Michigan incorporated more of those looks because of their QB and just look at an NFL game you see a whole lot spread there too so Mr.Brad is sorry to say a crusty old guy living in the 1990’s

      1. Well, he wanted Coleman bad during recruiting and got him. Gotta give Deland McCullough some credit for developing him. Also DM got JH recruited to Bloomington.

        1. I agree- I was just saying you can have a good running game and balance from the spread. Mike Hart is the new Deland McCullough- a guy destined for a bigger paycheck than IU is willing to pay.

  10. Whomever he turns to, it will be an improvement over DeBord. The pieces are coming together for IU football like never before in the history of my time as an IU fan, which began in 1988. Allen has recruited better than anyone in terms of a complete team. He built a respectable defense. The offense has a strong stable of qb candidates, solid running backs, and solid receivers. And decent workhorses in the trenches.

    Allen himself said at the start of last season that IU was better but not there yet in terms of depth of talent. He is brutally honest. He is doing the right things to build a program, not just a one hit wonder that somehow pulls a winning season out of it’s tail.

    Tom Allen must be incredibly genuine in person on the recruiting trail. Players and their families clearly buy into him.

    These are exciting times for IU football. The days of hoping and praying for bowl eligibility are soon to be a memory. I believe the future looks bright, beginning with 2019.

  11. Exciting enough times to win 5 games against your weaker teams if you call that exciting. Ho hum.
    How do you even beat Purdue with Moore and now Bell as playmakers with whoever else is there? Before getting to excited last I checked Purdue beat IU.

    1. Last time I checked Purdue just won six games and rewrote the record book for bowl game incompetence.

        1. chet
          So, let me get this straight, you rather having a losing season every year (typical Indiana football seasons), than ever go to a bowl game for fear of getting embarrassed. You are correct, Purdue was embarrassed in the a bowl game…A bowl game nobody will remember in a few months, but Purdue and Indiana fans. But what did the Purdue football program gain from going to a bowl?? A bowl game that probably signifies your football program/team is on the rise/improving (esp. for future recruiting prospect and present players on your team).

          1. I never said anything about ‘every year’.

            I said that I would rather stay home than be in the record books as the worst bowl team ever.

          2. I don’t know…Purdue’s season stood on its own fairly well until they got completely bowled over.

            Personally, my belief is that if you play under .500 in your conference, you shouldn’t be eligible for a bowl. Or maybe consider one non-conference game to go toward the .500 overall record. Being bowl eligible by winning against three cupcakes and winning 3 of 9 conference games does nothing for the integrity of the game (or the conference).
            Might as well go to the Mirage Bowl…because that’s what you’re creating with most claims of anything on the “rise” in BigTen Football.

            The manner in which teams like Michigan and ND got completely manhandled was a bucket of cold water thrown to the face. Purdue on the rise? Indiana on the rise? Laughable.

  12. Reese Taylor spent too much time 2018 season being the back up QB, the coaches wasted his freshman year, Reese might amount to something if given a chance to play.

    1. IU South
      IMO the current coaching staff will was Reese Taylor talent….Just like they did in his freshman year, the current Indiana coaching staff will never find a position for Reese Taylor to play….The same thing happen to Isaac James – classified as an “ATH” but has been moved to several different position (w/r, slot receiver, db and corner-back)…but has never send the football field in three years). Maybe Isaac James did not have enough talent, but Reese Taylor has plenty and it will be very interesting to see what the current coaching staff does with his talent and ability.

  13. I am sure you wouldn’t have wanted not just a last minute upset but total dominance over the Ohio State Buckeyes on national tv also.

  14. Effects of incompetence at Quarterback: There are several including Reese Taylor non factor, receivers getting punished and plays not executed, hard to recruit players who want to be playmaker, and Bell confirms it.

    1. Can anybody say James Sampson. Why run scared against PUke. Brohm I’m certain craps behind a pair of shoes just like everyone else.

  15. There won’t be any excuses next season about not having a talented enough Quarterback. The physical (i.e., arm) talent is there. The size is there. The mobility is there. Now it’s a matter of coaching them up, helping them become confident, protecting them and getting them experience. A solid running game will be important to a young, inexperience QB, so it will be emphasized. But one of IU’s three QBs must be significantly more productive in 2019 than PR has been the last two seasons.

    As for who the new OC will be, with the exception of Canada, I know nothing about any of the candidates. But as far as I’m concerned, the essential criteria must be his ability to recruit. IU must continue to get better talent. I don’t care how good a coaching staff is at developing talent, or how cutting edge the S&C team is, there is no substitute for loading up on bigger, faster, stronger and more athletic bodies at every position. Purdue continues to widen the gap between itself and IU in recruiting. Having Bell announce on national T.V. today was painful to watch. Brohm and staff are simply out-performing T.A. and staff on the recruiting trail. The new OC must be someone who can help T.A. close that gap against Purdue and most other Big Ten teams.

  16. So, it’s Sampson James, not James Sampson and, while a good player, I don’t know that he’s an upgrade over Scott. Good player if he can stay healthy.

    Bell to Purdue wasn’t a surprise, and he’ll have an impact immediately, although the WL kid (Karlaftis) will have a bigger one. He’s a more athletic Ryan Kerrigan.

    IU has a pretty decent class, but they haven’t gained ground on anyone. Development is the key, and that’s where the staff needs to start making progress.

  17. Development key since IU football was born. Same old story and that story is older than you are no matter how old you are.

  18. I read somewhere Dominique Boothe was higher ranked nationally than Bell. Maybe not, maybe so.

  19. Well gentlemen, I am a “crusty old guy”. I guess I needed to better clarify my position (not that anything we communicate here will have a single iota of influence on what TA ends up doing). A ‘spread’ offense is a given. However, some of the potential OC’s being mentioned are more advocates of a wide open ‘run ‘n shoot’ (Leach etal). As for the 90’s,…..when I conjure up visions of Antwan Randal-El that’s what comes to mind. I don’t think having your QB as your leading rusher is a formula for sustained success either. As for trying to supplement and adapt your offense for the next opponent,……IU, like other teams used to practice for Navy all year long in anticipation for one game and it never worked. That’s one reason no one wants to schedule them. ‘Krusty’

  20. t, I’d absolutely agree, ‘somehow knowing now which potential OC could/would best utilize RT’s skills would be the best man to own the Hoosier O for multiple years in the future. DeBord wasted that portion of his Frosh year he was assigned to the offense. Abysmal creativity. His departure has certainly extended my Christmas celebration.

  21. Though I thought DeBord was a solid hire when hired by TA because DeBord had experience and a little older and it was TA first head coach at this level job; I couldn’t have been more wrong. To me it looked as though DeBord was way to comfortable just taking advantage of TA and his position waiting for a time to walk away whether forced or not. More importantly it ended up being a terrible hire for TA and showed a lack of his head coaching knowledge and experience. Nevertheless, DeBord gone gives a new life line and hope for IU offense.

    1. I hated the DeBord hire then but I won’t blame all of IU’s offensive woes the last couple of seasons on him . Lagow just wasn’t very good in 2017 and Ramsey was way too conservative at times this past season. I thought Ramsey’s arm did improve but his decision making did not. There were throws he could have made but just decided not to. Was it his confidence in making the throws or did he really just not see the windows?

      The 2019 QB battle is a very intriguing one to say the least. I’m willing to bet that Tuttle will be eligible but time will tell if Penix will be healthy enough to compete for the opening day job. The incoming OC will have some talent to work with but which one will be the best fit? Sadly, it’s probably a safe bet that one of the three QBs will transfer once one of them wins the job.

  22. Whoever the new OC is, he has a chance to create a more explosive offense. IU now has QBs with 4 star talent and arms to match and I hope the new OC takes advantage of their talents. For IUFB to improve the QB talent has to be better than the past two years. If IU is to take advantage of better QB talent the final scholarships for 2019 need to include 2 or 3 more OL recruits. The 2019 class has been upgraded with Tuttle and Green added to the team and a few more 4 or 3 star recruits to fill the 2019 class will make this a very good class for IU.

  23. I knew a decision would not be rushed or hasty but I kinda think a worm has slid off the hook. So quiet something has happened.

    1. Larry Canada turned down the job. TA refused to let him hire his own assistants. Canada will be HC at N. Illinois.
      This may continue to be a problem with other potential candidates. It’s also why this is taking longer than just about every other program.

      1. MATT Canada, because he has other options if he doesn’t get HC gig I don’t believe was a serious candidate for Allen. I’m not particularly enamored with him but I think he would elevate offensive production at IU.

  24. TA might do well in looking at Mike Denbrock/OC at Cincinnati, provided FG can meet his $ requirements. He was at Notre Dame for 4 years before going with Fickel. Fickel’s 6 year deal 13.7 million. Can’t speak to what his assistants are receiving.

  25. The lack of updated information is deafening. Even national coaching services are reporting zilch. Talk about under the radar,…..sure glad CTA didn’t want to drag this out. Not.

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