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INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 25, 2019
TOM ALLEN: Go through and once Coach DeBord had let me know that he was considering this, now you put some feelers out with him and different individuals, you always have a short list of guys that you have ready to go because you never know how things may go in the future. It's kind of that way for all positions.
But just an individual, I've known Kalen, when I first got into college coaching, my second stop was at Lambuth University, and he was at Sioux Falls at the time as the head coach, and we were both at the NAIA level, and he was -- they were basically the ones winning all the games and winning all the championships in our division there and had a lot of respect for him from a distance and got to know him through that process, and then just throughout the years, been able to stay in touch with him and had guys that worked with him. I've never worked with him before on the same staff, but just know the kind of man that he is.
So as you go through and you figure out, and my big objective was I was trying to find a guy that I could really label as the head coach of the offense, and that's what I -- as I talked with coaches and did the process of finding the guy, I would go through and kind of start by saying that and say that's what we're looking for, because as a defensive head coach that's been involved defensively as a defensive coordinator and now with more of an overall role but still going to be heavily involved with the defense and special teams, I wanted to be able to hire someone that I totally trusted to be able to be the head coach of that side and to be able to run those meetings and capture those players and capture those coaches and truly do a great job of leading our offense.
And so just felt like that when you look at his resume and the things that he's done, what I really did was this: I wanted to go through and not necessarily in personality, but I wanted to be able to find myself on offense is what I was looking for, and from a leadership perspective, from an ability to go to programs and create change, the path that he's been on is similar to mine. Just to be able to, when you coach at the smaller college level, for me it was the high school level as well as small college, you have to adapt to your personnel. You have to be very good at being able to not just force players into a certain system. You have to be able to take the guys you've got and win with those guys.
So he's been able to do a tremendous job of going multiple places and having success and being able to be a part of some impressive turnarounds, and it takes a special person to be able to create that kind of change. And that's what I was looking for was a guy with that mindset, that talent level to be able to do that, and then the offensive production that we were looking for. I've said it very clearly many, many times, we wanted to be able to be more explosive on offense, and it's about scoring points, and he's done an impressive job most recently at Fresno State. And really when you look at offensive numbers, which those aren't really always the telltale sign of everything, but they definitely show patterns and you're able to see a pattern of that on that side of the football, and to be able to be effective in the red zone was a big deal for me, consistently, and then to be able to be efficient on 3rd downs, which is really how you stay on the field and create those sustaining drives you have to have, and as we've always said, those explosive plays in the pass game and run game, and he really does a good job of being multiple.
So just was impressed first and foremost as a man, as a leader, the kind of character that we're looking for that fits our staff and our guys, and then also being able to be a tremendous offensive mind that's able to take our guys, and we've got a lot of talent on offense, I believe, and I like our young running backs in that room and our receivers and our offensive linemen, have good balance and some youth and some experience and some quarterbacks, as well, so just really find a special guy to come in here and help us -- be able to take us where we are and take us to another level offensively. That's the challenge that he's been given, and just really, really thrilled to be able to introduce Kalen today officially as our offensive coordinator to you guys here in this press conference and be able to take any questions you have at this time.
Q. Coach, what else besides staying on the field on 3rd down excites you about this offense and stood out to you?
TOM ALLEN: Well, you go through, and like I did everybody, I go through and watch and study film, and just to be able to -- to me, it's about scoring points. At the end of the day, on defense you've got to keep them off the scoreboard, and offensively you've got to score touchdowns. And so for them to be able to do that consistently and to be able to utilize different personnel groupings, as well, whether it's 10 personnel, 11 personnel, 12 personnel. I'm a big fan of tight ends. I think they create a lot of issues for us defensively, and the way he utilizes those guys has been impressive, and be able to throw the football down the field. Running the ball is always what I've said from the very beginning is what we have to do here, and we're getting better at that. So he obviously believes in that, as well.
But I just think more than anything you go through and you watch drives and you watch -- I look more for -- players make plays. Obviously he's coaching different players than you're going to have here, and so it's more about the scheme as you watch, how you set things up and put defenses in conflict by just variations of tempo and personnel and formations and things like that. So those are what I look for when I watch film because I know exactly how -- what I want to do is I want to watch a guy and feel like that these things make me take notes of what we've got to work on this, hey, we're going to have to worry about this, we're going to have to worry about this, so as I go through and I watch, that's what I'm looking for, when I look for a guy that gives -- the scheme gives you challenges, so it's our job to go out and recruit players to make plays, but the scheme itself I feel like is something that stuck out to me, and to be able to -- and also I think, too, for us, I don't want a wholesale change. I want to be able to take what we have and build off the foundation we have and get better and have some carryover, some consistencies so that we're not coming in with a completely brand new system that's different than what we've been doing. So there's some carryover but there's also unique things that he'll bring to make us better.
Q. I think you mentioned the red zone there, too. Some impressive red zone numbers last year. Just what needs to translate, I guess, in your mind, again, as you talk about studying an offense from a defensive perspective, where do you think you need to get better, and why do you think what Coach DeBoer, what he's bringing is going to really make that happen?
TOM ALLEN: Well, whenever you look at the red zone, for me and you study teams that are very good down there, they have the ability to run the football. I think that's a big variable. I think also the utilization of the tight ends I think is something else that helps a lot. And just being able to -- within that run -- because like I said, everything I think of is what gives us trouble and what do I not want to see defensively, and the ability to just be so efficient in getting that ball in the end zone, not having to settle for field goals. Obviously you have to kick a field goal, you take care of business and you score your three points, but we all know that you do that too often, it gets you in trouble.
But to me it's about being able to go through there, and he has a really good plan on the goal line, has a good plan once he got in the red zone, and that resulted in touchdowns, and obviously that's everybody's goal. We're all working for that offensively.
But so to be able to put on the film and see that consistently against various opponents, that's obviously the challenge here, and we play a lot of really good defenses in the Big Ten, and they do a great job stopping the run.
And then that core part of that defenses are really strong in our league. Just felt like the proof is in the production, and the ability to do that, like I are said, it kind of goes for both sides to be able to show you can score points, score those touchdowns, and then defensively the opposite is true. And so I just think that schematically and from a play calling perspective, he's done a really good job.
Q. I know you said you knew him for a number of years, but an offer didn't work for him. How much did you kind of rely or talk to Coach Creighton? I think he gave you his first college job at Wabash, and he obviously worked for him at Eastern Michigan and I know you guys are close, but how much did that really play into going after Coach DeBoer for the job?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, it was a definite variable for sure, and there's other members of that staff that I know extremely well that I talked to because when you work with somebody side-by-side for three years like they did, it really gives you a good perspective, the ability to lead that side of the football, how you handle situations during the game, when you're trying to -- as Coach Creighton was there, was trying to create and change a culture in a challenging situation, and he was part of that turnaround, and I was really impressed by that. It's been a great job that Coach Creighton has done up there, and Kalen was a part of that when they first got there. So just really relied on him, and I trust Chris Creighton and know him well, and there's just certain people that when they tell you things, you just believe it because you have been with them and you know exactly what you're looking for and the things that he values and the things that he puts a really high priority on, and I do, too, both from an offensive perspective as well as a cultural fit for us. That's where you get a lot of comfort in knowing that you get a guy that even though we haven't worked together on a daily basis, you feel really good about the guys that you do know and trust that have and feel like he's going to be a tremendous asset to our staff.
Q. What kind of pressure did you feel in this process just knowing that given where the offense has been these first couple years, just getting this hire was extremely paramount to the trajectory of the future of this program, making sure you got this hire right? What kind of pressure did you feel to make sure you got the right guy?
TOM ALLEN: I would say, to be transparent, I think I felt a lot because I just knew how important it was. I just felt like that where we're at as a program and starting year three that I knew that we had to get this right. I really appreciate everything that Mike DeBord has done for us and the foundation that was laid and just knew that going into year three that getting the right guy was going to be critical.
Obviously every hire is important, and getting the right chemistry on your staff of -- and that's the thing you just don't know when you hire somebody that you haven't worked with. There's a lot of things that you don't know, how that's all going to fit and flow together.
So I just spent a lot of time studying, spent a lot of time praying, and just trusting to make the best decision possible for our program. So just every big decision I make follows a similar process that I go through and try to be extremely thorough in everything that we do here.
But I just -- to your point, yeah, very important hire for us and really, really excited to be able to bring an individual the caliber of Kalen to our program and just feel like that he's going to be a great fit for us and really help us take the next step offensively.
Q. Is there a plan for tight ends in terms of position coaches, or is that still being worked out?
TOM ALLEN: We're still -- Kalen has been here for a couple days, so as a matter of fact, that's the first time I've seen him here, about 20 minutes ago when we got here from out recruiting. So we've got to spend a lot of time getting that stuff squared away, and we'll figure all that out once it's all said and done, but yeah, I haven't made those decisions yet.
I remember when I got hired as DC a few years ago when I first got here and had a similar press conference, I wasn't sure exactly how to coach safeties. In the past, I had coached linebackers in the past and ended up not coaching the position at all, was the walk-around coordinator, so at that time I don't think I knew for sure how that was going to play out, either, so we'll get that all figured out once we get past signing day and start getting ready for spring ball.
Q. Just the dramatic turnarounds that Coach DeBoer was able to make not only at Fresno State but also Eastern Michigan, what impressed you the most about the way he was able to make both of those things happen to the extent you were able to follow it from afar?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that those are variables that I looked at because I look at how do you create change, how do you go into a place that has lacked whatever, and I wasn't in those situations, but I've been in similar ones and know that it doesn't just happen, and you have to have a plan. The players have to begin to develop a trust in you, and you have to build that trust within.
The thing that, too, I look at is you go into a new staff, and just like he will come into our staff here and not coming in with a whole new group of guys, he's coming in as the new guy in charge -- I've done that twice myself, and to be able to capture those guys is step number one as the coaching staff. So to be able to go do that, and then obviously the players need to see just a gradual improvement and it's systematic and it's consistent and you see it's a pattern of those kind of things.
So that sticks out to me, it really did, and it kind of really showed that he's the kind of guy that understands what it's going to take to come here and to help us be what we're going to be in the Big Ten, a very -- play a challenging schedule every year, and that's not going to change, and you're going to go against those kind of opponents and opportunities, and I want a guy that's going to embrace that and has that in him and wants that and wants to be here, and the opportunity in this conference is what drew me here.
Yeah, it's my home, but it's the Big Ten. That was a big deal to me, and the opportunity to be a coordinator here was a big factor, and me returning to my home state. So getting a guy like Kalen to come here and to do the same thing and know that he's just like myself, was -- my first Big Ten coordinator job was here just like him.
So I just believe in when you see those kinds of things down at the other places, you know that it takes those same principles to do it here.
Q. As far as his salary goes, it was a very competitive salary as far as assistant coaches in the Big Ten. What kind of conversations went on with administration as far as making sure you had those resources available to attract higher quality talent?
TOM ALLEN: I just think that it's a commitment to being able to -- whether it's our facilities here that we're in the process of renovating with our new locker room and with our strength staff, and when we went to go to bat for Dave Ballou and Dr. Rhea and being able to those guys here and to be able to restructure their contracts, and now a guy in his position to be able to sit down with Fred and just say, hey, this is where the market is right now, and we want to go out and get the best, and we've got to compete, and you've got to be able to step up, and Fred absolutely was 100 percent supportive of that and trusted me to be able to say, this is the guy we believe in, this is the guy we've selected, and this is what we're going to need to do to get him.
And so because the bottom line is because where he's coming from, they want him to stay, and they do everything they can to create a situation for him to do that. That's the kind of guys you want, and you've got to go back and forth, and it's not just a simple process, and you just -- you fight for what you want, both here and with getting him, and that's part of us taking another step as a program in my mind and being able to put ourselves in a position to say that we're going to invest in this program. And it's a facility investment, it's a staff investment, and that's part of raising the bar for what I view is the importance of this football program at Indiana University, which drew me here when I saw Fred Glass's vision, when he actually talked to me on the phone about coming here as the DC, and those same conversations now, when I got -- had Fred talk to Kalen on the phone, as well, in this process to be able to show him that we're committed and invested here to getting this program to where I believe it is going to be.
Q. Do you know if the offensive staff is being retained, and if so, how important was that in the hiring process, to keep guys like Nick Sheridan and Mike Hart and Grant Heard?
TOM ALLEN: No question, those were the guys I brought here with when I took over as head coach and guys I believe in, and to be able to find a guy that wants to come here and fit in with those guys and lead them was very important for sure. But bottom line is that we've got a lot of great coaches here and guys that have worked extremely hard to help us recruit and to bring some really, really talented young men to Bloomington, and now we've got to develop those guys, and those guys are all part of this, and we've got a really talented offensive staff, so I believe in those guys, and I know Kalen is getting to know those guys in this process now and will do so even more in the next few weeks, but he'll fit in great with them.
KALEN DeBOER: Well, it's an honor and pleasure to be here today. Thanks to Coach Allen for reaching out, and it's just been a whirlwind. Can't wait to get my family out here, move into Bloomington, and the staff is out on the road, as you know. Looking forward to getting in the room with those guys and building relationships that Coach talks about and getting to work. The players have stopped up periodically throughout the day. I can tell the excitement and see the excitement in their eyes and in their voices, and can't wait to get to work.
Just great to be here, and I know how close we are to taking the next step in this program, and I'm looking forward to making an impact on that.
Q. In Allen's few years here, he's talked a lot about relationships and how important that was to turning his defense around when he first got here. How do you do that on the offensive side? Is it relationships, and I guess to what extent do you go to foster those new relationships you're looking for?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, in this profession that's what it's all about, and that's why I coach. It's about the relationships that you can have with young men and giving them the greatest experience they can have in their life or one of the greatest experiences. Hopefully there's more to come beyond football. But I think we share the same philosophy that way.
You know, coming here, coming here and just getting that opportunity to do it, it's exciting.
What was the first part of your question?
Q. How do you go about --
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah. So to me, in order for me to ask everything out of them, I have to give the trust that they need, too, and so the relationship that we have, I want to be able to walk in a room and be brutally honest with the guys and then not have hard feelings about it. That only comes with us working together, building the chemistry, having a common voice as a staff that the players believe in, and then that way when they're on the field, they know that we're fighting the same battle together. It's not something where there's the coaching staff and me and there's the players. We're all in this together. We all want the same thing. We all want a great season. We want a great team. We want a great program. It goes well beyond the years of us all being here.
And so that's to me what it's all about in building a great culture is the relationships that are a part of it.
Q. Coach, when you took the visit out here initially and Tom offered you the job, what struck you most about the program when you first got to Bloomington? What were your impressions when you came in?
KALEN DeBOER: Well, we had talked quite extensively, so there was a lot that I knew about where the program was at. But getting on campus and just seeing the facilities, I was really honestly blown away with them, and it's exciting to see the investment that Coach talks about that's been made here with the facilities, and the guys have a great environment. It's a winning -- it's a feel of winning that we're surrounded by.
And then just as I met the staff, a few of them I hadn't known, but I just became more and more impressed just with the all-in mindset that they have, the excitement that they have towards the future and how close we are, and so those are probably the two things that really stuck out in my mind.
Q. Coach Allen has talked about he wants a guy to be the head coach of the offense. Obviously you have that in your background, but how nice is it to know you have that freedom? You kind of have say so but it's your side of the ball and the buck stops with you and you get to run it how you want to do it?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, that's, again, a huge honor for me, and something I don't take lightly because the product on the field will be one thing, but how we do it will be another. I want it done in a first-class way where when we talk -- go through the season and go through this journey together as a staff, as a team, there's going to be moments throughout where we're going to look back on and there will be highs and lows that we're all in together on. But when it's all said and done, we look back, and you feel good about how you put it together.
I think as a head coach, I probably am not speaking for Coach, but I know what it's like when you see the final product and you win a championship and you look around and you see the smiling faces and you see the guys' excitement. You think back how it all came together because everyone is coming from a different place. There's journeys that guys are on. I'm in a different part of my life and journey than the incoming freshmen, and certain members of the staff.
But we all have our journey that we're on, and bringing it all together is something special. The leadership part of it is critical towards those memories being something that you remember for the rest of your life.
Q. How would you describe your offensive philosophy?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, well, it's going to be all revolved around what it takes to win, first of all, and there's a fine line between excitement, right, and putting people in the stands and getting people excited about what we do offensively, and then making sure we're not putting our team in a vulnerable position. But really what it comes down to offensively and as a team is creating more turnovers, and for us taking care of the football, and then having more explosives than your opponent. And when you do that, you're going to win over 90 percent of the time. You know, we want to make sure we're putting the points on the board, but we're also not so reckless that we're putting our defense in a vulnerable position. And so it's a team game that we're going to be a part of. You know, do we want to be physical -- the game was meant to be played one way when it comes down to it, and that's physical. A lot of people think that means running the football, but that's also what you do with the ball after you have it in your hands. Falling ahead for extra yards gives you better down and distances to work with, which makes for better 3rd down conversions and higher red zone, as we've been talking about here.
But you know, to just create -- in the end, it comes down to creating an attitude, and you don't install it with plays. You know, a lot of plays are kind of cool and guys like those and they can feel it, and they know it's going to be big, but in the end, it's how you manipulate it and how you create the attitude that I think ends up with a product on the field that's exciting to watch.
Q. You've talked about it kind of different ways, and I know it's early, but what are your maybe early impressions of the guys you've got to work with and sort of the tools that are going to be at your disposal? I know it's early on in the process.
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, it is. I think just in general, I see a lot of young guys that have put some -- some have put some time already on the field in game situations, and then there's some guys that you know are seniors. I know a few offensive linemen, a few skill guys that want to make it happen now, and the urgency for them is high. And so that's something I think I've learned throughout the few moves is how to have that fine line and build a foundation that prepares you for success years two -- more success years two, three and four in building your system, but at this time right now, we want to win right now.
You know, I've had some guys that have come up, a lot of them have been seniors, because they understand the urgency of their career right now, and it's coming to an end, and every day is one closer to their last days wearing an IU football helmet. Really looking forward to giving those guys that experience.
Q. You mentioned creating an attitude; what do you want that attitude to look like for this program on the offensive side of the ball?
KALEN DeBOER: Yep. And I can go into more -- we want to be physical. We want to have explosive plays that should come off of -- when you have a little bit of a run game, or I felt like it was one of the strengths this last year was there was some -- there was a consistent run game for the most part. You should be able to have some play action to go along with it. Play action always doesn't have to be shots down the field, but it should open that up. We've got some big receivers from what I've seen that can go up and get the football and some guys that can get it down the field, as well.
You know, that to me marries up pretty well, and then just that aggressive -- we want to have the ability to speed things up and play with some tempo. When you know you've got them or when it's the right time or you need a little kick start, there's a lot of different reasons why you do that. So the ability to have some tempo.
And then I think where -- past tendencies kind of throughout the years for me, you see the intermediate pass game develop as guys become more familiar with the system, understand the route combinations better, the reads that I'm asking them to make, and just everyone is on the same page. There are less drops because guys are thinking less. So we're going to try to keep it simple, but we also want to be complex from the defensive side of things and how they look at us.
Q. When did Coach Allen first reach out to you and kind of start showing an interest? And secondly, what questions did you have for him about the job and what he was looking for from his OC?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I think once Coach knew that Coach DeBord was going to retire or wasn't going to be around here, I think that's when kind of we started the process and talking. It certainly caught my attention, having a chance to be in the Big Ten, especially with Coach Allen, and just knowing what type of coach he is. You want to surround yourself with great people.
So that was a big part of it. What was the second part of your question?
Q. What questions did you have when you came in about what he was looking for and what the job would entail?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I think just how close he thought we were, and not that I've been shy from going into rebuilding programs - I've been at two places that were 1-11 before we got there - but I think that's the thing he really shared with me is how close he really feels in his heart that we are here to taking that next big jump, bowl games and being a team in the Big Ten that everyone has got to be worried about every single week.
You know, I think that the defensive piece, you know, he's been a strong part of that, and he spoke a lot about that part of it, but also, just like he said, try to find a head coach on offense to come in and bring the staff together. I feel like that's something that is a strength of mine is coming in and bringing a staff together, bringing people together, personalities and all of that. You know, on the side, this doesn't answer your question, but something that I'm looking forward to with this staff is the ability to learn myself. I consider myself a lifelong learner and this is part of my journey. I know there's some master coaches on this staff that know a lot of football, and there's a lot of different ways to do things in a great way, and adding -- bringing what I have and adding what they can bring to it and their experiences, it just makes me better, it makes us better. I'm really looking forward to that time with them.
Q. You mentioned -- Tom has obviously talked about you wanting to be the head coach on offense. How do you think maybe your experience as a head coach at the NAIA level fits into that mold?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, it does. I does, because there's -- I think really when you're a head coach you take it into perspective on things. It's all about winning and the experience that you're giving your guys. So that's the outlook I've had ever since then. The stats come along with success, but it's not like I'm going out there to put up just these crazy stats. It's about winning football games and getting guys to just -- when they leave this program and they're alumni, they have just a ton of pride about what they accomplished and where the program is going.
You know, I think it's more of just a general perspective you have once you've been a head coach. And then it's about still bringing staff together. The staff when you're a head coach that you're bringing together is much greater than the staff you're bringing, but it's how we work together along with the defense. I think that it is seen by the players, at least felt by the players. If there's a relationship between offense and defensive staff that's solid and great and positive, I think you have that relationship amongst the players offensively and defensively on the team, as well. They sense it. They know how it is, even if it's behind the scenes, good or bad.
I think that's a big part of us working together, and I think that's probably one of the things when you talk about head coach of the offense, that's I think one of the things that's important.
Q. You talked about there being different journeys for both the players and other coaches on this staff. I guess for yourself, why is this the right job for you in this part of your journey, and what from your journey to this point has allowed you to be comfortable in taking a Power Five job like this, relocating from one end of the country to the other?
KALEN DeBOER: Right. Well, as far as geography goes, I'm from the Midwest. I'm from South Dakota, lived in southern Illinois, lived up in Michigan. This is kind of like right in between those two stops. And so coming out here, it's exciting. It's another place for my family to see. It's a place that I've heard nothing but great things about here in Bloomington. So fired up about that.
But you know, the journey for me and why I'm coming here, I think that the Big Ten challenge -- just like a player wants to compete at the highest level, you want to get to that highest level and show what you can do, prove it, prove it to yourself, prove it to others, whatever it might be. But you want those challenges.
I think once you become complacent, that's when things start going the wrong way. So the challenge is exciting to me, and then the other part of it is I just know I'm surrounded by great people. I know that's the type of people Coach Allen is looking for in a staff. Knowing some of them, I know that that's the case, and I'm looking forward to just -- when you're around good people and you enjoy going to work every day, that's a big deal because we put too many hours into this job where if it was the other way, it would be miserable. That's what I've been fortunate to do every stop along the way is be around good people and enjoy my job.
And then the production is a result of what you put into it, and I've been able to put a lot into it because I love it.
Q. I think it was on a radio interview on Thursday that you mentioned part of the, I guess, inspiration that you draw on as far as taking some of these opportunities that you have across your career has been that you bet on yourself essentially. Where does that mindset come from, or where did that develop, I guess?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I'm probably just a small town guy. Small town guy that just -- why are you doing this and why are you going here. I mean, the college I chose to go to was 2-8 the year before I got there -- excuse me, the first year I was there. I think it was somewhere around there before that. But when we left we were national champions. And we were 6-4 my first year as a coordinator and built that program up to being 10 years later another -- three more National Championships.
I just think that it's kind of -- it's got to be in you, you know, that you're not going to back down, that you love to compete, that you're going to keep fighting. It's just got to be who you are.
In the end, I'm happy with if I know I've given everything I've got, I can live with the results. And so that's what the players are going to get from me. That's what the staff is going to get from me. They're going to get everything I have. I've always just felt like you live with the results and you believe that you have enough to get it done, that you have what it takes. That's just kind of how I've lived throughout my entire life.
Q. You mentioned obviously you've been at SIU and Eastern Michigan here in the Midwest and then out west at Fresno State. As far as recruiting connections, what are the areas you've recruited most heavily and where you have your strongest ties?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I mean, Chicago, Chicago is an area that I had for eight years up there, into Illinois and then obviously over into Michigan with our success and getting to know people there. You know, that would probably be the strongest. I did it a little bit down in Nashville right at the end of my Southern Illinois time.
But I think Chicago is the strongest area, or northern Illinois.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports