Tom Allen was having trouble with his headset.
The over-the-ear headphones that ABC producers gave the Indiana football coach for his postgame sideline interview on Saturday didn’t quite fit, so Allen was already in a battle against technology by the time his players ran over. And at that point, the fight was as good as lost.
Jonathan King knocked them loose with a playful tackle. A Stevie Scott-Jamar Johnson sandwich didn’t help matters. The flying hug from Tiawan Mullen? Those cans didn’t stand a chance of staying put.
Not that Allen seemed to mind. And why would he? As the celebration of Indiana’s 14-6 win at Wisconsin began, Allen found himself square in the middle of it — and on national television, to boot. That gave the college football world an opportunity to watch and learn what those in Bloomington have known for some time.
Indiana’s players genuinely enjoy playing for their coach, and just as Allen was on ABC explaining his love for them, the Hoosiers were eager to show everybody that they love him back.
“I’ve gone back and watched some of the clips of that and it brought a little tear to my eye,” Allen said on Monday.
Consider it one more scrapbook moment in a season full of them for Indiana, a campaign that has seen Allen guide the Hoosiers to one of the best seasons in school history and rise to the top of the list of national coach of the year candidates. Saturday was extra special for Allen, both because the victory over the Badgers gives Indiana arguably the best road win in the country this season, and also because the postgame interview serves as a priceless piece of organic marketing for Indiana’s program.
Don’t take our words for it. Just listen to offensive lineman Dylan Powell, who started the steady stream of affection with a message directed toward high school prospects.
“This is the best coach in America right here,” Powell said. “Recruits: Come play for this man. Best coach in America.”
It was all unplanned, and very much unexpected for Allen. But it was a moment to cherish, a lasting snapshot of the program he continues to build.
“Man, I tell you what,” Allen said. “What an awesome group of guys that we have here. I love them so much and we’re close. The relationships that have been built on this team, it didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken time. I care about these guys and want them to be great. I want them to be great in this life. I want them to be great on the field and experience these kinds of special moments as a football team. So you work hard to get to that point, and (to have) the guys just show that emotion right there to you, it’s a blessing.”