December 2012 Ash Heap Revisted
Just a bit ago, fellow BS founder J joked on Twitter that Coach Butch Jones might be available soon thanks to a shocking defeat at the hands of Vandy earlier tonight.
I would venture a guess that things having gone the way Tennessee, nor Jones would have thought when he accepted the job in Knoxville.
Just to jog your memory, Morgue had Jones in his sites...brought him to Purdue, along with his wife and had a day long interview...kinda. From a few stories that I've heard, Jones cut the interview off a bit early because he knew Purdue wasn't going to work out well...OR...he got a text from his agent that the maneuver with Purdue had gotten them the contract that they wanted from UT.
Regardless of the finer details, Purdue's committee later found their guy, Darrell Hazell. We all had high hopes...Burke thought the big-ish money he was spending would gloss over his cheap hire four years before that; it didn't work.
Joe Tiller's momentum had been killed by a few Tiller-coached teams that didn't have many of the attributes that the olde tyme Tiller teams had exemplified. The program wasn't in shambles, but it wasn't what it had been in 2003 and before. Burke still had fans coming to games, Purdue wasn't yet a punchline to the college football world...things were ai-ight.
Hope entered and Purdue won some games, but couldn't really compete with the big boys any longer. Atop of that, while he recruited speed and good QBs, he had trouble fulfilling needs as a recruiter, and boosters were struggling to get behind the Boilers as they had five or six years prior to Hope's departure. Also, ticket sales had plummeted, so Burke had to do something.
So we're caught up.
Outside of Purdue, Kent State hired Paul Haynes to replace Hazell, Arkansas hired Bielema, Wisconsin had to hire Andersen in a rush as a result. Auburn hired Malzahn, UT got Jones, NC State hired Doeren (the guy that I wanted at Purdue), Rutgers hired Kyle Flood the year before to replace Schiano (the guy J wanted), Cal hired Dykes (the guy J and I agreed would be BS' endorsed pick for our Boilers), Texas Tech hired Kingsbury, WKU hired a limping and neck brace-laden Petrino, Cinci hired Tuberville, USF hired Taggart, Temple hired Ruhle, Kentucky hired Stoops, UTEP hired Robert Kugler's Dad, LaTech hired Skip Holtz...and a handful of other jobs were filled that December...oh yeah, PJ Fleck was hired by WMU too.
It was a crazy month...but it's the norm.
The one thing about the December of 2012 coaching carousel season is that we were interested because we didn't know what was going to happen and we tried to read the tea leaves as info came out. As I read the list above, I am SHOCKED at the amount of poor fits and failures that jump out. My guy, Dave Doeren, has been solid, from my outsider's view...but NC State fans want him gone. Stoops squeaked into a bowl earlier today, but UK fans don't like him. Auburn fans think they should be beating Bama and contending for titles; Malzahn has done it once, so he's not good enough. Many schools who hired their guy four years ago, want a re-kick...a do-over.
I don't think any Purdue fans would have been happy with the slimy Butch Jones at the helm. I mean this- I'd rather have Darrell Hazell that an unethical d-bag. Hopefully Jones gets canned this off-season, but I doubt he will in spite of his teams being a disappointment in the last two seasons.
That said, if we could go back in time and have Morgue's ear, what would we say?
"Don't hire a guy based on just one good season."
"Maybe we should go for a bit of an innovator."
"Let him bring in his own coordinators."
"Make sure this new guy focuses on the majors instead of the minors."
Would any of that made a difference? Would Flood, Doeren or Dykes have been a better fit at Purdue? Supposedly Dykes turned Purdue down...past that, I don't know what happened our other two favorites on the phone/behind closed doors.
I'm almost positive that any of those guys would have had a better winning percentage than did Burke's last major coaching hire...and really believe there would have been more signs of improvement than what we witnessed the last three seasons. The record matters, the 'fit' matters, progress matters...there is HUGE opportunity in West Lafayette now, for whomever his hired in the coming days. But that opportunity, and a large amount of momentum can be killed immediately if the wrong guy has signed a contract, or is about to sign.
One thing I'm still hoping for is that the new coach is announced/introduced tomorrow; because I'm an impatient type. If he's not, maybe that means Fleck is really coming and wants to get one more taste of MACtion before swapping out brown for black and coming to God's country...Maybe it means one of my dark horses (Schiano, Holgerson...) is getting things tied up before heading to the greenest of pastures. Or maybe, just maybe it means Kevin Sumlin**** is finally coming home to Purdue...which is still my dream scenario.
I started this post after spending an hour on Twitter and thought I might be able to come up with how a reshuffling of the deck would have behooved every school that tried to fill a coaching vacancy four years ago. Truth is, there are very few Darrell Hazells in this group- guys that have such a bad record that the AD must make a move. Most of these failures are marginal failures, poor cultural fits or coaches that there really isn't a quantifiable justification, after just four seasons to move on, and wade through this carousel fecal muck again.
Here's to Purdue's next football coach being the right guy, at the right time...in the right place.
****Quick side note- you Purdue fans who don't want Sumlin must have multiple pieces of hardware loose in your skulls. You're sooooooo choosy, and things are sooooooo good at Purdue, that a guy who's succeeded at two different programs as a HC isn't good enough for Purdue? Further, is there a better fit than a successful Purdue alum, former Boilermaker player, and former Tiller positional coach, with that resume, to do this job??? Seriously????