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Purdue Football Coaching Changes: Who Replaces Hazell?

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It is coach firing season, and we're already looking at replacements for Darrell Hazell.

This man has as many wins over FBS teams at Ross-Stadium as our current coach.
This man has as many wins over FBS teams at Ross-Stadium as our current coach.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

So far the following schools have fired head coaches either in season or (in the case of Illinois) just before the season, with the reasons they were fired.

Miami - Coach wasn't beating anyone of note and had 58-0 loss for worst in program history.

USC - Coach was a drunk.

Maryland - Coach wasn't winning enough.

South Carolina - Coach retired in-season.

Illinois - Coach was a sociopath playing injured players.

Central Florida - Coach retired after 0-8 start.

North Texas - Coach fired after team got drilled 66-7 by an FCS team.

In five of these seven cases (and in five of the five major conference teams) the teams have better records than Purdue and the departing coach has been far better than Darrell Hazell. In fact, I would be willing to bet Purdue fans would gladly take Al Golden, Steve Spurrier, or even Steve Sarkesian right now.

But we still have Darrell Hazell. In fact, even though one site says he is 90% gone, I would even lay money down that we will have Hazell back next year after he does the panicked "I fired my coordinators and everything will change, I promise!" that most doomed coaches seem to do. This year is a lost year and barring a miracle turnaround, so is next year if Hazell returns.

Who could replace Hazell though? Sure, there are dream names like Chip Kelly, Kevin Sumlin, and the reanimated corpse of Jack Mollenkopf, but there is a better chance of Morgan Burke nominating me for a Pulitzer for my work at Hammer & Rails than any of those happening. That Campus Rush link mentioned some names, so let's check them out:

Brock Spack

Why - He's an alum. He has Illinois State as one of the best FCS teams in America. He should have gotten the job in 2009 instead of Danny Hope. He had some very good defenses under Hope. He is not Darrell Hazell.

Why Not - The main reason he didn't get the job instead of hope was his defenses tanked after 2004. Is there lingering resentment after 2008? Can he recruit in the Big Ten? He's never been an FBS level coach. He's already 53, two years older than Hazell.  He didn't do a whole lot at Illinois State until year 6 when he got Tre Roberson as his quarterback. Can he do anything without Roberson? This would be the hire Morgan Burke would pick, so I don't want it.

Rod Carey

Why - Whupped Purdue's ass good and proper as coach at Northern Illinois. Kept the Jerry Kill/Dave Doeren machine rolling since they left. 28-9 in his third year with NIU. Has played for a conference title in each of his first two years. Coached in a major bowl game (as an interim coach, but whatever). Went toe-to-toe with Ohio State this year.

Why Not - Do we want to swing with a MAC coach again? Can he recruit in the Big Ten?

Brady Hoke

Why - Uh?

Why Not - Managed to have a losing season at Michigan, which with their talent is damn near impossible to do. His teams got worse every year at Michigan. Played injured players. Only 78-70 career record. He's generally ineffective and clueless about what is going on around him at all times.

Jeff Brohm

Why - He directs an offense that successfully converts "first downs" and "touchdowns" (I know these are unfamiliar terms for most of us. Has 14-7 record at Western Kentucky. Passing offense is 4th nationally at almost 400 yards per game. His team is scoring 41 points per game, 9th nationally. Has already come closer to beating Indiana in 38-35 loss with Sun Belt talent than Hazell has in two chances. Has a win at a SEC school this year (Vanderbilt, but still). Solid offensive coordinator at Louisville.

Why Not - Teams have not been known to play a lick of defense with wins of 66-51, 67-66, and 49-48 last year plus a 50-47 loss. Still only in second year of head coaching. Can he recruit?

Mike Sanford

Why - Took Indiana State to the FCS playoffs for the first time in 30 years. Has five years of FBS level experience.

Why Not - He currently represents 40% of the coaching wins for Darrell Hazell at Purdue. Was only 16-43 in five years at UNLV.

Dino Babers

Why - Also directs an offense that successfully converts "first downs" and "touchdowns". Has actually beaten Indiana, something Hazell hasn't done. Is 33-15 as a head coach with prolific offenses at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green. Has more Big Ten wins (three) than Hazell has (one). Developed a Super Bowl winning quarterback (okay, so Jimmy Garoppolo was tom Brady's backup, but he has a Super Bowl ring!).

Why Not - Is he another Hazell? He doesn't have the experience that Carey has. Would his offense translate to the Big Ten? Defense is also not a priority.

Ed Warinner

Why - Current Ohio State offensive coordinator. His quarterbacks do the opposite of Purdue quarterbacks: When he replaces one they get better. Gets to direct the rolling death machine that is Ohio State. Has never lost a regular season Big Ten game as offensive coordinator. Somehow coordinated Kansas to a top 5 ranking and an Orange Bowl win, so he can, indeed, perform miracles.

Why Not - Can he win with a 10th of the talent Ohio State has?

D.J. Durkin

Why - Currently Michigan's defensive coordinator and they shut out three straight teams, two of them ranked, earlier this season. Might be able to create a defense that covers the middle of the field, doesn't leave 10 yard cushions, and can get third downs tops. Extremely young coach at only age 37.

Why Not - Only one game of head coaching experience (won Florida's bowl game last year).

Lincoln Riley

Why - Hot name young coordinator. Extremely young at age 32. Has an offense that is wrecking anyone not named Texas this year.

Why Not - Indiana hired an offensive coordinator from Oklahoma and look how that has worked. Has never been a head coach before.