Saturday, December 28, 1996

UNI’s Allen selected as KU coach


Terry Allen almost became the University of Minnesota's head football coach and he had a contract waiting to become western Michigan's head football coach.

But Allen, the winningest active coach in NCAA div. I-AA, will get his first Div. I-A job today at Kansas University.

Allen, 75-26 over eight seasons at Northern Iowa, will be introduced as the Jayhawks' head coach at a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today.

"He's been a great coach," UNI athletics director Chris Ritrievi said late Friday night. "We hate to see him go. But in this business, when a guy proves himself at the Div. I-AA level, he deserves a chance to move up."

"You can't predict how someone will do at any level. He's proven himself at the I-AA level. We're perennially one of the top 15 teams in I-AA. He's a very sound coach. Clearly he's up to the task. In my opinion, there's every indication that he'll be successful in the Big 12."

Allen will replace Glen Mason, the man who took the Minnesota job two weeks ago. Allen, sources say, was the Gophers' choice before Mason's 11th-hour interview. Because of the length of the Minnesota search, time ran out on a Western Michigan contract offer.

And that's not the end of the coincidences. When he was named UNI's head coach back in 1989, Allen beat out fellow finalist Dennis Franchione - another one of the five men who interviewed for the KU job last week.

Further, Allen replaced Earle Bruce at UNI. Bruce almost became KU head coach back in 1988, but contractual snags prevented Bruce's hiring, and the job went to Mason instead.

Allen, 39, was the first outside candidate to interview for the job. The other four interviews went to Franchione, North Texas head coach Matt Simon and KU assistants Golden Pat Ruel and Mike Hankwitz.

Franchione, long believed to be the front-runner for the job, announced Friday night that he had withdrawn from consideration. Sources say Allen was the eight-person search committee's No. 1 choice.

Franchione, a native Kansan who has been head coach at New Mexico the past five years, said in a release, "The process was taking too long, I didn't want this to hurt recruiting at the University of New Mexico The past week has been too emotional and stressful for me and my family. We have gone through a lot. At this time, we just feel it is in our best interest to remain at the University of New Mexico and continue to build this program."

Allen, no doubt, built a solid one at UNI. A three-year starter at quarterback for the Panthers, Allen has spent 22 years at UNI as player, assistant coach and head coach. A native of Iowa City, Allen has never won fewer than eight games as head coach.

Under Allen, the Panthers have won or shared seven consecutive Gateway Conference titles, and he has been the league's coach of the y ear five times. His teams have made the 16-team I-AA playoffs seven consecutive years. Four have reached the quarterfinals and two made the Final Four.

UNI this past season went 12-2. The Panthers lost to I-AA national champion Marshall in the semifinals.

Under Allen, UNI was 3-3 against Big 12 teams. The Panthers are 2-2 against Iowa State. They beat Kansas State in 1989 and lost to Oklahoma State in 1990.

"Why is he a success?" Ritrievi asked. "No. 1, he has a tremendous eye for talent. No. 2, he has a great rapport with his players, and he's able to motivate them to play. No. 3, he has a great coaching staff. I haven't talked with Terry yet, but my sense is, he'll try to bring many if not all of his coaches with him.

"And I think he's a great recruiter. He gets guys who get overlooked. Like I said, we hate to see him go."

When he was named head coach at UNI, Allen was the youngest head coach at the I-A and I-AA levels.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.