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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Hazell has big goals for Purdue

By Brian Bennett

Darrell Hazell noted that the first national attention his Kent State team received this season was when Andre Parker ran the wrong way on a punt return on opening night.

Things turned out pretty well after that, as the Golden Flashes went 11-2 in Hazell's second season and he won MAC coach of the year honors. Hazell hopes to get Purdue running in the right direction as well.

He was introduced as the Boilermakers new coach on Wednesday night in a press conference, and Hazell talked about big goals.

Darrell Hazell
"Here's a program that's in the middle of the pack," Darrell Hazell said of Purdue. "But I want to be at the top of the pack, and quickly."
"Here's a program that's in the middle of the pack," he said. "But I want to be at the top of the pack, and quickly."

Athletic director Morgan Burke left no doubt where that top is, saying repeatedly that "I want to go back to Pasadena." Burke is banking that Hazell is the coach to take him there, literally. Hazell will make a reported $12 million in his six-year contract, much higher than Danny Hope's $900,000 salary and a 567 percent pay raise from his base salary of $300,000 at Kent State. When someone asked Hazell if he had the resources to hire a top-notch staff, Burke interrupted.

"We've got all the money he needs to go out and hire the best staff he needs," Burke said.

"I concur with that," Hazell added.

Hazell certainly won the press conference, as he comes across very well with clear, concise answers. Burke noted how impressed he was with Hazell's passion, and how he shook hands and made eye contact with every Purdue player on Wednesday afternoon. He said he's the kind of guy players love to play for, and that he also received a note from the mother of a former Ohio State player. It read, "Purdue people don't know what a gem they've gotten."

Hazell isn't ready to give up on Kent State yet. He said he would coach the Golden Flashes in their Jan. 6 GoDaddy.com Bowl and would return to that campus to coach practice the next two days. He'll divide his time between both schools, plus recruiting and some house shopping, before settling in Purdue for good on Jan. 7. It's an unusual approach, and most coaches cut off all ties (or have them cut off) once they take another job during bowl season. The worry for Purdue is that he won't have enough time to devote fully to the Boilers' cause for the next month, but you have to admire Hazell for not wanting to abandon his former team.

Some other notes from the news conference: