Our underdog Boiler football team is preparing for a bowl with a skeleton crew of coaches, the basketball team is in the midst of a much-needed bye week, of sorts, and Purdue's new football coach is splitting time between his current/former job and his new/current job...and seems to be doing OK at it.
The NCAA issued him the waiver that Morgan Burke talked about during the press conference that officially announced his hiring...and right away, Hazell was on the road seeking to hold on to the verbal commitments to the program and possibly get a few more.
His top two priorities were Rivals 4-star QB Danny Etling and 3-star RB David Yancey. Both will be mid-year enrollees, both were impressed with Purdue's new HC, and both are sticking to their commitments to wear the
If Hazell's living room presence is anything like his press conference presence, we can all understand why these guys both recommitted. He's got ten more in-home visits to make to verbals, a couple to make to guys who de-committed and a few to try to pick up to round out the class.
Before he even made a visit, he picked up a verbal from a Florida DB with offers from Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Florida and others. Hope and his staff clearly did the ground work on Leroy Clark, but the hire of Hazell got the deal done.
While our Boilers will lose some Seniors in key positions, Danny Hope left the cupboard far from bare...and the focus on speed during the recruiting process is something that Hazell and his yet-to-be-named coaching staff should be able to utilize.
Hazell said he loves road trips because driving gives him a chance to think through everything that's going on in life...he'll have plenty of time to get his mind right as he drives hundreds, if not thousands of miles in the month and one-half...with a built-in no-contact period smack dab in the center of that timespan along with Christmas and Kent State's bowl. Busy bee.
On Saturday, Purdue will look to get their biggest win of the season thus far as they make the short trip South to Indy to play the hated Irish and Scott Martin. It's too bad that Hummel didn't get a 15th year like his childhood pal so he could pistol whip ole scott, but it didn't work out that way...so the suddenly-sloppy Boilers will have the daunting task of beating an experienced and large UND team that is fundamentally-sound and has a bunch of scorers.
I'm hoping Byrd becomes the sixth man off of the bench as he was last season and Purdue begins to run a lot more. With their shooting woes, multiple slashers and trouble with full-court presses, it seems the best thing to do for this squad would be to not let opposing defenses get set up...and as the Eastern Michigan game showed, this team's halfcourt game leaves a lot to be desired. On top of that, the usually hard-nosed defense has been replaced with inconsistent effort as some of the young guys simply look gassed with regularity.
Whether it's running or gutting out victories, Purdue has to change in a hurry in order to simply be respectable, let-alone get to the NIT...not NCAA tournament. Matty and his capable staff have their work cut out for them...and I have faith in these guys. BUT, it's gonna feel like it's them against the world as Mackey will continue to have thousands of empties (sadly, mind you) as Purdue's Pups seek cohesion and identity.
There's no doubt this season has been disappointing so far. A loss to a MAC team is pretty awful...and the loss to Villanova (who lost 4 of their next 5) looks pretty damned bad too. But surprises, both good and bad aren't limited to God's country right now.
Kentucky's always star-studded cast has three losses, UNC's four and five-star studded lineup can't manage to get a quality win...and the B1G is loaded to the gills.
If you're like me, it's tough to swallow the idea of Purdue being in the bottom of the conference...but this medicine might be what we all have to swallow this season. Penn State, the Gasser-less Badgers our Boilers, Nebraska and the always mild (come March) Cats might be fighting amongst themselves for the bottom third of the conference crown in the coming months. The rest of the conference seems to be monstrous...and all power ranking polls agree. If nothing else, Purdue will have opportunities for quality wins this season...the question is, will they get them? (And will Mackey become a tough place to play again this season?)
One of my favorite things to do, in relation to this site, is talk to fellow Boiler alums and sports fans and then see if they know/visit the site. I got to do that last night at my wife's work Christmas party. It is always motivating and humbling for me to talk to people that make BS part of their daily ritual, whether on here, Twitter or FB. Thanks to everyone who reads the site and the other outlets. It's appreciated.