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Indiana hires Tom Allen as head coach, shakes up Ole Miss’ defensive coordinator search

IU abruptly fired Kevin Wilson and replaced him with Allen, leaving the Rebels to scratch one of their top targets off the list.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

You can go ahead and scratch Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen off of Ole Miss’ short list for defensive coordinator. In a shocking and fast-moving process, Allen is now Indiana’s head coach, hired as a permanent replacement (not an interim) after head coach Kevin Wilson was abruptly fired on Thursday afternoon amid reports of player mistreatment.

Allen, a former assistant to Hugh Freeze, had been considered one of the favorites to take over for recently-retired Ole Miss DC Dave Wommack. Freeze and Allen coached together at NAIA Lambeth University and Arkansas State before Freeze took the Ole Miss job and made Allen his linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. In 2012, Allen tutored Denzel Nkemdiche to a Freshman All-American season and helped the Rebels lead the SEC in five defensive categories. He significantly improved the defenses at each of his next two stops as a coordinator, helping move South Florida from 96th to 46th in defensive S&P+ and Indiana from 105th to 30th this season.

Freeze considers his staff a family, and with Allen having worked with Freeze before, that would certainly fit the “family” requirement, and there’s no disputing Allen’s qualifications. But the Indiana gig was obviously too appealing for him to turn down. It will probably pay more than whatever Freeze could offer and coaches aren’t usually in this business to be a coordinator for the entirety of their careers. They want a shot to run their own program, and Allen now has the opportunity to do so.

If Freeze was indeed leaning toward Allen, Thursday’s news came as a shock. The firing of Wilson, who had led the Hoosiers to consecutive years of bowl eligibility, came completely out of the blue. Indiana athletics director Fred Glass said during a Thursday press conference that Wilson’s departure was a “resignation” due to “philosophical differences in how to run a football team.” A former IU player told ESPN that he and at least five other players were recently interviewed about Wilson’s treatment of student-athletes.

Of course, Allen being pulled away could be seen as good news for those who think Freeze needs to reach beyond his inner circle to make this hire. For a list of the other top candidates on the list, check out this post.