IU football head coach Tom Allen issued a challenge to players and staff in response to the Big Ten conference’s postponement of fall sports. For the next three months, Allen asked individuals to sharpen their axe — a metaphor for their minds and bodies — in preparation for the team’s next opportunity to play.
“That’s going to be our theme,” Allen said during a Zoom call Thursday. “The whole objective for me is we’re going to find a way to improve this football team in every way over these next several months.”
There is no indication as to when Big Ten football will return, however, commissioner Kevin Warren said Wednesday the conference will not revisit its decision to postpone fall sports.
For now, per NCAA guidelines, programs that have had their season canceled may still practice but with reduced weekly hours. Allen said in a normal season, IU is allotted 20 hours per week for conditioning, on-field workouts and weight training. That number has been reduced to 12 hours per week.
Allen said the program will emphasize development in the weight room under the guidance of Aaron Wellman, IU senior assistant athletic director for football performance.
“We have, I believe, the number one strength coach in America leading our strength staff,” Allen said . “I’m so excited about him being able to develop our guys, and I want to challenge them all to develop mentally, physically and spiritually over this time.”
As the team continues to move forward without a scheduled season, Allen expressed ideas that would make him feel comfortable for a season in the winter or spring.
Allen said no matter when the conference decides to play, it must be safe for the players to return to the field. He also wants the athletes to have a quality experience with the program that allows players to feel reassured given the current uncertainty due to COVID-19.
Allen said he is against any decision that would negatively affect the 2021 season. He emphasized the importance of having time for recovery, and a shortened fall or spring season may put a strain on the players’ bodies.
“I would not be in favor of that,” Allen said. “I want to see us be able to keep 2021 secure, and then do the best we can within the other parameters to create a good scenario this winter or spring.”
With the academic semester set to begin Monday, Allen gave the Hoosiers this past week off from practice. All players will return to campus this weekend.