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Purdue AD remains patient with Hope

Some Purdue fans have seen enough of coach Danny Hope.

They don't believe he'll make the Boilers a consistent bowl team again. They scratch their heads about his recruiting strategy and his in-game decisions. They don't think he can win consistently at this level. They're worried about the momentum Purdue has lost since the first half of the Joe Tiller era.

These are all legitimate concerns. Purdue needs a spark -- soon.

But Hope's boss, athletic director Morgan Burke, is willing to wait a little longer. Two seasons under Hope, including an injury-plagued 2010 campaign, aren't enough to fully assess the coach, who is under contract through 2014.

"You've got to take that year [2010] and kind of just wipe it out," Burke told The Associated Press on Monday. "... I really believe last year, had we been relatively healthy, they would have had a much more productive season."

Burke's comments might frustrate some Purdue fans, but I don't know how else you can view a season that featured so many major injuries at key positions. Would Purdue have made a bowl with Robert Marve, Ralph Bolden, Keith Smith and others healthy for the whole season? We'll never know. But the team's chances would have been much improved.

Hope has made speed a priority in recruiting and scoured the state of Florida for talent. Some Florida products, like cornerback Ricardo Allen, are working out well, while others aren't. He thinks the 2011 team will have substantially more speed and athleticism than his previous versions.

"I think the recruiting is much better than people think, but they can't see it yet," Burke said. "I can see it on the practice field. The fans can't see it yet, but it's coming."

Whether it comes or not, Hope deserves a little more time -- and a fully healthy team -- before a full evaluation can be made.