Following the end of the 2021 season, Indiana football head coach Tom Allen was left with an abundance of questions about the direction and future of his team. Among the most prominent of these questions was the matter of personnel.
Former defensive coordinator Charlton Warren left Indiana for a job at the University of North Carolina on Jan. 8 and defensive line coach Kevin Peoples was hired for the same role at the University of Missouri on Jan. 7.
But Allen found the answers in his coaching search. He tapped a friend as his new defensive coordinator in Chad Wilt and found a kindred spirit in new defensive line coach Paul Randolph.
Allen has known Wilt, most recently the defensive line coach at Minnesota, for years, he said. Allen said he’d been trying to bring Wilt onto Indiana’s staff since he first arrived as Indiana’s defensive coordinator himself in 2016.
However, Allen did not know Randolph, most recently the defensive line coach at Texas Tech University, well prior to reaching out about an opening on Indiana’s staff. The two were only recently connected by Indiana safeties coach Jason Jones, who’d previously worked with Randolph at Rice University in 2006.
Allen said he may have known the two in different ways, but there was a common theme between the hires. Each embodied Allen’s “Love Each Other,” or LEO, mantra. He’d already seen it in Wilt and quickly found it in Randolph.
“I just couldn't be more excited about adding these two individuals to our program,” Allen said in a press conference Sunday. “I know they're going to make us better.”
As he sat in the media room of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Wilt said his hiring feels like a return to home. He’d completed high school in Indiana and played defensive end at Taylor University. His wife, an Indianapolis native, attended Roncalli High School.
“We really consider ourselves Indiana people, an Indiana family,” Wilt said with a smile.
Wilt said the team’s defense will continue to play the Indiana way under his leadership. To him, that means earning takeaways, tackling hard and giving effort — all traits that he’s seen in great defenses.
But unlike his predecessors, Warren and Kane Wommack, Wilt will not have play-calling duties on Indiana’s defense. Instead, Allen said he will be reassuming those responsibilities. It’s a caveat Allen said the two discussed and were clear about prior to Wilt’s hiring.
After five years at Indiana, Allen said he feels more comfortable in the role of head coach. He said he’s missed calling the defense, though, and believes it to be one of his strengths as a coach. Allen said he needed a defensive coordinator to be his right-hand man.
If Allen is ever pulled out of a defensive meeting, he said he wants that meeting to be able to continue as smoothly as it would if he were still there. That’s when he’ll need Wilt to step in and take control, he said.
“The biggest thing is having someone that I trust that will be with the defense on the sideline,” Allen said. “That will be Chad's responsibility.”
With Randolph, Allen said he was first struck by the energy he brings and his character. He said Randolph seeks to know players on a personal level so he can be the best coach for them on and off the field.
“The passion for capturing the hearts of his players is going to be one of his major strengths,” Allen said. “To be able to get them to play at such a high level together with each other, which is LEO all wrapped up into one.”
Randolph said he places an emphasis on serving both his own position group and across the rest of the team while trying to set a good example for players.
“Once they know that they have my heart, they'll give me theirs,” Randolph said. “And then we can do great things.”