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IU's spring football game takes new shape



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IU Coach Tom Allen steps aside during morning workouts Thursday.  Rebecca Mehling Buy Photos

Coach Tom Allen’s twist on IU football’s spring game has set Twitter ablaze.

A four-round draft, sandwiched between two free agent periods, took place Sunday to pick part of the Cream and Crimson team rosters.

Even before the draft, Allen said Saturday he was enjoying watching the trash talk unfold.

Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, Cream’s head coach, and defensive line coach Mark Hagen, his equal for Crimson, have traded blows with players in Twitter threads and boasted the superiority of their teams. Even the official Twitter account for the program has stoked the fire.

The new strategy for IU’s 2017 spring game, Allen’s second with the Hoosiers but first as head coach, has given the game a level of hype that just wasn’t as palpable a year ago.

“It’s a way for us to have a lot of fun with it,” Allen said. “But we are going to have two complete teams. They’re going to play a game there on Thursday night, so it should be a whole lot of fun, excited to see our guys compete and try and win.”

Allen picked up the idea from Willie Taggart, who was the head coach at South Florida when Allen was the defensive coordinator for the Bulls. Taggart has since moved on to the head coaching job at 
Oregon.

The entire athletic department, all the way up to IU Athletics Director Fred Glass and former Hoosier football great Anthony Thompson, who holds an associate athletic director role with IU, have dogs in the fight. Glass is the president of the Crimson team, while Thompson is the president of its opponent.

Glass said in a video posted to the IU football Twitter account that the two will likely have a side bet dependent upon who wins, although the stipulations of the bet will remain confidential.

“We’re looking forward to the winner-take-all nature of the game,” Glass said in the video. “It’s for all the spring marbles.”

It will be the first time fans will see the new system DeBord and the other new offensive coaches are implementing. Allen said he’s been impressed with the leadership shown by veterans of the offensive line, receiving corps and rising senior quarterback Richard Lagow.

While the makeup of the teams means each offense that lines up will be a mix of first- and second-team players, Allen said they will still jell with their new system.

“They believe in it,” Allen said. “Our offensive coaches, led by coach DeBord, are doing a great job of creating that culture of buy-in and holding them accountable for the way we want to practice, the way we want to perform each and every day.”

During IU’s spring game, set to kick off at 7:06 p.m. Thursday night and be broadcast live on BTN2GO — it will be aired on Big Ten Network on tape delay at 9:30 p.m. — DeBord, the coach staff and the players will work to beat the same people they work with in practice.

Once the game ends, that’ll stop.

“Closest team in America!” Lagow tweeted Wednesday. “Trash talk is fun, but don’t think for a second we all won’t be together hanging out as soon as the game is over.”

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