Merry Christmas Darrell Hazell, who takes over the Boilermaker program this season for the ousted Danny Hope.
Purdue’s 2013 schedule features nine teams that had winning records last season. Those nine teams were a combined 86-30 last season.
Hazell’s new team won’t get any cupcake victories during the nonconference portion of its schedule.
Purdue will get an “easy” game against instate foe Indiana State, but it might not be so “easy” after all. The Sycamores went 7-4 last season and only lost at Big Ten rival Indiana by seven points.
Beside the tilt with ISU, the Boilermakers will face three teams – Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois - in the first five weeks of the season that combined for 34 wins last season, two of which played in BCS games.
Don’t be surprised at all if the Boilermakers limp into Big Ten play with a 1-3 record.
As if the nonconference schedule wasn’t daunting enough, after an open date Oct. 5, Purdue will face Nebraska and Michigan State - both bowl teams in 2012. The Cornhuskers and Spartans rotate onto the Boilermakers’ schedule while Legend Division foes Michigan and Minnesota rotate off.
Then Purdue will begin November by entertaining Ohio State, a team that’s an early favorite to win the national championship.
The final four weeks of the regular season is much more forgiving.
Becoming bowl eligible may be too much to expect in Year One of Hazell’s Tenure in West Lafayette.
The Boilermakers have issues all of the place. They have very little experience returning at quarterback, will need to replace their top running back, may be without two of their top three receivers (if O.J. Ross’ suspension isn’t lifted) and lose their best defensive player in Kawann Short, who might be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
No doubt Hazell has his work cut out. True, he inherits a team that’s coming off two straight bowl appearances, but it’s a program that hasn’t been competitive in most big games recently and had it not been for two wins over FCS programs in each of the last two seasons, the Boilermakers would not have been bowl eligible.
I firmly believe Hazell is the right man to get Purdue competitive again in every game, not just in games it’s supposed to be competitive in. However, it’s going to take him some time before the Old Gold and Black win more than it loses, especially in 2013 when it faces a murderous schedule.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.