Indiana Becoming Desired Destination Across College Football

Deland McCullough described how Indiana is perceived on a national scene, and it's a good sign for the Hoosiers.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — When Deland McCullough saw Mike Hart left Indiana to take a job at Michigan, he sent Tom Allen a text, asking if the position for running backs coach was still open.

McCullough, who was Indiana's running backs coach from 2011-16, was currently in his third year as the RB coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, preparing for this second-straight Super Bowl appearance.

When Allen read the message from McCullough expressing interest to return to Bloomington, he thought, "Seriously?" Allen also went to one of assistants and said, "You’re not going to believe who is interested in this job."

Indiana is a special place to McCullough, and after seeing what Allen has been building the last couple of seasons, he said on Tuesday that he wants to be a part of the Hoosiers' future.

When McCullough brought up the Indiana opportunity to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, the legendary coach knew exactly who Allen was and what was going on in Bloomington.

"It is the culture that Coach Allen has created here. When I talked to Coach Reid about the opportunity to come back to Indiana, he started talking about Tom like he knew him," McCullough said. "I asked if he knew him and he said, 'No I can just see his energy and see what he is doing.' Everybody, even from the NFL vantage point, talks about Tom Allen and the commitment to the university that he has made."

That right there is a testament to what Allen has established in Bloomington.

Losing Hart seemed like a huge loss for Indiana. He did an excellent job developing guys like Stevie Scott the past couple of seasons and recruited very well.

It seemed like it was going to be tough to replace Hart with someone of his caliber, and then a Super Bowl champion who has coached some of the best running backs in the NFL reached out to Allen.

"This is not about me. It takes all of us. I am only as good as the coaches I have on staff and I understand that. We are only as good as the players that we have representing us on the field," Allen said. "That is recruiting, that is development, and all of the relationships that go into that. It is about people. Those guys have shown a desire to want to come here and that is a special thing."

This isn't the first hire Allen has knocked out of the park since becoming head coach at Indiana. Hiring Kalen DeBoer as the offensive coordinator before the 2019 season propelled the Hoosiers' offense to new heights, and DeBoer had so much success he took a head coaching job at Fresno State the next year.

Moving Kane Wommack to defensive coordinator paid dividends this past season as Wommack turned the Hoosiers' defense into a force last season, leading the nation in interceptions and the Big Ten in takeaways. Wommack then got a head coaching job at South Alabama.

This offseason, Allen hired Charlton Warren from Georgia to replace Wommack, which was another solid hire. Not to mention when Allen hired Aaron Wellman over the summer to take over the strength and conditioning program. Wellman left the New York Giants to come to Bloomington.

"To me, it has been about building something I believe in. I have been building this in a way that I believe you build something special that has value way beyond the game," Allen said. "I think people want to be part of that. You have to find people that fit with you. You cannot lose sight of that. These guys are highly talented individuals in their area of expertise, but they fit with us."

When Allen spoke with both Warren and McCullough about how this program is perceived from the outside, he got a great response.

"Speaking to both Charlton and Deland about the way our program is viewed from the staffs they came from, they are different conferences, different levels, geographically further away, but we saw a consistent theme that people saw the change," Allen said. "They have seen the culture shift. They have seen the performance on the field as a team, a team that plays together with a purpose, plays with passion."

That's why Indiana is becoming a desired destination for people across college football. Not just coaches either, but recruits as well.

Allen has hit the ground running with recruiting, and each season, he continues to bring in a higher-rated class.

But in no way is Allen or his coaching staff or the players satisfied with what they've built. There's a lot of things Allen still wants to accomplish, such as winning a Bowl Game and winning the Big Ten.

McCullough didn't come back to Bloomington because of what Indiana has done, he came back because he believes in what Indiana will do.

“Everything just fit for me,” McCullough said. “Coach Allen, the program, the direction that it’s headed in. I just said, man, I felt it in my spirit — I wanted to be a part of the next step that IU football takes.”

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