The list of questions seems to grow by the week. When will Indiana resume football workouts? What will IU’s updated schedule look like, now that the Big Ten is shifting to a conference-only model? Will there even be a college football season in 2020?
For Tom Allen, there’s another important, albeit less immediate, question that must be answered: What happens if his coaches can’t coach? This summer, Allen isn’t merely working on a two-deep for players. To prepare for the possibility of an assistant going into quarantine and missing a game, the IU coach is also mapping out a depth chart for his staffers.
“We will have a backup for every coach,” Allen said. “Whatever your role is, everybody has to have someone ready to take their place if you can’t go a certain week. There will be protocols in place, and those protocols are not totally set yet (for) exactly what that looks like.”
It’s a tricky situation to navigate at the moment, given that the NCAA hasn’t yet updated its rulebook. In normal times, programs are allowed to have 10 countable coaches — those who can do hands-on work with athletes, recruit away from campus, etc. Simply put, they’re your position coaches and coordinators.
Of course, each staff also has a group of graduate assistants, quality control assistants and analysts to pick up behind-the-scenes work where needed. And this season, depending on what the NCAA chooses to allow, these lesser-known assistants may find themselves taking on larger roles if their colleagues can’t come to work.
“I just give the example where you’re going to lose your special teams coordinator,” Allen said. “Say Kasey Teegardin gets sick and he can’t be there on game day or game week prep. Can you move a GA up to a full-time spot to where he has those responsibilities? Who takes his place? You only have so many countable coaches within the rules, and we have a lot of individuals on our staff that are very capable of being full-time coaches, or on-field coaches as we call them. They’re called countable coaches by the rules of the NCAA, to move a guy into that spot. So that’s what we’re working now to get answers on.”
It’s an ongoing process, one that Allen says he’s working through with the help of IU’s compliance department.
“I’m hoping we have that flexibility,” Allen said. “It would make common sense to have that as a one-year temporary exception because of the circumstances. Those are real-life things that we have to deal with, and we’ve got to prepare for everything. The good news is that you will know ahead of time. It’s not like it’s going to be the night before the game situation, but at the same time, you’d be able to have that fleshed out in advance. We’re in the process of meeting with compliance and finding out what the NCAA is going to allow each school to do when the situation arises.”
Consider it one more contingency plan in an offseason full of them.