The 2023 season wrapped up for the Boilermakers the weekend of May 18th with a 1-2 weekend series to the Nebraska Cornhuskers as a potential bid to the B1G Conference Tournament was in front of the Boilers. What made this series hurt worse was that it was at home at Alexander Field where Purdue has enjoyed great fan support over the last few seasons but can’t seem to find success under Goff as head coach.
Goff was seen as an interesting hire coming off the success of Mark Wasikowski, who had taken Purdue from the doldrums of the last years of Doug Schreiber (60-149 over the last four seasons), to going 87-82 in his three seasons. Wasikowski was able to parlay that success at Purdue into a return to the University of Oregon and Purdue was left scratching their heads at who could maintain the trajectory that Goff had built.
Greg Goff had been brought on staff by Wasikowski following an incredibly brief and tumultuous time as the head coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide. In just one season with the Crimson Tide, Goff went 19-34-1 with the worst SEC conference season in the modern history of that program. More than that, Goff attempted to break NCAA two NCAA bylaws by telling returning players to Alabama that their scholarship money would not be renewed. This reporting was confirmed by The Tuscaloosa News and The Anniston Star back in 2017 when the attempted breaking of the bylaws occurred. Ultimately, it was found that no violations occurred but Goff was fired anyway due to what many believe was a lack of control in the program and a listless direction for an SEC program that has had sustained success.
The plan for Purdue seemed to be to find another solid replacement for the program that had turned some heads under Wasikowski but players in and around the program were very vocal about giving Goff the chance as the head coach. For Purdue, it made some sense as well since Alabama was paying Goff for the remainder of his contract through the 2021 so Purdue may have been able to get Goff cheaper with the hopes that he could find similar success to his earlier stops rather than the horrific single season at Alabama.
In his time as a head coach at lower division stops of Montevallo (Gulf South Conference) and Campbell (Big South Conference) along with revitalizing the Louisiana Tech program, Goff was able to turn them into 40 win programs. It was what largely built his resume to obtain such a big job at Alabama back in 2017 but the time there was largely marred by scandal and a poor culture that forced Alabama to find a new direction after just one season. It appears as though Purdue, although hoping to find success with a cheaper alternative, will not be seeing similar results to those previous stops.
In his three full seasons with Purdue (2020 being cancelled due to Covid), Goff is just 36-51 in B1G conference games and has gone 3-6 against the Indiana Hoosiers. The worst of these was the absolute drubbing Purdue took at the hands of IU this season where they were swept 3-0 and outscored 16-51. This season, Purdue just seemed to not fix the issues that have plagued Goff’s teams in his time with poor pitching performances and poor coaching decisions.
If Goff wants to improve the program, he needs to figure out what Purdue can do to lock down the state of Indiana for big recruits. In 2024, 2025, and 2026 classes, Purdue has only 1 top 10 player from the state of Indiana while the Hoosiers will enjoy 8 of those players. In fact, Goff’s former employer Alabama has 3 players headed to them. With the facilities in Westfield and one of the nations premier travel clubs in the Indiana Bulls, Purdue should be able to be an attractive place for some of the top talent from the Hoosier state to play baseball. Mollenkopf provides an ability for players to be indoors during the cold season with enough room to expand their games while Alexander Field is one of the premier facilities north of the Mason-Dixon Line for college baseball.
Yes, Purdue enjoyed as good of a start as they have historically last season but that 18-1 start was followed up by going 11-20 to finish out the season. That flat effort seems to have carried over to 2023 and if carries over again for 2024, I think it would be time to train eyes on the staff at Indiana State who are now 40-14 this season with wins over Purdue (2-0), FGCU, Illinois (2-0), and at #4 Vanderbilt. I hope Purdue doesn’t simply go towards a joke of a non-conference schedule to bolster the win total only to get hammered in what largely amounts to a bad conference for baseball. That is what the softball program had turned into under former coach Boo de Oliviera.
Purdue has shown in recent history that they can be successful and they have the tools necessary to get there. I don’t think anyone is expecting appearances at the College World Series to be something happening on the regular. Let’s be honest here, most northern teams just can’t make it happen, but it should stand to reason that Purdue should make the B1G tourney most seasons (which they had done under Schreiber and Wasikowski) and an NCAA Regional on a great season. It just seems that, under Goff, that doesn’t appear to be remotely attainable.