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Meet Indiana’s new head coach, Tom Allen, who’s replacing Kevin Wilson

The Indiana defensive coordinator was named the new Hoosiers head coach on Thursday evening.

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Photo via Hoosier Sports Report

On Thursday, Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen was named the new head coach of Indiana football after IU athletic director Fred Glass announced Kevin Wilson had resigned.

Citing philosophical differences as the reason Wilson and Indiana football cut ties, Glass said Allen would be head coach permanently, and that his role will not be a temporary or interim one.

So who is this Tom Allen, and what’s his story? Let’s find out just exactly who Indiana’s new head coach is.

Where he got his start

Allen, as most college coaches these days, started coaching high school ball. He began his career in 1992 in Florida, which is known for its highly competitive high school football market. His first two stints were at Temple Heights Christian High School in Tampa, Fla. He stayed close to Tampa as the defensive coordinator for Armwood High School from 1995-96.

Allen then got hired in Indiana, where he’s originally from, and was the defensive coordinator at Marion High School before spending eight years at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. He was the head coach there from 2004-06.

After his career at Ben Davis, he was hired by Lambuth University, where he served as defensive coordinator and associate head coach. He then spent one season as Drake University’s defensive coordinator in 2010.

He has ties to Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze

Allen was hired by Hugh Freeze in 2011, when Freeze was the head coach at Arkansas State. Allen served as associate head coach with the Red Wolves.

There, Allen helped lead a defense that finished in the top 25 nationally in total defense as well as scoring defense.

He ended up following Freeze to Ole Miss in 2012, where he was the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator for two seasons.

During his time at Ole Miss, he coached All-SEC linebackers Serderius Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche and helped put together the nation’s best scoring defense, which gave up just 13.8 points per game.

A coach on the rise

Allen made his way back to Tampa when he was hired in 2015 as the defensive coordinator for the University of South Florida under head coach Willie Taggart. Allen helped the Bulls go from 4-8 in 2014 to 8-4 with a Miami Beach Bowl bid in 2015. USF’s defense finished fourth in the country in total defense.

From there, Allen’s name started coming up for some pretty big openings.

He was rumored to be considering the job as Auburn’s defensive coordinator after Will Muschamp left for South Carolina to take over as head coach.

In January, Indiana named Allen its defensive coordinator. Here’s Crimson Quarry on what made Allen’s implementation of a new defense at USF so special:

Allen ran a 4-2-5 base similar to what he ran as a LB coach at Ole Miss. He was able to come to USF and co-opt that Landshark identity in Oxford to the Bull Shark identity in Tampa.

The strengths of Allen's 4-2-5 was it utilized the natural speed of USF's defenders to close in space quickly and snuff out receivers and ball-carriers in the open field. The system utilizes an extra safety (Husky) play up on the line of scrimmage and offer an extra hand in clogging up the run, the ability to drop back in coverage to defend the pass, and ability to disguise blitzes. Allen was able to use the general aggressiveness of this scheme to force 25 turnovers in 2015 and be a consistent top 15 tackles for loss defense throughout the season.

Achieving success at Indiana

Allen took a defense that finished 105th per S&P+ in 2015 to 37th overall at the conclusion of the regular season. Here’s an excerpt from the school’s official release about how quickly Allen was able to turn around the Hoosier defense:

Allen engineered one of the top defensive turnarounds in the country in 2016. IU's defense improved in every major statistical category against a schedule featuring four top 10 opponents, a program first. IU is holding its opponents to 372.6 total yards, an improvement of 136.9 yards over 2015, the largest improvement in the country. The Hoosiers have limited their foes to 93.6 fewer passing yards, also first nationally, and 10.3 fewer points, which ranks sixth nationally. Indiana's defense has given up 27 fewer touchdowns than one season ago.

This season, Allen was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation’s top assistant in college football.

"Once coach Wilson and I concluded to part ways, I turned to determining who the best person in the country would be to keep up our momentum and take us to another level with our football team," Glass said, via the release. "I quickly concluded that person was in our midst in Tom Allen. He is a leader of men. He is demanding without being demeaning. He is a proven, successful coach on a national scale with deep Indiana ties. He cares about his players, and they care back."

At the press conference announcing Wilson’s resignation and Allen’s appointment, the former defensive coordinator was noticeably emotional addressing the media.

"I was raised a Hoosier," Allen said on Thursday, via The Indianapolis Star. "It's hard to believe. This day has been an absolute whirlwind.

"My heart breaks for (Wilson). I never expected for this to happen. However, he believed in me and gave me a chance: be the head coach of the defense and change the culture on that side of the ball."

The son of a football coach finally gets a shot of his own to be a head coach, and he’ll get to lead the program he grew up rooting for.

Can it get any cooler than that?