The year was 1916. Kansas State was in the market for a new football and basketball coach, and the vacancies attracted the attention of someone who was coaching both teams at a school in Missouri at the time.
According to a 1939 story in the Kansas student newspaper, the Kansan, Allen was approached by outgoing K-State football coach John Bender about applying for his position.
Allen was coaching football and basketball at Warrensburg Teachers College, now Central Missouri, and winning. His first four football teams there (1912-15) won the MIAA championship, as did his first two basketball teams.
Allen took Bender’s advice and applied. K-State also was looking for its first full-time athletic director. Allen had that addional role in Warrensburg.
But he didn’t get the job. It went to Z.G. Clevenger, who had a better resume. Clevenger had been a star halfback at Indiana University at the turn of the century and went on to become the Hoosiers’ football and baseball coach, and he added basketball at stops at Nebraska Wesleyan and Tennessee.
Interestingly, when Clevenger became K-State’s coach and athletic director, Bender became Tennessee’s head coach, the schools essentually trading coaches.
Allen remained at Warrensburg until 1919, when he was hired by Kansas to become the Jayhawks’ athletic director and not a coach. But he took over the football team in 1920, for one season, and also coached the basketball team that year.
The hoops path worked out for Allen, who finished with 746 career victories and 24 conference championships and has a field house named in his honor at Kansas.
But Clevenger was a good hire. He won the first two conference basketball championships in school history, in 1917 and 1919, and owns the highest career winning percentage (.761) among Wildcats coaches.
Clevenger’s football teams went 19-9-2.
Clevenger left Manhattan for Missouri, where he became athletic director for two years before spending the next two decades as Indiana’s athletic boss.