I have had about 24 hours to sit and digest the
recent load of horseshit remarks of esteemed athletic director Morgan Burke yesterday. The more I read them, and proper reactions from those like Boiled Sports, the angrier I am getting. It is such a frustrating position because it is blatantly obvious that Purdue is in a terrible situation, but the only people who can do something about it either have no clue what to do or actively deny there is an issue. At the end of this piece I will have a call to action about what we can do, but for now, let's break down Burke's best remarks:
"You can't sugarcoat it. It was disappointing. We didn't meet the expectations that we had for ourselves. We set those expectations with our fans as well,"
Well, thank you Morgan for acknowledging Hazell's "You will love this team" and all the Kool-Aid that was poured in the preseason. Unfortunately, even though you can't sugarcoat it, you're damn sure going to try over the rest of this.
"That makes it particularly bitter at this point and time. There were some bright spots, some individual performances that give you a sense of confidence that there's some things in the future, but there weren't enough to overcome the inconsistent play. We have a very, very slim margin for error right now with this team."
Aside from Markell Jones, what individual performances are you referring to? Is it Anthony Brown's Defensive Player of the Week Award after the Nebraska game? Well, he is graduating. Is it the Nebraska game in general? Well, not to shit on the best day of the year, 100% of that win was caused by the Nebraska quarterback's meltdown, and it is a loss with the way the Purdue defense tried as hard as it could to give the game away late.
Perhaps Purdue best three players (aside from Jones) graduate in Frankie Williams, Anthony Brown, and Robert Kugler. Two of our best linebackers are coming off of ACL injuries (nevermind that Hazell WANTED TO PLAY ONE OF THEM ANYWAY!!!!), and we're basically going to run this year back without a few of our bona fide proven players.
"It's not popular to people who've already made up their mind, but hitting the reset button just starts things all over again. Throwing in the towel right now would be really premature," Burke said. "You can make the fan base happy in November by hitting the reset button only to make it worse the next year.
"I've been around long enough — and for some people too long — I'm going to make that call. That's my call to make."
How can it get worse?
- We're 6-30 with only three wins over FBS competition
- We just got blown out at home by Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana, who went a combined 22-26
- Recruiting is in the toilet
- We barely sold 20,000 season tickets COUNTING THE STUDENTS!!!!
- Indiana, the worst FBS Power Five program historical, just beat us for the third time in a row, something that had not happened in 68 years.
- In two of the past three years Purdue lost at least 10 games, something that had happened only once in the previous 125 years of the program.
Morgan, that is THE VERY DEFINITION of needing a reset button! How is it premature to throw in the towel. The Hazell Era began with an offensively challenged blowout at Cincinnati. 36 games later it is a defensively challenged blowout at home. Is this your measure of progress? Things that were glaring issues in game 1 are glaring issues in game 36. When is it no longer premature? And as far as starting things over again, need I remind you that Hazell took over a program that had gone to consecutive bowl games and was at least 13-13 the previous two years? Starting things over implies that things started in the first place instead of getting far, far worse.
Maybe I am wrong. If Burke and Hazell hit home runs with the coordinators and Purdue storms out to a 5-0 start next year I'll be the first to admit I was wrong, but I am not holding my breath for it.
Asked if Hazell's buyout played a factor in the school retaining him, Burke replied: "Zero. Z-E-R-O."
I am calling bullshit on this one. Earlier this week Burke admitted that Purdue had a $3 million shortfall in revenue from football ticket sales, and that was in 2014, when the crowds were bigger at Ross-Ade. I would get that this year was well north of $3 million, maybe even $3.7 million. When you add those two together that gets suspiciously close to the $6.7 million buyout, and this is before we discuss the frugal nature of the athletic department and university as a whole.
Yeah, Morgan, the buyout had nothing to do with it, just like me not playing basketball for my high school team had nothing to do with me not becoming an All-American at Purdue.
"I don't think so. The fact that we came out on the BTN and made it pretty clear he's our guy and we're going to help him be successful," Burke said. "He's done an awful lot of good things - they haven't manifested themselves into the win-loss record."
This was in response to an extension (HA!) to Hazell's contract to aid him in recruiting. Yes Morgan, being forced to go on BTN and tell people "Yeah, we're definitely not firing this guy despite the awful results on the field," is really going to work in recruiting. I think that is Saban's strategy at Alabama.
And what good things has Hazell done? It can't be the multiple player arrests and it is certainly not in the win-loss record. Is it the new helmets and uniforms? Giving wins to other Big Ten programs so the conference might get two teams into the playoff and therefore more bowl money to split? If he is this magnanimous benefactor of all things football (aside from actually winning games) please enlighten us as to what they are.
"I have enough respect for the people who are working not to tell them before the last game. To me, that's unprofessional. I think some of my peers out there are playing to the fan bases more than they're thinking about human beings that are trying to lead. I just think the midseason firings are deplorable. I don't agree with it. There may be people out there that say, ‘You make a statement.' Well, I've got to look at the lives and the young kids that are attached to these coaches and respect that whole deal. There's nothing to be gained by making any announcements early, despite the noises that are out there,"
This was to firing Shoop and Hudson after the Bucket game. I think I am not alone in being at least a little surprised he did it at all. Also, these kids are adults and it is 2015. They know stuff like this happens. They are big boys and can handle it.
"I want to see the ability of these kids to take a step a year from now but at the same time see the kids you haven't seen yet that have been redshirted and see how they perform. There's clearly more talent but having more talent and playing as a team when you've got to get 11 guys performing at a high level .... We have a very small, slim margin of error and it shows up in crunch time."
If only we could have done something about that, say, with coaching. Everyone in America has these issues. Indiana has a small margin for error and they pushed some of the best teams in the conference. Purdue doesn't have much less talent and got panted by Indiana.
"We've got to have an offensive philosophy that you can articulate, that is one that can replicate with the talent that you have. That's really important," Burke said. "It's one thing to have an offensive scheme but if the kids aren't capable of running it, you really don't have an offensive scheme that's going to lead you to be successful.
"On defense, I would just like to have the linebackers healthy. I thought with the two corners we were able to play press coverage and we still had trouble bringing pressure from different spots. You want the same thing — you want to understand the philosophy and why you think it will be successful in the Big Ten."
This is on getting the new coordinators and I really don't know what he is saying. Is he still, somehow, supporting Shoop and saying the kids just couldn't run his offense when there was evidence that some of the best football players in the world at the NFL level couldn't run it? And on defense it would help if we were actually playing that press coverage with said corners when the linebackers were healthy, but we were not. Now the linebackers are coming off of major injuries and the corners are gone, all while we enter year 4 of the "Which philosophy are we going to run?" game show. Real encouraging!
Fortunately, there is something we can do. We all know that the struggle goes above Hazell and that Burke himself needs to go. Since he won't do the honorable thing and retire, we can fight back. Boiled Sports urged alums to contact President Daniels and the Board of Trustees. Contacting Burke himself has done nothing in the past and will continue to do nothing. It is clear that it is time for him to go, but I am fine with him retiring with dignity. I laud him for improving Purdue's facilities and for managing the athletic department financials the way he does (with a HUGE assist from the Big Ten), but he can no longer inspire leadership as the ultimate head of the football program. He is trying to run the athletic department like it is 1995 and it is 2015. We desperately need newer, younger blood in charge.
Burke is totally fine with Purdue becoming Kansas, possibly the only Power Five conference team worse than Purdue. The similarities between Purdue and Kansas are incredible:
In 2012 Kansas spent big money on a new football coach (Charlie Weis), who immediately went 1-11 and winless in their conference.
Year 2 under Weis was better, but at 3-9 with a single conference win.
Kansas fired Weis in year three after a 2-2 start, but went 3-9 and 1-8 in conference with a roster heavily laden with JuCo transfers (which appears to be Hazell's recruiting strategy for the rest of the 2016 class)
With most of the JuCo's gone, having not worked out) and fewer scholarship players than many FCS teams on the roster, Kansas was a very uncompetitive 0-12 this year, losing to an FCS team in the process.
In the biggest difference, all this happened 5 years after Kansas went 12-1, won the Orange Bowl, and damn near won the national title! KANSAS!
Kansas also has a really good basketball program to deflect attention
I guess Burke was right. It can get worse, and we're headed toward it with him being just fine about it as long as the Big Ten checks keep coming in and he can ignore the fact that good football = more revenue. Unless things drastically improve Purdue will be Kansas, because if Hazell goes JuCo-heavy in 2016 and it doesn't pay off (it rarely does) the 2017 schedule looks like a disaster without even an FCS game to buy a win.
If you think that Burke thinking there is no need to hit the reset button is pretty much a slap in the face of our few remaining fans, here is who to contact: