Bedford feels good about following through with IU, Allen

Tom Allen hunched forward, clapped his hands — clap, clap, clap, clap — then rubbed them together. Anything to soothe his nerves amid a major recruiting win.

It was just after 10 a.m. on Dec. 19, the first day of the early signing period, and the Indiana football coach was waiting to see what would happen next. He had already received signed National Letters of Intent from 16 of his recruits, but one of his most coveted prospects was in limbo.

So as he sat at the head of a conference table inside IU’s football offices, Allen fixed his eyes toward a screen on the other side of the room, where a live feed carried the announcement ceremony of Memphis offensive tackle Matthew Bedford.

Bedford had verbally committed to Indiana in June, but the Hoosiers had company by the end of the recruiting cycle. South Carolina made a late push to land Bedford. Mississippi State did, too.

As signing day neared, Bedford had a decision to make. Would he follow through on his pledge to the Hoosiers? Or would compelling, last-minute overtures be enough to sway him toward the Southeastern Conference?

“C’mon, baby!” Allen said that morning, waiting for Bedford’s announcement.

At his signing ceremony at Cordova (Tenn.) High School, Bedford had his options displayed in the form of ball caps placed neatly on the table before him. When he reached for the IU hat, Allen jumped from his chair, arms raised, and thanked his assistants. He high-fived with offensive line coach Darren Hiller and special teams coach William Inge, both of whom were instrumental in Bedford’s recruitment. Then he shook hands with athletic director Fred Glass, making the rounds as he celebrated the end of a wire-to-wire recruitment.

“Great job, men! Great job,” Allen said. “Team effort.”

Nearly two months later, Bedford feels confident he joined the right team.

He’s been in Bloomington for six weeks, one of a handful of early enrollees for IU’s football program. Reflecting upon his recruitment Wednesday, Bedford said Indiana’s coaches are following through on their commitment to him, putting him in position to reach his potential in an IU uniform.

After a recruiting process that pulled him in several directions, Bedford believes he’s where he’s supposed to be.

“The coaches, every since my unofficial (visit in June), and them seeing at the Memphis camp, they’ve been hitting me up like, ‘Hey, how you doin’ buddy?’ They’re talking about mom and dad, and being able to have that presence throughout my whole recruitment, that reminded me that I made the right choice and that they were there for my best interests,” Bedford said. “Then, actually being here at this point, it reassures me because they’re checking in on me. They’re texting me, ‘How’s class going? How you doing? Are there any challenges I can help you with?’ It really reassures that I made the right choice.”

This was no easy decision for the 6-foot-6 lineman. After verbally pledging to Indiana last summer, other schools continued to express interest and tried to flip his commitment. South Carolina and Mississippi State each convinced him to visit, and as December approached, Bedford was torn.

“You got a Maserati right here,” Bedford said of IU, “then the car show comes and shows you everything. They gave a couple things that rivaled Indiana, but at the end of it all, it brought me back to my bases of what I wanted and what I was actually hungry for. Indiana was able to feed me everything I needed.”

At IU, David Ballou’s stewardship of the team’s strength and conditioning program was a major factor for Bedford. So, too, were the relationships he and his family developed with others inside Indiana’s program.

While on-field successes have been slow to materialize during Allen’s first two seasons leading IU, the coach has made meaningful strides in the recruiting realm. Last Wednesday, he signed the highest-ranked class since the advent of the recruiting service era roughly two decades ago.

Rivals considers IU’s 2019 group the No. 37 class nationally. 247 Sports ranks the class 38th in the country.

Landing Bedford, a three-star prospect with a range of offers, went a long way toward fortifying a haul Allen believes could soon make a difference.

“It was a battle. There’s no doubt,” Allen said of signing Bedford. “Bill Inge did a phenomenal job with the family, and Coach Hiller did a great job with the family, as well. People ask me, ‘How do you get some of these guys?’ I said, you know what, we just be who we are, we be real.

“Everybody wants to kind of bad mouth people and say negative things about this or that, and we just talk about how we’re going to help develop your son as a man, as a student-athlete and as a football player. That’s all we focus on. I don’t want to say things negative, and that’s not everybody’s approach. But when you just develop relationships and they know that you’re going to love their son more as a person than as a player, it resonates.”

Right now, Indiana needs players it believes in on the offensive line, where questions abound as spring practice nears. The line demonstrated gradual improvement under Hiller as the 2018 campaign progressed, but it also graduated three players — center Nick Linder, left guard Wes Martin and right tackle Brandon Knight — after the season.

Given all the help Indiana needs up front, Bedford could crack the two-deep in the coming months. First, he needs continue making gains in the weight room.

“Coach Ballou would like me to be at 290 (pounds),” Bedford said. “As of right now, I’m at 280. So I’ve got a good 10 pounds (to add). I feel like I’ll be able to hit that in the next week or so. I’m gaining weight well. I’m trending in the right direction.”

Allen and company are just glad Bedford is doing so at Indiana.

“We’re extremely excited,” Hiller said on signing day. “We put a lot of man hours into that (recruitment). Coach Inge was the point guy on it. We’re excited. He’s gonna be a really good, athletic guy for us. Found him in the summertime when we went down to a camp in Memphis. Loved him from the first day we saw him.”

At the end of the process, Bedford rewarded that staff with his commitment. Since arriving in Bloomington, he’s taken to social media to share pictures of his first few days on campus.

So far, it’s been an experience he’s wished to share, one that’s backed up his belief that Indiana is the best place for him.

“Now that I’m here, it’s a dream come true,” Bedford said. “I’m just taking it all in. I want to show everybody back home that this is where it’s at. This is the place that I want to be and I’ve wanted to show everybody that this is truly a blessing to be here.”

35 comments

  1. Another example of perspective regarding how hard and competitive it is for IU football to sign a decent or good 3 star recruit.

    1. It’s been said ad nauseam but I would suggest looking past the stars and look at other programs making offers.

      JJ Watt was unranked/1 star coming out of high school. A good Wisconsin program ignored the stars next to his name.

      1. I was making a general statement. He was example. I understand that stars are not the only consideration. However, play percentages. Teams full of high 3 stars and some 4 stars with even a 5 star or two is more likely to fair better than a team of 2 stars with a few 3 stars.

  2. Jj watt was one star TE also played so he was terrible on offense until they switched him to defense and thats what evaluation is man

  3. I really like the public side of the IU football coaches, from the top down. I sure hope that behind the scenes, Tom Allen is as genuine, caring, and upbeat as he is out in front. From what I can ascertain, Coach TA keeps growing in his position. I believe IU football is in good hands. Time will tell…..

  4. And now that DeBoer will be the QBs coach, the geniune, caring, upbeat Tom Allen will be able to wash his hands of the cynical, cold-hearted, cruel benching of Peyton Ramsey. Indeed, TA growing in his position . . . .

    1. …or ALL listed above transpires simply because DeBord won’t be repeating weak and middling HCing the offense.

  5. Make sure to get your DeBord (old OC) and DeBoer ( new OC) names and references correctly. The two posts above are confusing and incomplete in substance.

  6. OkieHoosier, I believe Tom Allen is the man he presents himself to be. I think he is genuinely a good and honorable man. In fact, I have no doubt. The question is, does he have the smarts and the skills necessary to be a successful head coach for a Power-five conference team? I like the changes he’s made since the end of last season. I like that he has stepped away from running the defense. I really like the new OC he hired. And obviously he has improved recruiting. Now he has to demonstrate that those changes result in a significantly improved product on the field. Last season, the team had far too many flaws, looked out of sorts far too often, and made far too many stupid mistakes, which cost the team a winning season.

    In business, it is a quantum leap to get promoted from Executive Vice President to Chief Executive Officer. And a Power-five conference football team is like a corporation. Being head football coach is like being CEO, and it requires different skills. Just like most corporate CEOs learn how to do that job in smaller corporations before moving up to run Fortune 500 companies, most Power-five conference football coaches learn how to be a head coach while at smaller schools. The transition Tom Allen is going through is difficult. While I’m convinced Tom Allen is a great guy, in the next two years we’ll know whether he was able to successfully develop the skills necessary to be an effective Big Ten head coach and is therefore worthy of keeping his job.

    1. The head coaches of Penn State, OSU, Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin had a total of 8 seasons as head coach prior to taking their current jobs between all five of them.

      That works out to 1.6 seasons each.

    2. I think of IU as a sole proprietorship in football. Nothing ever like us. You have to be extremely inventive with an entrepreneurial spirit about you. Most seasoned CEO’s would be so hierarchical and regimented in their designs, they’d surely fail. Pretending to be part of the football conglomerates is resigning to the fact that you don’t really know how to relate to those in the trenches.
      If you’re willing to risk it all from scratch at IU, you’ve earned the title of CEO. And the banks holding all the talent? Damn, they’re tightwads. The odds are against you….but aren’t they always against the entrepreneurial spirit and those who don’t live in the conventional?

      Allen is our football entrepreneur….and bless him for applying his breadth of ideas and skills to turn IU into a unique winner.

  7. As IU football would have it one way or another it seems to ramble on. Maybe, H4H this might be an appropriate time for a Zeppelin post “Ramble On.”

    1. Let’s do this one…..(Make sure you notice where the song was performed in ’72….and the “72 year history” referenced in the New York Times piece I’m linking below).

      Maybe we should have just gone the route of the team featured in the New York Times piece…..instead of forever ramblin’ down highway 41 37? I wonder if our basketball program would have been given the true passion of our only real pathway to national relevance again? Just one year before the Allman Brothers performed at Hofstra we had opened our beautiful new basketball arena….just in time for a young and confident new coach from West Point. We were so young and poised for great things. New arenas are like a new rack of clothing….You sparkle again. You’re revitalized and proud. You feel like you’re starting over.
      Fifty years of unbelievable support of our basketball program since Assembly opened. I think the fans deserved a new rack of clothing…and should have never had to look at smug rich people in sky boxes.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/sports/ncaafootball/04hofstra.html

  8. Bedford is a very good prospect that several SEC teams pushed hard to flip. Katic looks like the one that is more ready to compete for getting in the OL rotation though. It will be tough for either one to break into the rotation though with the other players that are competing for OL positions.

    IU needs to see quality OL players throughout the dept chart and I hope that is what we see in 2019. Players that fit the system and no matter who goes in they do a good job is what helps determine how the offense looks this year.

    1. The offensive line should be very solid this year. I’m not betting on any of the incoming class cracking the starting five but a lot can happen between now and game one. I’m pretty excited about the offense overall. I’m hoping Penix is healthy and will win the job at QB but at this point it’s a mystery. Maybe Tuttle is eligible and is as good as advertised? I’ve only seen his HS highlight tape and a couple of clips from Utah’s spring game from last year so it’s kind of hard for me to judge Tuttle’s ability at this point.

  9. If the 2019 IU Offensive line is as good as the 2018 Offensive line, that will be an achievement. It’s hard to imagine losing three experienced starting linemen from last year’s O-line and expecting the group’s performance to improve. But with a more dynamic offense, a better quarterback, better running backs, and experienced wide receivers, the offense should be more productive even if the O-line just matches last year’s performance. I think it all hinges on DeBoer getting all his position coaches on the same page. My guess is that he’s doing a lot of work right now so that all the offensive coaches hit the ground running on the first day of spring practice. Beyond the 2019 season, I expect we’ll see one or two new offensive position coaches on staff a year from now.

    1. I dunno, PO. The 2018 IU OLine was not very good, so maybe the loss of three men is a blessing, not a curse. As I’ve opined, factoring in “returning starters” as a plus when making predictions about the coming season is silly when the returning guys weren’t any good in the most recent season.

      1. I agree. If we had a dominating O-line that is one thing.

        Good recruiting should be reasonably expected to replace mediocrity.

  10. Just read in the IndyStar that Sampson James has already gained 12 to 14 pounds since arriving in Bloomington. Assuming he arrived on campus in the first week of January, that’s 12 to 14 pounds gained in about five weeks. Looks like the S&C program is having a significant impact on James’ development.

    I think Hart is doing an excellent job in recruiting and developing IU’s running backs. Hopefully, they will both stay healthy and be even more productive in 2019.

  11. Davis, the OL did a better job in the second half and I hope with the new OC calling plays will help the OL do even better. The OL didn’t look good against the MSU DL that was one of best in the country but after that game the OL came together and did a decent job. Give the 2018 and 2019 OL to develop and IU should have a powerful OL. Having very good QB and RB will help the 2019 team become a better OL. Ramsey was a lot of the problem when I broke down films and he needs to develop much better if he is to remain the starter. I hope Penix or Tuttle can be the QB but that remains to be seen.

  12. H4H. Must be a prerequisite for IU basketball coaches 21st century and always has been for football coaches…Ramblin man trying to do the best I can. $$$

  13. DeBord was a lot more of the problem. Never developed an offense advantaging TE’s, his position of coaching. Way to predictable play calling. Red zone attack never had any cohesion. Just chose a play from a collection in a play book. He never figured out how to succeed with talent less than 4-5*. 2 seasons of offense never defined by strength and with very little positive direction by the HC of the offense.

  14. DeBord offense showed he didn’t have a burning desire. Rather, he used his lesson plan book (no creativity) that he knew a little about and would stay at IU as long as they might have him (if things were positive). If not he and TA/IU would part ways with some more cash in his pocket. He could basically take it or leave, not a big deal. If IU would happen to have winning record plus bowls it would have been fun for him. I doubt if he lost much sleep over his OC job at his point in his career.

  15. As I mentioned before opportunities are usually abundant for DeBord and people in various positions towards the top of the food chain/pyramid in our society.
    Mike DeBord is currently the OC for the new San Diego Fleet in beautiful San Diego, California. Great gig if you can get it. What a life.

    1. Not that I’m a Mike DeBord fan but I think he’s earned his way in the coaching world. He did start off at Franklin College as an OL coach after all.

      1. One of my former players has been on the Miami Dolphins staff since he was about 24 years old. He has been there for 7 years.

        Some might say he has achieved more than Debord.

        How does that figure in?

        1. I hated the Mike DeBord hire then and still do. I’m just pointing out the fact that he earned his way through the coaching ranks of the world.

      2. DeBord earned nothing positive in Bloomington. He is a bigger failure for Tom Allen than Brian Knorr was for Kevin Wilson.

  16. It’s easy to criticize DeBord’s performance while at IU, but we must take into account the talent he inherited, especially at Quarterback (mediocre at best). We always give head coaches the benefit of the doubt until they’ve had time to recruit their type of players. Why not extend the same courtesy to Coordinators, or as Allen labeled DeBord, “the head coach of the offense?” If IU produces another 5-win season in 2019, will be be saying the same things about DeBoer a year from now? There’s only so much a coach’s schemes or game plans can do to improve a team’s performance. After that, a team’s level of talent and experience usually determines the outcome. Success in college Football and Basketball is mostly about recruiting the best talent. Unless a coach is a huge jerk or completely incompetent, the teams with the most talent usually win.

    I was not a fan of DeBord’s offenses while at IU, but I struggled to determine whether that was due to DeBord’s play-calling, his available quarterback talent, or a combination of both. However, I believe DeBord left IU’s offense with more talent at key positions than he inherited upon his arrival in Bloomington.

  17. All big time coaches and others at or near top of societal pyramid always get a base big chunk of money and then a lot of other bonuses and perks built in contract. Maybe, coaches for example should get paid on a commission basis….a small base salary and a percentage for each win.

  18. Just for a change of pace/subject here, can anyone name the IU QB who threw for five TDs and ran thirty-five yards for another against MSU? Hint: it happened in this century.

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