Yesterday’s post from our favorite anonymous player created quite the fallout on the internet from Purdue fans. For many, it confirmed a lot of the fears that we have had for years. For others, it caused quite the backlash. Some other former players came out in support of Danny Hope, while others agreed emphatically with the letter itself. Let’s delve into some of the backlash, shall we?
Former Purdue safety Albert Evans is often one of the more vocal critics of Purdue football, especially on game days. Evans played at Purdue from 2008-11 and was a teammate of the player that submitted the letter during part of his time at Purdue. Many people thought that Evans himself wrote the letter, but he was not. Here is what Albert had to say via his Twitter:
There are many truths to the @HammerAndRails article... although we know I didn't right it because I would've signed it in bold print— Albert Evans (@Albert_T32) October 5, 2016
I like the Florida boys..they weren't all that bad..some really good ones.. I wouldn't throw them under like that.. plus I would name drop https://t.co/JstblNtWHt— Albert Evans (@Albert_T32) October 5, 2016
And then we all realized Albert would have had direct quotes, names and a reference page... no half stepping when I speak lol https://t.co/BMKQH9G3YR— Albert Evans (@Albert_T32) October 5, 2016
I would say the "Florida boy" skill mixed with some of the Indiana, Midwest blue collar mentality gave us balance .. .500 in B1G and bowl— Albert Evans (@Albert_T32) October 5, 2016
@HammerAndRails has set off a which hunt amongst alumni to find the author— Albert Evans (@Albert_T32) October 5, 2016
I have reached out to Albert personally to let him know he is more than welcome to use us as a platform when he does choose to speak. We have worked with him in the past and he is a great guy.
Former quarterback Rob Henry was one of the more vocal detractors from the letter:
@HammerAndRails You guys didn't write the article. I'm just wondering why the author brought that up.— Rob Henry (@RobHenry_15) October 5, 2016
@HammerAndRails No doubt. The players work extremely hard and the staff works extremely hard but something is missing. I wish I could help.— Rob Henry (@RobHenry_15) October 5, 2016
He was also very supportive of Danny Hope:
@HammerAndRails One of the greatest men I know. I wish we would have stayed healthy and, as a result, been able to win more for him.— Rob Henry (@RobHenry_15) October 5, 2016
In one of the more interesting twists, some of the former Hope players that transferred away after a brief time at Purdue also responded. Defensive End Kingsley Ike was supportive of Hope:
Transferred tight end Jonathan Curry, who is now playing at Jacksonville State, was also supportive of Hope:
Henry, Ike, and Curry help add to a narrative I have heard from others: that Hope rarely received the support he needed from the administration, which is the crux of the original letter’s argument. The former player that sent the letter may have been more critical of Hope than other players, but it seems that several former players are in agreement that the administration is a major reason Purdue continues to struggle. Hope was liked by his players. While the locker room may have been separated a little, he went to bat for his players as a whole and wanted success.
A separate parent of another former player I have spoken with has said that Hope campaigned for more resources and wanted to hire betters coordinators because he knew his limitations, but Burke would not expend the resources. The same parent also had a VERY juicy story about how the firing of Hope went down, but I am saving that for when I have permission to tell it and more.
One of the most interesting reactions came from Doug Griffiths, the former editor of Gold and Black Illustrated. There is some tension between Hammer & Rails and GBI. We are technically competitors, after all. I don’t want to be GBI, however. Those guys do excellent work and I appreciate them for their insider access, but that access comes with a price. They often have to toe the party line and they have the uneviable task of painting a rosy light on situations that are clearly not rosy. Their recent criticisms of Hazell are about as far as they can go and stay as the house organ of Purdue Sports. I know Hammer & Rails is greatly disliked on their Knucklehead board (to the point where several of their regular believe I made up the letter), but I certainly have no ill will toward Brian, Alan, and Stacy, who do excellent work.
Griffiths left GBI some time ago, so he no longer has to toe said party line. He certainly did not last night:
I've been silent for too long & #Purdue fans, loyal to the core, deserve better as do all former Boilermaker players.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Purdue's issues aren't just with football program. Painter told admin how facilities would rank in middle of pack in Ohio Valley Conference.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 4, 2016
#Purdue AD seriously thought about cutting indoor bball practice facility to save a buck. That didn't sit too well with Painter.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 4, 2016
#Purdue fortunate to keep Tiller for so long. His assistants were grossly underpaid & never given multi-year deals. Drove Tiller nuts.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 4, 2016
Purdue bball asst. were so embarrassed by university cars they once drove they would park as far away from recruiting event they attended.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 4, 2016
Had it not been for a couple of big JPC donors who stormed Burke's office to up ante Painter would have been gone to #Mizzou.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Problem at #Purdue not just AD. Alstott got F from prof since he went to combine. Tiller got him get 3 hr. of creds in Tampa to get degree.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Former Tiller assistants laughed when I told them who Burke chose to replace Tiller saying Hope was least qualified of any.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
You don't even want me to start on what a train wreck alum relations with past players & Purdue have been through years.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Jim Everett gets inducted into school's Hall of Fame & they ask him to pay for football tickets for family.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Tiller's friend Dennis Erickson used to joke with him about all academic hurdles he had at Purdue. Erickson said Miami faculty "on board".— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
1 of big reasons Purdue lost Gary Harris? His mom didn't care for way she was treated post All-American career at her alma mater.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Lifelong friend of mine & Purdue grad contacted me to verify car story. He worked for dealership. Coach given car with 100K miles on it.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Purdue might be only Big Ten school that is forced to share part of Big Ten Network revenue with university & not keep all in athletic dept.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Why is Ross-Ade renovation project not happening NOW? Again do competitors wait? Purdue has the $$$ don't think otherwise.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Lights & FieldTurf among other things should've happened years ago. That's forward thinking not reactionary.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
Things like impressive video boards in stadium need to happen now. Purdue needs all bells & whistles it can to try & interest recruits.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
What Griffiths says reads almost like a tell-all, but it also lends credence to many of the rumors we have all heard for years. I certainly don’t agree with compromising on academics, but as he says, you can have both:
@ebajek85 & Purdue can have both. Last I checked Stanford, Michigan & ND academic reputations haven't been hurt.— Doug Griffiths (@PilotNewsdoug) October 5, 2016
I trust Doug because he was much more of an insider than I ever have been, will be, or even desire to be. As I have said many times, I am just an overzealous fan given incredible access that I am grateful for. Yeah, we enjoy having credentials from time to time, but we are fans first. Griffiths knows a lot more about what went on behind the scenes. He may have more of an axe to grind, but there is definitely some truth in what he had to say.
Finally, we did receive a second letter last night through the “Contact SB Nation” feature. It was labeled only as “Someone who was there”, and it is definitely from a Hope supporter. I am copying it verbatim and it has a lot more typos and errors than our previous one (which, according to some knucklehead posters, will probably make it more likely that I made this one up):
That article is truly BS after the 2010 season Coach Hope hired Duane Carlisle and 99% of the discipline issues stopped! Hope brought in one of the best strength staffs in America to Purdue one Hazzel destroyed! Danny Hope was up for the Broyles award and almost won it last year at south Florida leading one of the most prolific offenses in the nation!!! He got ill and look that team with the same players is not the same this season! The man can coach! He does not deserve much of any blame for this all his wins he earned with out any support from the administration he did it because his coached players with love! 2 bowl games with no support ask Paul Johnson at GA tech!
1. He also hires Paul Gonnella as recruting director and he brought in 2, top 40 recruting classes to Purdue the 2012 class was so good that Paul was hired by Nick Saban to be is Director of recruting!
2. Coach Hope recruited for his hyper speed spread offense that was the talent on the roster. From day 1 Coach Hazzel personally bashed these players who had great talent and implemented a pro style offense with out the personal. Hope also recruited both Applbey and Etling 2 Sec caliber qbs!
3. He got zero no support from the admin both those bowl seasons were 100% because he coached his players hard and loved them and they loved him!!
4. Hazzel came in on day 1 and showed no respect to anyone at Purdue including dis respectful comments about even Tiller to the remaining staff in the first meeting!
5. Doug Davis on day 1 called every player on the team a "fucking looser"
6. Many people on staff including myself who worked for Hazzel as long as 10 months never even spoke to the man he was so rude it was disgusting no familiy team atmosphere! If you were not with him at Ohio State he treated you like pure shit!
7. He never tried to build relationships with players or even showed he cared about them!
In the 9 months I worked w Coach Hazzel were the worst in my 13 years as a college coach.
Some one who was there
So there you have it. We are all very, very angry with the way things are right now, but as The Legend wrote last night, we need to “Find Our Chill”. There is definitely a process to follow in getting rid of Hazell and it seems less likely we’re getting a midseason firing (though ask me after Saturday and my answer may change). If the problem is indeed with Mitch Daniels and the Board of Trustees then Mike Bobinski may be handcuffed as much as Burke was (though Burke still made some pretty big mistakes with the handcuffs on).
It is pretty clear that drastic changes need to be made. Hazell has been a colossal failure, but in replacing him Purdue also needs to make a commitment to actually enter the arms race it daftly thinks it is not involved in. The status quo will not get it done. Illinois just announced a nine figure renovation of Memorial Stadium. Any coaching change needs to come with a similar announcement to make the Purdue Football Master Plan a reality. These two steps will go a very long way in shedding Purdue’s perception as being a member of the Big Ten welfare state.