Purdue's coach will have an astoundingly-busy next few weeks as he pulls double duty at Kent State and Purdue. He'll be helping his coaches prepare for the bowl game, cementing Purdue's 2013 recruiting class and building his staff...all as he continues to win over the hearts and minds of John Purduers, students and Purdue fans in general.
After his time with Kent State is officially over, following their bowl game, he'll sprint to signing day and onto the Black/Gold game.
We've been saying this for months- Purdue's football program's culture is in desperate need of an overhaul. Good-enough was exciting and acceptable, not only for Danny Hope's coaching staff, but during the last few seasons of Tiller's time at Purdue. We loved Cowboy Joe's mentality and belief that his teams were never out of a game...but Fly-Fishing Joe and his successor, didn't have the same outlook or attention to detail. The result was sloppy football and a teams that didn't develop or reach their full potential.
We still believe there have been plenty of players at Purdue during the last 6 or 7 seasons that we simply never got to see what they were capable of. The schemes in place and preparation didn't allow it...The head coach is obviously important as team will adopt his attitude and characteristics, especially over a few years. But his assistant coaches are important as well. From the get-go with Hope's staffs, we could see problems- guys who didn't have the experience to be in their position were leading Purdue into Saturday skirmishes...and Purdue looked as shell-shocked as the coaching staffs at times. I'm pretty sure that will change.
As in the head coaching search, there's a ton of talent in the not-too-distant coaching universe...here's what I see coach Hazell doing while building his staff:
-First off, try to keep your guys close.
There will be attrition as Hazell transitions out of the state of Ohio...some of his coaches might be asked to remain as flashes...but some, he'll absolutely need to bring with him. Tiller brought his entire coaching staff from Wyoming and their comfort and familiarity around each other made the transition smooth...if you've got a winning formula, stick with it.
-Second, use your resources.
Having Jim Tressel as a confidant is a pretty big asset. He used it during the hiring process, I hope he'll use it again as he builds his next staff.
-Third, think big.
Burke says he has the budget to get all he'll need...we'll see very quickly if that's true.
Here are a few candidates that I hope Hazell contacts or keeps near by (depending on the case):
Terrell Williams (DC)
Williams life has been scarred by recent family tragedy. If he's willing and able to come back to Purdue in this capacity, he'd be a great fit. He's a great recruiter and the guys who have played for him speak glowingly of him and his resume is exceptional.
Mike Vrabel (DL/DC)
Current aOSU DL coach...former Patriot. Pretty green coach, but playing for the Patriots teaches a guy a ton about winning.
Jon Heacock (DC)
They worked together very well at Kent State and their results are noteworthy...Kent State's ability to create turnovers was astounding.
Greg Burns (DB)
His development of cornerbacks has been noteworthy...in a consistently-solid scheme, his DBs can do very big things.
Marcus Freeman (LB)
A young, hard-charging coach who made Kent State's linebackers solid and very active.
Brian Rock (OC)
Current OC at Kent State, former Purdue coach.
Jim Chaney (OC)
With Tennessee's coaching staff dissolving, he might be available in the very near future. Great resume, Purdue ties, exciting offense.
Pat Higgins (offense)
Organized, smart and loyal, Higgins has handled the last few odd months very well...when he took over playcalling for Nord, the offense got notably better.
Matt Light (OL)
I'm not sure if he even wants to coach...but if he does, Purdue should snatch him up quickly. He's smart and is a winner.
Cornell Jackson (RB)
In my opinion, he's been the best developer of talent under Danny Hope. If Hazell only keeps one guy, this might be the one.
Taylor Stubblefield (WR)
One of Purdue's favorite sons of the last few decades is currently a journeyman WR coach at New Mexico...if he can find a spot under Hazell, I think we'd see him quickly rise through the ranks under another form WR coach.
Dave McDaniel (ST)
Kent State's special teams were good last year and Hazell specifically talked about how that's a focus...Purdue has some specialists with potential to be all-Americans, but they have to have the right coach.
Mark Hagen (ST/Recruiting coordinator/Asst. HC)
I liked Hagen at Purdue under Tiller and dislike him being at his alma mater...Even if he was only at Purdue two or three years before becoming a head coach, he'd be a great asset to recruiting and special teams development.