Allen sees media blitz as a way to sell recruits on IU

Most of the places college football fans set their eyes and ears, Indiana’s Tom Allen has been there this week.

His media blitz following a win over then-No. 8 Penn State included interviews on SportsCenter, College Football Live, and CBS Sports. There was a spot with Stadium national football writers Brett McMurphy and Matt Hayes, and another drop-in with ESPN’s Marty Smith and his “America The Podcast” show.

Over and over, IU’s fourth-year coach has talked about his decision to go for two. Just so tired of coming up short, Allen said. They asked him about the win’s significance, and Allen has unabashedly embraced it as a big deal, especially for a program that’s been viewed as middling for so long. Allen has recalled being mocked for even suggesting IU could contend for Big Ten titles.

“When I took this job, I told them one of my goals was to win the Big Ten,” Allen said on SportsCenter. “Not everybody understood that, or agreed with that, or felt like that was the reality, but I did.

“Before there is a reality, there is a mentality.”

Along with mentality, there is also perception, and therein lies a very specific purpose behind Allen’s media tour. An opportunity to change the narrative has made stepping in and out of film study for Rutgers a tolerable juggle. There is limited value in the Hoosiers’ No. 17 ranking in the Associated Press poll, or being the Football Writers Association of America’s Team of the Week, which gives IU no advantages on the field Saturday. But beating a top-10 team, earning a national ranking, and Allen appearing on national broadcasts, could be powerful imagery in the minds of recruits.

Allen said on his weekly radio show Wednesday night — which, yes, he still found time for — that his hours have been split 80-20 preparing for the Scarlet Knights and talking about last week’s win, because the latter moment is a golden opportunity to sell the trajectory of IU’s football program.

“Kids want to go somewhere where they have a chance to win championships,” Allen said.

After last year’s win at Nebraska — the program’s first in 60 years — Allen talked about that as a moment where he could call up recruits and preach what the Hoosiers were building. Along with all of his media interviews this week, Allen has, again, been spending ample time talking with recruiting targets, preaching his “love each other” mantra and the scenes that support it.

Because of an in-person recruiting ban during the COVID-19 pandemic, college football programs haven’t been able to get recruits on campus. That has especially been a loss for a building program like IU, which sells relationships and “LEO” more than its less-than-inspring football history. But moments in the locker room last Saturday, where a player shouted “We love you, coach,” and Allen ended up crowd-surfing atop a mob of Hoosiers, has helped fill a gap.

“Hey, you can talk all you want about culture. All I gotta do is send them video of the locker room,” Allen said. “That’s what I told them. I can sit here and tell you all day about what it’s like here, but you can see it for yourself on this video. You can see LEO lived out in that locker room. You can see the passion this program has and the edge this team plays with, and the fight and the grit of this football team by the way we finished and didn’t get discouraged when it looked like we had a small chance for that victory.”

Not only has Allen been able to relay that message one-on-one, but Michael Penix Jr.’s dive and stretch for the pylon has been replaying on national television, over and over. IU football’s Twitter account has been sharing every Allen interview, as well as an eight-minute video production from the game, which includes locker room pep talks, sideline chatter from players, and sheer pandemonium once the two-point try was called “good.”

One of IU’s videographers was following behind Allen the entire way, as he jogged onto the field, eyes locked on the referee, eventually raising two hands to the sky with excitement, bouncing up and down in celebration.

Once it was Sunday, Allen was a wanted man, and he wasn’t shy about putting himself out there. His main sacrifice this week was time, finding a way to have his assistants continue on without him as they reviewed film for Rutgers. What made the balancing act possible was a decision Allen made last year, relinquishing the role of defensive coordinator to Kane Wommack.

“Obviously, you leave the room and go take care of those interviews and things we are doing to really help promote our program, which has been awesome,” Allen said. “But, if I was calling it, that would have been a more challenging situation to deal with.

“That’s part of the process when you go forward, thinking, moving forward, about how I’d be able to focus as a head coach and not be calling the defense. … We prepared for this. It’s taken some time to get here, to have the wins that match up with it.”

Allen can now sell his vision, firming up the 2021 class and laying the groundwork for ’22. As far as game-week prep, he could leave the room and let his staff continue taking notes on Rutgers film, doubling back in the evening to review. He then watched the film himself, adding his own observations to theirs.

It may be an 80 percent time commitment to Rutgers this week, but Allen has just grown his hours base.

“Everything got kinda kicked back,” Allen said. “Basically, I just got less sleep, I’ll call it what it is. But that’s a great problem to have at this point. I’ll sleep when the season is over.”

Allen’s focus remains on Rutgers. If the Hoosiers lay an egg out in New Jersey, the shine from the PSU win is lost. And this is a Scarlet Knights squad, again led by Greg Schiano, which is looking for the same quality wins to promote and build their program.

“Big, big win, for sure, but it is only one win,” Allen said of PSU. “And this next week, it’s just as big, if (not) bigger.”

34 comments

  1. Agree, and you can sure tell it’s been a long time since an IU football win such as this one. It’s probably the craziest/weird win in IU football history.
    Though anytime IU football wins a game comparable to Penn State it’s a big win. Not sure how big a win until the season plays itself out.

  2. I wonder, if we were not dealing with this pandemic, what The Hoosier Nation’s response would be to this huge signature win? Would Memorial Stadium be sold out in IU’s next home game, or would there still be 15,000 empty seats? TA is doing everything he can, and going above and beyond to improve recruiting. But aside from wanting an opportunity to win championships, HS FB players want to play games in stadiums filled with enthusiastic fans. When we’re through this pandemic, will the Hoosier Nation remember Saturday’s win and do its part to improve recruiting by filling Memorial Stadium?

  3. No. One win won’t fill a stadium.
    Five banners fill stadiums….Elite 8s and Final Fours fill stadiums…Semblance of sustained competitiveness fills stadiums.
    Flukes and one victory against 72 losses to the top 3 in the Big10 East doesn’t fill a stadium.
    It’s not the fans’ fault you denied them a competitive product for half a century. You are going to have to do just a bit more than an opening season so-called quality win (when everyone has varying degrees of rust…Not to mention, there’s been a pandemic going on) to make fans believe (no matter how much you sell it or believe in yourself).

    Legitimacy and respect must be earned and not simply a product of slogans and marketing. One win may sell some recruits…but it won’t sell the disenfranchised who felt long ago abandoned by Memorial.

    1. H4H, it is clear it will take sustained winning to woo more fans to Memorial Stadium. Beating teams like PSU goes a long way to developing that winning tradition. I understand the concern about playing Rutgers on the road but that is looking at the old way IUFB was – flopping after a big win. This team needs to show they have improved in talent and thump Rutgers even though it may just be by a couple of TDs. A team that can play with PSU should be able to control Rutgers well enough to win the game.

  4. IU and their football coaches needed a win like PSU to really get better players focused on coming to IU. It is one thing to say you are building a championship program and another to get wins that show you are really on the way. IU needs to follow this win up with even more wins and knocking off one of the other big two teams left to play. I have no doubt IU can beat one or both of those teams if we wee the same performance all game that we saw from the defense and for the offense to perform like they did in the last 1:42. The team needs to show they can play at that level all game long and then we will know and believe this team can beat even the best teams in the B1G.

    IU is just starting to get to this level and they will have to learn how to go from here. They haven’t arrived yet but they have gotten within range of the big boys in the B1G.

    PO i hope when regular seasons return fans will fill the stadium because it does help in recruiting. Having enthusiastic fans all game long gives the players more energy and focus in the games. It also creates even more fan interest making game day an event to attend and have a good time.

    1. V13, why do you believe recruiting continues to lag when compared to most other BiG schools? You claimed this would be the year it took off, and it hasn’t. You admonished people to look at average ratings, but that still has us as 8th or 9th in 24/7’s compilation of classes, which is viewed as the most comprehensive. Why do you think we haven’t been able to breakthrough?

  5. Even in a season without pandemic one win no matter how big does not make a season. It makes a week or two but that’s about it. It does not stand on its own. Succeeding weeks must build upon one game after another success. So to answer increased attendance question with just Penn State win at best would be temporary (and may depend on who opponent is) unless wins continue after Penn State game.

  6. Sounds to me as if some people believe IU FB will have to “run the table” before the Hoosier Nation fills Memorial Stadium for home games. I hope that’s not true. I hope Hoosier fans will come to appreciate that IU FB is getting better and is worth watching, even if we’re not likely to win a Big Ten Championship in the near future. From my perspective, the last two games IU FB played were against quality opponents and went down to the wire each time. We lost one and won the second. If that’s not a sign of significant progress or enough to increase support from Hoosier fans, what’s it going to take? We’ll get the FB program we deserve.

    1. I’m sorry, PO, and I wish things were different, but IUFB could put up back-to-back-to-back-to-back ten win seasons and not move the attendance needle. Why? For the same reason Nebraska can put up back-to-back-to-back etc. losing seasons and still sell 90k tickets a game. We deserve it.

  7. IU Football will get the fans they deserve. That history doesn’t change because of 2 games. And I’m not so sure Tennessee is currently much different than a mid-major considering the way they were annihilated by UK.

    And last year’s season? Slew of some of the worst bottom-feeders ever on one schedule. All of our wins were against teams with no better than .500 records. The average win percentage of teams we defeated was in the .200s.

    Let’s stop acting like the fans don’t understand the difference between anomalies and trends. Let’s also not underestimate the fans (those who are somehow not comatose from decades of watching ugly football) and their ability to recognize true competitiveness against teams not notorious bottom-feeders.

  8. The Kung Flu may be a good thing for the promotion of IUFB. Things like whipping PSU in OT fashion while the wraps are on ticket buyers attending MS could concentrate fringe fans focus to think they want on the bandwagon. If the remainder of the season is a good 1 enthusiasm pent up could turn up attendance next year. It damn sure won’t retard it. Very well could be a positive development. It’s all based on results on the field. Something Coach Allen is becoming good at.

  9. I’m tired of people criticizing IU for who they beat and didn’t beat last year. Just watch this team play. They are bigger, stronger, faster, and more athletic than any IU football team that I remember. We actually have depth and competition for playing time at most positions. Look at the 2 frosh that caught passes on the last drive in regulation. I would think both Whop and Ty are looking over their shoulders, worrying about playing time with these 2 right behind them. Depth at linebacker, dl, and in the secondary. Competition for playing time will make better players. I’m not saying put us in the National championship talk, but give the coaches and players some credit for moving in a positive direction. IU football is trending up!!!!! I’m an IU football fan and finally excited for Saturdays!!!!

    1. You are right about IUFB and this team has shown something the past season plus the game against PSU we haven’t seen for a while at IU. Should we diminish coach Mallory’s teams when they beat Michigan and OSU because those schools were down [for them at least], no it was memorable IU beat both programs in the same year. IU had a young team last year that learned how to win close games; it has paid off this year in the PSU game and in future games. It was great to see IU beat a loaded PSU team despite not playing our best football. Special teams and defense gave the offense short fields to take advantage of and the offense came through 5 out of 5 times. The offense came up with a 65yd drive and the final drive of regulation was one for the ages. IU also performed in OT coming up with one more point than PSU got.

      It is easy for many to let their memories of IUFB in the past cloud their thinking about this team. The recruits brought in by coach Allen the past two years have given us reason to be hopeful and I choose to live in the moment as I enjoy watching and cheering for this team.

    2. Agree with that about who IUFB did/didn’t beat. Schedule was made years ago. “Beat the beatables” has been my watchword. It’s a lot harder to do than one would think (otherwise, everyone would do it).

      1. I think we may have a bit more understanding of Northwestern’s dominance of Maryland last weekend. Is it Ramsey or is it Memorex? Minnesota doubling up on Maryland …. It’s Memorex.
        I bet OSU beats the new highly beatable, Penn State, by 5 touchdowns.

        1. Wow…Never mind. Hadn’t looked at the score. Maryland must be pulling off a stunning comeback.

        2. Maryland played a better NW defense than Minnesota has shown this year. Ramsey played very good against Maryland’s defense and Minnesota found their offense against Maryland’s defense. Last night Minnesota’s defense couldn’t hold against Maryland’s offense like the couldn’t against Michigan.

  10. Well, you summed it up pretty quickly…Our milestones in football are when we beat teams like Michigan and OSU when they are “down.”

    50 years into the future since that time period and our expectations are much the same. Celebrate when a traditional powerhouse has had an unusually down year (defeat OSU or Michigan once every 40 years) or celebrate when we defeat Penn State once every decade.

    That are countless reasons IU Football will struggle to ever be truly relevant….Attendance, population center absence, fervor of fan base, conference alignment and recruiting competition against those same top teams in our division, coaching turnover (soon as we make any leeway, it’s likely a powerhouse program plucks our up-and-coming head coaches, assistant coaches, and strength coaches away).

    It’s simply a constant reset. And within the coaching transitions has been restarts of building a program already with very thin margins for error from Point Zero each time.

    I simply see IU Football as a forever fist-pump for the eternal underdog. There is no longer enough investment to get a heart broken.

    1. I simply see IU Football as a forever fist-pump for the eternal underdog. There is no longer enough investment to get a heart broken.

      Not to quote myself, but I did…..But what might be the most tragic result of this obsession to turn IU Football into something resembling the enthusiasm and heyday history of banner basketball, is in our failure to realize dividing passions between football and basketball, as if they were part of some Leftist ideology of equal sports justice/affirmative action program (subsidize football with the last gasps of passions in basketball) has only created more lost ground for the only relevance we ever had.

      When you spend too much time and investment on the underachiever(football), the result may be very detrimental to the child who you assumed was coasting along and needed none(basketball).

  11. oops (beginning of 3rd paragraph).

    [There] are countless reasons IU Football will struggle…

  12. We won’t win all of our games and might lose tomorrow. That being said, we are a fun and competitive team. Just look at the video of Coach Allen crowd surfing on his players. Look at how much enjoyment they had and the LEO for there coach. Players are going to want to play for him and parents are going to want their kids to play for him. Football is building in Btown. If you are a fan of IU, be a fan of all sports and just enjoy it. Hope we are having the same discussions on mens/womens basketball, soccer, baseball etc. the rest of the year. All programs are on the rise!!!

  13. Winning feels good. And when winning ends, “feel good” and “feel good” stories ends.

    It’s highly debatable to claim both major programs are on the rise. Football? Marginally. Doesn’t take much “rise” in a football program to beat teams with .200 W/L percentages. Back up the one quality win and finish this season above .500.
    Basketball hasn’t seen an NCAA tournament under Miller. Last year was a likelihood but fact remains the rest of the Midwest has dusted are basketball program in March Madness over the last 10 seasons.

    No matter…Good time to be a coach. Little expectations with Covid-19 and still get paid millions. Who wouldn’t be smiling ear to ear?

  14. I will be watching the game tomorrow and I hope to be cheering on a superb game by IU. This group of players and HC is what I have seen missing from IU – tough determination and players making tough plays to win games.

    Can this group disappoint us, it is possible, but I don’t think this group will. Do they have enough talent to beat Michigan or OSU, we will have to see. Yes I know IU needs to improve especially on the OL but we have areas of the team that are near the level of the top players in the B1G IE QB, receivers/TE, RB, DBs, DTs, maybe LBs. How close they are to the top we will find out this season. I think our coaches have done a good job evaluating talent and getting players much better than their ranking.

    I anticipate enjoying this season knowing the possibilities of the season good and bad.

  15. Regardless, strength of competition IU football is 9 and 5 over last 14 games. This includes wins over Nebraska, Purdue, Maryland, Rutgers Northwestern, and Penn State. IU did win those games vs losing.
    How much better could have the highly rated Boise State teams, Central Florida, Brigham Young’s (who Corso and team handed them first loss of season as they were ranked around 9th). It’s the big ten east week after big ten week.

    1. Nebraska, Purdue, Maryland, Rutgers Northwestern 2019 Combined Conference Record: 8-37 (.177) . Combined Overall: 17-43 (.283).
      Now that’s what you call the ‘cream of the crop.’

      1. Well aware of that. I made that comment/s last year about IU not having one win over team with winning record. My point is they did win games over teams with losing records instead of losing to them.

        1. No problem, t. I get it.
          But the “losing records’ of the teams we conquered were in the category of gross losing records.
          Outside of Nebraska @ 5-7 overall (3-6 conference), not a team close to .500.
          Maryland, Rutgers and Northwestern were a combined 2-25 in conference play. I repeat, 2-25. Two conference wins between three teams for an entire Big10 season.

  16. Will combined record over last two season be above .500 after the conclusion of this year (including any bowl games)? My guess is no.

    Last year’s cupcakes were the worst of the worst. The others wins were against bottom-feeders of the East and West. We have one high quality win since last season to current time.

    It’s a lot of media attention, hype and conclusions based on very little achieved. Exaggerated sell jobs and hype seems to be the main “signature”
    of IU’s two major men’s sports over the last 15 years. Basketball has yet to advance beyond a Sweet 16 since 2003. Last football bowl victory was 30 years ago.

    We may start turning the corner now that we’re rid of Part 2 of the Clown Act (a.k.a. Fred Flintstone (pt. 2) & CharlaTom (pt. 1)).
    Also make note that our Football “turnaround/breakthrough?” is the result of of Kevin Wilson’s decision to bring in Tom Allen.

  17. Stunning Stat: Bill Mallory is still responsible for 60% of our bowl appearances over the last 35 years. Six bowls in seven years for Mallory (1986-93).
    The next 27 years …? Four bowls (all losses).

  18. All-time best career record for an IU Football coach (minimum 50 games)?

    James H. Horne (1898–1904) 33–21–5 (.602 )

  19. Interesting Stat: With a win over Rutgers today, Tom Allen will achieve an overall .500 record since becoming the head coach of Indiana Football. He is currently 19-20 overall (Big10 Record: 10-18).

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