College athletics are different than the professional kind in many important ways.

For one, they’re not just business, they are personal. The athletes are fresh out of high school and the parents, in most cases, are close to the program, having welcomed the team’s coaches into their homes during recruiting visits. Frequently under these conditions the opportunity presents itself for fathers to coach sons while for a brief time their lives intersect on a college campus. 

Indiana’s head coach Tom Allen knew the joy of it, but last Saturday was introduced to the pain as his son, Thomas Allen, was knocked to the turf at Memorial Stadium and could not get up. According to Allen the elder, his son suffered a serious hip injury similar to the one that knocked out Alabama’s Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the duration of last season. Allen the younger, a redshirt junior linebacker, won’t be back this fall and his teammates will have to go to battle without him.

Allen the head coach gave his son the player an emotional embrace on the field and became emotional again Monday talking about the injury with reporters. 

“I know what he’s been through,” said the coach. “He’s a tough sucker.”

The best football teams play for each other, and they play for each other because they believe their leadership would do the same for them. From the top it is trust and vision that are pitched to a team, and Allen made it clear he believes in the rest of his roster. Like the old musketeers, it is all for one and one for all.

“I’m blessed. I love this place and these kids,” said Allen. “Good lord willing we are gonna find a way.”

At 4-0 the Hoosiers are going to Columbus a 21-point underdog to the mighty Ohio State Buckeyes. It is going to take a sensational team performance for Indiana to carry the magic of an undefeated season through next Saturday. But Allen believes his team is going to give it the hell of a shot. 

“We’re going to compete, we’re going to fight, I don’t care what anyone says about this doggone game,” said Allen with the emotion heavy in his voice.