It’s called a “takeaway” — not a “turnover.” Let’s get that much straight, says Indiana Hoosiers head football coach Tom Allen. That’s what happens when the defense ends up with the ball. Because “turnover” puts the blame on the offense and makes it sound like the defense is just a lucky beneficiary of a mistake. Uh-uh — all wrong. In big time college football you don’t have the quarterback just throwing the ball into the arms of a cornerback, and you don’t have running backs coughing up the football because they’re not paying attention. When a possession is taken away, it’s due to an “act of aggression” by the defense, as Allen sees it. They rob or steal the ball, they rip the ball from its possessor — the defense literally takes it away.
So ingrained is this idea of “takeaway” in Allen’s defensive coaching philosophy that the Indiana coach has banished the word “turnovers” from the Hoosiers team lexicon. Anybody, coaches and players included (maybe even journalists?!), who says the unwelcome word has to “do 25 pushups.” Surprised it’s not 50? Us, too. It’s Allen’s first year as Indiana head coach, but he ran the defense last year for former IU head coach Kevin Wilson. As soon as Allen took the job he said: “We’re going to assault that ball. We believe it’s ours and we’re going to go get it. If you can take the ball away, you can be a great defense.”