I want to preface this by saying I realize it’s easy to root for a winning coach. Additionally, football fans are an extremely fickle breed and their opinions should always be treated as fleeting and not taken seriously.
That being said, Tom Allen is the best college football coach ever and nobody will change my mind.
Even if you overturn the “Penix reach,” I still have an immense admiration for Allen. How could I feel any other way about a leader whose battle cry is “Love each other”?
Love each other, what are you, five? That’s so childish, so naïve, so — wait, why am I tearing up?
In a year that has exposed many of us to an indigestible serving of human ugliness, a bit of authentic compassion goes a long way, especially when it’s coupled with two program-defining victories and a bevy of unforgettable moments.
Allen possesses the indomitable optimism of Paddington Bear with all the ferocity of an actual bear. He screams in a voice that sounds like gravel in a blender, kicks perfectly innocent trash cans and tackles his players in mid-air, yet might as well be Mr. Rogers politely requesting to be our neighbor.
From what I can tell, it takes a very specific and rare mindset to succeed at a school like IU. Essentially, you have to care more about IU football than anything else on the planet while somehow not giving a damn about IU football.
Allen simultaneously cares so little yet cares so much.
He is one of the proudest coaches I’ve ever seen when it comes to his athletes and staff, but probably the least prideful in regards to his past shortcomings.
An IU football coach is a “Looney Tunes” character walking on air across a ravine. The instant you look down to see a history of mediocrity and a media landscape of naysayers, you plummet.
Right now, Allen is doubtlessly marching headfirst into every contest.
It’s as if nobody ever let Allen in on the little secret that, traditionally speaking, IU sucks at football. As far as Allen is concerned, he might as well be in charge of the 2007 New England Patriots.
If his unbridled positivity is all a facade, Allen should genuinely consider sales as a second career. Mark Cuban may be the most famous Hoosier when it comes to selling startups, but I’d like to see him convince anyone to buy into IU football like Allen has with his players.
To help you understand my emotions, let’s compare Allen to a coach who has been statistically more successful, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. After his obviously depleted squad suffered a 38-21 drubbing from the Hoosiers on Saturday, fans are once again joking about Harbaugh’s potential firing.
Now, one could argue celebrating a man possibly losing his job amid an economic recession is super gross, but that’s beside the point. Even when Allen blows a lead or sends out his usual coverage team in a clear onside kick situation, few people are calling for his head.
Starting the season 3-0 certainly helps, but I think the reason Harbaugh incites impatience while Allen invites trust is that he always makes us envision how good things could be, not how occasionally disappointing they are or have been.
Sure, Ohio State still looks like a nightmarish monster that feeds on fear and the suffering of Michiganders, so IU’s time in the fraternity of undefeated teams will likely soon draw to a painful close.
And fine, building your resume on the scattered rubble of Penn State, Rutgers and Michigan, who pose a combined 2-7, isn’t exactly an elite schedule. But honestly, so what?
Sitting down to view Hoosier football every Saturday is no longer a niche form of masochism.
For the first time since Nokia dominated the mobile phone market and Antwaan Randle El scampered about Memorial Field, IU is legitimately fun to watch.
So long as Allen is on Fox Sports 1 or whatever tertiary network the Hoosiers’ noon game gets shoved to, I’m not changing the channel.