Indiana has Top-25 football ranking and no assurance to earn it
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A football season fueled with more anticipation than Indiana University has sensed in years was injected with more adrenaline in Bloomington this week.
In its early Football Power Index ratings for the 2020 season, ESPN projected that Tom Allen’s Hoosiers had earned the No. 23 preseason ranking nationally with a projected win total of 7.7 games (ESPN story link).
Like every coach, Allen not only understands this season remains on hold until further notice because of the novel coronavirus. He has heard the worst-case scenario that football will not be played.
“That would be hard to accept,” Allen said. “It would be tough for everybody.”
Here are five takeaways about IU football from Allen’s media session Wednesday:
1. Allen said he has no specific answers about when players might be allowed to return to campus, when practice can resume or games will be played.
It is a topic that is discussed daily, and considering football’s importance economically and culturally, it will remain the No. 1 discussion in major college athletics.
“Nobody really knows,” Allen said. “There are a lot of questions but not a lot of answers…
“…whenever they tell us it’s safe to come back.”
But Allen stressed that the decision would be guided by health and and political leaders, not football coaches.
2. Allen said that although some players chose to remain in Bloomington, there have been no face-to-face meetings with players and staff. All communication is by video chat, text, phone calls or email.
Allen said players were advised to stay where they felt safest as well as where their parents believed they would be safest.
3. In a personnel matter, Allen said tight end Peyton Hendershot has been allowed to participate in video meetings with other players, even though he was suspended in February after Hendershot was arrested on preliminary charges of felony residential entry and three misdemeanors: domestic battery, criminal mischief and criminal conversion.
Allen did not say that Henderson had been reinstated to the team.
Hendershot set a school record for tight ends in 2019 with 52 receptions for 622 yards and four touchdowns. If Hendershot returns, he would be a redshirt junior.
4. Allen said the biggest challenges for coaches is the mystery about what level of conditioning players can maintain.
He said the strength and conditioning coaches did an assessment with every player about the equipment they had available at home: dumbbells, stretching bands, weight bench, etc. Players have all been given specific requirements for running.
Allen said this will be a test of the strength of the culture of any program. He said that he hoped players maintained their commitment to conditioning out of respect for their teammates.
5. Allen said recruiting has been an unrelenting as ever. The work of the video staff has become essential as they create virtual video tours of the football facilities as well as the Indiana campus.
“Recruiting has been intensified in some ways,” Allen said.