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Tampa and Mississippi ties run deep for IU football at the Outback Bowl | Allen excited about location

Shunned by the College Football Playoff committee, the Outback Bowl wasn’t necessarily the game Indiana wanted.

But if nothing else, the program’s second straight January bowl game delivers on familiarity.  And ultimately, that is something that has head coach Tom Allen excited about this contest.

The Indiana roster and coaching staff have deep ties to both the Tampa area, and to the opponent — Ole Miss.

Below is a quick summary of the connections.

Indiana (6-1) and Ole Miss (4-5) kick at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.  The game will be televised on ABC.


Twenty-two Hoosiers arrived in Bloomington from the state of Florida, including 9 from the Tampa area:

  • Thomas Allen (Tampa/Plant H.S.),
  • D.K. Bonhomme (Clearwater/Academy International),
  • Juwan Burgess (Tampa/Plant),
  • Jonathan King (Tampa/Tech),
  • Micah McFadden (Tampa/Plant),
  • James Miller (Tampa/Armwood),
  • Sio Nofoagatoto’a (Clearwater/ Academy International),
  • Michael Penix Jr. (Tampa/Tech) and
  • Whop Philyor (Tampa/Plant)

Tom Allen began his coaching career as the head coach at Temple Heights High School in Tampa from 1992-94.  He served as defensive coordinator at Armwood High School in 1995 and 1996.

Allen returned to Tampa in 2015 as the defensive coordinator at the University of South Florida before he made his way to Indiana in 2016.

The Hoosiers’ head coach hasn’t hidden his disappointment in how the CFP rankings and bowl selection process turned out, but he has found peace in the process with an assist from the location.

“There’s no question everybody talked about where we might go (for a bowl game), and that location was not going to be in Florida,” Allen said on Thursday.  “We would have played in the Fiesta Bowl (in Arizona), let’s just call it what it is, and I don’t think there’s any fans outside of family members if that.”

“This is just my life belief — everything happens for a reason.  At the end of the day, this is probably the best location for us.  This is a great experience for our guys.  This is a great bowl location for our players, and the families that can come, the recruits that can come.  This is in the footprint that we recruit in a very, very big way.”


Photo via 247Sports (OM Spirit)

The IU coaching staff has several deep ties to the Ole Miss program including Allen.  Four Indiana players also hail from the state of Mississippi.

  • Tom Allen worked at Ole Miss as linebackers coach/special teams coordinator from 2012-14.
  • Allen was on the same staff as Chris Kiffin, Lane’s brother, who was Mississippi’s defensive line coach from 2012-16.
  • Defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, one of five finalists for the 2020 Broyles Award, served as a graduate assistant in Oxford from 2012-13.  His father, Dave, was the Rebels defensive coordinator from 2012-16.
  • Co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Grant Heard was a wide receiver at Ole Miss (1996-2000) and later was a member of the staff as wide receivers coach from 2012-16.  His wife, Renata, was a four-year letterwinner on the Mississippi volleyball team (1997 2000).  His brother, Ronnie, was a safety with the Rebels (1995-99).
  • Safeties coach Jason Jones spent six years (2013-18) as co-defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.  He coached cornerbacks at Florida Atlantic University in 2019 on Lane Kiffin’s staff.
  • Four Hoosier players hail from the state of Mississippi: OL Kahlil Benson (Southaven), WR Ty Fryfogle (Lucedale), DT Jerome Johnson (Bassfield) and DB Christopher Keys (Collins).

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