When new Indiana coach Tom Allen needed an offensive coordinator, he went right back to his Hoosier State roots.
On Tuesday, he hired Mike DeBord from Tennessee, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not yet been made.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones confirmed during a Tuesday conference call that DeBord had departed the Volunteers’ staff.
DeBord replaces Kevin Johns, who served in the same role under former coach Kevin Wilson. Wilson resigned abruptly in early December because of what athletic director Fred Glass described as a difference in leadership styles.
Glass announced then that Allen would serve as coach for last week’s bowl game and had agreed to a six-year contract.
And like Allen, DeBord has deep ties to the state of Indiana.
He was born in Muncie, graduated from Wes-Del High School in the northern part of Indiana, earned NAIA All-American honors in 1977 at Manchester College in the state’s northeastern region and worked as an assistant coach at Ball State and Franklin College, a Division III school not far from Indianapolis.
Jones noted that the move would allow DeBord to spend more time with his grandchildren. Jones said he was “grateful for everything he brought to our football family.”
“I think we were very fortunate as a football program to have Mike DeBord be a part of it,” Jones said. “You won’t meet a better person. I’m very excited for him.”
Rivals.com first reported that the 60-year-old DeBord was leaving Tennessee after two seasons as offensive coordinator. Last season, the Vols finished 9-4 and won the Music City Bowl with an offense that ranked 24th in the FBS in scoring (36.4 points) and 40th in yards (443.7).
“We always talk about leaving a program, do they leave it better off because they were a part of it,” Jones said. “Mike DeBord has made Tennessee football much better.”
DeBord takes over another experienced, potent offense.
Starting quarterback Richard Lagow and Devine Redding, who has rushed for 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons, are both expected to return for Indiana. Five of the Hoosiers’ top seven receivers in 2016 are underclassmen and Indiana should get back Simmie Cobbs Jr., their top receiver in 2015. Cobbs was suspended for the season opener, then injured his ankle in the first quarter of the second game and missed the rest of the season.
DeBord brings impressive credentials to Bloomington.
He began the first of two stints at Michigan as offensive line coach. In 1997, he was named offensive coordinator and Michigan responded by winning the national championship with quarterback Brian Griese. DeBord also tutored Tom Brady, who succeeded Griese in 1998.
The success in Ann Arbor helped DeBord land a head coaching job at Central Michigan, where he hired Butch Jones — now Tennessee’s coach — as offensive coordinator.
But after going 12-34 in four seasons, DeBord returned to Michigan, where he spent two seasons as special teams coach and two more as offensive coordinator.
In 2008, he joined the Seattle Seahawks’ coaching staff and then left for the Chicago Bears, where he stayed from 2010-12.
He rejoined Jones at Tennessee in 2015, and now he’s coming home to work for Allen and the Hoosiers.