I love J's list of coaching candidates- experienced guys who have had success...and most have dealt with cultures like Purdue's in which resources are tough to come by and the fan base is less-than-ravenous. I think most of those guys are still on the upswing as well...and the time would be now to snatch up nearly every name on that list. But we're not even sure Burke is interested in changing directions at the end of the season...we merely think an investigation needs to begin.
So since we're already Morgan Burke's homepage (good morning, by the way, sir), we thought we'd give him a few more suggestions to help his search along...if it's going to occur.
Here are a few things we know about Purdue's athletic department- Burke has made running the program in the black an absolute priority. So, Purdue will probably go, once again, on the cheaper end of the spectrum. As J and I both said in a sidebar conversation, $1,000,000 is a ton of money to schmoes like he and I...But, in the world of BCS football, it's a pittance. Then again, it's a huge sum of money to pay someone whose teams get shellacked by good, not great teams, time and again.
One of the issues that I have with J's list is that multiple high-dollar buyouts would be involved in the equation totaling around $2 million. That's not gonna fly for Burke; I'm pretty sure of that. Hope's buyout at the end of this season will be $500,000...next year, it'd be $400,000...and so on. So it seems to me, if Burke makes the unprecedented (by his standards) move of canning his head football coach, he's not going to want to spend more dough on a buyout for the guy he hires. As a result, I've come up with a list of coaches that have sub-7-figure buyouts, if none at all...yet they'd still be good candidates, in my opinion.
One more issue that must be solved for Purdue to be competitive is the same issue that Painter fought for a year ago- assistant coach's salaries. Top programs will pay their assistant coaches $3 million-plus...That's not going to happen at Purdue. But, Burke can't realistically believe that a staff that gets paid one-third of the salary of its competitors will be any competition at all. Plus, if he expects ticket sales to get back to where they need to be, he's going to need to have a team on the field that is more than just a punching bag for the top-4 or 5 teams of the conference.
Away we go...
First we'll start with the most-affordable options...assistant coaches at other programs:
The one Purdue connection we've got on our list is that of Tennessee's offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney.
While at Purdue, his offenses were in the top-10 in the nation 6 times; you don't luck into that. He knows this place and the culture and would know what he's getting into. Burke could probably get him for around what Hope is making now.
He's 50 years old, has a resume that includes time in the NFL and, while coaching high-scoring offenses, has the ability to adapt. Currently, his offense runs the ball a lot...while at Purdue, as we all know, the Boilers were extremely pass-happy.
Another offensive coordinator is only two degrees removed from Purdue...but never played in West Lafayette or coached in God's country. Texas A&M's offensive coordinator, Kliff Kingsbury ha such a good offensive mind that former Boiler, Kevin Sumlin gladly hands his offense over to Kingsbury. He was OC of the year while at Houston and many magazines call him a rising star in the coaching ranks.
He's not the most experienced coach as he's only been doing it for three years...before that he was a journeyman pro QB who played in a few different leagues. Since I still wish Sumlin was at the helm and that ship has sailed, hiring Kingsbury might scratch that itch. Plus, since I thought Sumlin was the guy, it'd make sense for me to say I back up his choice for OC.
That said, I believe hiring him would be akin to hiring Fitzgerald at NU (without the obvious alma mater tie-in); he'd need a season or two to figure out his system...but his offenses would be fun to watch...and Burke would love his pricetag.
The next two candidates are pretty attractive to me for a number of reasons.
Here are a few current HCs that I believe would be affordable-enough for Burke to pull away from their current jobs. Plus, they're D-1A coaches and have shown me reason to believe they would do well at West Laffy.
WKU's HC Willie Taggart inherited a lousy situation. His team had just been brought up from D-1AA two seasons prior to his hiring...and the previous season, they didn't win a game. Understandably, the first year was tough; just two wins. But, last season, they went 7-5...7-1 in conference. And this season, they're 5-1...with the lone loss coming at the hands of Alabama.
I'd be lying to you if I told you his race didn't matter to me- I've wanted to see a qualified, capable black coach at Purdue in one of the two revenue generators for a few years...Cuonzo Martin (before Painter was hired), Kevin Sumlin (before Hope was hired) and others in both sports. I think it'd be good for the program and good for the school.
Taggart currently gets paid less than Jim Chaney...and his buyout looks to be similar to that of Hope (actually a bit over a half million).
My favorite candidate on my list is probably Dave Doeren from NIU. While I love exciting offense, I've been craving a Purdue football team with great, hard-nosed defense for nearly a decade.
Honestly, we haven't seen but two or three good defenses as Purdue fans in last 30 years...that stinks.
NIU's current HC has been successful at every level...his first HC job was for D-1AA Montana. While there, he was 28-3, and won a national title. Next, he was Wisconsin's DC from '06-'10...and since taking over for Jerry Kill at NIU, he's gone 17-4 in the last season and one-half. It's tough to be defensive-minded in the MAC, but Doeren is; at least a bit. Like Taggart, he's young and has big upside. Unlike everybody else, I can't find a reason why I wouldn't want him to be coaching at Purdue...and I don't think Burke can either.
Purdue's thrifty AD could double his current salary...and still have around $150,000 left over to reach Hope's current pay. His buyout is $750,000 if hired away from NIU during this off-season.
Just for fun, I went back and looked at the guys I wanted to see as candidates for the job when Hope was hired. In hindsight, most were, like J's list- pie-in-the-sky, simply because Burke wouldn't be willing to pay most of these guys what the market demands...nor would he want to deal with their hefty buyouts.
But one of the I liked 5 years ago is still available...I still like him and he's done nothing but win since the last time he made our illustrious list.
Northern Iowa's Mark Farley is consistently successful. His teams make noise nearly every season in the D-IAA tournament, coming in second a few years ago. Plus, he's had only one losing season during his 12 seasons at the post. He's had six double-digit winning seasons...and his overall record is 100-44 (69.4%). He's not yet 50 years old, so that's another positive...but I'm not sure I want Burke to look to the lower division for candidates this time (not that my opinion matters).
For comparison's sake, Hope never won over nine games as a D-1AA coach and won 61.4% of his games, only making the post-season once.
Keep in mind, we don't think Hope would be, nor should be fired if he were to lead our Boilers to seven wins prior to December. But we're both extremely-unconfident in the possibility of that happening. Now, another 6-6 season will leave Purdue and Burke in a foul-smelling quagmire- lousy ticket sales and a fanbase that's growing more apathetic with each season, and a team that simply doesn't win important games; that's college football purgatory. If this season is sub-.500, I'm almost-positive we'll see Burke fire him as he would have only a $500,000 buyout as the reason to not do it.
The last two posts were actually quite cathartic as they remind us that there are very good and affordable options out there right now, if the situation arises. But, we held back one name from both lists as we think he might be the best candidate for Purdue. Actually, if the final three were the guy we're going to talk about (our collective favorite), Dave Doeren (my favorite) and Kyle Flood (J's favorite, I believe), Purdue couldn't help itself but winning in the very near future...and not just versus MAC and lower tier in-conference foes.
You'll have to stay tuned to find out just who completes our list.
(And thanks, as always, for reading the site, Morgan!)