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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Reports: Purdue hires Illini's Bridge as aide

By Adam Rittenberg

Big Ten assistant coach poaching must be contagious.

After losing offensive line coach Jim Bollman to Michigan State, Purdue reportedly has turned to another Big Ten school for his replacement. The Boilers have hired Illinois offensive line coach Jim Bridge for the same position, the Associated Press is reporting. Footballscoop.com first reported Bridge's move to Purdue.

Boilers head coach Darrell Hazell couldn't confirm Bridge's hiring "yet" when I talked to him earlier this afternoon. He didn't deny it, either, and reiterated that he hopes to fill the vacancy very soon.

Both Bollman and Bridge spent barely a month at their respective schools before jumping to other jobs. These moves are hardly unprecedented, and we've seen intra-league jumps before, but they seem to be happening at a much greater rate.

Bridge spent the past six seasons at NC State, the past two as the team's offensive line coach. He also has coached at Boston College, Eastern Michigan and The Citadel, and served as a graduate assistant at Ohio State.

His departure from Illinois comes at a bad time, as the Illini open spring drills today. It also continues a tumultuous offseason for coach Tim Beckman, who will have to replace a sixth assistant coach, five of whom have left the program voluntarily. The uncertainty about Beckman's future could have contributed to Bridge's exit, although Bridge called Illinois "a great fit for me" at the time of his hiring.

You have to feel for the Illinois players, who have gone through so many transitions in such a short period. Remember this the next time a coach complains about a recruit changing his verbal commitment.