EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is a letter I received from a former Purdue football player who played during the transition from Joe Tiller to Danny Hope. Since he currently works in the world of college sports, he asked to remain anonymous, but he wanted to voice his opinion on the current state of affairs of the program. He wanted to express his view of Purdue football as being part of a welfare state. I am sharing this because it offers an inside perspective on how things are and what happened with the transition to Danny Hope.
We have heard from a few other players and their families about more recent affairs and how the transition from Hope to Hazell went down, but we may not share those until a later date because Hazell is still employed by Purdue. That might be more of a post-mortem after his inevitable firing. As for this letter, all of those coaches and players are gone as Purdue has only a handful of Hope’s final recruits left.
Here is the former player’s letter in its entirety:
The Purdue football coaches, players, and administration are living in a welfare state. The Big Ten is playing the role of the government and the Boilermakers are the citizens waiting for their chance to be fed. We’re taking the money to upgrade our facilities, great, but that will only allow us to catch up to the rest of our conference opponents until we are inevitably passed again and left wondering how we are going to impress recruits with the “stuff” they care about these days. We didn’t have recovery hot/cold tubs until the Mackey Renovation was completed. Our training room looked like something out of the first Major League movie.
This culture starts at the top of the university, trickles into the athletics director’s office, and slowly works its way into the locker rooms. It’s a losing culture and Purdue fans should be sick of it. It’s the false narrative of “yeah we’re losing on the football field but we still make money” story that they’ve been trying to sell to us along with those $10 north end zone tickets. It’s been going on for too long so let’s take a look at where it all changed.
We made the cheap hire with Danny Hope. No big deal right? Wrong. If you remember the final two candidates for that job were Hope and Paul Chryst. One is happily off the grid and the other is leading the eleventh ranked team in the country.
Everything turned for the worse when Danny Hope and his staff decided to coddle their first recruiting class. None of the players or coaches from the Tiller regime were allowed to interact in their typical manners with the “Florida Boys.” All of a sudden guys were showing up late to team meetings, skipping class, skipping workouts, oh, and hiding in the practice field bathroom during cold November Wednesday nights. That’s right, two starters who shall not be named used to hide in the bathroom during practice because they were too cold.
They were untouchable and it created a mess. Luckily for Hope, we had winners on those teams. We had leaders that had been to, won, and performed well in bowl games. He could hide the stench that was brewing in the locker room with a few big wins on the backs of guys whom he didn’t recruit. Don’t get me wrong, we all loved being around Coach Hope and he taught me a ton about how to live my life as a man, but those messages were ignored by his boys from down South.
Darrell Hazell was hired to be the Febreeze that would cover up the smell of three Hope recruiting classes. He immediately got rid of some of the bad apples and was creating order and structure in the program. He had more of a mess on his hands than any of the job applicants that interviewed for our vacancy could have known. As most new coaches do, he wanted to play his guys, and now we are stuck with upperclassmen on the team who have checked out and accepted mediocrity.
Everything I’ve heard about Hazell from his former players at both Ohio State and Purdue is that they would run through a brick wall for the guy. How thick is the brick wall at Purdue right now? It looks like these guys are trying but it’s hard to ignore the total lack of talent and/or talent development on behalf of this coaching staff.
This weekend two of our former quarterbacks will matchup against each other on the SEC game of the week. How does this make the staff look? Is this not a fireable offense? We have two former quarterbacks starting at two historic powers against each other. Our program was the laughing stock of the college football world when Danny Etling and Austin Appleby were announced as starters at their respective schools. Then, when ESPN realized they were actually talking about Purdue, the conversation ended.
Okay, so two quarterbacks transferred because they got beat out by a young phenom what’s the big deal? The problem lies in the fact that the coaching staff is handling Blough the same way they did Appleby and Etling. They aren’t doing anything to make this kid better. Tell me how our last three quarterbacks have been able to dominate at elite high school quarterback camps but suddenly forget how to play football when they roll into Ross-Ade.
If Hazell wants to keep his job, he needs to take a page out of Joe Tiller’s playbook (maybe take the whole playbook) and start ripping the ball around the field 70 times a game. What is there to lose? We clearly don’t have a running game based on the fact that we were outrushed by 390 yards to one of the Big Ten football bottom feeders last weekend. If anyone wants to see the fastest way to turn around a program look no further than what Tiller did here and what schools like Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, hell even Indiana have done. Can we please make a defense prepare for something they don’t see every week of the Big Ten season?
At this point, it’s hard to tell if Hazell wants this job anymore. How many of us could operate under the stress he has? He’s won four games against teams with capable athletes in three plus years? Ten years ago we were almost guaranteed a 4-0 start with a win against Notre Dame. Now we hope to sneak one out against one of the directional MAC schools?
What scares me the most is that we aren’t far away from having a team full of guys whom have never been to a bowl game, never won big, never seen a full Ross-Ade, never won a monstrous road game, never contended for a Big Ten Title, and most importantly, never held the Oaken Bucket. The minute that locker room is completely full of those guys, we’re dead.
I can speak for a majority of former Purdue players in saying that the only reason we are so frustrated is because we care so much. Seeing that Joe Tiller led teams had the exact same amount of practice time as the current Purdue team does, there really isn’t much of an excuse. Something needs to change.
I understand there are a lot of logistics that go into making a coaching change. The AD has to get it approved by the Board of Trustees whom have to sign off on the money blah blah blah.
To our Board of Trustees: Make it happen. We all know athletics operates as a separate entity. If they can’t afford a buyout, give them a loan. I promise we’re good for the money.
To our new AD: the ball is in your court. You have a golden opportunity to make a move and get Purdue football back to where it was only ten short years ago. If not, I’m worried we’ll be holding out our hands for more Big Ten money for the next ten, wondering where it all went wrong.