LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The people that insisted on tagging Tom Allen as a "former high school coach" when Indiana University introduced him as its head football coach in December 2016 need to find a different way to introduce him.

This should work -- college football's national coach of the year.

Allen's first national award became official Tuesday afternoon when he was honored by his peers in the the American Football Coaches Association.

"I was kind of taken aback by receiving the honor," Allen said. "Just so humbled ... just the journey you've been on. Just thankful about all the people who have helped you along the way.

"There's nothing special about me. I just stayed the course. It gives a high school coach a chance to know, 'If I stay the course, I can live out that dream.' "

Allen is the first IU football coach to win the AFCA national award since John Pont led the Hoosiers to the Rose Bowl during the 1967 season. Bo McMillin also won the award at IU in 1945. He is also the first Big Ten coach to win the award in 15 seasons.

The other finalists in the FBS division were Luke Fickell of Cincinnati; Jamey Chadwell of Coastal Carolina; Doc Holliday of Marshall and Brent Brennan of San Jose State. Ed Orgeron won the 2019 award while leading Louisiana State to the national title.

Allen was honored for directing the Hoosiers to a 6-2 season, the No. 12 ranking in the final Associated Press college football poll and a second-place finish in the Big Ten East division.

The season-ending ranking was the Hoosiers' best since they were ranked No. 4 in 1967.

IU also defeated East division rivals Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan in the same season for the first time in program history. They ended a 10-game losing streak against Wisconsin by defeating the Badgers in Madison.

IU opened with four consecutive victories before they were beaten at Ohio State, 42-35. The Hoosiers rallied to win their next two and had a pair of games against Purdue canceled because of the novel corona virus.

IU was ranked No. 7 in the AP poll before the Hoosiers ended their season with a 26-20 loss against Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl. IU played without first-team quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in its final two games after he suffered a torn ACL against Maryland Nov. 28.

Indiana is scheduled to open its 2021 season at Iowa Sept. 4.

Allen is also a finalist for the Bear Bryant coach of the year award, which will be announced Wednesday, and the George Munger Award on Jan. 19.

He has led the Hoosiers to consecutive bowl games for the first time while building an overall record of 24-22. Allen, a native of New Castle, Indiana, did get his start as a high school coach in Florida but made his name as while leading Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis to state titles.

His father, also named Tom, was a legendary high school coach at New Castle, but Allen decided to challenge himself to build a career as a college coach instead of simply dominating the Indianapolis prep scene.

"It was just so much in my heart that desire to be a college football coach," Allen said. "Just that question I had, "Am I good enough to coach at that level?' "

On Tuesday, Allen's peers in the AFCA delivered the answer to that question.

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