This week, new Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski decided he’d had enough of the Darrell Hazell era. Nine wins and 33 losses aren’t going to cut it in his world, and honestly, good for him for taking that stand. The rest of this season is up in the air, but Purdue has been a team that everyone expects to lose for a while now anyway, right?
From a guy who has seen a recent college football head coach firing and hiring in his own backyard — that has resulted in an upward trend, might I add — I felt I could perhaps lend some friendly advice to a Big Ten brother, a division-mate even.
For Purdue to compete in modern day college football, it needs a new identity. What I mean by that is there has to be a coach out there that will install some manner of style that will be a pain for conference teams to adjust to.
Remember Hal Mumme at Kentucky or Mike Leach at Texas Tech? There has to be a special something that results in both opposing fans and coaches saying, “Well damn, now we have to play Purdue.”
Oh, and let’s get something important out of the way. Don’t go after Les Miles, because that is not a sweepstake you want to enter. It will result in a lot of time, energy and resources lost that could be used finding a coach who will both say yes and not demand so many zeroes for himself and his assistants that it’ll make your head spin.
Let’s talk Troy’s Neal Brown for a second. He stepped in and started his career with the Trojans with a 4-8 record. Through this season, he’s 5-1 with that single loss being to then-No. 2 Clemson in Death Valley, 30-24. I admit, it may be a little early to jump on board the Brown bandwagon, but I think he warrants a phone call.
Here’s an idea with precedent: Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. He’s a young guy at 33, spent seven years at Texas Tech under Leach and put in some time at East Carolina as an offensive coordinator. He understands how to spread a defense out and make it account for the entire field.
Now you may ask, “Why should I care about Lincoln Riley?”
Well, take it from a guy who just watched the team he covers play a squad coached by a former Oklahoma offensive coordinator. Oh yeah, he also wears the colors of a school more well-known for its play on the basketball court than the football field.
Kevin Wilson has Indiana playing quality, physical football. They were a doormat just like Purdue is now when he walked through the door. Wilson came in and started off with a 1-11 squad before building his program up into one that would eventually make it to the Pinstripe Bowl.
While the records weren’t necessarily great over his first few years, Indiana played competitive football. They may have lost, but they went down swinging. Purdue can’t claim that now and hasn’t been able to for a while.
Finally, for the sake of everything that is sacred and holy, Mr. Bobinski: do not hire Bo Pelini. I know that people extol his virtues as some sort of defensive genius, but he set records for failure at Nebraska. For you, sir, you will be voluntarily choosing what I’m assuming will be a four or five-year period of time that you will spend babysitting your head coach if Pelini is your choice.
He is myopic, paranoid, lazy, narcissistic and will make your program as a whole look worse. I don’t just mean on the football field, either. He’ll command more money than either of my two previous suggestions and your return on investment will be hideous. The culture he would bring to West Lafayette would perhaps rival one found in the cinematic masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road.
I say this to you as someone who’s trying to do you a favor here, Mr. Bobinski. You saw what this man did at a blueblood program with every advantage. Do not believe the hype. It is nothing but lies.
Now that I got that out of my system, I believe Purdue football is salvageable, but as I mentioned with Wilson and Indiana, it’s going to take some time.
Invest in a guy like Riley. Nebraska got one and so far, it’s going pretty well. Best of luck.