Those in charge at Purdue decided to end the Danny Hope era in West Lafayette in its fourth year, firing the former Joe Tiller assistant one day after the Boilermakers ended the season on a three-game winning streak and guaranteed themselves their second consecutive bowl game, the first time the team will go to a bowl game in back-to-back season since 2003 and 2004.
Hope, a former head coach at Eastern Kentucky from 2003 to 2007, posted a 22-27 record in his time as Boilermakers head coach with the highlight being last season, when Purdue went 7-6 and won its first bowl game since 2007.The firing to me seems like the Boilermakers aren’t thrilled with hovering around the .500 mark year after year, although they have done that more often than not since the early 1970s. It is unclear in which direction that Purdue will turn for their next head coach, but here are five candidates that I suggest they strongly consider:
Darrell Hazell, Kent State HC – A former Ohio State assistant under Jim Tressel, Hazell has a legitimate chance of winning a national Coach of the Year award thanks to the success of his Golden Flashes, which sit at 11-1 and will be playing for the MAC Championship on Friday night. The MAC has proven to be a middle man between young coaches wanting to make a name for themselves and the Big Ten, as four current head coaches in the conference have head coaching experience in the Mid-American Conference, so don’t be surprised if Hazell is seriously considered for this position.
Butch Jones, Cincinnati HC – Jones has become a popular name as far as head coaching vacancies are concerned, as the Bearcats head coach has been rumored to be a candidate at Tennessee and now Auburn. Jones has plenty of experience working in Big Ten recruiting areas thanks to his fifteen years spent in Michigan and Pennsylvania with stints at Wilkes, Ferris State, and Central Michigan. Butch’s lack of SEC experience may leave him on the outside looking in as far as UT and War Eagle is concerned, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t consider a move to Purdue.
Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois HC – Hazell’s adversary in Friday night’s MAC Championship game, Doeren has led the Huskies to their second straight conference championship game (beat Ohio 23-20 last year) and has the team with a chance at an at-large berth in the Orange Bowl thanks to their 11-1 record and #16 ranking. Formerly Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator for five years, Doeren picked up where Jerry Kill left off and has put Northern Illinois in the upper echelon of non-AQ schools. It is just a matter of time before Doeren follows in Kill’s footsteps and opts to take over a Big Ten team.
Chuck Martin, Notre Dame OC – Brian Kelly’s right-hand man, Martin took over as Grand Valley State head coach once Kelly left for Central Michigan and promptly went 74-7 with two Division II Championships before reuniting with Kelly at Notre Dame. Martin will be a hot commodity now that the Fighting Irish have finished the season 12-0 and will be playing in the BCS National Championship game; will he opt to leave South Bend and Kelly, a man he has worked alongside for seven years?
Bob Diaco, Notre Dame DC – The leader of the Fighting Irish’s excellent defense, Diaco could do wonders with the Boilermakers, a team that gave up twenty points or more nine times, including in seven straight games; compare that to Diaco’s defense, which gave up twenty points or more once against Pittsburgh. Diaco may choose to stick around for a little longer, but Purdue would be foolish to not at the very least test his interest.