Purdue football is a complete and utter mess right now. Even the blessed days of mediocrity are long gone. Purdue has not been ranked since starting the 2007 at 5-0 and reaching No. 25 for a week. That 8-5 season is a wealth of riches now compared to the depths that Purdue is in right now. Even if you combined all the victories from the last three seasons Purdue wouldn't have enough to be bowl eligible at a dismal 5-25, 2-25 vs. FBS level teams, and 1-17 against the Big Ten.
First, we blamed Joe Tiller.
Next, we blamed Danny Hope.
Hope has been replaced, but the Darrell Hazell era has been an unquestioned disaster. I don't think you can even lay it entirely at the feet of Hazell. Yes, there have been some very poor coaching decisions, but he inherited a roster devoid of Big Ten caliber talent. He is a decent, but not great recruiter facing the difficult task of trying to recruit to a school with no inherent advantages and one that rarely gets big recruiting finds. He has needed to have several recruits play well above their ratings, and that has not happened.
Purdue is also at a facilities disadvantage as the aging Mollenkopf, locker room, weight room, and more are well behind the rest of the Big Ten as evidenced by the developing master plan:
"That's different from where we were 15 months ago," Burke said. "I don't think we realized how much of a problem we had until Populous came in last summer and looked at the locker room. I thought it was something we could do out of major maintenance. They came back and said we can do something but you have about one third of the space you need. You're going to put a lot of good money into a bad project."
The football team's locker room, which is in the basement of Brees Student-Athlete Academic Center and was built in 1982, lacks sufficient space. The auxiliary, instructional and weight training space inside Mollenkopf is inadequate.
Burke said expansion of Mollenkopf will take place at the north end, connecting the building to the Bimel Practice Complex.
Purdue is handcuffed because it barely got Board of Trustee approval for $2.7 million in concrete upgrades to Ross-Ade Stadium, let along the nine figure project that it will take to get Ross-Ade and the Mollenkopf upgraded.
All of these are complex, fluid issues. Purdue is severely limited financially compared to its Big Ten peers, and that starts above Morgan Burke. Still, Burke has been the architect of the disaster that football has become, and there have been too many gaffes over the years such as Nancy Cross' tone deaf response to the Painter extension. Those mistakes show that an institutional and cultural change needs to be done. Purdue is trying to compete in a 2015 world with 1995 strategies. I appreciate what Burke has done, but his time has come. The mess that is Purdue football is entirely of his making right now.
So who should replace him? Well, I have some ideas.
Drew Brees - Brees has already been our savior once, but once his career is over why can't he come home and save the day again? He has a degree in industrial management and is ridiculously sharp after being named an Academic All-American. He already has made a small fortune both with his football career and endorsements. He loves Purdue, having given $3 million to the athletic department. As a football guy who knows what the program needs to be successful and he was successful when the conditions at Ross-Ade were worse.
Among the cons is that he is obviously still playing, though his retirement is not that far off. Could he put the right people in place underneath him too? He likely has some very good connections in the football world and he also knows about fundraising thanks to his various charities.
Brian Cardinal - Cardinal is already retired and he is working with Purdue to bring in donations. His current title is Assistant Director for John Purdue Club, so he knows about gladhanding and trying to get in donations. He has already developed some good connections since his playing career ended and heis obviously a lifelong Boilermaker.
Does Cardinal have the administrative chops needed? Can he make football the priority that it needs to be? Cardinal does at least have the unique position of already knowing what the culture is like. Hopefully he sees the need for drastic changes.
Chuck Armstrong - I know what you're thinking, "who?" Armstrong is the former President and COO of the Seattle Mariners who stepped down after last season. He is an alum that also has athletic director experience, serving as interim athletic director at the University of Washington in 1991. That happened to be the year Washington won a national championship in football, too.
The downside to Armstrong is that he is in his late 60s or early 70s (he graduated from Purdue in 1964). I doubt he wants to come take over the department this late in his career.
Essam Sharaf - He is another alum and the former prime minister of Egypt who resigned amidst sectarian violence in the country in 2011. Dealing with angry college football fans is actually less stressful.
Matt Mitrione - The current MMA fighter can just threaten to beat the crap out of anyone if he doesn't get what he needs.
Joe Tiller - it worked for Barry Alvarez!
It is pretty obvious by now that Burke is not going anywhere. The man got a raise and a promotion during the worst year in the football program's history. With Purdue now in the midst of a $2 billion capital campaign it remains to be seen if any of that massive amount of money will be diverted to help athletics get into the arms race that it is in regardless of if Mitch Daniels wants to be in it or not. We are in an arms race by virtue of being in the Big Ten. It is frustrating to have the university cry poor when it comes to athletics all while trying to raise $2 billion on top of its already huge endowment of $2.443 (32nd in the nation and more than B1G peers Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, and Indiana).
In the mean time we will wait and continue to be frustrated. Tom Schott or Nancy Cross will likely takeover and nothing will really change.