Dienhart: Indiana, Kevin Wilson split is a shocking development

Dienhart: Indiana, Kevin Wilson split is a shocking development

Kevin Wilson is out as Indiana coach, a shocking development for a program that was riding a wave of momentum. And the school wasted no time naming a replacement on a big day in Bloomington.

Indiana A.D. Fred Glass didn’t provide many specific details as to why Wilson is out, referencing an inability to see “eye to eye” and having “philosophical differences” on how to run the program. Glass said there was no “event” or “smoking gun” that led to this day, but the school had evaluated Wilson and his tactics with the help of an outside law firm. And the school and Wilson came to agreement to part ways.

Whatever the exact reason for Wilson’s resignation, it’s an unceremonious ouster for one of the best coaches the school has had in the last 50 years.

There were multiple reports that the “old school” Wilson had mistreated players. If that’s the case, he would be the latest coach to lose his job amid similar player mistreatment accusations, joining the likes of Mark Mangino at Kansas, Jim Leavitt at South Florida, Tim Beckman of Illinois and Mike Leach at Texas Tech.

Indiana’s Glass wouldn’t really address those specific questions at Thursday’s press conference, but questions like that rarely just fade away. As

Can Wilson ever be a head coach again? Possibly, but it may be difficult. More importantly: What’s next for Indiana, which Wilson leaves in a better place since taking over in 2011 from Bill Lynch?

Glass wasted no time in tabbing defensive coordinator Tom Allen the successor to Wilson, who had Indiana on stable ground in the rugged Big Ten East thanks to continued improved recruiting, high-powered offense and better defense. And it’s the guy who led that improving defense who will be tasked with taking IU to the next level.

Inked to a six-year deal—no financial details were provided—Allen did a fantastic job in his first year in Bloomington, giving the Hoosier defense some teeth as the third DC to work during Wilson’s six-year run. The Hoosier defense is No. 9 in the Big Ten in scoring defense (27.3 ppg) and No. 9 in total defense (372.6 ypg) this season.

“Tom not only is a great scheme person and so forth. But he is a great leader of men,” Glass told reporters.

Allen has deep roots in the state of Indiana, born in Rensselaer and raised in New Castle as the son of a high school football coach. Allen cut his teeth most recently at South Florida and Ole Miss as defensive coordinator. His appointment should allow Indiana to retain what is a good staff through the bowl game, and build on the foundation that Wilson laid. But Allen said today that he will evaluate the staff after the bowl, and that he will maintain his role as defensive coordinator in 2017.

It’s rarely an ideal time to switch coaches, but this is an especially poor time for Indiana to make a change. The Hoosiers have a lot of momentum, going to a bowl for a second season in a row for the first time since 1990 and 1991, when Bill Mallory had IU rolling. Wilson beat rival Purdue each of the last four seasons in the Old Oaken Bucket battle, the program’s first four-game winning streak vs. the Boilermakers since 1944-47.

Wilson arrived in Bloomington after a highly successful run as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma from 2002-10. Prior to that, he installed a high-powered offense at Northwestern under the late Randy Walker from 1999-2001, as the Wildcats won a share of the 2000 Big Ten title.

Wilson guided the Hoosiers to their first bowl since 2007 last season, as Indiana fell to Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl and finished 6-7. Following the season, Wilson was given a six-year, $15.3 million contract extension through the 2021 season, paying him $2.55 million per season.

Indiana is 6-6 this year as it awaits its bowl destination. Wilson leaves Bloomington with a 26-47 overall record and 12-37 Big Ten mark. For all the good he achieved, Wilson was unable to deliver the program’s first winning season since 2007.

Can the uber-enthusiastic and energetic Allen take Indiana to the next level Wilson never was able to achieve? We shall see.

***

Here’s how Indiana’s regular season ended up.

Date Opponent Result
9/1 at FIU W 34 – 13
9/10 vs. Ball State W 30 – 20
9/24 vs. Wake Forest L 28 – 33
10/1 vs. 17 Michigan State W 24 – 21
10/8 at 2 Ohio State L 17 – 38
10/15 vs. 10 Nebraska L 22 – 27
10/22 at Northwestern L 14 – 24
10/29 vs. Maryland W 42 – 36
11/5 at Rutgers W 33 – 27
11/12 vs. 10 Penn State L 31 – 45
11/19 at 3 Michigan L 10 – 20
11/26 vs. Purdue W 26 – 24
Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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