With the news that Purdue got rid of three coaches, two of them the prime coordinators, where doe the Boilers go from here? The bank is allegedly open, just as it was in the hunt for coordinators three seasons ago. The right guys can drastically change things too. A good offensive coordinator can take advantage of an experienced offensive line and talented players like Markell Jones and David Blough. There are definitely pieces to build on, as DeAngelo Yancey, Domonique Young, D.J. Knox, and others had solid moments this year.
The defense will be more challenging, but if they can be paired with an offense that can actually do things such as stay on the field and score points it will go a long way towards fixing things. The linebackers should be better than at any time over the past 10 years as long as Markus Bailey and Ja'Whaun Bentley return healthy. There is young, if unproven, talent in the secondary too.
It is absolutely critical that Hazell and Burke nail these hires, or the entire 2016 season is a waste. Purdue cannot ask for an easier slate to start with only Cincinnati at 7-5 as a bowl team in the first five games.
In short, there are no more excuses.
Sean Lewis - Bowling Green - Ideally, I would rather get Dino Babers, make him offensive coordinator with a pay raise, and have a 5-7 game test drive at head coach if Hazell is fired midseason. That likely won't happen, especially since it looks like Babers is off to UCF. Instead, we could get Lewis, who is co-offensive coordinator and in charge of quarterbacks for the Falcons. He has helped the Falcons to the No. 2 offense in America with wins over Big Ten programs Purdue and Maryland. He knows the Big Ten after playing at Wisconsin for four seasons and graduated in 2007. As a bonus, he was on THAT Wisconsin team in 2004 as a freshman and was there for The Fumble. If there are any karmic repercussions from hiring him, it has to be related to The Fumble. Bowling Green is averaging 44.2 points per game, so about 19 more than Purdue under Shoop.
Tyson Helton - Western Kentucky - The Hilltoppers are tied with Bowling Green at 4th nationally at 44.2 points per game, and Helton also has directed a high-powered passing attack. Brandon Doughty is in the middle of his second straight 4,000 yard passing season under Helton, and will finish with over 12,000 yards passing and 100 touchdowns. Doughty's best two years have been with Helton, as he has over 9,000 yards in the past two seasons with Helton as his OC and 91 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. WKU is also 18-7in that time and 10-2 this year going into this weekend's C-USA championship. For some comparison Doughty threw for 484 yards in a 38-35 loss at Indiana and 370 yards and 5 TDs in a 49-28 win over Marshall. Last year he had 491 yards and 8 TDs in a wild 67-66 overtime win over Marshall last season.
Darrell Dickey - Memphis - Memphis has been the offensive coordinator at Memphis for four seasons and has helped them have a bit of a renaissance. He was also an 8-year head coach at North Texas, giving Purdue some insurance if Hazell is fired midseason. Currently the Memphis offense is averaging 42.7 points per game and the Tigers are 9-3 with a convincing 37-24 win at Mississippi. Ole Miss is the only team in America that has beaten Alabama, too.
Major Applewhite - Houston - Another young guy, Applewhite has paid his dues and has been successful at every step. He has already been offensive coordinator at Alabama and Texas and is looking to get back in to a major conference. He has Houston at 11-1 and in their conference championship game against Temple while averaging 42 points per game. Among all these candidates, the Houston offense is much more balanced with nearly 3,000 yards rushing and 3,110 yards passing.
Nate Woody - Appalachian State - I have no delusions Purdue is stealing a major conference defensive coordinator, but one from an Other Five conference looking to step up to a Power Five job is possible. Woody has App. State in the top 20 nationally on defense, which is impressive for a team that was at the FCS level a few years ago. App. State is 12th at 17.5 points per game and they are 9-2 going into their final game vs. South Alabama. They have only lost to Arkansas State and Clemson. In four games this season they have held an opponent under 10 points.
Phil Snow - Temple - Snow has been all over, with a stint in the NFL in Detroit from 2005-08. Since2013 he has been at Temple and he has guided the Owls to a solid defense giving up 18.8 points per game. Temple also dominated Penn State this year on defense and the Owls are 10-2 before facing Houston in the conference title game for the American. Their only losses were to Notre Dame and South Florida.
Chuck Heater - Marshall - Now, how good can he be if he gave up 31 points to John Shoop? Well, Marshall's defense has been excellent otherwise at 18.4 points per game and his unit did pick off Appleby four times, returning two for touchdowns. Heater helped Florida win two national titles. He also has experience at Notre Dame and has a solid reputation as a top assistant.
Regardless of who Purdue picks, they have about $800,000 in salary to use. Shoop was making $400,000 and Hudson was making $395,000. I would not mind seeing Applewhite or Lewis on offense, as both are young guys that can also likely help recruiting. On defense it is harder, but promoting Freeman from within might be the best option.