NCF Nation: Danny Hope

As the coach hiring season nears an end, we're examining the Big Ten coaching landscape and some recent trends. First, a closer look at the increased investments Big Ten schools are making in their football staffs to keep up with the national market.

Two days before Michigan State ended its best season in nearly a half-century with a Rose Bowl victory, Mark Hollis stood outside a Los Angeles conference room and described the dilemma he and other athletic directors face with football coaches' salaries.

"I get concerned sometimes about where we're going with coaches' salaries as an industry," Hollis said, "but at the same time, you need to ensure that continuity is in place."

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
AP Photo/ John BealeNew Penn State coach James Franklin will make about $1 million more than his predecessor Bill O'Brien.
Michigan State ensured continuity by making major financial commitments for coach Mark Dantonio and his assistants. Penn State, meanwhile, is paying new coach James Franklin about $1 million more than a coach (Bill O'Brien) it lost to the NFL. Michigan used its financial resources to attract an offensive coordinator (Doug Nussmeier) from national power Alabama.

The recent moves underscore a greater willingness throughout the deep-pocketed Big Ten to invest more in the men charged to coach its flagship sport, one that has struggled for the past decade. The Big Ten didn't set the market for soaring coaches' salaries, but after some initial reluctance, the league seems more willing to join it.

"When you see an institution like Penn State and Franklin, it says we're going to attract the best talent that we can and in order to do that, we have to step up financially to procure that person's services," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told ESPN.com. "I think that's great for our league. ... We need to have the best coaches, we need to retain the best coaches."

Ohio State in 2011 hired Urban Meyer for a salary of $4 million per year. At the time, the Big Ten had no coaches earning more than $4 million and only two making more than $3 million. Purdue was one of the few major-conference programs paying its coach (Danny Hope) less than $1 million. Bret Bielema cited the difficulty of retaining top assistants at Wisconsin as one reason he left for the Arkansas job in 2012.

The landscape has changed. Last year, both Meyer and Michigan's Brady Hoke made more than $4 million, while Iowa's Kirk Ferentz made just less ($3.985 million), according to USA Today. Franklin's deal at Penn State includes an annual salary of $4.25 million. Terms of Dantonio's new contract at Michigan State have yet to be announced, but it will put Dantonio, previously among the lowest-paid Big Ten coaches ($1.9 million), in the top salary tier. His staff also will receive nice pay bumps.

"I don't think we've been woefully behind," Smith said of the Big Ten. "We were not the first ones to drive the salaries up, but we weren't far behind in responding. Whenever we can attract someone who is really talented, we pay them."

They also must pay top assistants, many of whom command salaries well above those of head coaches from smaller leagues. The Big Ten, after lagging behind nationally in assistant coach pay, is catching up.

"The offensive and defensive coordinators, those decisions become critically important," Michigan AD Dave Brandon said. "You can have the greatest head coach in the world, but if you're not providing him with those leaders who can manage those smaller staffs ... it's hard to believe that the head coach is going to be successful."

There has been no Big Ten mandate to increase salaries, and athletic directors don't discuss financial specifics when they meet. These are institutional decisions, and Hollis, upon realizing Dantonio and his aides deserved an increase, first looked at what MSU could provide before surveying the Big Ten, the national college scene and the NFL.

Part of his challenge is verifying data, as some numbers, even those available through records requests, aren't always accurate.

"Every school pays individuals in different ways," Hollis said. "There can be longevity payments put in there, different bonuses."

Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner expected to make a strong financial push for O'Brien's successor but didn't know exactly where the numbers would fall. Among the metrics Joyner used was the potential attendance increase a new coach could bring.

Despite PSU's on-field success the past two years, average attendance at Beaver Stadium has dropped by about 5,000. An increase of 1,000 fans during the season, including parking and concessions, adds about $500,000 in revenue, Joyner said.

[+] EnlargeKevin Wilson
AJ Mast/Icon SMIIndiana has put more resources than ever before into coach Kevin Wilson and his staff.
"If you believe [the coach is] going to have a very positive effect on your fan base and on your program and on your ability to put bodies in the seats," he said, "it doesn't take a lot of seats to cause a return on that investment."

Indiana AD Fred Glass also wants to fill seats, but he's in a different financial ballpark from schools with massive stadiums like Penn State, despite competing in the same conference. Glass notes that while Michigan made $147.5 million in football revenue last year, Indiana made only about $4.5 million.

But it didn't stop IU from doubling its salary pool for assistant coaches when Kevin Wilson arrived, or awarding Wilson a seven-year contract worth $1.2 million annually, or increasing the number of full-time strength coaches devoted to football from two to five, the NCAA maximum.

"There's a reason IU traditionally hasn't been where we want to be in football," Glass said. "We haven't really made the investments in it. We haven't stuck with continuity. We haven't stayed with a staff over a long period of time. That's what we need.

"Kevin understands we're making resources available, but it's not a bottomless pit."

Glass' last point resonates in the Big Ten, which generates record revenues but also sponsors more sports, on average, than any other major conference. The league believes in broad-based programs, which makes it harder to sink money into football, despite the superior return.

"We are a college program versus just a football franchise, and I think our football coaches not only understand that but really embrace it," Hollis said. "I believe in the Big Ten, maybe more so than others -- I've had the opportunity to see East and West -- [coaches] feel that the athletic department is part of their family."

But they also have to take care of their own families, and their assistants. They know salaries are rising everywhere.

Big Ten athletic directors know this, too. To keep up, you have to pay up.
Rob Henry lost a chance at the starting quarterback job in 2011 after he tore his ACL a week before the season-opener. Now, two seasons later, the senior has reclaimed the job.

Henry was named Purdue’s starting quarterback Sunday by first-year coach Darrell Hazell, a move that will likely be both popular in the locker room -- Henry was named a co-captain before tearing his knee in that season -- and makes sense with the Boilermakers’ schedule.

Flat out, Henry gives Purdue the best chance to be successful early in the season, with trips to Cincinnati and Wisconsin in the first month of the season along with home games against No. 14 Notre Dame and Northern Illinois, which reached the Orange Bowl last season.

To ask a freshman (Danny Etling) or a redshirt freshman (Austin Appleby) to handle that rough early schedule could destroy a young quarterback’s confidence, let alone his team’s belief in him. By going with Henry, who has had a strong preseason anyway, it gives the Boilermakers a seasoned leader to look to.

In Henry, Purdue also has a quarterback who understands what it is like to lose his starting job and not be able to reclaim it, as former coach Danny Hope chose to go with then-seniors Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush. TerBush had won the job when Henry tore his ACL two years ago.

Now back as the starter, he’ll be looked to as the stopgap for a team which will be learning Hazell’s new offense while also setting an example for his replacement a year from now. He is the perfect player to be in this position, considering he won the team’s unselfishness and dedication award in 2010 and even made a run at becoming Purdue’s student body vice president.

Having even moved positions for the good of his team, Henry is now back where he started his career -- running the Boilermakers’ offense as their quarterback.
Danny Hope went just 22-27 at Purdue, and most Boilermakers fans had seemingly lost faith in his ability to lead the program by the time he was fired at the end of the 2012 regular season.

But Hope, speaking for the first time publicly since his dismissal to West Lafayette TV station WLFI on Tuesday night, said there was more to the firing than that.

"It came down to ticket sales," he told the station. "But ticket sales have been dropping here since 2000. It's not all about what happens just behind the whistle. You have to have some accountability behind the necktie as well."

[+] EnlargeDanny Hope
Pat Lovell/US PresswireDanny Hope was fired as Purdue's head coach at the end of the 2012 regular season.
If that sounds like a direct shot at Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke, well, read on.

"I know it wasn't an easy thing for Morgan to do," Hope said. "But I felt like if he had been a little more accountable then he would not have had to ... exercised the responsibility of dismissing me. We had finished strong. And the players wanted us to be there. We hoped we had done enough. But I knew it was close. We had a tough stretch there and didn't come through at a critical time of the season and, obviously, had lost the support of our administration."

The Boilers clinched bowl eligibility for the second straight year by beating Indiana in the season finale. One day later, Burke fired Hope.

"How they went about doing it, I really didn't appreciate," Hope told the station. "I thought it was handled unprofessionally. I don't need to elaborate on that, I don't think. I thought we had done enough, made enough commitment to retain our jobs."

Burke did not respond to Hope's remarks when told of them by WLFI.

Hope said he was "very angry" about his dismissal and that's why he hasn't talked until now. But does he have a right to point fingers?

Yes, Purdue did make two straight bowl games, but it finished 6-6 both seasons. He said the team "finished strong" in 2012, but its three-game winning streak to end the season happened against Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, who went a combined 10-26. Hope told everyone in the preseason that the 2012 team would be his best, and the Leaders Division bid to the Big Ten championship game was wide open because of probation at Ohio State and Penn State. Yet Purdue lost by 31 at home to Michigan, by 24 at home to Wisconsin and, perhaps most inexcusably, by 16 on the road to Minnesota after falling behind 34-7 at halftime.

I was at the Wisconsin game and watched fans leave in waves after halftime. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, there couldn't have been more than a couple thousand people in Ross-Ade Stadium. It was, quite frankly, embarrassing. Beating Big Ten bottom-feeders to get to a minor bowl game -- one in which, by the way, the Boilers got humiliated -- does not build momentum or enthusiasm.

Hope has every right to be upset that he's no longer the coach at Purdue. But after four years in which he did very little to prove his program could compete at a high level, he really has no one to blame but himself.
The 2012 college football season is barely on ice and we're already heating up for the 2013 campaign with a way-too-early version of the Big Ten power rankings. This is a snapshot of how the league looks at this point in time, not knowing all the personnel/coaching changes that will be in place for next season. As a reminder, these can and will change during the next eight months.

Ohio State is on top, and quite frankly, the Buckeyes are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Other teams such as Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan certainly belong in the league's lead pack, while Michigan State and Penn State both have talent as well as question marks. We don't see a whole lot separating Nos. 2-6.

Here we go ...

1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes made the most of their sanctioned season, running the table to post just the sixth unbeaten, untied season in team history. Urban Meyer's crew now takes aim at a Big Ten title and perhaps even a national title, its first since 2002. Junior quarterback Braxton Miller leads a potentially explosive offense, but Ohio State needs its young defenders to grow up in a hurry as there are depth and experience questions on that side of the ball.

2. Northwestern: The Wildcats won 10 games in 2012 with a young team most projected to win no more than seven. Northwestern returns a very strong nucleus, led by running back Venric Mark and quarterback Kain Colter, and loses only a few key seniors. Most of the Wildcats' talent can be found in their younger classes. The schedule gets tougher in 2013 -- Northwestern opens Big Ten play with Ohio State and Wisconsin -- but the Wildcats should be a major factor in the Legends Division if they can shore up their offensive line and continue to make strides on defense.

3. Nebraska: There's no doubt Nebraska will have one of the nation’s top offenses in 2013. Fourth-year starter Taylor Martinez returns at quarterback and has the Big Ten's largest arsenal of weapons at his disposal. The big concerns are on defense after Nebraska hemorrhaged points and yards in its four losses this past season and loses a group of seniors. Bo Pelini needs to get his defense back on track and hope the offense can limit turnovers, a huge problem throughout this season.

4. Wisconsin: Gary Andersen hardly inherits a bare cupboard in Madison. His predecessor, Bret Bielema, actually pointed to the 2013 team as potentially his best with the Badgers. The coaching transition could create some speed bumps, but Wisconsin returns two dynamic running backs in James White and Melvin Gordon, multiple quarterbacks with experience and a good defensive front seven led by Chris Borland. There are concerns in the secondary (three starters gone) and at wide receiver (not enough playmakers), but Wisconsin should push Ohio State in the Leaders Division.

5. Michigan: The Denard Robinson era is over and Michigan needs offensive playmakers to replace its record-setting quarterback and surround new signal-caller Devin Gardner. A bigger concern, though, is an offensive line that struggled at times in 2012 and must replace most of its starting lineup. Coach Brady Hoke should see some of his strong early recruiting efforts pay off in Year 3, although Michigan might not have the depth to challenge for a league title until 2014. Linebacker Jake Ryan leads a defense that has improved the past two seasons but must measure up to elite competition.

6. Michigan State: Pat Narduzzi's defense should once again be one of the nation's best, especially with All-Big Ten standout Max Bullough once again leading the unit at middle linebacker. But the NFL departures of Le'Veon Bell and Dion Sims could hamper an offense that had no other consistent weapons in 2012. The schedule definitely favors MSU, but how will the Spartans score points? MSU's quarterback competition between Connor Cook and Andrew Maxwell will be one of the top storylines of spring practice.

7. Penn State: Bill O'Brien had a lot to do with Penn State's success in 2012, but so did a senior class featuring several NFL players on defense who certainly will be missed. O'Brien's next challenge is developing a capable quarterback, whether it's Steven Bench, junior college arrival Tyler Ferguson or, just maybe, heralded incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg. Penn State could feel the sting of the sanctions more from a depth standpoint in 2013, but O'Brien's Lions have defied the odds so far.

8. Minnesota: The Gophers doubled their win total in Jerry Kill’s second season, and Kill's track record at previous stops suggests another boost could be on the way in Year 3. Quarterback Philip Nelson looked good in the bowl game after some late-season struggles, but Minnesota still needs more weapons to develop around him as well as continued progress from the offensive line. Senior defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman leads a unit looking to fill gaps at linebacker and cornerback.

9. Indiana: The arrow is pointed up in Bloomington despite a poor finish to the regular season, and with eight home games on the slate in 2013, Indiana should expect to go bowling. Third-year coach Kevin Wilson has three quarterbacks with experience -- Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld -- at his disposal, as well as other weapons such as running back Stephen Houston and receiver Cody Latimer. IU's defense once again is a major question mark, but recruiting efforts have picked up on that side of the ball.

10. Purdue: If the Heart of Dallas Bowl was any indication, new Boilers coach Darrell Hazell has a lot of work ahead in Year 1. Purdue loses its top two quarterbacks (Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush), its top defender in Kawann Short and other key contributors on both sides of the ball. Hazell's predecessor, Danny Hope, signed a bunch of quarterbacks in his recent recruiting classes, and it will be interesting to see who rises to the top. Hazell should be able to clean up some of Purdue's sloppy play, but the Boilers have quite a few question marks after a disappointing 2012 campaign.

11. Iowa: After taking a significant step back in 2012, Iowa might have a tough time turning things around in a loaded Legends Division in 2013. The Hawkeyes welcome in a new quarterback (Jake Rudock) and need playmakers to emerge around him to generate much better results in Year 2 under coordinator Greg Davis. The defensive front seven could be solid as Iowa boasts a strong linebacking corps, but the Hawkeyes must plug a few holes in the secondary and get back to their traditionally stout play on D.

12. Illinois: Coach Tim Beckman needs to show significant signs of progress in Year 2 after a disastrous first season, and he might not have the personnel to do so. The Illini once again lose several defenders to the NFL draft and need to fill holes along the defensive line and in the secondary. Their bigger concerns are on the offensive side, as they had fewer playmakers than any Big Ten team in 2012. Veteran quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase returns, but Illinois needs a much better plan on offense and the personnel to get things done. An influx of junior college players must step up in a make-or-break year for Beckman.

Heart of Dallas Bowl keys: Purdue

December, 30, 2012
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Three keys for Purdue in Tuesday's Heart of Dallas Bowl against Oklahoma State:

1. Dominate the trenches: Purdue's strength this season was supposed to be its defensive line, led by All-Big Ten defensive tackle Kawann Short. When Short and others dealt with injuries in the middle of the season, the Boilermakers got steamrolled in league play. Not coincidentally, the team won its final three games after those guys started to get healthy, and a month-long break should have the defensive line in its best shape since early September. The 315-pound Short can change a game when he's blowing up the middle of the line of scrimmage, and fellow tackle Bruce Gaston is an underrated force. Ryan Russell is a promising young pass-rusher who has also healed from some bumps and bruises. Purdue absolutely must disrupt the timing and rhythm of Oklahoma State's high-powered offense while keeping running back Joseph Randle in check. If they can do that, the Boilers will have a chance.

2. Run, run, run the ball: Akeem Shavers was the MVP of last year's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl with 149 rushing yards. While Oklahoma State's defense is much better than Western Michigan's was a year ago, Shavers ended this season with 225 rushing yards in his final two games. Ralph Bolden is also expected back following a late-season hamstring injury, and Akeem Hunt gives the team a home run hitter with his sprinter's speed. Purdue has to get its running game charged up to help out quarterback Robert Marve and, more importantly, keep the Cowboys' offense on the sidelines.

3. Stay clean: One of the reasons Danny Hope didn't make it to this bowl game is that the Boilers often played sloppily under their former head coach. Penalties, turnovers and special teams blunders always seemed to rear their heads at the wrong times. That can't happen in a game like this, in which Purdue is such a huge underdog. Marve gave the team a spark when he was thrust into the starting lineup, but he still has a tendency to force throws into coverage. He and the Boilers can't afford to give Oklahoma State extra possessions, and Purdue has to maximize opportunities in the kicking game to win the field-position battle. This team has enough talent to pull off the upset, especially against an Oklahoma State squad that might be overlooking this game. But the Boilermakers can only put themselves in that position if they first avoid beating themselves.

Pregame: Heart of Dallas Bowl

December, 30, 2012
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Oklahoma State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) vs. Purdue (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten)

WHO TO WATCH: Oklahoma State receiver Josh Stewart may be the most underrated player in the Big 12. He caught 96 passes for 1,154 yards to notch his first 1,000-yard season as a sophomore, despite the Cowboys starting three different quarterbacks throughout the season because of injuries. The 5-foot-10, 178-pound Denton, Texas, native had a huge encore after a strong freshman season as Justin Blackmon's protege, and has at least 147 receiving yards in three of his past four games.

WHAT TO WATCH: To get the answer to two questions: Can Oklahoma State prove it wants to be in this game, and can Purdue overcome one of the biggest Vegas lines of the bowl season, at well over two touchdowns? With an 11-point lead in Bedlam, the 7-3 Cowboys had somewhat of a shot to crash the BCS. The Pokes blew that lead to rival Oklahoma and lost to Baylor a week later, tumbling all the way down to the Big 12's No. 8 bowl tie-in -- muddled at 7-5 with four other Big 12 teams. Meanwhile, Purdue had to win its final three games of the season just to reach a bowl, though all three wins came against non-bowl teams with a combined four Big Ten wins. Purdue's got the edge in the "Want To Be Here" rating, but the Pokes are the better team on paper. Can they prove it on the field?

WHY TO WATCH: Hey, you have to watch. It's the Big 12's only New Year's Day Game, even though the Big Ten has five bowl games the same day. You've always got to be careful with big underdogs in bowl games. They love to play fast and loose in the last game of the year with nothing to lose. Purdue might make this entertaining, and teams with interim coaches (Patrick Higgins steps in for the fired Danny Hope at Purdue) have done OK this bowl season. Ask Cincinnati, San Jose State and Utah State about that trend.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 37, Purdue 17. Upset potential aside, I'm going with the safe bet for the Pokes here, who will win this game with another solid game from Clint Chelf and open up a really interesting spring quarterback derby in Stillwater. Purdue's Robert Marve finished the season in style, despite playing on a torn ACL, but that ends against Oklahoma State, who finally gets an interception from one of the starting corners, Justin Gilbert or Brodrick Brown.

Bonus predictions from Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett!

Brian Bennett: There's a reason why the Boilers were the biggest underdog on the board in bowl season. They've got an interim coach in Patrick Higgins and have been exposed by some of the better offenses on their schedule, which is a frightening prospect against the high-flying Cowboys. I believe a healthier defensive line will give Purdue a chance in this one, and Oklahoma State is not going to be really pumped up to be in this game a year after playing in a BCS bowl. Robert Marve tosses a couple of scores and Akeem Shavers runs for 135 yards. But in the end, the Pokes -- led by 175 receiving yards from Josh Stewart -- have a little too much for Purdue in a wild one. ...Oklahoma State 31, Purdue 27

Adam Rittenberg: Again, the Big Ten team might be more motivated than the Big 12 squad, but can Purdue keep up on the scoreboard? I don't think so. Although cornerbacks Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen give the Boilers' a chance against the pass-happy Pokes, Purdue isn't consistent enough or dangerous enough on offense to pace Oklahoma State. I agree Marve has a nice performance in his final college game and Antavian Edison scores twice, but Purdue will be playing catch up after a rough first half and falls short. ... Oklahoma State 38, Purdue 28

Purdue embraces underdog role

December, 27, 2012
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If any team can play the "nobody-believed-in-us" card this bowl season, it's Purdue.

The Boilermakers are the biggest underdog in the 35 bowls, according to the oddsmakers, in their matchup against Oklahoma State in the Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas Bowl. It's the kind of thing players say they don't pay attention to, except that they do.

"I don't really look at that stuff," senior defensive tackle Kawann Short told ESPN.com. "But a lot of people around here have told me that the spread is highest in the bowls. So it's on us to go out there and make a statement. We feel like we can play with any team in the nation right now."

People are understandably low on the Boilermakers, who had to win their final three games just to finish 6-6. Even that wasn't enough to save the job of head coach Danny Hope, who was fired one day after the regular-season finale. Receivers coach Patrick Higgins is coaching the bowl game before turning the program over to Darrell Hazell.

Purdue also got blasted in some big games this year, losing 44-13 to Michigan, 38-14 to Wisconsin, 44-28 to Minnesota and 34-9 to Penn State. No wonder, then, that Oklahoma State is a big favorite with an offense that averages 44.7 points per game.

[+] EnlargeKawann Short
AP Photo/Michael ConroyKawann Short's versatility could make him too attractive for NFL teams to pass up in the draft's first round.
But there are a couple of reasons to maybe believe in the Boilers. They only lost by a field goal on the road to Notre Dame, now the nation's No. 1 team, in September. And they had undefeated Ohio State on the ropes in Columbus before the Buckeyes made a miracle comeback in the final minute and won in overtime. So this team has some experience rising to the occasion.

And Purdue has something going for it now that was absent during its five-game losing streak in the middle of the season: health on the defensive line. That unit was expected to be one of the best in the Big Ten but didn't play like it when several key members of the group were banged up in midseason.

"Kawann and Bruce Gaston are two of the best defensive tackles in the Big Ten; I'd still argue that," said defensive end Ryan Russell, who was a member of the walking wounded. "As a whole, the D-line prided ourselves on having lot of depth this year, and when those injuries happened, there wasn't as much depth. So I'm glad we finally got an opportunity to rest, heal up and show what we're really about."

Short, an all-Big Ten performer and potential first-round pick next April, dealt with a high ankle sprain in the middle of the year. By the Minnesota game, he said, he was "not even 80 percent." He battled through it though and said quarterback Robert Marve -- who played on a torn anterior cruciate ligament without undergoing surgery -- jokingly gave him a hard time whenever Short tried to complain about his ankle.

Short regained his effectiveness toward the end of the season, and with a month off to heal expects to be fully healthy for the bowl game. He was dominant against Notre Dame and is a difference-making force inside when right.

"I'm very excited that a lot of people are back and healthy," Short said. "We're going out there with a chip on our shoulder. Things didn't go our way this season, but right now I feel like we can bring a lot of stuff to the table."

Purdue's best chance of slowing down the Cowboys' spread offense -- which gained nearly 550 yards per game this season, fifth-best in the country -- is probably to disrupt its timing right at the line of scrimmage.

"You have to get lined up and know your assignments quick and fast," Russell said. "They definitely have a lot of weapons. It's about matching their pace and enforcing your will, instead of going with the flow and letting them do what they love to do."

And while Oklahoma State has a prolific offense, the Cowboys went just 7-5 and lost their last two games of the regular season. Purdue players don't quite see why they're being painted as giant underdogs to an opponent whose best victories came against Texas Tech and Iowa State.

"People are not respecting us very much," offensive lineman Trevor Foy said. "I'm looking forward to taking advantage of that, because I know they're going to look over us and we're going to come after them."

And if the Boilermakers do pull off the upset, they can correctly make the "nobody-believed-in-us" claim.
After announcing Danny Hope's dismissal last month, Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke defended the school's financial commitment to the football program.

"I don't think there's any resource commitment question," he said.

Still, the facts showed Hope earned less ($950,000) than every other Big Ten head coach, and his staff was among the lowest-paid in a major conference. Before Gus Malzahn left Auburn for Arkansas State, he was earning more as an offensive coordinator ($1,309,600) than Hope was as a head coach in the Big Ten. That raises a red flag.

Whether Burke liked it or not, questions about Purdue's investment in football would linger. The school appears to have answered some of them in the contract for new head coach Darrell Hazell. Purdue's trustees on Saturday approved a six-year contract for Hazell that will pay the coach $2 million annually, more than double what Hope earned. The trustees also approved $2.1 million for Hazell to hire assistant coaches, approximately $500,000 more than Hope had for his annual staff salaries.

Other notes about Hazell's contract:
  • He receives a base salary of $250,000 and a supplemental stipend of $1.75 million for media and marketing appearances, of which $300,000 can be deferred. He'll receive a minimum raise of $50,000 for each year of his contract.
  • He can earn up to $1 million in bonuses (based on the team's academic and on-field performance), including a $400,000 bump for getting Purdue to a Rose Bowl or another BCS-level bowl.
  • Purdue provided Hazell with a $725,000 interest-free loan to pay his buyout at Kent State. If Hazell meets the conditions of his contract, the loan will be forgiven at the end of the six years.
  • Hazell must pay Purdue $2.5 million if he leaves for another job before Jan. 1, 2015. The buyout drops to $1.5 million if he leaves before Jan. 1, 2017, and then to $500,000 if he departs before the end of 2018.

Hazell's contract doesn't pop off the page in today's college football, where coaches' salaries are spiking. But the compensation package is more appropriate for a major-conference coach, and it should allow him to bring in a solid staff, which he had at Kent State. Hazell has yet to officially announce any of his staff appointments.

Purdue deals with transition game

December, 12, 2012
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Purdue interim coach Patrick Higgins has given his players some unusual assignments before they start their bowl practices.

Higgins has asked every member of the team to answer a few questions such as: What is the most important thing in your life? What things do you want to do before you die? What do you want on your tombstone? What's your favorite animal? Players had to answer in front of the whole team, as well as make some drawings.

"At first it seemed kind of kiddie," offensive lineman Trevor Foy told ESPN.com. "But when everyone is going up there, all the players and even the coaches, it's really cool."

[+] EnlargeTrevor Foy
AP Photo/David DurochikTrevor Foy (78) and the Boilermakers will play for Patrick Higgins before new head coach Darrell Hazell takes over.
This may seem like an odd time of year for such get-to-know-you tactics. But it might be just what the Boilermakers need after a tumultuous few weeks.

Head coach Danny Hope was fired on Nov. 25, one day after Purdue finished a 6-6 regular season. Higgins was named the interim coach for the team's Heart of Dallas Bowl game matchup against Oklahoma State. Higgins had been the Boilers' wide receivers coach, but he took over play-calling duties for the final three games when offensive coordinator Gary Nord was sidelined by a back injury. The school tabbed Darrell Hazell as its next head coach last week, but because Hazell will coach Kent State in its bowl game, he has only briefly met with his future players.

With all of that transition, a little team bonding seems like a good idea.

"Everyone handle stress differently, so it's great to come together on common ground and get to know each other a little better," defensive end Ryan Russell told ESPN.com. "We can't control what happened to the coaches, but this is about us and about the seniors. So it's great to put the focus back on the players a little bit when the media and everybody else has been taking it out of our hands."

Purdue has already shown the ability to rally together and block out the turmoil. The Boilers were 3-6 after losing to Penn State 34-9 at home on Nov. 3, their fifth straight loss. Rumors of Hope's firing were swirling, and except for a crushing overtime defeat at Ohio State, every loss had come by at least 16 points.

This hardly looked like a bowl team at that time. Yet it won its final three games, at Iowa, at Illinois and in the finale at home against rival Indiana, to clinch a postseason bid for the second straight year.

"It was all about us, the coaches and the players," Foy said. "You can't listen to the media and fans. We had to tune all that out and realize we're here for each other. That was basically the attitude we took, from the [Penn State] game on."

Russell said the players were hopeful that winning those final three games would save Hope's job. Those who had been recruited by Hope, like Russell and Foy, were hurt when it did not.

Now they'll gear up to play for Higgins, who hadn't interacted closely with many members of the team as receivers coach. But he earned respect by serving as offensive coordinator for those final three victories.

"That really made it easy for guys to accept him," Foy said. "Coach Higgins is real positive guy. He does a good job of keeping everybody together and focused."

In a few weeks, Hazell will take over the program. He introduced himself to the players before last week's introductory news conference but has been splitting his time between coaching Kent State and recruiting for Purdue. Russell said he researched what Hazell did at Kent State and watched that news conference and came away impressed.

"He's saying all the right things and you can definitely see the determination in his eyes," Russell said. "I'm ready to start a new era, and I'm going to help battle with him. With no head coach, you kind of feel like you failed. So to have someone step in and believe in you and say he wants to be captain of the ship, that's definitely a great feeling."

Having three head coaches and two offensive coordinators in a short amount of time has taken Purdue on an emotional ride. Maybe coming together and getting to know each other a little better can make that journey more enjoyable.

Big Ten's best assistants in 2012

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
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Head coaches are like quarterbacks. They get too much credit and too much blame.

Assistant coaches are like nose tackles. They don't get nearly enough credit despite playing vital roles.

Today, we'll change it up and give some recognition to Big Ten assistant coaches who did exemplary jobs with their position groups or, in some cases, units in 2012. Each of these coaches fostered improvement this season. Some took units in bad shape and made them better. Others took units in decent shape and made them very good. Some entered the season with skeptics and quieted them.

We came up with 13 assistants who deserve recognition. Yes, we realize we're leaving out some quality folks, but we had to cap it somewhere and wanted to spread the love around to the different teams.

Here's the rundown in alphabetical order:

Chris Ash, Wisconsin, defensive coordinator/secondary: All the attention on the offense's turbulent season took the spotlight away from the good things happening on the defensive side. Wisconsin finished in the top 25 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. The Badgers held nine opponents to 21 points or fewer and gave an inconsistent offense chances to win every time out. Ash will be missed as he joins ex-Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema at Arkansas.

[+] EnlargeTim Beck, Bo Pelini
AP Photo/Nati Harnik, FileTim Beck, right, coordinated Nebraska's Big Ten-leading offense for head coach Bo Pelini.
Tim Beck, Nebraska, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: The second-year play caller oversaw the Big Ten's top offense, which averaged 462.2 yards per game (24th nationally) and 35.1 points per game (28th nationally). Junior quarterback Taylor Martinez made significant strides under Beck's watch, and Nebraska survived the loss of star running back Rex Burkhead for most of the season thanks to contributions from Ameer Abdullah and others.

Tracy Claeys, Minnesota, defensive coordinator: An improved defense sparked Minnesota to a 4-0 start and eventually to bowl eligibility for the first time since the 2009 season. The Gophers pass rush showed life for the first time in years as senior end D.L. Wilhite and others put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Minnesota was especially good against the pass, ranking 11th nationally and 20th in pass defense efficiency. Although the offense remains a work in progress, Minnesota should be pleased with the direction on defense under Claeys.

Adam Cushing, Northwestern, offensive line: Cushing's recruiting ability always has stood out, but his coaching skills had been questioned as Northwestern struggled to convert promising line prospects into powerful blockers. The Wildcats went from a finesse offense to a power offense this season, blasting off of the line to the tune of 230.9 rush yards per game. Red zone offense went from a weakness to a strength as Northwestern tied for 17th nationally. Cushing's line paved the way for star running back Venric Mark.

Rich Fisher, Nebraska, wide receivers: Nebraska isn't known for its wide receiver play, but things are changing under Fisher's watch. Led by standout sophomore Kenny Bell, the Huskers' top three receivers combined for 1,657 yards and 11 touchdowns on 115 receptions. Just as important, the receiving corps helped Nebraska's bread-and-butter run game with effective blocking throughout the season. Fisher's hiring after the 2010 season raised some eyebrows, as he had taken a break from college coaching, returned to the high school ranks and also served as a golf instructor in Massachusetts. But he definitely looks like a great addition to Bo Pelini's staff.

Patrick Higgins, Purdue, wide receivers: Higgins played a significant role in Purdue's late-season surge, as he took over the offensive play-calling duties after coordinator Gary Nord suffered a severe back injury. Purdue won its final three games with Higgins and head coach Danny Hope handling the play calls. Higgins also did a nice job with Purdue's wide receiving corps, despite the fluctuating quarterback situation. Three veteran Boilers receivers eclipsed 40 catches and 300 receiving yards, and redshirt freshman Dolapo Macarthy showed promise.

Seth Littrell, Indiana, offensive coordinator/tight ends/fullbacks: Head coach Kevin Wilson brought in Littrell to boost Indiana's passing attack, and Littrell delivered despite losing starting quarterback Tre Roberson in Week 2. Indiana went from 80th nationally in pass offense to 19th, leading the Big Ten with 311.2 yards per game. With help from assistant offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kevin Johns, Littrell managed the quarterback situation pretty well as both Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld had success. Littrell will go largely unnoticed because of Indiana's low profile and 4-8 record, but he was one of the Big Ten's best coaching additions for 2012.

Curt Mallory, Michigan, secondary: Michigan's defensive line dominates the spotlight because that's where coordinator Greg Mattison and head coach Brady Hoke put their primary focus, but Mallory has done a really nice job with a secondary that struggled mightily under the previous regime. Despite losing promising cornerback Blake Countess to a torn ACL in the season opener, Michigan still finished second nationally (behind Nebraska) in pass defense (155.2 ypg allowed). Safety Jordan Kovacs has blossomed under Mallory's watch, and while the depth in the secondary isn't where it will be eventually, Mallory has managed things well.

[+] EnlargeBart MIller
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsBart Miller went from grad assistant to coach of a Wisconsin O-line that pummeled its way to Pasadena.
Bart Miller, Wisconsin, offensive line: Miller began the season as a graduate assistant and moved into one of the team's top assistant roles in Week 3 after the surprising dismissal of veteran line coach Mike Markuson. Although Wisconsin's line didn't have its typical dominant performances every time out, Miller fostered obvious improvement and cohesion during the course of the season. The finished product showed up in the Big Ten championship game against Nebraska, as Wisconsin bullied the Huskers to the tune of 70 points, 539 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

Reese Morgan, Iowa, defensive line: Iowa didn't have much to cheer about in 2012, and some of the staff changes Kirk Ferentz made led to some growing pains. Morgan faced a significant challenge in moving from offensive line to defensive line, which returned only a handful of players who had logged field time in 2011. Given the youth and inexperience along the Hawkeyes' defensive front, Morgan did a nice job in Year 1. Joe Gaglione had a nice senior season (9 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) and young players like Louis Trinca-Pasat showed promise. The line held its own in the first half of the season before struggling late.

Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State, defensive coordinator: Many of these assistants took questionable units and improved them. Narduzzi led an elite defense that entered the season with high expectations and met them. Make no mistake: Michigan State's defense is the only reason the team found itself in every game this season. The Spartans had a few standouts, namely linebacker Max Bullough, but their overall team defense and stinginess stood out. Narduzzi is one of the nation's premier coordinators and should land a head-coaching job in the near future.

John Strollo, Penn State, tight ends: Although O'Brien's offense is a tight end's dream, Strollo did a terrific job of developing young and unproven players this season. Redshirt freshman Kyle Carter emerged into one of the Nittany Lions' top passing threats, and junior Matt Lehman and true freshman Jesse James also stepped up at times. Of Penn State's top five receiving-yards leaders this season, three players are tight ends (Carter, Lehman and James).

Ed Warinner, Ohio State, offensive line/co-offensive coordinator: Warinner took an underachieving Buckeyes offensive line with serious depth questions and turned it into quite possibly the best line in the league. The Buckeyes' front five turned a corner in Big Ten play and created lanes for Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and the Big Ten's top scoring offense. Warinner was the Big Ten's best assistant hire of the last offseason and earns our vote as the league's top assistant in 2012.
The Big Ten is among the major conferences that had a decline in overall attendance in 2012, as the league posted its lowest average attendance (70,387) since the 2008 season (70,125).

A look at the team-by-team attendance figures reveals a fairly murky situation after a rough season on the field.

The Big Ten occupied the top two spots in the FBS in average attendance -- Michigan led at 112,252 with Ohio State next at 105,330. Although Penn State saw a drop in average home attendance from 101,427 in 2011 to 96,730 this season, PSU still ranked fifth nationally in average attendance. The Big Ten occupies six of the top 20 spots on the FBS attendance average chart, the second most behind the SEC's eight. The SEC led the nation in highest attendance average by conference (75,444), but it had its lowest average since 2007.

A big reason for the national trend is the number of FCS games on the schedule. The fewer of these we see, the better the numbers will be.

Here's a closer look at the figures:

Number of 2012 home games: 8 (Ohio State); 7 (Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern); 6 (Michigan, Indiana)

The differentials for Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa are basically a wash. It's somewhat notable Iowa maintained its attendance average despite its worst season in more than a decade, but those who have followed Hawkeye football shouldn't be surprised, either.

Penn State's decline is notable, but many expected a drop-off after the tumultuous summer and with so much uncertainty about the new regime and the direction of the program. A bigger concern is the long-term trend for Penn State, which has seen attendance drop in each of the past five seasons.

Two other programs that have season extended declines are Illinois and Purdue. Illinois really seems to be in trouble, attendance wise, recording its lowest average since the 2006 season (43,445), when the team also went 2-10. Attendance has dropped every year since 2008.

Purdue saw an attendance drop for the fifth straight season, a trend that played a role in the decision to dismiss head coach Danny Hope. Purdue also slipped behind rival Indiana in attendance average, which can't be sitting well in Boiler Country.

Should Minnesota be a little worried? The Gophers doubled their wins total in Year 2 under Jerry Kill and yet saw a drop in attendance for the fourth consecutive season (TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009).

Michigan State saw a nice increase in average attendance, spurred by last year's 11-2 record and a very attractive home schedule (Boise State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska). The Spartans likely will need a better showing on the field to maintain or increase the attendance in 2013.

Indiana and Northwestern continue to see nice increases in attendance. Both programs undoubtedly benefited from opposing fans (Ohio State for Indiana, Nebraska for Northwestern), but the pattern for both seems to be positive.

Darrell Hazell might not have been Purdue's first choice as football coach, but he could turn out to be the right one.

After it became clear earlier this week that Purdue's courtship of Cincinnati coach Butch Jones wasn't going anywhere, the school quickly moved onto Hazell, the Kent State coach who guided the Golden Flashes to an 11-2 record and a MAC East Division title in his second season. If Kent State had beaten Northern Illinois in Friday's MAC title game, it would be the team headed to Miami for the Discover Orange Bowl.

[+] EnlargeDarrell Hazell
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelDarrell Hazell guided Kent State to an 11-2 record this season.
Purdue officially named Hazell its coach Wednesday. No contract terms were released immediately, and Hazell will be introduced at a 7 p.m. ET news conference.
"Darrell is a great fit to build on our existing foundation," athletic director Morgan Burke said in a prepared statement. "His leadership at Kent State, combined with his prior experience at Ohio State and other stops along the way, has prepared him to help us continue to move toward developing a championship-caliber program. He understands our '25/85' vision as well as our desire to recruit both locally and nationally. Furthermore, it is clear that he appreciates the Cradle of Quarterbacks tradition, and it will remain a focal point of our program."

As MAC jobs go, Kent State isn't one of the best, and Hazell made the Flashes into a winner. As Big Ten jobs go, Purdue's isn't near the top, either, but Hazell also can succeed there.

Although he has only two years of head-coaching experience, he has Big Ten roots at Ohio State, serving as an assistant under Jim Tressel from 2004-2010. Hazell coached the Buckeyes' receivers and served as assistant head coach for his final six seasons. If he hadn't taken the Kent State job, he would have served as the Buckeyes' acting head coach in 2011 following Tressel's resignation.

Burke made it clear after firing Danny Hope that he wanted an offense-minded coach. Hazell played wide receiver in college and has spent his entire career on the offensive side of the ball. He was instrumental in Ohio State's offensive game plans during his time in Columbus. As a Tressel disciple, Hazell places an emphasis on special teams and turnover margin, two areas where Kent State excelled this season.

He's a New Jersey native who worked as an assistant at Rutgers, which will join the Big Ten as a new member in a few years (most likely 2014). Hazell, 48, also has coached in West Virginia (WVU), Michigan (Western Michigan), New York (Army), Pennsylvania (Penn) and Illinois (Eastern Illinois). His ties to New Jersey should be beneficial in recruiting, as the Mid-Atlantic region takes on added importance because of the Big Ten's expansion. Hope looked to his home state of Florida for talent. Don't be surprised if Hazell does the same with New Jersey.

Hazell's hire also is significant for the Big Ten. I wrote in February about the Big Ten's lack of minority football coaches, and took a lot of heat for it. The league has had only three African-American coaches -- at only two schools -- in its history and none since Bobby Williams at Michigan State (2000-2002). While other leagues had seen increases in the hiring of coaches of color, the Big Ten had not. Hazell becomes the fourth African-American coach in league history, and he's certainly qualified for the job.

Purdue is one of three Big Ten schools (Illinois, Nebraska) that had never hired an African-American coach in football or men's basketball. It's nice to see that change.

Hazell faces tough challenges at Purdue. Joe Tiller (1997-2008) and Jim Young (1977-81) are the only Boiler coaches with winning records since Jack Mollenkopf's tenure ended following the 1969 season. Although Burke feels Purdue has invested enough in its football program, Hazell soon will realize that he's not at Ohio State. The state isn't flush with top-level recruits, although I'd expect Hazell's local recruiting efforts to be stronger than Hope's.

Perhaps most important, Purdue needs to generate some buzz around its program again, as attendance has been on the decline. Hazell isn't a huge name, but he has a good track record and presents himself very well publicly. Purdue fans will like him, and while he doesn't have as much head-coaching experience as Jones, he's no stranger to leadership roles.

Hazell also enters the easier division (Leaders) in the Big Ten. Although he has to contend with his former employer in Ohio State, the other programs are struggling, transitioning or both.

I like this hire for Purdue, and while I'll take some heat for this again, I like it for the Big Ten, which had lagged behind in minority hiring for football.

There's only one problem with Hazell, and it's a major one: no mustache. It's a job requirement for the Purdue coach, and a potential deal breaker. Better lose that razor for a while, Darrell.

Jones would have been a nice get for Purdue, but don't be surprised if Hazell makes more sense in the long run. Good choice.

2012 Big Ten regular-season wrap

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
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The Big Ten's 2012 regular season can be summed up by the following facts:

  • The league's best team, Ohio State, went 12-0 but won't play in a bowl because of probation.
  • The league's best nonconference win came in Week 1 when Iowa beat BCS-bound Northern Illinois. The Hawkeyes proceeded to go 3-8 the rest of the season.
  • The league shockingly announced in mid-November that it was adding Rutgers and Maryland. The Scarlet Knights and Terrapins each embraced Big Ten football by promptly losing their last two games, with Rutgers fumbling away a golden opportunity to make a BCS bowl.
  • The league's Rose Bowl representative, Wisconsin, went 7-5 in the regular season. After winning the Big Ten championship game despite finishing third in the Leaders Division, the Badgers celebrated for a couple of days -- and then saw head coach Bret Bielema leave for Arkansas.


Yes, it's safe to say that 2012 played out kind of like the disaster movie of the same name for the Big Ten. Not even the Mayans could have predicted such cruel endings as Illinois' nine-game losing streak or Nebraska's bug-meet-windshield showing in the conference title game.

But we shouldn't overlook the good stories that occurred in the league this year, either. Ohio State's refuse-to-lose season under Urban Meyer was fun to watch all year long, and the Buckeyes look poised to enter 2013 as a legitimate national title contender. Penn State emerged from the ashes of a horrific scandal and decimating NCAA sanctions to go 8-4, inspiring a community with its resiliency. Northwestern won nine games and had a chance in all 12 with a young team. Minnesota doubled its victory total from 2011 and made it to a bowl game for the first time since 2009. Indiana went from one to four wins and made a rare, if brief, appearance in the national spotlight with a chance to make it to the Big Ten title game. Wisconsin made a school-record third straight Rose Bowl.

Unfortunately, those stories aren't what most people will remember about this season in the Big Ten. The conference sealed its narrative in Week 2 when it went 1-6 against BCS opponents and Notre Dame, with Northwestern's win over Vanderbilt the lone bright spot. Even though some of those opponents turned out to be much better than expected -- like Oregon State, UCLA and the Irish -- the Big Ten never could reverse the negativity. Michigan, which began the season in the top 10, got blasted by Alabama in the opener and ended up losing to teams ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the Associated Press poll. Nebraska won a division title but couldn't shed its label as a big-game flopper. Michigan State had Rose Bowl dreams but failed to win a single conference home game while going 6-6. Purdue had to win its last three just to get to 6-6, and then it fired head coach Danny Hope. Iowa and Illinois were train wrecks.

[+] EnlargeBraxton Miller
Greg Bartram/US PresswireBraxton Miller was at his finest this season late in games as he led Ohio State to a 12-0 mark.
The league became a national punching bag yet again, something it can only change through better performances on the national stage. It will get that chance during bowl season, but now its Rose Bowl team likely will be led by an interim coach, while all seven postseason teams figure to be underdogs. The Big Ten will need some luck to make sure its difficult year doesn't extend into early 2013.

On to some awards:

Offensive MVP: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller. Stats can't really measure what Miller did, even though he has some great numbers (2,039 passing yards, 1,271 rushing yards, 28 total touchdowns). He made huge, game-winning plays to bail out the Buckeyes time and again. Ultimately, 12-0 is his best stat.

Defensive MVP: Penn State LB Michael Mauti. While Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and defensive lineman John Simon and others had standout years, no one meant more to his team on and off the field than Mauti. He was an emotional leader who helped keep the program together. He also was a tackling machine.

Newcomer of the year: Penn State DE Deion Barnes. He ran away with this award by registering six sacks (which ranked fifth in the Big Ten), 10 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles (tied for fourth in the league). The redshirt freshman has superstar potential.

Biggest surprise: Northwestern. A year after struggling to stop anyone on defense, the Wildcats showed much better toughness on that side of the ball, especially against the run. Venric Mark shocked everybody by not only becoming a reliable running back, but a 1,000-yard back who was one of the best in the country. The Wildcats were a few plays away from going 12-0.

Biggest disappointment: Michigan State. We picked the Spartans to win the league in the preseason but underestimated just how much the offense would struggle with a new starting quarterback (Andrew Maxwell), a young receiving corps and a disappointing offensive line. After a season-opening win against Boise State, Michigan State went 0-5 at home, and its last five losses were by a total of 13 points.

Best game: Michigan 38, Northwestern 31, OT, on Nov. 10 in Ann Arbor. This game featured the play of the year in the Big Ten. Michigan trailed by a field goal with 18 seconds left when it took over on its own 38-yard line with no timeouts. On the Wolverines' first play, quarterback Devin Gardner heaved a throw down the field, and receiver Roy Roundtree made a spectacular catch after tipping the ball to himself in midair. That 53-yard reception set up Brendan Gibbons' 26-yard field goal to tie things up with two seconds left in regulation. Michigan won in overtime, and the Wildcats were left to wonder what had just happened.
Kent State's Darell Hazell has accepted the head-coaching position at Purdue, sources tell ESPN colleague Brett McMurphy.

Purdue turned its attention to Hazell, a former Ohio State assistant, after interviewing Cincinnati coach Butch Jones on Sunday. Purdue fell out of the running for Jones earlier this week. Hazell will succeed Danny Hope, fired Nov. 24 after four seasons at the helm. McMurphy reports that Kent State has a team meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning.

CBSSports.com first reported Hazell's hiring Tuesday night.

Hazell led Kent State to an 11-2 record and a MAC East division championship in his second year as coach. He was an Ohio State assistant under Jim Tressel from 2004-2010, working with wide receivers and serving as assistant head coach for the final six seasons.

Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said he wanted an offensive-minded coach, and Hazell, who played wide receiver and has coached exclusively on the offensive side during his career, fits the description.

More to come on Hazell after the official announcement from Purdue.
Purdue has accepted an invitation to the Heart of Dallas Bowl and will face a Big 12 opponent.

The Boilers will take the field Jan. 1 in the Cotton Bowl (noon ET, ESPNU). Their opponent is expected to be announced after the BCS selections tonight.

Assistant Patrick Higgins will serve as Purdue's interim coach for the bowl game after the school fired Danny Hope on Nov. 25. The Boilers won the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl last year and head to back-to-back bowls for the first time since 2006-07. Purdue won its final three games to finish 6-6 and qualify for the postseason.

Big Ten teams are 0-2 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl (formerly TicketCity).

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