With Indiana football in its final week of the 2023 season, the Hoosiers will soon start thinking ahead to 2024 and beyond.
Questions persist about head coach Tom Allen’s job security, after the Hoosiers missed a bowl game for the third consecutive season. Allen’s contract runs through 2027. The buyout on his deal drops to $20.4 million on December 1; it takes a more significant hit on December 1, 2024, to around $8 million.
If there’s no change at the top, one of the next questions heading into the offseason will be about other coaching staff changes. Some assistants could depart for other jobs — it happens everywhere, every offseason. Allen made one in-season change this year, replacing offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Walt Bell with quality control coach Rod Carey in early October. Carey similarly stepped in last year as offensive line coach after IU fired Darren Hiller, but he served as the interim offensive line coach last year.
Carey, 52 was named permanent offensive coordinator this year, specifically without an interim tag.
The Daily Hoosier acquired the memorandum of understanding Carey agreed to with IU Athletics through a public record request. An IU spokesperson confirmed there is still no formal contract in place between Carey and the university, so the MOU remains the guiding document.
The bottom of the agreement states that the parties “would work together in good faith promptly to come to formalize these terms into a comprehensive employment agreement reflecting these and other relevant terms.” It also specifies that this MOU is a binding agreement.
IU vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Scott Dolson sent Carey the MOU on Monday, October 2. The program announced Walt Bell’s dismissal and Carey’s promotion on Sunday, October 1, so this was the first business day after that move was formalized. The term of the position began that Monday, and runs through December 31, 2025.
Carey, per the MOU, receives a base salary of $400,000. He also receives $400,000 in “outside marketing and promotional income.” He is the highest-paid coordinator in program history.
He also has the following performance bonuses.
- If IU reaches six wins in a season, Carey receives a $20,000 bonus.
- If the Hoosiers score 24 or more points in at least 60 percent of their games. Carey receives a $50,000 bonus. Whether they play 12 or 13 games, he’d need the team to reach that mark in eight games to top 60 percent.
- If IU scores 30 or more points in at least 60 percent of its games, that bonus becomes $100,000.
- If Indiana ranks in the top half of the Big Ten in points per game, yards per game, or red zone efficiency, Carey would receive a $50,000 bonus for each.
- If IU finished in the top third of the Big Ten in those categories, the related bonus would become $100,000.
- If IU won the Big Ten Championship Game, Carey would earn a $20,000 bonus.
- If IU appeared in a College Football Playoff semifinal, Carey would receive a $20,000 bonus.
- If the Hoosiers won a CFP semifinal and appeared in the national championship game, Carey would receive a $25,000 bonus.
- If IU won a national championship, Carey would receive a $40,000 bonus.
Carey is not currently in line for any performance bonuses this season, and it’s highly unlikely the Hoosiers can enter the top half of the Big Ten in any of the categories that would trigger one of his bonuses with just one game remaining.
If IU fired Carey without cause, the university would owe him 100 percent of his annual compensation through the remainder of the term. However, if IU fired Allen (or if Allen left IU on his own volition), the university can fire Carey without cause and owe him his full annual compensation only through June 30.
If Carey left IU for a non-Big Ten assistant coach or coordinator position, he would owe the university 20 percent of one year’s salary. If that position was at another Big Ten school, he’d owe 30 percent of one year’s salary. Carey would not owe IU anything if he left with less than 12 months remaining on the agreement, or if he left anytime for a college football head coaching position or any NFL assistant coach job.
Carey has now served as IU’s offensive coordinator for six games; the Old Oaken Bucket game against Purdue will be his seventh. Bell lasted five games into this season before he was let go, and two of those games came against an FCS team and a MAC team — Carey has faced six Big Ten teams.
The Hoosiers also decided to stick with redshirt freshman Brendan Sorsby at quarterback after Carey took over, which has provided some more stability to the offense from week to week. IU used both Sorsby and redshirt freshman Tayven Jackson in Carey’s first game calling plays this season, at Michigan. But since then, it’s been Sorsby’s job.
Bell had the quarterbacks rotating in the first two games of the year against Ohio State and Indiana State, before Jackson was named the starter. He played the entire Louisville and Akron games, and acted as the sole starter against Maryland but was removed for Sorsby in the second half with the game out of hand.
Since Carey took over, the Hoosiers are averaging 20.83 points per game. The offense, under Bell, averaged 20.80 points per game. Bell’s offense this season averaged 334.2 yards per game, while Carey’s has recorded 329 per game against the tougher competition. Under Bell, the Hoosiers scored on 12 of their 15 red-zone attempts this season; IU has converted on 13 of its 16 red-zone attempts under Carey.
Sorsby has shown real signs of improvement and long-term potential since taking over the starting quarterback job. Redshirt sophomore running back Trent Howland and junior wide receiver Donaven McCulley have also emerged in some big ways since Carey took over the offense.
Carey, of course, is still running Bell’s offense. The coaching change happened during Indiana’s bye week, but Carey, himself, said there wasn’t enough time to completely overhaul the system midseason; he could only tweak some things and emphasize some things differently.
If Carey remains IU’s offensive coordinator next season, he’ll have time in the offseason to install his own offense. This is his second time serving as an FBS offensive coordinator — he held that role at Northern Illinois in 2012, and then became the Huskies’ head coach ahead of their Orange Bowl appearance that year. Carey spent six seasons as Northern Illinois head coach, before leaving in 2019 for Temple, where he served as head coach for three years.
Northern Illinois’ offense, in the 2012 Orange Bowl season when Carey was offensive coordinator, ranked 20th in the nation at 469.6 yards per game. His offense was even better in 2013 — 519.8 yards per game, good for fifth in the country.
Carey’s unit ranked in the top 40 in FBS in total offense in four of five seasons from 2012 through 2016. But the Huskies fell to 93rd in 2017, at 377.8 yards per game, and were one of the worst offenses in the country in Carey’s final year in DeKalb in 2018.
Temple’s offense in 2019, Carey’s first year with the program, ranked 77th in the nation in total offense at 392 yards per game. The Owls slipped to 100th in 2020 with 348.3 yards per game, and 125th (out of 130) in 2021 at 286.8 yards per game.