Success hasn’t been something that’s been prominent in John Shoop’s coaching career.
In fact, it’s never really been existent. His struggles have been overshadowed by a few winning seasons and limited number of expensive contracts. He earned the attention of Darrell Hazell back in 2013 and was able to earn a spot on the latest coaching staff at Purdue.
As an offensive coordinator though, Shoop has struggled at fulfilling his job description. His issues that were covered up by a 13-3 season in the NFL and a few bowl appearances at North Carolina have surfaced since coming to West Lafayette.
Shoop’s offenses at Purdue have ranked 121st and 111th in scoring. Through seven games this season, the Boilermakers have the 102nd-most effective unit in the nation with a 23.1 points per game average.
The unfortunate reality is that Shoop’s numbers from Purdue aren’t an abnormality. His struggles have lingered throughout his coaching career.
In three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, Shoop’s offense finished inside the top 20 in points scored only one year – his first season in the Windy City in 2001. In 2002 and 2003, when the Bears finished 4-12 and 7-9, his offenses ranked 27th and 23rd, respectively.
Not much changed when he shifted his attention to the college game, either.
During a five-year stay in North Carolina, Shoop never coached a Tar Heel offense that finished above the top 40 in points scored. He tends to receive unwarranted credit for North Carolina winning eight games in three consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2010. In those three years, the Tar Heels’ offense never averaged more than 28 points per contest.
After only eight seasons serving as an offensive coordinator at the professional and collegiate levels, Shoop had developed an unappealing résumé. His offenses struggled with production and his schemes failed to put his teams in position to score.
Hazell hired him anyway.
The newly appointed head coach in West Lafayette took a chance on a guy whose most successful season still didn’t eclipse the 30 points per game average.
Since 2013, Purdue has had the lowest scoring offense in the Big Ten. The Boilers are averaging a modest 119.7 yards per game over the past 31 games, another conference low during that time frame.
Shoop’s development of quarterbacks – his additional role at Purdue – hasn’t brought much promise, either.
Four different quarterbacks have started for the Boilermakers since Hazell and Shoop arrived, with not one completing an entire season. It’s been a painful commonality for the Boilermakers, continually replacing the starter when things aren’t going well.
In 2013, Danny Etling looked like he would solve Purdue’s quarterback quandary, replacing senior Rob Henry under center. Midway through the 2014 campaign, Etling was swapped for Austin Appleby. And when Appleby wasn’t getting the job done in the early portion of this year, he was benched for freshman David Blough.
Though it’s only a small sample size, Blough doesn’t appear to be the guy to lead Purdue out of this eternal hole, either.
Purdue’s offense has improved tremendously from a sheer talent standpoint, and yet no progress has been made. A team that struggled to score points two seasons ago still can’t find the end zone consistently.
It scored seven points and totaled 191 yards of offense in a 24-7 loss to Wisconsin. At the end of three quarters, Blough had completed four of six passes for 19 yards.
Those numbers are a far cry from the exciting and highly-effective style Joe Tiller and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney brought to Ross-Ade Stadium back in 1997.
Lately, it’s been an overload of scripted play calls that provide little opportunity for success. There’s no aggressive mindset. There’s no sense of urgency to send the ball flying downfield. Instead, Shoop has been content running the ball on three consecutive downs and punting to win the battle of field position.
Purdue has the fewest number of plays that have resulted in 10 or more yards this season. Minnesota, a team without a reliable quarterback and injuries in the back field has had 77 plays break for 10 yards or more.
The Boilers have had 69.
All of these failures offensively have culminated in Purdue’s 5-26 record under Hazell’s watch. Thanks to Shoop’s offense, Purdue is also a 10.5-point underdog at home to a 3-5 Nebraska team.
It’s an ultimate low for a program that experienced consistent bowl visits and a Big Ten Championship in the not-so-distant past.
If Purdue plans to return back to that caliber of success, it’s not going to be with Shoop running the offense. Championship teams aren’t built by two-yard runs and screen passes on third down.
Hazell had poor judgment in bringing an unproven and unsuccessful coordinator to his staff in 2013. Now, he needs to cut ties with a man who was never qualified for the position in the first place.