Boilers Coaching Staff Staying The Course
As reported by Chris Emma last week, it appears as though all of the Purdue football coaching staff will be retained after Darrell Hazell's disappointing first season. From Emma's article:
Since day one, Hazell has expressed great belief in each of his assistants. That didn’t change as the losses kept piling up, and it hasn’t changed now. As reported on Monday, the entire Purdue staff is expected to be retained. It’s a shrewd move from the head coach who was hired one year ago Thursday.
The astute vote of confidence Hazell offered his assistants serves as a reminder of his most famous line from the introductory press conference one year ago.
"Only from the alliance of people working with and through each other are great things born.”
This of course will disappoint many Purdue fans (some BS readers included) who felt that at the very least, John Shoop needed to go. While we don't disagree that the product on the field did not instill confidence in Shoop's vision and abilities, it's also fair to say that many of those who beat the drum for him to be fired were beating that same drum almost from the instant he was hired.
Boilerdowd has made the point in the past that even if you believe a coaching staff deserves some time to gel, etc., and even if you factor in the insanely difficult schedule the green Boilermakers faced this season, sometimes something simply needs to be done to underscore that 1-11 just isn't acceptable. Personally, I think the existing coaching staff knows that and I'm sure Coach Hazell has not made it seem tolerable at all. While nothing Shoop did wow'ed me, I also worry about who the Boilermakers could bring in who actually would fire things up. If anyone has a suggestion, we'd love to hear it and have the debate.
Purdue is a place that, as Hazell noted from the beginning, isn't typically expected to be a power in the Big Ten. He seeks to change that. To me, it makes sense to look at somewhat recent history and ask, "How was that change made in the past?" As we've noted many times, Cowboy Joe Tiller came along and bucked convention. Not only did he tell everyone essentially what Hazell is telling everyone (that is, we can and will win here), but Joe did things differently. Joe understood that Purdue was out-starred in the recruiting rankings. He knew Purdue couldn't play the game exactly like Ohio State because Ohio State would have more talent and depth just by virtue of being Ohio State. So he spread the field and quite literally changed the way the game was played in the Big Ten.
I'm not saying a spread offense or going back to "basketball on grass" is necessarily the answer (though I'd love it to be), but I am saying that doing things differently and being a smarter coaching staff is part of the answer. Being more creative, more clever, more out-of-the-box as the saying goes... that's what's needed to make a frequent also-ran rise up and overachieve.
You know we're realists here, so we aren't offended at the notion that Purdue is a mid-pack program (often worse) in terms of overall success. I personally say it's something to embrace, because for a while there, Purdue was still not viewed as a blue blood of college football, yet Ross-Ade was a fun place to be and teams certainly feared what might happen if they didn't bring their top game against Purdue.
So does that mean a young, lesser-known (but highly ambitious) OC? A guy who is a Kliff Kingsbury kind of fella? Should Billy Dicken be offered a coaching role? I don't know the answers here, but I think this is the kind of thinking we need. Purdue has young coaches on Hazell's staff -- so he's clearly not afraid of such a hire.
I still believe good times are ahead with this coaching staff, particularly with Coach Hazell. And right now if he tells me John Shoop is what he wants to make this offense go, I can give him more rope. But it's kind of like what we said about Danny Hope in years 3 and 4 -- there has to be visible and notable progress or else the rope gets short quickly.
Got it, Coach Shoop?
Uh...good. Carry on.