Tom Allen waited until his weekly radio show Thursday to directly address Indiana’s No. 12 placement in the College Football Playoff Top 25, but anyone with a Twitter account could take the temperature of Allen’s frustration shortly after the rankings were released on Tuesday night.
Allen smashed the Like button on several tweets that expressed incredulity at IU’s lack of movement, one of which simply read: “Indiana getting screwed again.” All week, whether at the conference or national levels, Allen’s 2020 Hoosiers have been fighting to separate themselves from the program’s past. And in his weekly conversation with IU radio voice Don Fischer, the fourth-year head coach didn’t shy away from sharing his dismay.
“We’re not the same team as 20 years ago,” Allen said. “We’re not the same team as 10 years ago. We’re not the same team as three years ago. That’s the part that frustrates me. We’re not that team, and we’ve shown it on the field. We’ve won 14 games in the last two years, which is third-most in the Big Ten. We’ve won 11 Big Ten games in the last two years, which is tied for second-most in the Big Ten. These are factual things. This isn’t just my opinion. We talk to our team about earmuffs and blinders, but I’m not lying. I can see these things. We’re gonna use them to motivate, to guide us and to lead this football team. But to me, this is about taking this program to a higher level. I feel like we’ve earned the right to be a top-10 team.”
He’s right, of course, and the CFP selection committee’s rationale that the Hoosiers haven’t beaten a top-25 team this season is not only a half-baked attempt at revisionist history, it’s irresponsible. It’s an affront to the truth.
And it’s probably going to cost Indiana a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl. The outrage at the Big Ten’s rule breaking has dominated the discourse this week, but don’t lose sight of what really matters here. The real goal — or, at least, the reachable prize, the one that Indiana has positioned itself to earn — is a New Year’s Six game.
As IndyStar beat writer Zach Osterman outlined well in his column Wednesday, IU is the Big Ten’s second-best candidate for a premier bowl after Ohio State. But when you look at the landscape of the sport this fall, it’s probably going to require a top-10 CFP ranking for Indiana to feel good about its chances, particularly because the Rose Bowl is a playoff game this year.
That’s not lost on Allen, so it’s good and important that he didn’t duck an opportunity to make his case this week. Perhaps IU athletic director Scott Dolson can connect him with his counterpart at Iowa, Gary Barta.
“It’s worth talking about,” Allen said. “I’m not gonna sit here and say much more than this. I’ll state the facts, being what they are. People gotta make decisions. (The CFP snub) put us on the fringe, for sure, which is why it’s important that they use consistent criteria to compare. You talk about Ohio State’s strength of schedule. Well, we’re a big part of that, and they mentioned that. Well, we can’t be a part of their strength of schedule and then (you) negate our strength of schedule, which is fourth-best in the country. You can’t. You gotta have a consistent measure there. That’s the part that’s frustrating me.”
Although it’s impossible to read the minds of the most puzzling selection committee in college sports, if you’re an IU fan, cross your fingers that No.7 Iowa State beats No. 11 Oklahoma next weekend. That could provide a path to New Year’s Six safety, as a three-loss Oklahoma team would slide. Probably.
Also, cross your fingers that IU can get in another game after a COVID-19 surge in the program contributed to the cancellation of this week’s Old Oaken Bucket game. Indiana was ignored by the committee for beating then-No. 16 Wisconsin last week — who knows what the penalty will be for an idle weekend.
“When we play again, man, I’ll tell you what,” Allen said. “Our guys are going to be so stinkin’ ready to play.”