Hard not to like: Danny Hope

From the time Danny Hope was hired, we at BS have said that he is a difficult guy to dislike.   I wasn't a huge fan of the hire by Burke- I thought then, and still think that Purdue should have pursued a coach with a bit of a higher profile and a better record of success prior to Hope's hiring by my our Alma Mater.

Our boilers stand at 3-3 at the halfway point of Hope's third season as the head coach.  If you visit here often, you've heard us express our thoughts that we believe that this team's record should be better than it is.  We think that there are some talented guys on this team, talented-enough to have at least one more win if not two...but things are what they are. Purdue continues to struggle with stupid penalties at key times, seems to have breakdowns when they're in the most need of crisp play and the offense seems to still be struggling to find an identity.  On top of that, there are gaping holes in the line-up that can be attributed to poor player development or recruiting misses. Many, if not all of this team's problems can be credited to the coaching staff.

But, there are some things that are very positive that are due to coaching.  This team almost always looks motivated to play.  They hustle and don't seem to give up on plays too often.  And there seems to be very good chemistry among the players...as they legitimately like each other.  Plus, Hope has conscientiously built a team that is faster on both sides of the ball than the teams that Tiller put together.

The reason this team is what it is, both the good and bad, comes from the top. The players are fun-loving because the man behind the mustache is as well.  These guys are excitable and emotional because the head coach encourages it. He understands that football is a game of emotion...but at times this season, the players and coaches alike have looked confused and unsure of what should be done next.

In this era of football, it's really tough to watch your favorite squad go one, two, three, four...seasons without going to a bowl game.  That's probably why attendance has been dropping steadily during Hope's time at Purdue.  In fact, it looks like the Homecoming Game could be the lowest-attended of its kind in nearly 20 years unless there is an unexpected run on tickets in the next 24-36 hours...and while I hate seeing it, it's understandable that many have shifted the way they spend their money the last few years.

Regardless of how bad things get and have gotten, and even following the horrible prime-time home showing versus the hated Irish, I still can't help but like Danny Hope. Both J and I have talked to him a few times...and both of us came away with the same impression- he's a good guy.

He loves being the head coach of Purdue, loves the players he coaches, loves meeting the fans and seems to be tireless and driven to do whatever he knows how to help his team succeed...that's hard not to like.

Watch the coach as he leads his team on the field or as he talks to his players before kickoff. Tune into the Danny Hope Show on the radio and you can literally hear him smiling as he talks about the game. He is happy to be where he is...and always excited about the potentially-great thing that might happen next game. His positivity is impossible to miss...and tough for some fans to take.

After watching Purdue lose to a Rice team that had no business beating our Boilers, Hope grinned and talked about the progress and good things he saw on the field...and this was right after the game.  I know Hope can get angry, we've seen his ire directed at officials from time-to-time, BUT, almost every Saturday following a loss, I feel more angry than Hope seems to be.  Part of that is that my temper is not  where it should be and I take Purdue football too seriously.  But part of me thinks that a coach needs to be an ass-kicker from time-to-time to keep players in line.  We know that our favorite basketball coach is...and his team does OK.

But regardless of my opinion of when anger is called for, and my belief that Purdue football teams have looked disorganized and unsure of themselves at time. I still like the coach as a man.

I watched BTN's  "Step Into My Office" show this week that featured Coach Hope (not sure if it was new or a re-run)...and not surprisingly, I really enjoyed hearing Hope's stories of his players, his personal life and why he does things the way he does.  Not too much shocked me about what the coach had to say, in fact, what he said was pretty predictable after watching and listening to the man for the past three-plus years.  But I still enjoyed it.

I'm positive that if I had Coach Hope as a neighbor, I would love it- I'd borrow power tools from the man, seek advice on how to smoothly finish drywall, or maybe watch some football with him over a frosty beverage.  I think he is a genuine guy; what you see is what you get...and I value that trait quite a bit. My Dad is a similar guy- man's man, all-around great person and enjoyable to be around.  But I think he'd be a bad hire as Purdue's football coach.

I do understand that's a ridiculous comparison...but the point is, my frustration with Hope as a coach has nothing to do with my opinion of him as a man. But his title makes him accountable  for one of the single-largest money making entities on Purdue's campus and his job is one that demands success.

But whether you like the man or not, it's tough not to think that Hope is getting to the point in which his team needs to succeed now...both for him as a coach and the team as a whole.  Saturday's game is important for this team as they have six games remaining and must win three to earn a bowl game...and it gets no easier as the following three games are against some of the best teams in the league...one of them versus one of the best in the nation.

While Coach Hope is not a guy who surprises Purdue fans too much at this point, he'll need a few surprises in the coming weeks in order for this team to have a successful season. Because if his Boilers fail to make one of the 35 bowl games and Ross-Ade continues to look like it did during Saturdays in the fall of the early 90s, Burke might be forced to make a difficult and unusual decision.

Purdue kicks off versus Illinois tomorrow at noon on EsPN2.

Predicto - The Illini vs Our Boilers

Fact Fondue - The Fighting Illini, and a #hashTag