Before you read on, just know that I’m sorry, I regret it all, and I am going to take some time away from Off Tackle Empire to think about what I’ve done.
Back to that old hallmark of Purdue football—oh wait, no.
We’re talking about the defense today.
After one year of high-level production under co-DCs Nick Holt and Anthony Poindexter, the Boilers’ defense fell back to its Hazell Era levels of production in 2019:
Purdue Defensive S&P+ by Year
The good news? Holt is gone, fired at the end of 2019.
The bad news? Replacing Holt is Bob Diaco.
You remember Bob Diaco, of course, from his time as the DC of Notre Da—I’m just kidding, we all know he’s the good-looking failure who tried to start the Civil ConFLiCT while head coach at UConn, made alllllll the Huskers swoon during his 2017 season in Nebraska (mostly out of concern at what he’d done to the Blackshirts defense), and got run out of town a year later.
The former Iowa linebacker and serial ladder-climber leaves behind a one-year stint at Louisiana Tech to take over a defense that gets fifth-year DT Lorenzo Neal back to anchor a line that features true sophomore phenom George Karlaftis. After that, the Boilers will need some contributions from JUCO transfer edge rusher DaMarcus Mitchell and UConn transfer S Tyler Coyle to help anchor a defense which has been...suboptimal at stopping the pass.
Good: Purdue had you right where it wanted on 3rd downs.— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) July 14, 2020
Bad: You didn't face many 3rd downs.
Boilers have ranked 88th and 82nd in def SP+ the last 2 years. Some fun attackers on the DL, but the secondary ... hasn't proven much. pic.twitter.com/n6mUs6XKk5
So tell me, writers:
(1) Does Purdue have the defensive pieces to roll back the clock to 2017, or will this be another quick Diaco stop? Grade that hire for the Boilermakers and assess what he can do for their defense.
(2) Tell us the one-year “never again” experiment from your school—a coordinator, offense, or coach who it was quickly apparent was NOT the right answer.
WSR: Until proven otherwise, I will work under the assumption that Diaco is smart enough to rent and not buy. The hire is currently an incomplete, and will turn into a failing grade once they fire him after the season. He just doesn’t have the ability to be a DC at a high level in 2020. After Karloftis, who is outstanding, and Neal, there’s just nobody on that defense to be worried about. That’s never a good thing when you don’t have a great coach to cover up the flaws.
Jedd Fucking Fisch. He’s like Diaco in that he’s a pretty boy who keeps falling upwards, but the key difference is that 1) Diaco has actually done something as a football coach at one of his stops and 2) Diaco actually played football. When Fisch arrived to replace Mike Dunbar in 2009, I had hopes that Tim Brewster had found some wunderkind who could be the next big thing. Fast forward to the end of the season when he left to go back to the NFL to be the Seahawks QB coach, and I couldn’t have been happier with anything short of winning the lottery. He was always overmatched, he had no idea how to make adjustments, and he set up plays for down the road,with various calls, but never delivered the payoff with big plays. Anyone who hires that fraud after his time with us deserves to be mocked and ridiculed.
Oh hey there, Michigan!
Stew: It’s a solid D+. Diaco’s obviously not great. Good enough to get a P5 DC job, but bad enough to keep getting fired from them. But this is still an obvious step up for Purdue. Karlaftis is incredibly good. Neal is solid. But if teams are smart enough to just stay away from Karlaftis (a fairly tall order for some *cough*Ferentz*cough*) then there’s just not much the defense is capable of doing.
As for one year blunders, I’m fairly sure that there has never been a coach, of any group/position that has only lasted a single year under Ferentz. Though, it was readily apparent after the horrendous first year, that Greg Davis was just an incredibly, ridiculously, bad hire.
babaoreally: 1) I think the defense will be marginally better this season, but still pretty bad. Not enough to get Diaco fired after one season. C.
2) I can think of a lot of bad coordinators in recent history, but all of them lasted for more than one season.
MNW: I don’t believe Northwestern’s had any one-year wonders in recent memory (maybe since football began in 1995), though a shout-out to 1955 coach Lou Saban — “Two point two Lou” (so named because he supposedly averaged 2.2 years at a gig before jumping to a new job...seriously, look at that list), who went 0-8-1 with George Steinbrenner on his coaching staff and then gave way to the brief and sunny tenure of Ara Parseghian.
Diaco’s a C- hire. Like the kid who did just enough original work and then plagiarized on my final, took a zero, and wound up 10 points (of 1000) above the Pass/Fail line. Asshole.
Beez: The defense will be much better provided some neutral injury luck, as opposed to last year’s v bad injury luck on defense. BUT the defense is still going to struggle for three main reasons: 1. No depth, 2. No ability to control the clock when the offense is successful, and 3. Limited ability to keep the offense on the field because turnovers. Even top-notch defenses like Wisconsin’s struggle when the QB gives the ball away a bunch.
One year “never again” decision? Using a run-first QB as a starter who couldn’t throw well enough to make the defense ever think he’d throw the ball. Oh, and using a run-first QB instead of handing the ball to Melvin Gordon.
Grade the Bob Diaco hire:
This poll is closed
B—gosh, you’re pretty to look at, but...don’t I remember something about you being bad at this?
C—DON’T YOU PLAY STUPID AND HANDSOME WITH ME
D—but mostly because he slept with my wife
F—I find these polls tiresome and Diaco’s not good at this
It’s not quite a Boiler innovation, but it’s a Boiler alumnus, and that’s good enough when the guy who puts these together is reaching for topics.
That’s Ted Allen, a 1987 graduate of Purdue with a BA in Psychology who you probably know better from shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Top Chef, and Chopped.
(Yes, I know “Writers, make it work” is not Ted Allen, but that’s all I can hear over and over in my head given what I’m about to do, so...)
So here you go, writers, thanks to Chopped Basket Generator:
Go. (Or give us your owned Chopped ideas or stories. Whatever.)
WSR: Oh come on. It’d have to be something deconstructed, right? I think that’s part of the rules. Can I make a chili out of this? Yes, yes I can. Throw all that in with some diced tomatoes and spices, make some cornbread (and add extra chia seeds in there), and sprinkle the brie on top.
Stew: We’re gonna go tapas style, with dual small plates. On the one, it’s gonna be a chorizo and brie stuffed jalapeno (bacon wrapped, of course); Brown the chorizo mix with the brie (might have to heat it up to loosen it a bit to mix properly). Cooked using the smoke machine and then into the oven. Also, going to grind up the chia seeds and mix with some Lawry’s, smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and garlic powder to create a breading for the turkey wings and a quick fry to crisp them up and there ya go.
babaoreally: This is easy. Brown the chorizo. Melt the brie and mix in the chia seeds and chorizo. Then grill the turkey wings and dip them in the brie/chorizo/chia seeds sauce.
MNW: I just keep thinking of The Swanson:
I am somewhere also the Stew train for the breading, but instead we’re going wings Scotch egg style: create a sort of chorizo quilt, if you will, mixing the chia seeds and season salt, cayenne, a little cumin because why not, lots of garlic powder, etc. Next, remove the rind from the brie and bake it with a pound or so of rosemary. Don’t ask why, just fucking do it.
Baste the (smoked, by now, were you not doing that?) turkey wings with the brie sauce, blanket in the chorizo quilt, smoke or bake or sous vide or instant pot or air-fry that fucker til it’s done.
What have I created? I don’t know. This has all been a huge mistake.
Beez: Uh….I don’t know that I have much in the way of ideas for these ingredients. I think I’m pulling the turkey meat off the wings and shredding it. Then I’m, uh, cooking the chorizo and melting some brie over it. And then chia seeds hmmm
Choose your dish:
This poll is closed
WSR’s turkey chorizo chili
Stew’s cop-out tapas
baba’s chorizo wing sauce
MNW and beez’s mental breakdowns
My own haute cuisine, of which I shall inform you in the comments