After working with defensive coordinator Brian Knorr for two seasons, Indiana head coach Kevin WIlson felt a change was necessary to turn around an abismal Hoosier defense.
Indiana announced the hiring of South Florida's Tom Allen as its new defensive coordinator Saturday afternoon. Allen replaces Knorr, who served as Indiana's defense coordinator over the last two seasons and will not return in 2016, according to a press release.
"I did not know Tom personally, but was aware of his background and reached out to him when we decided to make a change," Wilson said in a statement. "We made an immediate connection. Tom will bring a ton of energy and strong leadership, and our kids will play hard. This is a positive addition as we continue to take our program to the next level."
In his only season at South Florida, Allen led the Bulls to first in scoring defense in the American Athletic Conference as they limited opponents to 19.6 points per game in league play. South Florida finished 8-5 this past season, earning a trip to the Miami Beach Bowl.
The immediate connection Wilson referred to was likely Allen's ties to the state of Indiana. A New Castle, Indiana, native, Allen served on coaching staffs at Marion High School (1997) and Ben Davis (defensive coordinator, 1999-03 and head coach, 2004-06). Allen also earned his master's degree from IU in 2002.
"I am very excited to join Coach Wilson and his staff at Indiana University," Allen said in the same statement. "It is rare to have the opportunity to return home to coach and to be close to family. To do that in the Big Ten is even more special."
Growth and development is exactly what Indiana's defense has been lacking over the last two years. Under Knorr and his 3-4 hybrid defense, the Hoosiers finished 120th out of 127 Division I FBS teams in total defense, allowing 509.5 total yards of offense per game last season. In 2014, IU's defense finished 93rd in the same category, giving up 433.8 total yards of offense per game that year.
In the statement, Wilson praised Knorr's character but recognized it was time for a change from a football standpoint.
"We appreciate the contributions Brian made to IU Football and wish him the best. He is an outstanding coach, a tremendous person, a strong family man and an awesome teammate," Wilson said. "Looking at where we are at as a program, we determined it is time for new defensive leadership as we move into the 2016 season and continue to build our program."
Allen brings a 4-2-5 defensive scheme 24 years of coaching experience across the high school and collegiate level to Indiana, including seven college stops.
Arguably his most notable accomplishment was what he did in turning around the defense at Ole Miss.
Prior to Allen's arrival in Oxford in 2011, the Rebels ranked last in the SEC in total defense. After three years of working with Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Womack, he and Womack developed the Rebels into the top-ranked scoring defense in 2014 which allowed a nation-low 18 total touchdowns.
Allen has also served as an associate head coach at Arkansas State (2011), Drake (2010, and NAIA Lambuth University (2008-2009). He started his college coaching career as a secondary coach and special teams coordinator at Wabash.
"What Coach Wilson is bulding and the commitment Mr. Glass has made to the program, coaching staff and facilities is impressive," Allen said. "I am very much looking forward to helping this program continue to grow and develop."