Following the 2020 season, Tom Allen looked like Indiana football’s savior and more likely to leave for greener pastures than be fired for poor performance. Well, he followed up that 6-2 season with Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback by going 2-10 and never recovered.
Allen was fired and Indiana will search to hire his replacement. Across his seven seasons as the Hoosiers’ head coach, he posted a record of 33-49 and was 0-3 in bowl games. That’s not a great tenure, but it is much better than the four coaches who made this list of worst hires.
The next head coach doesn’t even need to reach the heights that Allen did, with Indiana finishing at No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings in 2020. They just have to avoid the depths he fell to, and clear the bar set by the worst head coach hires in program history.
There were plenty of unsuccessful seasons of Indiana football before the school joined the Big Ten conference in 1953, Crimmins’ second season, but that felt like a fair line of demarcation for our list of worst head coaching hires. Clyde Smith, Crimmins’ predecessor deserves special mention along with Billy Hayes and Pat Page.
Crimmins took over for Smith in 1952, seven years removed from his one season playing for the Green Bay Packers, and began his career with back-to-back 2-7 seasons. His NFL career came after his time as a second-team All-American guard at Notre Dame and service time in the US Military during World War II.
It’s hard to put a war hero who was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame, on the list of worst head coaching hires, but Crimmins never won more than three games in a season and finished his five-year tenure with a record of 13-32.