Coach Tiller has been in West Lafayette the past few days and talked to the guys at GBI about retirement last night.
Not many surprises in the article. The Coach says he's staying busy around the house as his wife has him getting the place into order (it was just built last year). He's been on vacation a few times (I don't know if you can call it vacation, at this point) and is still thinking about Purdue football from time-to-time.
He likes Joey Elliot and compares him to Billy Dicken...likes Ryan Kerrigan and compares him, favorably to Rosey Colvin...and likes Keith Smith (whom we recently learned was suffering from a separated shoulder in '08) and compares him to Brian Alford. I think his point is that the tools are there for Purdue have a winning season a la 1997.
I'm not sure if this Purdue team has the talent that was left by Colletto, but both Colletto and Tiller seemed uninspired toward the end of their respective tenures at Purdue. Unlike Colletto, who attributed many of Purdue's losses in '96 to the players lining up incorrectly, Tiller admits his energy level wasn't cutting it-
"I think it needed an energy level that I had run out of, quite frankly...I don't function at the same speed that I did 12 years ago when I first showed up. I thought this program needed an injection of energy and he brings that to the table."
And not many do. Guys like Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden don't come along everyday...in coaching or in other industry. At 65, it's a lot harder to be a hard-charger than it is at 55. And unlike some other jobs, coaching simply demands a ton of hustle EVERY day and is demanding both mentally and physically.
I've said it before and I'll say it again- I'm appreciative for what Joe Tiller did for Purdue...but I wish he had decided to step down a season or three earlier. Much like Gene Keady, he nearly completely toppled the system and program that he and his coaches had worked so hard to build. But he's deserving of accolades and awards (like the Distinguished American Award he received last night) because of what he did at Purdue as head coach and before during his coaching career. Plus, he still seems like a pretty good guy. But like Coach Tiller 13 years ago, many are excited to see if Danny Hope can match Tiller's ability to right a listing ship. He'll be at the Northern Illinois and UND games next fall at Ross Ade to find out in person.