Like just about everything else with IU football, it has been since the late 60s since we’ve seen this.
Indiana’s basketball program is floundering, while the football program is fresh off a season in which it appeared in the AP top-10 five times.
Head coach Tom Allen’s Hoosiers finished the 2020 season 6-2 with wins over Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin, and the expectations are that his team will open the 2021 campaign ranked inside the top-15. It has been a major turnaround for a program that has historically been thought of as one of the nation’s worst.
Meanwhile the school’s iconic five-time national champion basketball program is just 67-53 overall and 33-40 in the Big Ten over the last four seasons.
A trending IU fan response to any mockery of the beloved basketball team’s recent run of futility involves a little playful apathy.
‘Meh, we’re a football school now anyway.’
Allen was actually asked last week on The Sports Stove podcast whether Indiana has become a football school. One byproduct of Indiana’s recent football success is that Allen has exhaustively made the rounds with the media over the last six months. Now heading into his fifth year as the head coach, Allen rarely gets stumped or caught off guard. And he was ready for this one.
“Here’s what I would say to that, I take a lot of pride in our football program,” Allen said. “But I’m an Indiana born and bred Hoosier in this state, and I love Indiana basketball. I was raised with that.”
Allen grew up in New Castle, Ind. just five years behind IU basketball legend Steve Alford, someone he has said that he looked up to as a child.
“My hometown is the home of Steve Alford, who growing up was an icon of this whole state as a (high school) player and then he comes to Indiana and wins a national championship,” he continued. “So I want to see Indiana basketball be national champions again.”
Allen is well known for focusing his team on controlling what they can control. In this case, he isn’t going to concern himself with labels. Instead Allen is singularly focused on results, and people can decide for themselves how they describe the programs.
“I want Indiana University to be a school that is good, that is excellent, that is great at football,” Allen said. “And how they decide to say all that, that’s not really my area of responsibility. But I want Indiana to be known as a great football school.”
Not a football school, but a school that produces a great football team.
Beyond just being an appropriate answer by Allen, he also has the benefit of looking around the Big Ten and observing schools like Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, who have all, aided by the Big Ten Network spigot, seemed to be able to operate at a high level in both sports.
As it turns out, the notion of being a “football school” or a “basketball school” is largely a relic of another era. And that’s seemingly good news for Indiana basketball.
You can watch the entire interview with Allen HERE.
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