Tom Allen Talks Team Depth, Season Opener at Big Ten Media Day

Indiana head coach Tom Allen believes this is the deepest team he's had since being at Indiana, and he thinks the Hoosiers are ready to contend for a Big Ten title.

INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Allen began his opening press conference at Big Ten Media Day in Lucas Oil Stadium by saying that this is by far the most depth he's ever had since being at Indiana.

He mentioned some of the top players in each position group from Michael Penix Jr. to Ty Fryfogle to Tiawan Mullen to Micah McFadden, Allen was bullish on his 2021 roster, from top to bottom.

"It's the most depth we have had on our team since I've been at Indiana," Allen said. "I'm very excited about the start of our season."

Allen then turned his focus to the team's season opener at Iowa on Sept. 4. He said he loves the way it creates a sense of urgency so early on in the year for his team.

"The start of the season always creates excitement. There's always that level no matter who you play, but when it's a conference opponent and when it's a team that of their caliber, coach (Kirk) Ferentz does a tremendous job there, the consistency, the toughness they have had for so many years, and to go and play in that venue to start the season is going to be very challenging," Allen said. 

"But I love the way that, you always get better in the preparation process and when you're preparing for such a high level opponent that early, it helps you I think have a better season."

Ferentz spoke before Allen, and he also thinks the opportunity to open up with a Big Ten opponent is a good experience for the Hawkeyes.

"It's unique this year for us to open up with a Big Ten-scheduled opponent," Ferentz said. "That is unique. I know last year was an exception for all of us, but I think you have to go back, I believe to 1979, 1980 when Coach (Hayden) Fry was just getting started, I know they played Indiana, ironically, in '79. So we open with Indiana this year. It's something very different for us."

For Allen and the Hoosiers, it's all about building on what they accomplished in the 2020 season. Allen pointed out that despite everything done in 2020 was great, it means nothing now and it won't mean anything if Indiana can't build off of it going forward.

For Indiana to compete for a Big Ten title, it starts with taking out Ohio State in the Big Ten East, and Allen wasn't shy to talk about that when posed with the question on Friday morning.

He reflected on the Hoosiers' tight 42-35 loss to the Buckeyes in Columbus last season.

"They are the gold standard and that is who we're chasing. And our one word for 2021 is chase and we're trying to chase that greatness every single day," Allen said. "You think about that game and you often think about post-games and comments that are made and as I was sharing my heart to our team I didn't even think about or realize that there were videoing it, but at the same time, oftentimes when you have those types of setbacks and you learn a lot about yourself, and I feel like adversity is where we really become who we are."

He went on to say that the loss to Ohio State, and how Indiana responded to it might have been a bigger moment than any in the 2020 season.

When asked how close Indiana is to accomplishing its goals, Allen deferred to the ideologies that have gotten Indiana to this point.

"That's up to these guys. Accountability, toughness and love — that's who we are. That's our three pillars of our program," Allen said. "That's our identity. that's our DNA. That's not going to change.

"Individuals are made in the offseason. Teams are made in the season. ... I'm very excited about the 2021 Indiana Hoosiers."

Allen always likes being inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and it's where he wants to end up in five months.

"Love being in this venue," he said. "Love Lucas Oil Stadium. It's our goal to end up our season playing here on December 4th."

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