Darrell Hazell is a very good family man. How good? Even though he has been in Minneapolis for the last two years or so, his son has stayed in West Lafayette. He is currently a senior teammate of George Karlaftis at West Lafayette HS and had six catches for 90 yards in a 38-29 win over Lafayette Jeff. For Purdue fans, Darrell Hazell is a hated man for destroying the football program and fleeing town with $12 million, but he is living apart from his family in Minnesota and did not move his son in high school despite his professional failings. While I criticized his coaching abilities, it is good to see that his son Kyle is having success under the radar as a track star and football player.
Off the field, Hazell did everything right. He should be commended. We never had a hint of an NCAA scandal and he took care of his own home. Instead, he has been accosted (mostly by us) because he was a lousy football coach that ruined four years of Saturday afternoons.
Same could be said about Danny Hope. He inherited a fading program and did his best to keep the ship upright, despite getting the short end of the stick from the administration and always facing injury problems. Of course, similar to Hazell he had his own coaching issues that were his own fault, but a 6-6 record couldn’t save him. He was beloved by the players, always had great energy, and had little-to-no off-field issues.
Unfortunately, that is why they are some of the coaches that faces any kind of real consequences in the modern college football world. Hope and Hazell couldn’t consistently win games and could not convince highly rated 17-18 year olds to come to West Lafayette to play football. That is why we paid both of them millions of dollars to go away.
As we have seen in Columbus, State College, and in other places across college football, if Hope and Hazell had simply won games, they could have gotten away with a lot more.
As Dominic Torretto says in the original Fast and the Furious movie, “Winning is winning”. If you are winning games, people can overlook quite a bit. Urban Meyer conveniently had memory issues when it mattered the most. They were not severe enough issues to interfere with his ability to win football games, as he can remember every detail in a game, but they are convenient enough to overlook spousal abuse within his own program. The man known for micromanaging every detail of a multi-million dollar enterprise that is Ohio State football had absolutely no idea one of his assistants was beating the crap out of his wife (and having sex toys delivered to the football offices). He had no idea even though Courtney Smith told his own wife.
Of course, can we blame him? Reportedly, Urban was upset he was going to be suspended from being on the sidelines (not coaching during the week, he just can’t be on the sidelines for Weeks 2 and 3) after the arduous task of being away from the team since this story broke. His punishment for his actions is that he has no say in preparing for a home game against a team that went 1-11 last year. Clearly the Buckeyes struggled in his absence as Ohio State scored 77 points.
But for Ohio State, they view that the punishment is just, all because he wins and can beat that team up north. In Ohio, apparently uttering the word “Michigan” will lead to a bigger punishment than ignoring domestic abuse. At least some people in Ohio recognize what a joke this punishment is, but unfortunately they are in the minority.
Of course, this is not the first time Urban has run afoul of things. His tenure at Florida was strong until he had the audacity to have a 7-5 season in 2010, and his health began to deteriorate as he mixed ambien and beer. I am sure the 30 player arrests under his watch had nothing to do with it.
And therein lies the difference. Meyer had 30 arrests in 6 years at Florida, but he won a national title and it was a tragedy he had to retire prematurely, only to resurface a year later in Columbus. Hope and Hazell lost over 60 games and we could not wait for them to get out of West Lafayette.
Meyer is going to come back after three games and Ohio State is likely going to be 3-0 when he triumphantly returns, as they already dismantled a weak Oregon State team on Saturday. He was callow at best in his treatment of the situation. He is in charge of a program that has the resources and ability to win nine games a season with an untrained dog at the controls. Even then, before Week 0 games even started, the narrative of “How will Ohio State overcome adversity?” was starting.
I realize it is a matter of perspective. Penn State’s actions when it comes to Jerry Sandusky were reprehensible and they should no longer be allowed to field a program. Michigan State’s attitude during this Nassar scandal have led to even less accountability because Penn State at least had a two-year penalty that hampered their program. Michigan State’s actions have been even worse as their administration seems to be trying to showcase the worst response ever to a controversy. Maryland killed a player, but is more concerned about the legal responsibilities and what they have to pay out to Durkin instead of saying, “Durkin did this, he’s fired, sue us.” It’s as if the Big Ten East is actively trying to be horrible. At least Indiana didn't really hesitate when they fired Kevin Wilson over player abuse allegations. But of course, Wilson landed right on his feet after Urban Meyer hired him in 2017.
Ohio State is able to do what it is doing because Urban can win football games with regularity. Jerry Sandusky effectively got a pass for decades because Joe Paterno could win football games. DJ Durkin is better at his job than Randy Edsall, so he is getting more consideration, even though he killed a player. Mark Dantonio can win football games, so his own issues have met with few consequences.
I know there is no substitute for winning, but I would rather have 3 Hazells over 1 Meyer any day.