I am going to put my reputation on the line, what little of it there is left, and make a definitive statement about the Purdue coaching search:
We will not have announcement until Saturday at the earliest, and most likely on Sunday.
My reasoning for this is sound: If we had our candidate locked up by now we would have already announced, and I think Purdue is waiting for several candidates who are involved in conference championship games.
Think about that for a moment: If a coach has already finished his season Purdue has had now three days to interview and finish the deal. There is also precedent for waiting. Darrell Hazell was not hired until AFTER the MAC championship game four years ago. That game was held on November 30, 2012 and Hazell was not announced until December 5, 2012.
I know part of that was a shorter search because Danny Hope was fired after the Bucket game on November 24, 2012, but even with a midseason firing we had to wait until other coaches finished their seasons. The only other candidates that were available immediately were Les Miles and Greg Olson. We know Olson has at least been interviewed. It has been strongly intimated that Purdue has at least spoken with Miles. ESPN even believes so, and has him as a top target.
Based solely on my speculation and absolutely no inside knowledge whatsoever, I think Miles and Fleck were the top two candidates. Therein lies part of the issue. If Purdue truly wanted Miles and Miles wanted to come, he could be locked up right now. Texas managed to fire and hire a coach almost instantaneously. Purdue could have been speaking with Miles for 6 weeks, but he is not locked in. That’s why the Miles ship may have sailed, but we just don’t know. Perhaps that could change, but I have a feeling that if Miles were the guy he would already be wearing Gold and black.
That is why I think they are waiting for Friday at the earliest. Fleck, who has repeatedly said he will not discuss other jobs until after the MAC title game, will very likely hear the full pitch from Purdue then. Does he come down for an official interview on Saturday or Sunday? I am sure Purdue’s people have at least been in contact with his agent and people. He is the hot flavor of the moment. Purdue would be dumb NOT to interview him, and from this Sports Illustrated article I would love to get him. He is also focused on his guys despite the speculation:
For Fleck, it's all about keeping the lines of communication open -- with his boss, athletic director Kathy Beauregard, and his players, who no doubt have heard the rumors.
"Remember, this is a very real program," Fleck said Monday on a teleconference ahead of Friday's Mid-American Conference championship game against Ohio at Ford Field.
"With success comes all types of speculation. I said, 'Guys, just so you know, I'm 100-percent committed to you and this process. You're gonna get 100 percent of me every single day.'
"And I let them say what they had to say, too. We're very open and honest in this program.”
And before you do the whole Fleck/Hazell + MAC = failure there are many reasons to think he is different than Hazell. With four years instead of two, he has actually built WMU as opposed to got hot for one year with previous recruits. Yes, he is 29-21 overall, but since a 1-12 start he is 28-9. He has also developed an 11,000 yard passer, a 4,000 yard rusher, and the all-time leading receiver at the FBS level with over 5,000 yards. They are all current seniors he recruited.
Just because Purdue may be waiting until after this weekend does not mean we are focused solely on Fleck, however. Jeff Brohm, Skip Holtz, and Craig Bohl are all involved in conference championship games this weekend. That’s where Miles could be back in play. Perhaps Miles has been interviewed but Purdue wants to do a few more before closing things out. that’s a risk, but there appear to be no open positions actively moving on Miles.
Another factor is what other jobs will be open? Here are a few that could effect Purdue:
Houston - They aren’t officially a power 5 school, but they schedule like one, play like one, and are starting to have resources like one. There is no question they are well ahead of Purdue right now in terms of talent and accomplishments, but Purdue still has B1G money behind it. It is also definitely open.
Oregon - Mark Helfrich is still employed, but not by much after the Ducks were a dismal 4-8. he is owed $11.8 million for the remaining three years on his contract, but sugardaddy Phil Knight can easily write that off. Also, because of Knight, if Helfrich is gone, the money to bring in a top notch new guy is there.
Notre Dame - No one knows what’s going on with Brian Kelly and his situation after a 4-8 season. he might be looking elsewhere. He might be fired. He wants to return. Who knows? This is a big domino, also because of the money involved, but would someone like Fleck sit well with Irish fans?
Baylor - The only major conference job that has been open longer than Purdue, they are also taking their own sweet time. They also have the added factor of their “situation” to put it mildly. Who they choose may open up another major coaching job. They may choose Miles and no other jobs open up. Baylor seems like the lead domino depending on what they do because of what may happen afterward.
The nice thing is that as of right now, Purdue and Baylor are the only major conference programs that are OFFICIALLY open as of this writing. I consider Houston a pseudo-major conference program too. Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Nevada, and San Jose State are the only other FBS programs even open, and Purdue can easily out-resource those four. That gives Purdue the luxury of waiting until after this weekend. Notre Dame and Oregon can move at any time, however.
As for who I would choose, I don’t think I have ever made this public, but here is my list in order:
- PJ Fleck - I want Fleck because Purdue needs energy and a complete change of culture. That is Fleck in his entirety. He is pretty much the most anti-Burke and anti-old, stodgy Purdue choice out there and is exactly what we need. I like that he is a tireless recruiter. I like that he works to promote his program to bigger things. I like that he went from 1-11 to 12-0 in three years. I like that he is young and if he is successful (and we can hang on to him) he could be here a long time. I like that his players love him and he loves them in turn.
- Les Miles - In a dream world where Purdue has their pick of both, I think Fleck is the high risk, but potential higher reward choice. I think Miles is the safe choice. He would instantly improve recruiting on name alone. He has been successful at every stop and while LSU fans were frustrated with too many 8-4 seasons, winning eight games a year for 10 years at Purdue would get him a damn statue. I think Miles would be here only about 10 years at most, but regardless, he would leave the program in far better shape than Hazell and Hope left it.
- Jeff Brohm - You like offense? Brohm is your guy. If Brohm was able to fix the offensive line Purdue is going to score points and lots of them. Sure, the defense may still struggle and we would get in some shootouts, but the offense would very likely be a lot of fun to watch. Besides, who cares if you give up 40 points per game if Brohm’s offense gets you 45?
- Craig Bohl - The dude wins. He won three national championships and constructed the FCS Death Star that is North Dakota State (which won two more titles and counting after he left). He struggled at Wyoming to start, but can win a conference title this weekend. He knows how to build a program and would be a very good builder here.
Last: Brock Spack - No. Just no. The time for this was 8 years ago, when he should have gotten the job over Hope, but didn’t because his last four defenses really slacked off. If Spack, Olson, or Skip Holtz were hired I fully expect Mike Bobinski to rip off his mask and reveal he was Burke all along.