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Thursday, August 14, 2008
Uncertain future doesn't faze Boiler assistants

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Brock Spack and Danny Hope go way back.

They first met on the recruiting trail before joining forces on Joe Tiller's staff at Wyoming in 1996. The next year, Spack and Hope joined Tiller at Purdue, where they worked for the next five seasons before Hope left for a job at Louisville.

"He and I have been friends for a long time," said Spack, who has served as Purdue's defensive coordinator since 1997. "I really care a lot about him. We've worked together forever."

But will they work together after this season?

Hope takes over for Tiller as Purdue's head coach in 2009. At some point, he'll begin forming his staff, and there are no guarantees any of the current Purdue assistants will be part of it.

Such a fluid situation would seem to create some awkward moments in the coaches' meeting room, as Brock and the other assistants rub elbows with their potential future boss.

Would offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher rip Hope after a bad performance by the line, the unit Hope will coach this fall? Would other assistants watch their words whenever Hope is around?

"There's no auditioning going on," Spack said. "You can't. Football, it's all-consuming. All you can concentrate on is your team and making your players better. You can't worry about the periphery. You can't worry about what people say about you, what people think about you.

"You've got to make the decisions you think are best for your football team, your players and your program and this year. We're going to worry about now. We're going to win now."

Defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo doesn't have the history with Hope that Spack does. He also knows there's pressure to succeed, whether or not the team's next head coach is in the room.

"Every year is kind of a one-year deal," Anarumo said. "With all the money that's involved, it's like the NFL in a lot of ways. Your position has to play well."

Hope hasn't discussed the future with the other assistants, though he does get their help in assembling Purdue's 2009 recruiting class. The head-coach-in-waiting declined to discuss when he'll begin forming next year's staff, reiterating that the focus is on the coming season.

"That's what's fair to Purdue and these players and coach Tiller," Hope said. "Obviously, there's a lot of great coaches on this staff that you'd love to keep, and I have a short list of guys I've worked with in the past or know about. There's always attrition in the coaching profession. There won't be any problem assembling a staff."

Despite the uncertainty, Hope has sensed no tension.

"We're all like brothers in there, making jokes, working 18 hours a day," Hope said. "It's just like any other staff I've ever been a part of."