sports   |   column   |   football

COLUMN: Tom Allen ensures IU will not follow Maryland’s footsteps



IUFBpractice8.6.18_4

IU football Coach Tom Allen yells instructions into a megaphone during practice at the IU Football practice fields. The Hoosiers have opened their 2018 season with a 3-0 record. Matt Begala Buy Photos

This summer in college football has been tumultuous – plagued by domestic violence at Ohio State and the death of a player at Maryland. 

It’s been anything but routine. 

On May 29, Maryland offensive lineman, Jordan McNair, had trouble standing after a set of 110-yard sprints. McNair subsequently collapsed during the outdoor workout.

McNair also had a seizure, however, nearly an hour passed before someone called 911 regarding it.

After the workout, McNair’s body temperature was found to be at 106 degrees. He died two weeks after the May 29 incident in Baltimore.

The issue is the coaches' and trainers' negligence in diagnosing a problem with McNair – a player in need of medical assistance. No trainers or coaches suggested relieving him of the heat and putting him in an ice tub, let alone to take his vitals. 

A simple check of his temperature and vitals would’ve prompted serious action, but the coaches and trainers decided to skip protocol.

In the end, the McNairs have hired a local law firm to investigate the toxic culture occurring at Maryland. 

Times change. There was a time when coaches denied water to their players to toughen them up — something today, that seems idiotic to even comprehend.  

The Maryland situation was the product of the coaches not looking after player safety, something IU Coach Tom Allen cares deeply about. 

“I want us to win at a high-level here at Indiana,” Allen said. “But I’m not going to do it in a way that degrades a kid, makes him feel less of a person mentally, physically or whatever.”

Being the head coach of a power-five program, Allen knows the importance of recruiting. He’s brought the best recruiting class to Bloomington since 2014, a class that included NFL draftees Simmie Cobbs Jr. and Tegray Scales. 

Sitting in a family’s living room, trying to convince a high school football player to come to IU, a historically basketball school, can’t be the easiest thing in the world. 

None of that is possible if the player and the parents don’t fully trust Allen and the IU athletic department to keep their son safe, something Maryland Coach DJ Durkin failed to do. 

Much like Allen, IU Athletic Director Fred Glass has shown the program's dedication to player safety as well. 

On Tuesday, Glass announced IU bought new Riddell speedflex precision fit helmets for each player on the football team this season, at a total cost of $130,000, and said IU's training staff believes they are the safest helmets on the market. 

It's a good example of why IU is consistently snagging recruits out of Florida, the high school football hotbed, because Allen and the athletic department take care of their guys. This year alone, eight IU commits hail from the sunshine state.  

While some of that success can be attributed to Allen’s ties to the Tampa area, he was the defensive coordinator for the University of South Florida in 2015 and his son Thomas, current IU linebacker, graduated from Plant High School in Tampa. 

Time and time again, multiple Florida high school coaches said they push their players to consider IU because of the importance Allen places on safety of their players. 

“I believe kids respond to you when they know that you believe in them and you love them,” Allen said. “When you get to those two points, you can push them extremely hard.”

This epitomizes Allen’s philosophy and prompted him to create the mantra "LEO," which stands for "Love Each Other." The acronym is printed on all IU football issued clothes, and it’s something they believe represents the program. 

Belief and love are at the heart of everything Allen believes in. Allen said those two characteristics are the perfect balance in football. 

Belief leads to positivity, which ultimately brings success — success that IU hasn’t had during Allen’s tenure. 

Whether IU is successful on the field or not, a player's safety won't be put at risk under Allen.  

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

More in Sports



Comments powered by Disqus