BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The core to Tom Allen's football program is all based around his LEO mantra. Love Each Other. He loves his players, they love him, and that's how it works.
It's been an emotional few weeks for Allen, but nothing could have been harder than seeing his own son, Thomas Allen, get hurt. A serious left shoulder injury suffered in the Nebraska game will require surgery, and he's out for the year.
"Thomas, he's done for the season,'' Allen said Monday, choking up a bit when he talked about it. "It really breaks my heart. He came back from a (right shoulder) injury this past offseason and worked his tail off to get back. It's his other shoulder. He has a surgery next week. It's a very serious injury.''
Allen, the redshirt sophomore who rotates at middle linebacker behind former high school teammate Micah Mcfadden, had his shoulder pop out once on Saturday, but continued to play. When it popped out again, that was the end of his day.
"The second time, it was for good,'' his father said. "They were concerned then that it was pretty serious, but then the MRI confirmed it on Sunday morning. So, it's pretty serious for him.
"He's an awesome young man, obviously. I know his mom well, and he's my son, so it's pretty personal. I hate it for him, but it's like everybody else. It's just part of life, and sometimes it's not fair when things happen like this, but he'll be back a year from now.''
Much like Tom Allen the coach did with fifth-year senior left tackle Coy Cronk when he got hurt, Allen will be putting his son to work. Cronk, even while in a cast after surgery to his lower leg, has been busy mentoring true freshman Matt Bedford, his replacement on the offensive line.
Allen will expect his son to do the same with James Miller, who now steps into that important linebacker role. Miller is a redshirt freshman who's also from Tampa.
"Its going to be next man up at that spot. After we hugged and got emotional a little bit, I grabbed Thomas and I said, 'your job is to get James ready to play.'
"James has obviously been right there with him and played quite a bit, but his role is going to go way up. So just like I gave Coy the same charge to get Matt ready, I gave Thomas the same charge to get James ready. That's what great teammates do.''
it's always tough on teammates when someone goes down, too. It's especially hard for McFadden, who played with Allen at Plant High School in Tampa and shares a position with him now.
"We gave him a big clap-up just for all the effort he gives week in and week out, It was really tough to see that,'' McFadden said Monday. "It's another long recovery for him, and it's going to be really tough. But we're going to be right there by his side. He'll still be there with us all the way.''
Indiana is 6-2 on the season, and bowl eligible before Halloween for only the fifth time in school history. The Hoosiers are back home again on Saturday, playing Northwestern at 7 p.m. ET at Memorial Stadium.
It's the first November night game ever at the stadium.