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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Breaking down 5 potential hires for Indiana football’s vacant head coaching position

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Indiana football parted ways with head coach Tom Allen the morning after the Hoosiers’ 35-31 defeat to Purdue in the Old Oaken Bucket game on Saturday. Make no mistake, though, the decision came as little surprise to fans. 

After a modest 2-2 start to the year, Indiana crumbled as the season wore on. The Hoosiers finished a Big Ten worst 3-9 overall, including a 1-8 record in conference play. Rod Carey’s promotion to offensive coordinator — while slightly improving the offense’s production — proved a relatively futile attempt to drastically shift the narrative surrounding the program. 

With a 3-24 Big Ten record over the last three seasons, athletic director Scott Dolson and Indiana were left with the decision to buy out the remaining three years of Allen’s contract. As the paradigm of college football continues to undergo seismic shifts, Indiana will be leaning on its new hire to adapt to the transfer portal and NIL responsibilities. 

And the hire comes at a precarious point with the Big Ten expanding to 18 teams beginning in the 2024 season. Here are five potential head coaching options for Indiana to consider and what each of them brings to the table: 

Paul Chryst

If Indiana opts to go with a name with plentiful head coaching experience, Chryst is a viable option. This season, Chryst served as an offensive analyst and special assistant to the head coach with the University of Texas. 

Before that, though, he was the head coach of Wisconsin for eight seasons. Chryst had considerable success with the Badgers, compiling a 67-26 record and hoisting a trio of Big Ten West titles. 

A two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, Chryst is well regarded for his offensive mind — he oversaw highly explosive Wisconsin offenses as the play caller and quarterbacks coach from 2006-11. Yet, a sluggish 2-3 start to the 2022 campaign was all the Badgers needed to move in a different direction. 

In Chryst, the Hoosiers could receive an offensive-minded coach with a proven track record of winning. Perhaps most importantly, that track record comes within the Big Ten. While his experience could conceivably provide a smoother transition, given Wisconsin’s recent middling recruiting classes, questions linger about his ability to consistently land high-level talent. 

Jason Candle

It hasn’t been at a Power Five school, but Candle’s work with the University of Toledo has been noteworthy. In nine seasons, Candle’s posted a 65-33 record, won a pair of Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships and received MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2017. 

This season, the Rockets finished atop the MAC at 11-1, and a sterling 8-0 within the conference. There’s reason to believe a program like Indiana, which is looking to dramatically rebuild its program, would be interested in a candidate like Candle. 

He hasn’t had a losing season at Toledo, and like Chryst, he’s valued for his offenses. Toledo finished second in the MAC this year with 31.3 points per game, and it was the third ranked rushing attack in the conference, as well. 

On one hand, he has built Toledo into a program consistently vying for conference titles and bowl appearances. But then again, his lack of Power Five experience could spark skepticism from Hoosier fans. 

Jamey Chadwell

Maybe one of the lesser expected candidates on this list, but Chadwell is an intriguing option. The 46-year-old has steadily risen through the college football ranks, and he just put together a stellar campaign at Liberty University. 

The Flames went 12-0 this season, finishing first in Conference USA and garnering the No. 20 spot on the AP Poll. For the four years prior, Chadwell was at the helm of Coastal Carolina University, a consistently contending team in the Sun Belt. 

Chadwell accumulated a 39-22 record with Coastal Carolina, picking up two Sun Belt East titles and a conference championship. In 2020, Chadwell was named the AP College Football Coach of the Year. 

A young, offensive minded coach, Chadwell’s name is popping up for other openings such as Duke University. There’s little doubt Chadwell will be taking the step up to a Power Five school, but the question is when. 

If that time is now, Indiana could entertain the idea of hiring Chadwell. 

Justin Frye

Frye is the only name on this list with no head coaching experience. That might immediately negate him for some, but he still boasts an impressive résumé. Frye has spent time around some big-time programs, and he currently serves as associate head coach and offensive line coach at Ohio State. 

The Ellwood, Indiana, native graduated from IU in 2007 after playing on the Hoosiers’ offensive line for five seasons. Frye went on to serve graduate assistant roles at Indiana and the University of Florida before becoming the offensive line coach at Temple University. 

From there, he took over Boston College’s offensive line for five seasons, and two of his players were selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2018, Frye became the offensive coordinator at the University of California, Los Angeles under head coach Chip Kelly. 

With clear Indiana ties, Frye’s name makes sense on this list. His lack of any head coaching experience could be worrisome, but he’s an option to keep in mind during the Hoosiers’ search. 

Kane Wommack

Another name with obvious Indiana ties, Wommack served as the Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator from 2019 to 2020. Wommack had a few stops coaching defense at smaller schools, including the University of South Alabama, where he currently serves as head coach. 

Indiana’s defense thrived under Wommack’s tutelage, and it floundered after his exit. This season, the Hoosiers finished last in the Big Ten surrendering 33.3 points per game and forcing the least turnovers with five. 

Comparatively, Indiana tallied the most interceptions in the conference — 17 — in 2020 and finished second in sacks with 25. 

In three seasons at the helm at South Alabama, Wommack has guided the Jaguars to a 21-16 record, including a bowl appearance in 2022. In that season, South Alabama finished 10-3 and tied for first place in the Sun Belt Conference. 

Wommack is a name many Indiana fans are likely familiar with, and likely fond of. He doesn’t boast nearly as much high-level head coaching experience as someone like Chryst, but he still is a respected and veteran defensive specialist who could understand how to operate Indiana’s program. 

Follow reporters Matt Press (@MattPress23) and Dalton James (@DaltonMJames) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana football season.
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