The year is 2019.
Indiana is coming off another disappointing season devoid of bowl eligibility. Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, whose scheme and play calling tendencies drew the ire of the fanbase, is out.
Tom Allen is a man who trusts his connections. He likes hiring coaches he’s coached against, doing so on more than one occasion. When it came down to replacing DeBord, Allen had a few qualities in mind.
For one, head coaching experience. Or leadership at the very least. As a defensive guy, Allen gave free rein to his offensive coordinators to decide how they wanted to run that side of the ball.
He already had a name in mind: Fresno State offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer.
DeBoer previously worked with Chris Creighton, a good friend of Allen’s in the profession, up at Eastern Michigan. Allen was Lambuth University’s (a school that no longer exists) defensive coordinator when DeBoer’s legendary Sioux Falls teams were dominating the NAIA ranks.
One thing led to another and DeBoer was in Bloomington. He turned out to be exactly what Indiana was looking for too as the Hoosiers went on to win 8 games, reaching a bowl despite starting two different quarterbacks on the year.
Then Jeff Tedford, DeBoer’s old boss at Fresno State, retired for the first time. As fast as he got here DeBoer was gone, off to his first FBS head coaching gig.
You probably know what happened from there. Great success in Fresno led to the Washington job, where Michael Penix Jr. ended up out of the transfer portal in 2022. Great success at Washington led to the National Championship and now, I guess, leading LITERALLY THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE.
Indiana hired the future head coach of the sport’s gold standard program because Tom Allen was working at a school that no longer exists and was in the same playoff bracket as DeBoer once.