“Earmuffs and blinders” is a common mantra heard from IU head football coach Tom Allen as he implores his team to ignore outside noise and distractions and stay focused on the task at hand.
The noise this week must have been enough to permeate the earmuffs, because Allen had plenty to say about a very eventful week on his radio show with Don Fischer on Thursday night.
And some of his most pointed remarks were directed at the College Football Playoff committee and their decision to leave Indiana ranked No. 12 after their road win over at the time No. 16 Wisconsin.
“Yeah, I was really shocked by that to be honest with you, and very disappointed,” Allen said to Fischer about learning of this week’s CFP rankings. “They’ve got a tough, tough, job. It’s very subjective with so many variables that they have to manage, and then this year because everybody has different schedules and number of games.”
After Wisconsin lost to Indiana, the CFP dropped the Badgers completely out of this week’s rankings.
And that is something that Allen viewed both as a slight to Indiana, and an insight into the committee’s mindset when it comes to how they perceive the program.
“I think there is a tendency to view things on the past,” Allen said. “We’re not the same team as 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or 3 years ago. That’s the part that frustrates me. We’re not that team, and we’ve shown it on the field.”
Allen is right of course.
And if the wins in 2020 over traditional powers Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin somehow weren’t enough for you, the program now has a two year track record that further illustrates Allen’s point.
“We’ve won 14 total games in the last two years, which is third most in the Big Ten,” he said. “We’ve won 11 Big Ten games, which is tied for second most.”
Of course the season isn’t over, and the playoff rankings are not final.
With that, you might be wondering why Allen is being so outspoken right now.
The reason is fairly simple.
While the Hoosiers have slim odds to make the CFP, they still have a strong chance at earning a prestigious bowl game.
The playoff rankings will determine the four CFP semifinalists — and will set up the New Year’s Six bowl matchups.
Allen is using his words to influence the committee, and he is using the committee to get his team’s attention.
“It’s earmuffs and blinders, but I’m not deaf and I’m not blind,” Allen said. “We’re going to use these things to motivate, to guide us, and to lead this football team.
“This is about taking this program to a higher level, and I believed we were a top-10 team. The AP thought we were, the coaches thought we were, and I was really surprised. I really thought that the playoff committee would put us there on Tuesday, and they didn’t. So we’ll just continue to put those logs on the fire, and keep things stoked up and burning on the inside, and keep getting better. And that’s what we’re going to to do.”
DOLSON DISCUSSES BIG TEN RULE CHANGE
Of course the CFP rankings weren’t the only big news of the week.
On Wednesday the Big Ten decided to award the East Division spot in the conference championship game to 5-0 Ohio State despite a requirement that teams must play six games to qualify.
That decision was at the expense of second place Indiana, and came via a vote by the Big Ten athletic directors. Indiana AD Scott Dolson reported that he was in the minority on the vote.
“I voted against the (rule) change,” Dolson said during his segment with Fischer. “I felt like I wanted it for all of us.”
But while Dolson voted based on what he thought was in the best interest of IU, he did so fully understanding what he was up against.
“If we were in the exact same position (as Ohio State), I’d argue like crazy that we deserve to be in that game (the Big Ten championship game), Dolson said.
“I understood it. We have to except it and move on.”
Allen shared similar feelings about the decision as he harkened back to his upbringing for guidance.
“I can’t control any of that stuff, Allen said of the Big Ten’s decision.
“You shut your mouth and let your pads do the talking. That’s what by dad taught me.
“We had our chance (against Ohio State), and we didn’t do it.”
TEAM’S COVID-19 CHALLENGES STARTED IN MADISON
Indiana had to overcome more than just the Wisconsin Badgers last weekend in Madison.
Prior to the game the team was already aware of the possibility that a COVID-19 outbreak was beginning within the program.
“There were some issues on game day (with COVID-19) testing wise and that effected us with guys that weren’t able to play,” Allen said.
Indiana was one of only four Big Ten teams that did not have a game canceled heading into week eight.
But in many ways, it was just a matter of time.
“It has been hard. You’re really just one bad day away from this stuff infecting your whole locker room and staff,” Allen said. “We’ve been very fortunate to get to this point in the season.”
Now the outbreak within the program comes at a particularly disappointing time.
On Tuesday the team ceased all activities, and on Wednesday Allen had to tell his team that the Purdue game was canceled.
“Not being able to play in the Bucket game is just a sick feeling,” Allen said
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