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Purdue officially hires Hazell, who still may coach KSU's bowl game

Staff reports Published: December 5, 2012 9:56 AM
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Darrell Hazell spent most of his coaching career telling others to be great. Now hell try to live up to that mantra in his new job at Purdue.

Boilermakers athletic director Morgan Burke hired the 48-year-old Kent State coach on Wednesday to lead the school dubbed as the Cradle of Quarterbacks out of mediocrity, back into national prominence and presumably back to a Rose Bowl.

Im extremely excited to work with the players at Purdue, and I look forward to experiencing a lot of success in the future, Hazell said in a release issued by the school. Its a wonderful opportunity.

Hazell broke the news to his players during a Wednesday morning meeting after a day of speculation about Hazells future. Purdue has scheduled a 7 p.m. news conference to introduce Hazell.

Hazell met with the media on Wednesday morning to discuss the situation and said that he has been given permission from Purdue to coach the Flashes in the GoDaddy.com bowl game and that he wants to coach, but that he would leave the decision up to Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen. Nielsen is expected to meet with the media on Wednesday afternoon.

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Hazell won this seasons Mid-American Conference coach of the year award after leading Kent State to its first winning season since 2001, first bowl appearance in more than four decades and the brink of a BCS bowl game.

The 48-year-old Hazell grew up in New Jersey, but played football at Muskingum College in Ohio. He has strong ties to the Buckeye State, including a seven-year stint on the staff of former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.

Kent State hired Hazell in December 2010 and led the Golden Flashes to a 5-7 mark (4-4 MAC) and a third-place finish in his first season as a head coach. This year, Hazells squad went 11-2 (8-0) and won the MAC East.

He fits the mold of coach Burke outlined during a Nov. 25 news conference to announce the firing of Danny Hope.

We are an offensive-minded program. Thats where weve made our mark over the years. I dont see that under the circumstances changing, Burke said during the news conference. Were not going to move into a coach that has a dramatically different scheme because weve built this team to play a certain kind of football. Weve seen other institutions that made a coaching change, then they changed their style of play. It took two or three years to adjust. Were not going to do that. Weve got talent in this program, we know we have talent in this program. We want it to be nurtured.

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Hazell rebuilt Kent States program in just two years, largely on the strength of a strong ground game spearheaded by star Dri Archer. Purdue has preferred the up-tempo, fast-break style offense Joe Tiller brought to West Lafayette and that Hope kept.

He spent seven seasons coaching Ohio States receivers under Jim Tressel, has a reputation as a strong recruiter and players have spoken glowingly about the passion and excitement hes brought to the locker room.

The question is whether Hazell is a big enough name to fill the other area Burke wanted to shore up attendance, which has steadily declined over the last five years, the last four under Hope.

Weve lost a third of the fan base. Weve gone from about 54,000 paid attendance in 2007-08 to 37,000 this past year, Burke said. We cant do what we need to do resource-wise with losing a third of the fan base, OK? Everybody has all kinds of ideas and rationales on what we can do. But at the end of the day, obviously, weve got some work to do to both thank the people who have been with us and stayed with us, but also encourage those who jumped off the boat to get back in.

Fans initially were clamoring for another MAC coach with Big Ten experience, Northern Illinois Dave Doeren, who took the North Carolina State job after beating Kent State in the MAC championship game.

Burke also brought Cincinnati coach Butch Jones to campus Sunday afternoon, the day after the Bearcats clinched a share of a second straight Big East title. The next day, Jones flew to Colorado and was reportedly offered a five-year deal worth $13.5 million. Hope earned a Big Ten-low $950,000 in guaranteed compensation last year, though Burke acknowledged he was willing to spend more on his next coach.

Details of Hazells contract were not immediately available, but is reportedly $12 million over six years. He made a base salary of $300,000 with the Golden Flashes.

Were prepared to compete, Burke said when he announced Hopes firing. We know in the Big Ten and nationally what you have to do to compete. Were prepared to do that.

As word leaked of Colorados offer, Burke and a contingent of Purdue officials reportedly flew to northeastern Ohio, where they met with Hazell.

Hazell is the first black coach in Boilermakers history and will take over fulltime duties later this month. The Boilermakers (6-6, 3-5) are scheduled to play Jan. 1.

Hazell also has been an assistant at Rutgers, West Virginia, Army, Western Michigan, Penn, Eastern Illinois and Oberlin College in Ohio. He was inducted into the Muskingum College hall of fame in 1993.

Burke had already said receivers coach Patrick Higgins will coach the Boilermakers in their bowl game.


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anonymous Dec 5, 2012 8:39 PM

lol read a study the other day if all the bureaucracy were to suddenly go away and just the teachers and the students were left about 80 percent of the cost of college would just disappear.

anonymous Dec 5, 2012 8:37 PM

head coaches are like administrators like university presidents, everyone knows they don't deserve the outrageous salaries they are getting but no on begrudges it.

anonymous Dec 5, 2012 10:06 AM

"At Monday's press conference, Hazell once again refused to discuss other jobs.

'No, I am not actively looking,' he said. 'There are so many rumors floating around. Every time a job comes open, my name's mentioned. That's honoring, but I can't discuss all the rumors that are out there. I even heard a rumor this morning that Dri (junior speedster Dri Archer) might be leaving (early for the NFL Draft). When something significant happens, I'll tell the local media. I'm not going to discuss all the rumors that are out there. I'm not gonna talk about that any more.' "