IU football fires offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan; Tom Allen's pay cut after sad 2021

·4 min read

Nick Sheridan's first season as an offensive coordinator was one of the most successful in Indiana history. The Hoosiers averaged 30.1 points per game in league play in 2020, won six of their seven conference games and put a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end on the All-Big Ten team.

A year later, Sheridan is out of a job, a sign of just how drastic of a disappointment the 2021 season was for Indiana. The 33-year-old former Michigan quarterback was fired as Indiana's offensive coordinator after five total seasons on Indiana's staff according to a release from IU Athletics Sunday morning.

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The Hoosiers followed a 6-2 season with a 2-10 campaign, including an 0-9 mark during Big Ten play. They finished last in the conference in scoring in league play, averaging just 10.4 points per Big Ten game and scoring a total of 10 touchdowns in conference games after entering the season ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in more than 50 years.

Indiana offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan talks with the quarterbacks, from left, Grant Gremel (16), Jack Tuttle (14) and Michael Penix (9) during fall camp at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 6.
Indiana offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan talks with the quarterbacks, from left, Grant Gremel (16), Jack Tuttle (14) and Michael Penix (9) during fall camp at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 6.

“I want to thank Nick for his work and commitment to our football program,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said in the release. “He is a good football coach and a man of tremendous character, but we are in the need of a reset on the offensive side of the ball. We will begin our search for Nick’s replacement immediately.”

Sheridan was under contract through June 30, 2023 at $500,000 per year and is owed a buyout of approximately $950,000. According to the release, Allen has restructured his contract to make the change. His salary will decrease by $200,000 each year from 2022-2025, his total compensation falling from $4.9 million per year to $4.7 million per year. His contract will still run into the 2027 season.

“We did not meet the standard that I expect from our football program, and that starts with me,” Allen said in the release. “This season was not acceptable and we will work to address it.”

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Sheridan, who joined the Hoosiers in 2017 as a quarterbacks coach and was also tight ends coach in 2019 before taking over as offensive coordinator in 2020, saw the offensive unit hamstrung by injuries all season, especially at quarterback.

Opening game starter Michael Penix Jr., who was second-team All-Big Ten in 2020, separated the AC joint in his throwing shoulder on Oct. 2 during the Hoosiers' loss at Penn State and never returned to action. His replacement Jack Tuttle, a former four-star recruit, started the next two games but then injured his foot while throwing an opening-drive touchdown pass against Ohio State on Oct. 23. He returned briefly later in that game and then came back against Rutgers on Nov. 13 but then injured his other foot.

With those two quarterbacks out, Sheridan's next two options were true freshman Donaven McCulley and walk-on Grant Gremel. McCulley, the four-star recruit from Lawrence North, was effective on the ground with 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns, but struggled with passing reads, completing just 42.7% of his passing attempts.

However, even before the injuries, the Hoosiers' offense wasn't effective. Penix completed just 53.7% of his passes and threw for just four touchdowns against seven interceptions in his five games. Tuttle completed 51.7% of his passes with two touchdowns against five interceptions. Indiana finished 10th in the Big Ten in passing yards with 175.5 per game and last in pass efficiency with a mark of 96.3 with just nine passing touchdowns against 15 interceptions. None of their passers finished with 1,000 passing yards on the season.

The Hoosiers' numbers were bad across the board. They finished last in the conference in total offense with just 289.8 yards per game and 12th in rushing offense with 100.1 yards per game. They averaged a league-low 4.3 yards per play, a league-worst 5.4 yards per passing attempt and 3.2 yards per rushing attempt, the third-lowest figure in the conference.

The offense was particularly hapless down the stretch as they scored a combined 31 points in the season's final four games. They scored in double figures in just three of their nine Big Ten games, with four of their 10 touchdowns in conference play coming against Maryland in a 38-35 loss on Oct. 30. They did not score more than 15 points in another conference game.

Follow Indiana insider Dustin Dopirak on Twitter @DustinDopirak or email him at ddopirak@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: IU offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan fired, Tom Allen takes pay cut

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