So How Does Darrell Hazell Compare to the Other Candidates?
There’s been a lot of fair debate – justified to be discussed, no doubt – about Darrell Hazell’s performance so far as head coach of the Boilermakers. Some feel he’s in over his head or just not the coach we had hoped he was. At BS, we still feel it’s too early to make such a judgment, but as noted earlier in the week, it’s not too soon to frustrated. But if you’re like us, you may find yourself grasping for something to judge him against. Sure, you can compare his 2-12 start to previous Purdue coaches' first 14 games (Danny Hope: 6-8, Joe Tiller: 10-4, Jim Colletto: 5-9), but what does that really tell you? Different eras are hard to compare. But one thing we can do is take a look at how he has fared compared to some of the coaches Purdue considered and those we wanted them to consider. There’s no way to know just how closely Morgan Burke stuck to our list but we know he keeps close tabs on the goings-on here at BS.
As you may recall, we had several posts about potential coaches. So let’s take a look at a few, starting with the ones we know Purdue had expressed some interest in. We’ll also limit this to coaches who actually switched programs to keep the comparison similar.
Butch Jones, Tennessee
Jones came and visited Purdue, in hindsight likely because he was trying to make himself more of a hot commodity to the school that eventually did hire him, Tennessee. Jones had a great run of success at multiple schools before getting his big SEC job, which is already a step more than Hazell had.
In his first year with the Vols, Jones went 5-7 and has gotten out of the gate this year to a 2-0 start to even is record at 7-7 after 14 games. Just like with Coach Hazell, it’s far too early to tell if he’s an official success or not (remember, Derek Dooley went to a bowl game in his first year in Knoxville), but 5-7 isn’t embarrassing and a 2-0 start is the best you can do.
Dave Doeren, NC State
This was one of the more perplexing ones to us. Doeren had just guided Northern Illinois to back to back MAC championships and thus was a highly sought-after coaching prospect. Boilerdowd loves Doeren as an option for Purdue and for a while he seemed like a perfect fit. Then he took the job at NC State, which is in the ACC and has never felt like a football power (maybe he just likes red?). However, they have a fairly long bowl history and some nice runs in there. In fact, they were coming off three consecutive bowl appearances.
Anyway, Doeren took over and went 3-9 last year and, like Jones, is off to a 2-0 start in 2014.
Sonny Dykes, Cal
We all loved Dykes and the job he did in three years at Louisiana Tech, winning as many as nine games. We liked his pass-happy, offense-is-fun approach and thought he was just the thing the Purdue team and fans needed to get excited about making noise in the Big Ten again.
Dykes wound up at Cal, which Jeff Tedford had ridden into the ground and had a similar first season to Coach Hazell, getting pounded on a lot going 1-11 with his only win over a non-major. However, Dykes has 2014 off to a 2-0 start, including a win on the road at Northwestern and a crushing of non-major Sacramento State.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
At the time, Kingsbury was working under BS favorite Kevin Sumlin at A&M, after also working for Sumlin at Houston. Kingsbury is only 35 right now so he was 33 when Tech hired him to be their head coach. He was also a college QB, relates well to his players, knows what matters to them (part of his contract included him having complete creative control over Tech’s uniforms) and favors an exciting offense. In short, we loved Kingsbury as a candidate. And then he went out and began 7-0 at Texas Tech, before a five game slide brought him back to reality.
However, KK finished 8-5 in his first year and, as with some of the others mentioned here, has started 2014 at 2-0.
Willie Taggart, South Florida
Taggart did a nice enough job at Western Kentucky (in their 4th, 5th and 6th seasons of FBS college football) to get offered the job at South Florida. We liked a lot about Taggart and thought he’d be a nice fit at Purdue.
Taggart took the South Florida job and had a rough first year with the Bulls, going 2-10. He’s off to a 1-1 start this season, so his results are the closes to Coach Hazell’s. But still not as rock bottom.
The (Incomplete) Verdict?
Compared to the guys Purdue was considering and that the BS brain trust thought they should be considering, Darrell Hazell has not done as well. Assessing these guys as I’ve done here, though, does reinforce to me that it’s too early for official judgment. I do think, however, that revisiting these records at the end of 2014 may tell a more complete story and I’m concerned the verdict won’t be much different.