Anyone interested in applying to become the next Purdue football head coach had better have one thing on his résumé: a proven record of knowing how to score points.
In his news conference following the firing of Danny Hope, Boilermakers athletic director Morgan Burke made it clear that he'll be targeting offensive-minded coaches for the opening. Purdue has become known over the years as a program that develops quarterbacks and adds up yardage.
"I can assure you the quarterback position, the cradle, will be at the heart of our thinking," Burke said. "We'll continue to be aggressive offensively, because I think that's part of our tradition and our experience here at Purdue."
In fact, Burke said that he expected the next coach to have an offensive system that is similar to the one the Boilers have employed in recent years.
"We're not going to move into a coach that has a dramatically different scheme because we've built this team to play a certain kind of football," he said. "We've seen other institutions who made a coaching change, then they changed their style of play. It took two or three years to adjust.
"We're not going to do that. We've got talent in this program, we know we have talent in this program. We want it to be nurtured."
Some other notes from Burke's news conference:
-- Burke refuted the claim that the Boilers' haven't made a big enough commitment to football. Hope's $950,000 salary was the lowest in the Big Ten and ranked behind some Conference USA and Mountain West coaches. But Burke said that salary was commensurate with Hope's level of experience and success.
"Look at what we've done in facilities in the last four years," he said. "New practice facilities, upgraded the indoor and outdoor facilities, offices, locker rooms. I think there's been a lot done.
"I think where people are somewhat confused is they're looking at the current compensation package and saying it was an unwillingness to invest more in football. And that's not true. We based the compensation package on other people who were similarly situated: moving into a Big Ten job for the first time. Bret Bielema, when he went up, that was a comparable compensation package. As the coach continues to have success, you would continue to move that forward.
"The problem is we didn't have that sustained level of success we wanted to have. I don't think there's any resource commitment question."
Burke said the school was "prepared to compete" in terms of salary for what it takes to win in the Big Ten and nationally.
-- The attendance problem definitely played a key role in Hope's dismissal, as empty seats became a big problem at Ross-Ade Stadium.
"We've lost a third of the fan base," Burke said. "We've gone from about 54,000 paid attendance in 2007-08 to 37,000 this past year in paid attendance. .. We can't do what we need to do resource-wise with losing a third of the fan base, OK?"
-- Burke said Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, Houston Texans GM Rick Smith and former Colts executive Bill Polian are assisting him with his search. Grigson and Smith are Purdue graduates. Burke said candidates don't have to be current head coaches, but he considers that a major plus.
-- Offensive coordinator Gary Nord will serve as a senior adviser to interim head coach Patrick Higgins during bowl preparations. Nord might have been the choice as interim coach, but a back injury has limited his ability to work with the team the past few weeks.
-- Burke praised Hope's commitment to the job and his achievements with players in the classroom. Ultimately, though, Hope didn't win enough games.
"We said we wanted to reduce the variability of our play so we were more consistent against all teams in the league, and we wanted to move up a rung on the ladder," Burke said. "We clearly did not do that."