Editor’s Note: Obviously, this is satire. Or is it? You decide.
This was a piece I wanted to do last year, but was silenced because suddenly I had to “finish a thesis.” When this season rolled around, I wanted to wait until this week to publish it, but then I figured I should do it during the bye week. Then suddenly, I had “problems at work” come up as my hotel for a big conference was randomly canceled as I was writing this piece, forcing me to ditch it and scramble to find housing in the Devil’s City: Phoenix.
But now it is Ohio State week. Even now, the forces of the universe (and maybe Brutus) are trying to stop me. BUT I WILL NO LONGER BE SILENCED AND I WILL NOT HOLD BACK ANYMORE!
Darrell Hazell is actually a good coach, but he purposefully sucked while he was at Purdue in order to get revenge for his mentor and boss: Jim Tressel.
I know, this is quite the accusation, but hear me out.
We all know that Darrell Hazell came to Purdue after a successful 2-year head coaching career at Kent State, being just a few plays away from taking their team to a BCS bowl in 2012. After he was fired from Purdue, he went on to become the wide receivers coach for the Minnesota Vikings, who were one game (and many points) away from reaching the Super Bowl. And even then, the Vikings were in that position because of a play from a wide receiver against the Saints, who happened to be coached by Darrell Hazell.
So how can you even begin to explain the 4 years of crappy football in between two successful coaching gigs? Simply put, he just sucked on purpose. Let me explain.
Before Hazell was Kent State’s head coach, he was an assistant coach at Ohio State under former head coach and tattoo artist, Jim Tressel, from 2004 until 2010. During that span, Ohio State went 74*-15 and won the Big Ten conference every year* except in 2004 (*12 wins and conference title were vacated from the 2010 season, however, more on that later).
But despite their success, Ohio State had troubles with a pesky school an hour northwest of Indianapolis: Purdue. You see, while Ohio State dominated the conference during that span, they managed to lose to Purdue twice in that same time frame. Only two other schools beat Ohio State twice from 2004-2010: Wisconsin and Penn State.
While Wisconsin and Penn State were at the top of the conference when they defeated Ohio State (often tying with OSU for the title), Purdue was always a heavy underdog in the match ups. In fact, while Hazell was an assistant at Ohio State, OSU had a record of 1-2 at Ross-Ade (which really should have been a sign that he couldn’t win in West Lafayette). While Purdue’s 2004 victory over Ohio State may have been against two equal programs (both of them finished with similar records), the 2009 victory was a stunner.
We all know what happened exactly 9 years ago today: Ohio State was the #7 team in the country. Despite a close loss to USC in September, they were still in the hunt for a national title bid. All they had to do was win out and hope that the pollsters favored them. After all, the first BCS poll was coming out after their game against Purdue. Should be a cake walk against a 1-5 team, right?
Wrong. Purdue completely walked over Tressel, Pryor, and the Buckeyes that day. A late score in the 4th quarter made the final score closer, but in reality, Purdue easily defeated Ohio State on that day, destroying Ohio State’s hopes at a national title opportunity.
The following year, Tressel vowed revenge against Purdue, and may have even hated Purdue more than Michigan. He initially got it as they whooped Purdue 49-0 in Columbus. But remember the whole tattoo thing at Ohio State? Well because of that, Ohio State had to vacate their revenge game against Purdue, and Tressel had to leave Ohio State.
As he departed Columbus, Tressel entrusted his old friend, Luke Fickell, to not only lead the Buckeyes in 2011, but also get revenge on Purdue and win at Ross-Ade. It looked like OSU would get the win after a late 4th quarter TD, but the Spoilermakers struck again by blocking the extra point attempt and winning in overtime thanks to Robert Marve. That game prevented OSU from winning the Leader’s Division, causing them to spiral into a four game losing streak.
Tressel became even more furious and vowed to continue to destroy Purdue and their program. Even though Urban Meyer was coming to Columbus, Tressel didn’t want to trust him. Instead of beating them in one game, it was time to focus on destroying their program as their current head coach and Buckeye Kryptonite, Danny Hope, was on the hot seat.
Tressel sat back during the 2012 season and saw everything starting to fall into place. Purdue was struggling in Hope’s 4th year and was most likely going to be fired at the end of the season, even with a 6-6 record. Meanwhile, Tressel’s former protégé, Darrell Hazell, was having a great season at Kent State, and on the verge of going to a BCS bowl.
The weekend of November 17th (the weekend before Hope was fired), Darrell Hazell and his Kent State team were playing at Bowling Green. Tressel came in to town the night before the game and met with him at the Bob Evans across the street from Bowling Green’s stadium. There, they hashed out their secret plan to take down Purdue and their football program.
In their plan, Tressel would visit Purdue and personally recommend him to Burke. We know this is true, as Burke admitted it himself:
[Tressel] has been consulted on several college coaching searches when he knows the candidates being considered. Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke talked to Tressel several times before hiring Hazell, a Tressel assistant from 2004 to ‘10. Burke also brought Tressel to Purdue’s coaches’ retreat in June, where he led a half-day development session.
“He didn’t ask for any kind of compensation,” Burke said. “The only thing he really wanted to do was meet our president [former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels] because his new role is in student affairs.”
Meanwhile, Hazell just had to finish the year strong, but not too strong. He had to finish the regular season with 2 more wins to get to the MAC championship, but he couldn’t win in the conference championship game. You see, they were facing a top ranked Northern Illinois team, and it was known that the winner of this game would go to a BCS bowl game.
Jim reminded Darrell that if Kent State won and went to a BCS bowl, then he would be scooped by a bigger school and Purdue wouldn’t be able to match their offer (Tressel knew that Burke would be cheap). By losing to NIU, Kent State would fall to a much smaller bowl game and fall off the radar so Purdue could hire him.
They were set with their secret plan. But as they left their booth at the Bowling Green Bob Evans, Tressel could not hold in his excitement. He just had to say out loud, “We’re going to destroy their program, Darrell! It’s going to be a massacre!”
Sure enough, Kellyanne Conway was sitting in a booth right next to Tressel and overheard this. This is what she was referring to when she mentioned the Bowling Green Massacre.
Tressel and Hazell went their separate ways after that meeting and put their plan into motion. Kent State won their last 2 games, and lost to NIU in the MAC Championship Game. Tressel made the trip to West Lafayette, but his cover was almost blown in the process. Nevertheless, it worked. Hope was fired after beating Indiana, and Hazell was hired a few weeks later. It was time to complete their plan.
We all know what happens from here: Hazell talks about “changing the culture” and purposefully oversees the destruction of Purdue football. However, the players on the team were not easy to take down, and resisted after a big loss at Cincinnati and close win against FCS team, Indiana State. They put up a fight against Notre Dame and Wisconsin early on, but the powers over theirs heads made sure it would not continue.
The players became demoralized, and it was time for the final blow in the first season. Darrell Hazell’s old squad, the Ohio State Buckeyes, were coming into town and were heavy favorites. He knew about the voodoo at Ross-Ade, and vowed to defeat it so his Buckeyes can win. He made the game a blackout game and had the players wear all black uniforms and helmets. He said it was to pump up the fans and the players.
In reality, he had them wear all black because it was the funeral for Purdue Football.
Purdue got the ball first, and Hazell knew it was time to go in for the kill. On the second play of the game, he instructed his quarterback to roll right and throw it, knowing that Ohio State would defend this side of the field heavily. As a result the play was intercepted, returned for a touchdown, and it was all downhill from there for Purdue:
Hazell kept calling terrible plays on both sides of the ball. And before you know it, Ohio State was up 42-0 and only had two drives that didn’t end with a score.
November 2nd, 2013 was the day he delivered a fatal blow to the program. Purdue was a dead man walking for the next 4 years; there was no recovery from this point. The players were discouraged, recruits stayed away, and fans stopped showing up to Ross-Ade. All that was left to do was to keep the program down until Hazell was fired and collected his check.
While Hazell and Tressel were able to come in and ruin the program, they also had hoped that his buyout would prevent Purdue from being able to afford a better coach after he was fired. Unfortunately, they did not seeing Burke stepping down and being replaced by Mike Bobinski before Hazell was fired.
Bobinski smelled something foul in West Lafayette when he arrived, and it was not the Wabash River or the ginkgo trees; it was the work of Tressel and Hazell. Bobinski waited for the right opportunity to fire him, and got it right after Purdue lost to Iowa. On October 16th, 2016, just one day short of Purdue Harbor 2009 anniversary, Bobinski threw Hazell and his conspirators out of town. But he knew the fight was not done given the damage Tressel’s gang had done. Bobinski knew they had to be careful with who they hired this time around.
PJ Fleck was a name thrown around during the coaching hunt. But you see, Fleck lost to Purdue in 2014 while Hazell was still head coach. Could he also want revenge on Purdue for that game? (Editor’s Note: PJ Fleck was also an offensive graduate assistant under Tressel in 2006, which I didn’t realize before I published this. Even more reason why we avoided Fleck.)
After completing intensive background checks, they landed on a coach from Western Kentucky who had no connections to previous Purdue enemies: Jeff Brohm.
And we all know the story from here. Brohm came to West Lafayette and resurrected the Purdue program like Jesus bringing back Lazarus of Bethany from the dead. Of course, despite being alive, Purdue had not fully recovered yet, but Brohm continues to nurse the program back to health.
As Purdue continues to recover, it is time to exact revenge on the Buckeyes and what they have done to Purdue. Tressel is no longer with their program, but he and his work are still celebrated in Columbus. That’s enough of a connection to fight for revenge.
Maybe Purdue doesn’t beat Ohio State this weekend, but we will eventually. Jeff Brohm and the new Purdue team will be watching, ready to strike when they least expect it...