Indiana’s 2019 season was an outlier for sure.
The Hoosiers attained an eight-win season and a winning record in the Big Ten — both for the first time since 1993, and a national ranking for the first time since 1994.
During the offseason following that memorable 2019 campaign, IU strength coach David Ballou and athletic performance coach Matt Rhea left Bloomington for Tuscaloosa to join Nick Saban’s Alabama staff.
By the end of the 2019 campaign, Ballou and Rhea had built national reputations as two of the best at what they were doing. Losing Ballou, an IU alumnus, stung a little more, but their departure to a top-tier, top-paying program was not unexpected. And let’s face it, Indiana losing staff to Alabama wasn’t the worst form of publicity.
Fast forward four years, and following the retirement of Saban, the Alabama staff has taken on considerably more of the 2019 IU football staff.
For Hoosier fans, it will be difficult to ignore all of the familiar faces on the sidelines of one of college football’s most prominent national brands.
New Crimson Tide head coach Kalen DeBoer was Indiana’s offensive coordinator in 2019. He has assembled a staff with familiar names from 2019.
DeBoer’s defensive coordinator at Alabama will be none other than former IU defensive coordinator Kane Wommack. He held that role in Bloomington for two of the program’s best seasons — 2019 and 2020.
The Crimson Tide tight ends coach will be former IU offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan, who followed DeBoer to Washington after being fired at IU.
DeBoer is also retaining and reuniting with Ballou to continue to run the Crimson Tide strength and conditioning program. Rhea has since left Alabama to take on a similar role with the New Orleans Saints.
Of course the Indiana-Alabama connections run both ways. New IU head coach Curt Cignetti spent several years on Saban’s Alabama staff. He credits Saban for shaping most of his philosophy and day-to-day approach as a head coach.
Perhaps all that remains is for the Hoosiers and Crimson Tide to schedule a home-and-home series? Okay, no, don’t count on Indiana signing up for that anytime soon.
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