Love him or hate him, Danny Hope was out of his element during media days. In spite of a hefty pay raise from his days at EKU, his suits never fit quite right...nor did his mustache ever match that of his predecessor. Atop of not being a fashion icon, Hope never seemed comfortable in front of the mic. I'm really not disparaging the guy here- he was what he was for Purdue. We liked his genuineness and unpolished nature at times, in fact. But, I'm not sure he did himself any favors in the yearly media meetings in Chicago during his time as Purdue's head football coach.
He always had talking points that he made sure to hit...much of the time they had an odd centricism around kickers and punters...but he wanted a consistent story to be conveyed. He tried to build certain guys up, he stayed positive and he seemed to always have his gaze upon a championship...some sort of championship...any championship as the season quickly approached.
But as I watched guys like Brady Hoke endear themselves to me with anti-UND remarks...or Mark Dantonio bluntly tell me what the state of the conference, and specifically his program was as he looked ahead...or even watching guys like Northwestern's Fitzgerald enthusiastically and perpetually look to the future, I can't deny that I felt a bit envious.
Granted, some guys just know how to work a large room...and are pros with the media...and this wasn't Danny's strong suit. As it turns out, Hope was pretty engaging in one-on-one situations. Sadly, that relational comfort he had with some fans and his players alike didn't translate into a well-prepared football team; Xs and Os aren't really at all related to PR...but if they were, Darrell Hazell's team might already be bowl eligible.
Scout's Chris Emma offered some advice to Purdue's new head coach today over at Boiler Sports Report...but it seems that Coach Haze might already be ready to teach a class called Media Savvy 101...or maybe even a 200-level course. I'm pretty confident that Morgan Burke's most-recent hire will shine in the coming days. I think many of Purdue's faithful are feeling like these media interactions are kind of like late training camp tackling drills- it's time to see what Purdue's new coach does on the field.
I tend to agree- While I could watch Hazell talk to the media all day (and I plan on doing so tomorrow), I'm ready to see him on the sideline.
Years of tutelage under the calm and collected Jim Tressel might have made Hazell what he is today, but I'd surmise that he's a natural at it AND probably works his arse off preparing for these events. Sure, Hope probably worked hard to prepare as well, but by every account, Hazell is a slight bit more comfortable in his skin, and more comfortable in this role, than his predecessor.
Darrell Hazell will take the podium around 11:15 tomorrow morning; it'll be televised on BTN. If you want to see IU's Kevin Wilson potentially go off on a member of the media, that'll take place around an hour later...Urban Meyer will be up front talking about his new hardnosed discipline midway through the 1:00 hour and Kirk Ferentz will put you to sleep as the last coach in front of the media an hour later.
Ricardo Allen, Bruce Gaston and Gabe Holmes will be Hazell's traveling companions for the two hour drive Northwest.