Seriously, developing a Purdue Potluck could cure insomnia. Try coming up with 4 interesting questions revolving around arguably the least interesting bowl team of 2012. Go ahead.....I'll give you time.....
< SMACK >
Did you all fall asleep with your head hitting the keyboard? Because I did. And since Purdue puts me to sleep, we came up with a recipe theme revolving around naps/sleep/tryptophan.
Anyways, here is OTE's Purdue Potluck, wherein we discuss Hope-puns and mustaches, what exactly Purdue's identity is as a football program now that it's under Darrell Hazell, the phenomenon that is Purdue players that never seem to graduate, and a dessert double -- Purdue memories and College Football's Playoff Selection Committee....
We'll miss the puns and mustache, won't we?
1. Neely's Pigs in a Blanket: No Hope. Hopeless. Hope Has Left the Building. Pick a cliche'd headline of your choosing and run with it, but Danny Hope is gone from Purdue, and for the most part Purdue fans are....relieved? Pleased? What was the problem with the Danny Hope era, and why did he fail to succeed in the B1G (at a time, we should note, when RichRod, Tim Brewster, Ron Zook, Luke Fickell, Bill Lynch, and zombie Joe Paterno were head coaches in the conference)? Was this to be blamed on poor recruiting, poor offense (that's my pick -- quick, name a memorable offensive player from the Hope era....any memorable offensive player), poor defense, bad luck with injuries, or what?
Ted Glover: Hope's problem was twofold: He was the guy that followed The Guy (Joe Tiller), and he didn't have an identity other than having a roster of approximately 26 quarterbacks. Purdue was okay defensively, but never gelled on offense after Tiller left, and let's face it, Danny Hope is no Joe Tiller. Hope didn't know the offense like Tiller did and didn't recruit the guys necessary to stay offensively competitive, even though this change was over a year in the making.
Jesse Collins: This should be answered with a, "How many quarterbacks can be used incorrectly in one game?" type of rhetorical question. I think Hope had the right fire, sometimes the right level of aggressiveness, but was so often burdened by really poor decision making in-game that it didn't matter. He didn't know how to ride a hot hand on defense, and despite having a defense stacked with NFL ready talent, he never really got the offense on the same level. Add to that the obvious bad luck with injuries and the crowning of Perry the ACL-ephant and, well, Hope was pretty awful. Maybe if he gets a few breaks against Notre Dame and/or Ohio State last year, we aren't having this conversation, but it always was more of a when type of situation as an opposed to 'if' situation when it came to him getting fired.
BabaOReally: Purdue fans are happy Hope is gone. Hope was not good at in-game decisions or game planning. A coach can be successful with those faults if his assistants excel in those areas. Needless to say, they didn't. Trying weird things like a two QB offense is fine if it works or if you give up on it when it is clear that it is not working.
There were obviously injury issues, but every team has those. Hope got a mulligan on the 2010 season when every single skill position player got hurt. When the team was healthy, the offense was still bad and Hope showed how indecisive he was when he actually had multiple healthy QBs.
Memorable offensive player from Hope Era: Keith Smith. Anybody want to take a guess as to how his collegiate career ended?
MSULaxer27: I believe Hope was simply overmatched jumping from a somewhat middling program at Division I-AA Eastern Kentucky to the big time in B1G football. I'm sure there are examples of coaches who have had success on the Divison I level without serving as a coordinator on any level, but I'm hard pressed to remember any. He did serve as Assistant Head Coach on John L. Smith's staff at Louisville for a single season in 2002 (7-6 (5-3 Conference USA)) but spent most of his career as a position coach before getting his first Head Coaching opportunity at his alma mater. He was an OL coach, so it's not as if he had a lot of experience with the skill positions that make or break an offense. Maybe I'm just scarred from the Bobby Williams experience at MSU. I think it's a bad idea to hire a coach without head coaching experience on the Division I level. Just like it's a huge jump from the college level to the NFL, so is it a huge jump from I-AA to I-A. It's not like he had phenomenal success at EKU. He had one conference championship season (his last) in the OVC where his team was smoked in the first round of the playoffs. You want to give Jerry Moore (Appalachian State) a shot at your Division I program...I'm all ears...otherwise stay away. Find someone from one of the D-I feeder conferences (MAC/Conference USA/Big East etc.)
Graham Filler: Main problem: Purdue had no identity.
How can you have an emotional leader when you have three quarterbacks?
How can you establish an offensive identity when the folks on the field are always changing due to injuries or substitutions?
Shouldn't Hope have improved his defense from 2008's mediocrity onward? An undersized defense is supposed to be angry and fast and scrappy. Instead the Boilers just got overrun.
Aaron Yorke: It's going to be hard for any coach at Purdue to recruit well enough to match-up physically with Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, etc. Northwestern has found success in recent years by having great quarterback play act as an equalizer of sorts. A great quarterback can make up for deficiencies in other areas. Hope never had that quarterback with Purdue. The Boilers found success in the late 90s and early aughts with Drew Brees and Kyle Orton. Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve just weren't good enough to carry a team that was lacking in impact talent.
GoAUpher: I'll be honest, thanks to not existing except during the weeks they played Minnesota I don't have an in depth take on Purdue's overall woes under Danny Hope. It certainly seemed like his teams had trouble being ready to play some weeks. And I know for a fact that he got fired because his 2012 defensive backs were unaware of the concept of a Sluggo route (Gophers torched Purdue all day with those + Purdue fans say the MN loss cost Hope his last shot at being saved = Hope fired because of Sluggos). But I'm not convinced by either one. So I'm going to say it's because the team didn't respect his mustache. Is that really true? I have no idea. But I just feel that if his mustache had been seen as an authority figure Purdue would be in a better place today and Danny Hope would have his job.
No mustache? No Hope.
2. Mozzarella Pillows: Darrell Hazell takes over from Hope, and if his track record from his time at Ohio State and coaching Kent State is any indication, he'll try to play Tresselball -- conservative on offense, excellent at special teams, and strong on defense. The problem? Purdue's most successful years were playing innovative (at the time) spread offense with Drew Brees (admittedly a one-in-a-generation talent at QB). The hiring of John Shoop (all Chicago Bears fans collectively shudder) does little to add faith that Purdue's offense will be good enough to compete in the B1G. Hazell obviously has the credentials and passion to make it as a B1G coach -- but is his approach thus far the cure for what ails Purdue?
Ted Glover: Something about offense and butts in seats combined with defense winning championships goes here. And seriously, why does everyone hate Tresselball? All that form of football did was dominate this conference for a decade and win a national championship. Would you rather win 17-13 or lose 35-31? I don't know if Hazell will be able to recruit to that kind of level, but if it wins a conference championship or he pulls out some 9 or 10 win seasons they'll build him a goddamn statue.
Jesse Collins: I am an avid Bears hater because, well, it's super fun to be a Bears hater in Omaha. John Shoop provided me with some of the most entertaining years of heckling ever. You all think Greg Davis makes ridiculous decisions? Shoop is about a billion times worst from my memory. Bubble screen for loss on third down? Yep, that was pretty much his specialty. Sure, I know very little about him since 2003, but man... So what was the question? Oh right, right track/plan... Well, I like Hazell. He has the credentials, he is playing nice with the public, and he seems to know a thing or two about football. We'll see if his choices in coordinators backfires, though.
BabaOReally: We'll see how well the Hazell approach works at Purdue, but I am confident he knows what he is doing. The main reason for my confidence is that he actually seems to have a plan. That didn't seem to be the case for the last few years. A sub-optimal strategy executed well is better than a "spread" that is nothing more than screens and roll outs. Do I wish we would have gotten a great offensive coach like Kevin Sherman? Of course, but I think Hazell will do well.
MSULaxer27: See question 1. Hazell at least has the bonafides you should search for in that he was an assistant HC for multiple seasons at Rutgers and OSU. He also was a HC at Kent State were he took them from 5-7 (4-4) to 11-3 (8-0) with a berth in the MAC championship game. Those weren't his players though so it remains to be seen what he can do with the talent Hope accumulated. Truth be told I don't think offense was the real problem under Hope...Purdue scored 350 and 373 points in his last two seasons... trouble was the defense allowed 349 and 406 in each of those seasons (Hope may not have coached in last year's bowl game, but the team was his). Purdue has always been able to score points - Tiller averaged 367.25/season 29.58/game under Tiller and 319.75/season 26.10/game under Hope. Over a season 3 points a game might make a difference in a few games but the difference in their per game averages is not appreciably different. The difference was that under Tiller the team was out scored on the season twice (2001(-28) /2006 (-10)). For his career at Purdue, Hope's teams were outscored on the season every year but one (2011) and even that year they outscored their opponents on the season by a single point. A defensive minded coach may have been a better hire.
Graham Filler: I'm a firm believer in the power of continuous cohesive coaching staffs and program ideals. Take...Wisconsin as a good example. Every year, there is an early game when you say to yourself, man, the Badgers just can't run the same power run game as they did last year, right? And every year they do the same thing.
I loved Tiller-Ball, basketball on grass; it gave the team and fans an identity. Now Hazell wants to go in the opposite offensive direction. Good luck to him. He's obviously going with what he knows and what he's comfortable with. But he's also going away from what Purdue fans knew for years.
Aaron Yorke: The approach will work if Hazell is able to recruit the personnel to make it work. That means big, athletic lineman on both sides of the ball and a deep stable of running backs. If the Boilers can match up with their B1G competition on a physical level, they can have success with a defense-and-ball-control approach, but that's easier said than done.
Ricardo Allen's 35 years old by now, right? Shouldn't he be able to stop Braxton Miller? (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
3. Beach Blanket Clambake: If Purdue is "known" for anything beyond blown-out ACLs, it's having guys who play there seemingly forever. Robert Marve FINALLY graduated last year, reluctantly joining fellow "Purdue players who used up EVERY LAST DAMN MINUTE of eligibility" like Taylor Stubblefield, Curtis Painter, Robbie Hummell, E'Twaun Moore, and Stuart Schweigert as guys that NEVER SEEMED TO GRADUATE. This year, Purdue is somehow trotting out stellar CB Ricardo Allen and QB Rob Henry for yet ANOTHER season. Aside from being really weird a question: is the fact that Purdue seems to send guys out for four full years of playing time a sign that maybe, just maybe, their depth is a question mark? And since that's not too much of a question, also give me your thoughts on Ricardo Allen -- is he maybe the best CB the B1G has to offer (or at least #2 to Bradley Roby at Ohio State)?
Ted Glover: I heard Drew Brees and Mike Alstott were coming back for one more year. And I'll take Roby 8 days a week and twice on Saturday.
Jesse Collins: I don't know if it specifically says anything about depth. It might, however, say something about Hope's belief in guys who are playing, 'in system,' versus outside of the system. Also, it generally means that these guys got some sort of medical redshirt so they can chill for an indiscriminate amount of time and then play in their seventh year of college. Was that answering your question? I'll be honest, I got a little lost there.
BabaOReally: Purdue is definitely not a deep team, but that's not really a surprise. I can't think of too many mediocre teams that go three deep with quality players at skill positions.
Ricardo Allen is pretty good, and he makes some spectacular plays, but I don't think he is the best DB in the conference. He has the school record for interceptions returned for touchdowns, but he is hardly a shutdown corner. Injuries hampered his production last year, but I've seen quite a few big games by opposing WRs going up against him.
MSULaxer27: MSU had a similar problem under Williams/Smith. The roster was stocked with JUCO transfers which led to limited depth at most positions (QB Drew Stanton playing special team gunner in his freshman season anyone?). Teams like OSU, PSU, UW, UM, NU-L are generally stocked with 4 and 5 star talent at each position. Players get a year or two to learn the system before they are forced into the limelight. It is tough to compete in the B1G with under-ranked talent. While there are notable exceptions, a 2 star player with 4 years experience is probably not going to be as successful as a 4 or 5 star player with 2 years experience. One is headed for the NFL while the other is headed for a pro career in something other than football - to paraphrase the NCAA propaganda. To answer the question about Ricardo Allen, I think that the defensive backfield is now a position of strength at MSU, even with the loss of Johnny Adams. I think Darqueze Dennard (of 95 yard int TD return against Nebraska fame - bogus penalty be damned) with 6 career ints and 2 TD returns is someone to watch for next season.
Aaron Yorke: I'm not sure that depth is a question mark, but the fact that so many veterans are in the lineup says something about the lack of impact talent coming into the system. There's not a lot of great athletes coming in, starting as sophomores, and heading to the NFL after their junior seasons. Hazell will need to recruit some of those guys in order to have success with a conservative offense. That said, Allen is the best cornerback in the conference.
4. Butterscotch Bedtime Warmer and Peanut Butter Cups in the Blanket: Since Purdue was kinda boring, we're going to give you SECOND HELPINGS on dessert, so answer either/both of the following questions: (A) Give me a Purdue memory, any Purdue memory, if you can come up with one. (Bonus points for answers that do not involve basketball.) (B) Now that college football will have a 4-team playoff, talk has turned to who should be on the College Football Playoff selection committee. Rumors have it that members will/should include non-active coaches/athletic directors/administrators, as well as retired journalists on the panel. Name (both seriously and humorously) non-active coaches/ADs and/or retired journalists that you think would be great for the selection committee, and why they'd be a great (or horribly funny) fit.
Ted Glover: For most Big Ten fans, I can only assume they'll point to Purdue's two huge upsets of OSU in recent years. Which of course makes most Big Ten fans horrible, horrible people. I'm particularly fond of them spitting the bit at the Horseshoe in OT last year against a backup QB. That's just me, though.
Jesse Collins: So Nebraska has never played Purdue in football in my lifetime. In fact, they've only played once and Purdue won that game. Apparently the state of Indiana owns Nebraska football historically. All that to say, my memories of Purdue are pretty limited. To be honest, my first real acceptance of Purdue as an existent entity happened when I learned that Purdue OWL was a thing. That site was one of my best friend in college. So thanks for that Purdue! Because of your site I could cite in both APA and MLA depending on which crazy major I was focusing on at any given point in time.
BabaOReally: I think they should get any former coaches that have run afoul of the NCAA. Jim Tresselball, Butch Davis (or any other Miami coach), Houston Nutt and Barry Switzer would be a good start.
MSULaxer27: This is my favorite "Purdue Football memory." Coincidentally that is the last time Purdue and MSU have met on the field. As far as the selection committee goes, is Keith Jackson available? He has probably forgotten more football than most people alive remember.
Graham Filler: For the selection committee: Charles Barkley.
Aaron Yorke: The first really exciting college football game I attended was Purdue vs. Penn State in 2004. The Boilers came into the game as the fifth-ranked team in the country and Kyle Orton was a candidate for the Heisman. My Lions effectively ruined Orton's Heisman campaign before it really got started, but Purdue won the game because PSU's offense was so dreadful that season.
GoAUpher: I have 2 favorite Purdue memories. The first is the 2005 double-OT win over Purdue at the Dome. Bryan Cupito tied the game at the end of regulation on a 2 point conversion by running the option (only time I can ever recall him going option) and a Mason defense actually played defense when it counted in the second OT. Next favorite memory? Last year's game, but not because of the insane success of the Sluggo routes. No, it was because Michael Carter had the most ridiculous series I've ever seen a DB have. Over a 5 play span he had 3 PBU's and an INT returned for a TD. Just...insane.
As for the playoff selection committee, all I know is, if they let Lou Holtz anywhere near this thing I'm burning something to the ground. TO THE GROUND!