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‘You don’t control the clock and the timing of things’: Tom Allen explains decision to jump back into coaching so quickly after Indiana departure



Indiana football
Former Indiana football head coach Tom Allen discusses why he wanted to jump right back into coaching after his dismissal at IU. (Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

It was just a few weeks before another major program picked up Tom Allen after his departure from the Indiana football program. Not only did he land at a power five program — he stayed in the Big Ten with one of the most talented defenses in the nation.

Penn State wasted no time making Allen its defensive coordinator and for Allen, it was hard to say no to this opportunity.

“Well, you don’t control the clock and the timing of things, so you respond as you do most things in life. But I think for me, I’m a football coach. Just love what I do. And this opportunity to present itself at this timeframe was one that I immediately had interest in,” Allen said last week. “Obviously, I had a chance to go further into that and meet with Coach and go through the process. But for me, I really expected to get back into it.”

After seven seasons as the head coach at Indiana and eight total in Bloomington, Allen was let go following another disappointing season in 2023. Despite the struggles over the last three seasons, there is still a great amount of respect an from James Franklin’s side.

“When he was the defensive coordinator at Indiana, they were the most improved defense in the country. That was telling,” Franklin said. ” … This is a football guy who is still heavily involved in what’s going on from a scheme and fundamental perspective. That was obvious.”

“I’m looking for a leader of the defense and that leadership is not only the staff and the players and the fundamentals and the schemes and all those things. It’s all those things that are going to allow us to play really good defense, again, which we have been doing here for a long time.”

Related: ‘Touchdown back then, probably still considered a touchdown today’: Even at Penn State, Tom Allen still believes Michael Penix Jr. scored that touchdown

Allen has spent 32 years in the coaching industry and while this move may look like a ‘step down’ it’s anything but in Allen’s eyes.

Having the ability to come to a historic program like Penn State and do what he loves — coach — was something too good to pass up. Regardless of timing.

“Once when things happen as they did, probably a little quicker than expected, but once again, that’s the part you don’t control,” Allen said. “I just really have so much respect for this program, playing them for eight straight years in our division, and obviously getting to know Coach Franklin and what he’s built here and the way he does things. Just super excited about that, so that’s why when it came, the opportunity presented itself, we went after it.”

While it’s been a whirlwind of a last few weeks for Penn State, it wraps up game prep for the Peach Bowl this weekend against Ole Miss.

Tom Allen won’t be part of the staff on the field during practice, but that hasn’t stopped Franklin from getting Allen involved in scouting and being around the staff and players.

“Having both Tom and Andy (Kotelnicki) here, obviously you’d prefer not to have to have changes be made, but if they are made, I think there’s a ton of value in doing what we’re doing,” Franklin said this week. “Tom’s ability to be around the staff. Andy’s ability to be around the staff. Staff meetings, game planning, watching film, watching the players, how we do things. So, Tom’s not out there at practice, and Andy’s not out there at practice during spring ball still trying to get a feel for how we practice and how we go about our business.”

“Just super excited,” Allen continued. ” … so that’s why when it came, the opportunity presented itself, we went after it.”

SEE ALSO: ‘We’re bringing a bunch of really good football players’: Curt Cignetti details Indiana football recruiting class after ‘whirlwind’ of first 20 days

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.