BLOOMINGTON — It’s official. Tom Allen has his offense in place. Well, he has his offensive staff line up.
The rest will follow.
Mike DeBord and Grant Heard are in. DeBord will be the offensive coordinator and associate head coach, and will coach tight ends. Heard will be the receivers coach and passing game coordinator.
Shawn Watson, who was elevated from IU’s offensive quality control coach to quarterbacks coach before last month’s Foster Farms Bowl, will retain that job.
“Mike, Grant and Shawn are men of high character and strong leadership,” Allen said in a university release. “They share my philosophies on how to build up and motivate young men. They will get our players to compete at the highest level.”
Allen wants to run a spread attack that can vary the tempo, generate a strong running game and be productive in the red zone.
It’s also official that former offensive coordinator/receivers coach Kevin Johns and former tight end coach James Patton will not return.
“I would like to thank Kevin Johns and James Patton for their service to Indiana.” Allen said. “Kevin is a tremendous coach and a fine person. He has a great family and I want to wish them the very best. I appreciate James and all of his hard work over the past four years. He is another strong coach with a great family. Again, I wish them nothing but the best.”
Heard spent the last five years coaching receivers at Mississippi. He coached with Allen at Mississippi, Arkansas State and Lambuth. At Mississippi, Heard developed 2015 Biletnikoff Award finalist Laquon Treadwell, who caught 82 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. Three of his Rebel receivers are in the NFL.
“Grant Heard is one of the top wide receiver coaches in the country,” Allen said. “He will bring his expertise to the receivers room, a group of very talented players. He will coordinate the passing game and allow us to build off of the strong past that we have created with our ability to throw the football.”
Added Heard: “I’ve worked with Tom for a number of years, know what he is all about and believe in what he stands for. I’m ready for a new challenge and to bring a different perspective.”
Watson joined the IU program last season. He has been an offensive coordinator at Colorado, Nebraska, Louisville and Texas. He also was Southern Illinois’s head coach from 1994-96. He’s coached in 16 bowl games.
“I look at Shawn Watson as a tremendous mentor of quarterbacks in terms of their physical development, their ability to process and read defenses, and their preparation for the next level,” Allen said.
Watson is a close friend of DeBord.
“We’ve shared a lot of football over the years,” Watson said in the release. “I’m excited to be able to coach with him.”
DeBord brings 35 years of college coaching experience. He was the head coach at Central Michigan from 2000 to 2003. He also was the offensive coordinator at Michigan for five seasons. He coached for two NFL teams — the Chicago Bears and the Seattle Seahawks.
The last two years DeBord was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee, and had significant success. This past season the Volunteers set school single-season records with 63 total touchdowns and 473 total points. They averaged 36.4 points a game, and ranked 35th nationally in red zone offense, which was a major problem for the Hoosiers this past season.
“I was looking for a strong, experienced leader to run our offense,” Allen said. “I want him to be able to cast a vision for the direction we want to go in the future, be the head coach of the offense and to run that room. I feel like I am getting that with Mike DeBord. He has coached at the highest levels in the Big Ten and the SEC, as well as being in the NFL.”
DeBord, who was born in Muncie, has a brother, Eric, who was a defensive end at IU from 1977-80.
“I’ve been a fan of Indiana football for a very long time, dating back to when my brother arrived on campus,” DeBord said. “I have never stopped following the team and look forward to building on its success.”
Also, the Hoosiers open next season by hosting Ohio State, which will likely mean facing former head coach Kevin Wilson, who is set to be named the Buckeyes’ new offensive coordinator.
Wilson, who resigned last month because of “philosophical differences” with athletic director Fred Glass, guided IU to two straight bowl games, but never had a winning record in his six seasons with the program.
Wilson was one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators before coming to IU, including stops at Northwestern and Oklahoma. Using an uptempo, spread attack, he built the Hoosiers into one of the Big Ten's best offensive teams.
Ohio State’s offense slipped the past two seasons. The Buckeyes were shut out 31-0 by Clemson in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl.