CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — It was impossible for Tom Allen to focus solely on football this week.
His father was the reason why.
Tom Allen Sr. underwent open heart surgery on Tuesday, leaving his son, the coach of Indiana’s football team, concerned. There were practices to preside over and a game plan to hone, but Allen’s mind was understandably elsewhere.
“He’s my hero,” Allen said.
After Saturday’s 34-17 win over Virginia, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass stood inside the visitor’s locker room at Scott Stadium and delivered two game balls. The first ball was symbolic. Glass awarded it to the entire program — players, coaches, support staffers — for the way they rallied together after Kevin Wilson’s departure on Dec. 1.
The second one went to Allen as a nod to his first victory as a college head coach. Allen accepted the ball with a smile, then began to visibly choke up.
Relive the Win! pic.twitter.com/gfgP8tqNUs
— Indiana Football (@HoosierFootball) September 10, 2017
“Take this to your dad,” Glass instructed.
After soaking in the applause inside the locker room, Allen walked around the corner to meet with reporters in the bowels of the stadium. During his introductory comments, Allen, normally an intense and gravel-voiced man, broke down as he spoke about his father.
— Coach Tom Allen (@CoachAllenIU) September 10, 2017
Shortly after the team’s return to Hoosier soil, this game ball would be going to Tom Allen Sr.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” Allen said. “He deserved this one and I love him dearly. Lot of emotion this week. Lot of things going on. I’m just so proud of this team. I love our guys.”
Allen is the third coach in program history to get his first career IU victory on the road. Terry Hoeppner won at Central Michigan in 2005 and Clyde Smith won at Wisconsin in 1948.
This article is written by Mike Miller from Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.