Ugh, you’re really gonna make me recap this season? Fine. Whatever. Let’s do this.
2016 was, in many ways, the Year of Tom Allen for Indiana football. When he was hired as the new defensive coordinator in January 2016, there was cautious optimism that this might finally be the hire that turned Indiana’s horrifitrocious defense into something less so. Early returns were mixed, but turned extremely positive, and without the defensive resurgence, there’s no way Indiana would have been in a bowl. So it went, until early December, when in less than a day, Tom Allen went from heralded defensive coordinator to 29th head coach of Indiana football. Those moments were basically the bookends on yet another wild season of Hoosier football, with much heartbreak, some triumph, and more than a bit of utter frustration.
For the fifth time ever, Indiana won the Old Brass Spittoon and Old Oaken Bucket in the same season. The Bucket win was also Indiana’s fourth straight, tying their longest streak of consecutive wins in the rivalry.
Finally not losing to the Scarlet Knights. (Yes, this was a highlight; shut up.)
Finding a defense, led by 2017 returnees Tegray Scales and Rashard Fant.
Going to back to back bowl games for the first time since the early 90’s.
Playing four top-ten ranked teams close...
...but not close enough (0-4 against the top ten, 1-4 vs. ranked teams overall).
Losing back to back bowl games due in part to missed field goals.
The offense crashing back to earth, despite having a handful of All-Big Ten and All-American players.
Having to scratch and claw for wins against teams we probably should have beaten by more.
Having what should have been a big win for the program devalued by the Spartans falling off a cliff the rest of the way.
Whatever actually happened behind the scenes to get Kevin Wilson to "resign."
The end of the Zander Diamont Era (which may or may not be related to the above).
Even moreso than usual, trying to predict the direction of Indiana football is a task set somewhere between impossibility and utter folly to attempt, so I won’t try (too hard) to do so. Indiana is losing a lot of talent (Dan Feeney, Marcus Oliver, Devine Redding, Kevin Wilson, others I’ve probably forgotten), but is also bringing back a bunch of guys hungry to show that this wasn’t their peak performance (Tegray Scales, Rashard Fant, Richard Lagow, Nick Westbrook, Tom Allen) and a couple trying to shake off disappointing 2016 campaigns (Simmie Cobbs, Griffin Oakes, also probably Lagow). The schedule is difficult (opening with Ohio State, trips to Penn State and Michigan State, Wisconsin, noted tough team Michigan), but not impossible (a decently soft non-con, the last three weeks of November).
Depending on how everything comes together, Indiana is looking at a 2017 where the potential record ends up anywhere between 3-9 (the most feasible nightmare scenario, but not necessarily the floor) and 8-4 (winning all of the games Indiana has a good chance in plus one they probably shouldn’t win). Which, sadly but not unexpectedly, seems to be par for the course. #ChaosTeam