Butch Jones is gone. The door for Purdue to get him has closed, so now we're on to our second candidate. The thing is, he could end up being better than the first.
While Morgan Burke has been very tight-lipped about who is on his list of candidates we do know a few things;
1. PU400 was in Akron, Ohio for some reason yesterday. Coincidentally, that is not far from Kent State and the story was broken here first.
2. AD Morgan Burke, Sr AD Nancy Cross, Associate AD Tom Reiter, Assistant AD Calvin Williams. I don't think were making a quick jet to Ohio for some fresh Yuengling.
3. GBI, one of the few sources I tend to trust 100%, mentioned Hazell as "in play". To my knowledge they have no done that with anyone else.
So, let's take a quick look at Hazell:
- One of his first coaching jobs was as the running backs/receivers coach at Eastern Illinois in 1988 under Bob Spoo. Spoo is a former Purdue assistant and quarterback from 1956-58 that won 144 games at Eastern Illinois before retiring.
- He was an assistant head coach at Rutgers in 2003 and at Ohio State under Jim Tressel from 2005-2010. Ohio State fans have spoken very highly of him.
- He is 16-9 in two seasons at Kent State, including 11-2 this season with an upset at Rutgers.
- He ran more than he passed this season with Dri Archer (1,352 yards, 15 TDs) and Trayion Durham (1,248 yards and 14 TDs) paving the way. There was some good balance, however, as Spencer Keith threw for 1,864 yards and 12 TDs. He may have been simply playing to his team's strengths as last season Kent State passed more than ran. This tells me he is willing to adjust. Besides, points don't count differently if they are gained rushing or passing.
- His defense was 48th nationally at 25 points per game. That is quite a bit more well-rounded than Sonny Dykes and his 119th rated defense at 38.5 points per game. Give me a little balance, please. Offensive powerhouses with crappy defenses are called Indiana in the Big Ten. At some point you have to be able to stop someone, and Hazell's teams did that.
- Was the 2012 MAC Coach of the Year. Not bad when the league had a record seven bowl teams and its first BCS berth.
- He took Kent State to its first bowl in 40 years. To me, this is huge. He went to a program that may have had the last amount of success at the FBS level over the past 40 years and came withing a double overtime loss of a BCS bowl. Even in the "everyone gets a bowl" era of the past 10-15 years Kent State could scrape together a meager 6-6 or 7-5 record and a berth in the Burnt Scrotum Death Valley Bowl.
- There is one downside, and I don't know how much Hazell had to do with this, but Purdue was scheduled to open against Kent State last season in what would have have been his first game as a head coach. Kent State backed out of its payday for a bigger one with Alabama and we had to scramble to add Middle Tennessee State.
Here is what non-Purdue-affilated people are saying:
I'm biased, of course, but if Purdue loses Butch Jones and ends up with Darrell Hazell, they could very well be better off.— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 4, 2012
If I'm Purdue or Auburn then I'm looking at Darrell Hazell of KSU. This guy is a winner!— Dr. Terry Tolle (@indychiro) December 4, 2012
If Purdue hires Darrell Hazell as their next head coach, I honestly couldn't be more excited!People need to read up on him!— Chris Russell (@Cody_Russell) December 4, 2012
So that is that. PU400 is in the air today on its way to Newark, NJ for reasons unknown. In the meantime we go back to waiting. After reading about him I honestly like Hazell a little better than Jones. He has actually built something from nothing. Jones is on stop two of the "riding Brian Kelly's coattails" tour. He has to get credit for what he's done at Kent State, which was far worse off than Purdue.
We'll know by tomorrow:
Kent State's Darrell Hazell top choice at Purdue, sources told @espn. Decision expected by Wednesday— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 4, 2012