The IU football program had nearly 10 months to decide who it should hire as its new assistant coach.
In April 2017, the NCAA announced that following the end of the 2017 season, each Football Bowl Subdivision college football team would be allowed a 10th on-field assistant coach.
IU Coach Tom Allen opted for a bigger shakeup than most programs with the hiring of Kane Wommack as linebackers coach, allowing former linebackers coach William Inge to move to the role of special teams coordinator.
“We have a lot of similarities in philosophy,” Allen said. “Just the way we go about running our defense and the way that we motivate and lead.”
As a player, Wommack was a fullback from 2005 to 2006 at the University of Arkansas before switching to tight end and transferring to Southern Miss to finish his career.
Wommack arrives at IU after spending the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at South Alabama. The results Wommack produced at South Alabama were comparable to the ones produced by Allen during his first two seasons at IU.
The Jaguars allowed almost 11 fewer points per game and nearly 70 fewer rushing yards under Wommack’s direction.
Allen and Wommack crossed paths earlier in their coaching careers.
Wommack was a graduate assistant at the University of Mississippi from 2012 to 2013 while Allen was the linebackers coach there. Both men worked under then-Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, Kane’s father, who retired after the 2016 season after 37 years as a college coach.
“Tom Allen is a very good friend of mine,” Wommack said. “A person I have a tremendous amount of respect for — the ways he does things on and off the field.”
A key similarity between those Ole Miss teams and IU is the husky position. The hybrid linebacker-safety role was a position Wommack coached at Ole Miss, and it’s also a prominent part of Allen’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme.
While Allen left Ole Miss in December 2014 to become the defensive coordinator at South Florida, Wommack made the same move in January 2014, leaving Ole Miss to become defensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois.
“We both kind of branched out at the same time,” Wommack said. “Really excited for us to have the opportunity to come back together.”
One of Wommack’s most important tasks will be to replace the production of Chris Covington and Tegray Scales at the linebacker position. The graduating seniors were IU’s two starters at linebacker last season and combined for 174 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
“I’m not sure that you can replace one for one, or two for two, with guys like Tegray and Chris Covington,” Wommack said. “Collectively, we’ll produce to the same level that those two players did.”
Inge’s move to special teams coordinator fills a coaching position IU didn’t have last season.
“We saw this past season, we’ve improved dramatically in special teams from last year to this year,” Allen said. “But still not good enough. Putting him in charge of that for me is a very important role.”
Inge spent five seasons as Indiana linebackers coach, starting with the 2013 season.
He worked with IU’s special teams cover units during the 2016 season.
“A third of the game is special teams,” Allen said. “It can decide the outcome of about every single game. Having someone over that, that they’re going to own, to be their responsibility, primarily, is Coach Inge. I think he’ll do a tremendous job.”
Allen said in certain games in which IU uses a 4-3 defensive front instead of a 4-2, Inge will be able to help coaching the extra linebacker used.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
The Hoosiers are the five seed for next week's Big Ten Tournament.
Harper is currently tied for 128th overall.
IU now has its fourth winning streak of at least five games this season.