Indiana head coach Tom Allen wins over Coach K in radio interview

Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski knows something about turning around a program.

And Coach K knows a little something about Indiana too.

The former IU basketball assistant coach under Bob Knight interviewed IU football coach Tom Allen on Thursday on his show “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” on Sirius XM.

Known as a fiery motivator himself, Coach K was won over by Allen not long into their discussion.

Here are some of the highlights from the conversation between Krzyzewski and Allen.


Allen graduated from New Castle High School in 1988, not long after IU basketball legend Steve Alford.  He talked about his affection for the game of basketball.

“You know, a tremendous amount of respect for our basketball program, a lot of love for (them),” Allen said. “I’m from New Castle. That’s my home. My dad was the head football coach there, coach Alford, Steve’s dad, was the head basketball coach there, so I’ve known Steve since I was a boy. He’s a few years older than me, so I’ve come and been raised in a basketball environment. I wanted to come here and build a football program. I just really believe you can do both. I think we can be great in basketball and great in football.”


Allen told a story of how he asked his players to write down the names of the teams they thought they were going to lose to.

“To me, it’s about expectations and beliefs, and when I got here we had to change the mindset. Before there’s reality, there’s mentality and I believed we could do it here, so I think that’s where it all began. And in one of our first meetings, before we started the season, when I first got here, I had players write on a three-by-five card of what they thought our record was going to be that given season. And after they wrote the record and I said ‘okay guys, I’m sure you probably didn’t put down 12-0 so, whichever teams you said we were going to lose to – you think how many games we’re going to lose? You write down the names of the teams we’re going to lose to.’ And they kind of looked at me like ‘seriously?’ I said ‘yeah, go ahead and do that.’

“I said ‘don’t put your name on it. I want the truth.’ And I said ‘okay, pass them up.’ So I had everybody pass them up and I started flipping through them. I said ‘okay fellas, when we go to play Michigan State, all you guys who put Michigan State down as a team we’re going to lose to, don’t show up. Stay in your dorm room. Stay in your apartment. You don’t believe.’ And I flipped through a couple more. I didn’t have to do that very long, they got the point.

“I said ‘fellas, I want a football team and I want a coaching staff that believes, because if you don’t believe, we’ve got no chance.’ And that’s how it started. I wanted to change the expectations and I wanted to create belief and that’s what we’ve been doing.”


The conversation shifted to recruiting, and how Indiana is starting to pursue and land more talented players.

“Sometimes a program will not go after those guys (recruits) because they think ‘Well, they are going to go to some power that’s already been established,’” Krzyzewski said. “I commend you.”

“It’s kind of the same mindset, you miss every shot you don’t take, right?” Allen said. “We’re not going to back down to anybody, on the field or in recruiting.”


It didn’t take long before Allen had the 73 year old Coach K wanting to put on football pads.

“Hey, Tom, we’ve been on for about 10 minutes,” Krzyzewski said, “I want to damn play for you.”

While he probably won’t suit up for the Hoosiers, Coach K looks forward to watching IU in a bowl game later this season.

“When I’m watching that, and hopefully with my family or my wife, I’m going to say ‘I had one of the best conversations ever on my show with this guy,’” Krzyzewski said. “I wish I was in the locker room for his pregame and halftime speeches.”

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