Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Led by 'relentless' head coach Tom Allen, Indiana moves into AP top 25

Coming off their best season in 26 years, the Indiana Hoosiers and head coach Tom Allen made history again with a season-opening upset of No. 8 Penn State in overtime on Saturday. The victory was the program’s first against an AP top-10 team since 1987 and propelled the Hoosiers to 17th in this week’s poll, their highest ranking in 27 years.

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Indiana earned a spot in the top-25 poll last year after a 25-year absence, but only stayed there for a week. Penn State, meanwhile, dropped to No. 18. The loss marked just the second time Penn State fell to Indiana in 24 meetings.

Before every season, Allen asks everyone in the program to pick one word to focus on. This year, Allen chose “relentless” — an attribute quarterback Michael Penix Jr. put on full display to get the ball into the end zone on the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime:

“I always take on that one word I use for the team for myself as well in my own life,” Allen said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in April. “Just to be relentless as an intentional husband and father and leading my family, and to be relentless in my prayer life, and relentless in my study of God’s Word, and relentless in the way I lead this team and the passion that I have towards helping this program continue to grow.”

Allen — who grew up in a Christian home and gave his life to Christ at the age of 8 — has Matthew 6:33 listed in his Twitter bio: “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

“That verse has kind of become my coaching verse, in regards to you have so many things vying for your time in this profession,” the 50-year-old said. “There’s so many different things that get pulled and then there’s pressures and stresses. But at the end of the day, I want to put Him first.”

Up next for the Hoosiers is a trip to Rutgers on Saturday. A win would give them their first 2-0 start in Big Ten play since 1991.

With the success he is having in Bloomington, Allen relies on his faith to keep everything in perspective.

“We’re all going to stand before the good Lord one day, and we’re not gonna be talking about football,” he said. “We’re gonna be talking about the things that matter most. I understand the role I have here at a state university and we don’t blur those lines, but I want our team to know what they believe and why they believe it, and learn to live their life with conviction and passion and purpose.”

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