Determining the correct expectations for Indiana football is about as difficult and often frustrating a task as they come. Long-entrenched with the label as Division I’s losingest program, fans also have a constant battle of whether the program should strive to one day be like the Michigans and Penn States or settle for mediocrity.
Which brings us to the current state of Indiana football. As it stands, Tom Allen seems destined to take Indiana right to the middle as a bang average team, overachieving some seasons and underachieving in others. Well Indiana *feels* like it’s trending in the right direction, consecutive 5-7 seasons and losses to Purdue to end the year seem to have curtailed the moment that was gained after back-to-back bowl games under Kevin Wilson.
Yahoo’s Pete Thamel recently suggested Allen would be on the hot seat this season and, from afar and in a vacuum, he might have a case. Back-to-back non-bowl seasons after consecutive bowl appearances isn’t a great look, but there’s much more to the situation than meets the eye on the surface.
First and foremost, the thing Allen has succeeded in the most can’t be measured in the win-loss records. By virtually any rating you choose, Indiana is coming off its two best recruiting classes in the program’s history the last two seasons. It’s the sole reason for optimism regarding the program in its current state.
More importantly, giving a coach just three years at the helm sets a terrible precedent moving forward, especially at a program like Indiana. Reality is, in its current state, Indiana is not a program like your Michigans, Ohio States, Penn States or Michigan States. Treating it as such is only going to serve to hamper potential growth. One day, it may rise to a level that it should be treated as such.
In the event that happens, though, it’s likely because Allen, or a coach like him in the future, will have taken it there. He’ll likely have done it in more than three years. All this would come with the caveat that Indiana bottoms out this season, which is an “if” in its own right. Indiana has talent to compete this season, though even that statement comes with expectations.
Overlooking all of this is Fred Glass, who himself stated that Allen’s job was safe this season in a recent piece on his tenure at Indiana for Indianapolis Monthly, which is a must-read article in its own right.
Glass believes Allen will get better, but he’s not issuing any ultimatums for the upcoming season. “I’m not into the ‘this or bust’ thing,” the AD says. “I think that’s lazy. It’s my job to be the adult supervision, to see if the program is going where we want it go.”
Glass’ assurance just adds more reasoning that Allen won’t be facing a hot seat yet. It’s Indiana football. Set the realistic expectations low and root hard for #9WINDIANA.