Former Boilermaker head coach Danny Hope broke his silence this week when he spoke to CBS affiliate WLFI-TV18 in West Lafayette, Ind., and was quick to pass the buck for his dismissal. Hope blamed Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke and steadily declining ticket sales for his firing, which occurred a day after the Boilermakers’ win over Indiana this past November.
Apparently Hope forgot about his 22-27 four-year record at Purdue, including his stellar 13-19 Big Ten mark, when evaluating his job performance.
Many considered the 2012 season make-or-break for Hope. You’ll recall Purdue was supposed to contend for the Big Ten’s Leaders Division. The Boilermakers quickly became pretenders after being blown out in back-to-back weeks by Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined 82-27. Hurting Hope’s cause even further was the fact both those games were at home.
Hope’s Boilermakers did rebound to post a 6-6 overall record (3-5 in the Big Ten), and qualified for their second straight bowl.
Further examination of Purdue’s record, however, reveals it lost its only game against a nationally ranked opponent – at Notre Dame (20-17) – and endured a five game-losing streak in which it wasn’t even competitive in four of those games.
Purdue became bowl-eligible thanks to beating the likes of FCS Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and by ending the regular season with a three-game winning streak against powerhouses Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, three teams that combined to go 10-26 in the fall.
Hope would like you to believe things in West Lafayette were on the upswing. Quite the contrary was true though.
This was a program on the decline. Credit Purdue fans for realizing this, and refusing to pay for a below-average product. Purdue fans require more from their football program thanks to Hope’s predecessor, Joe Tiller, raising the expectation bar.
Under Tiller, Purdue averaged 7.25 wins in his 12 seasons, led Purdue to 10 bowl appearances, and beat Notre Dame five times in 12 tries.
Under Hope, more times than not, Purdue was blown out in big games.
And he wonders why fans didn’t turn out in droves … really? It’s hard to get fans in the stands when they know games’ outcomes before kickoff.
To add insult to injury, Purdue fans knew their team would be outcoached each and every time it took the field. Hope and his coaching staff’s coaching blunders were many, including this year’s Ohio State overtime defeat and the 2009 Notre Dame game, when he took an ill-advised timeout just prior to the Irish scoring a game-winning touchdown in the waning seconds.
Hope can blame Burke and bad attendance all he wants. In reality, he needs to look in the mirror.
He was 0-4 vs. Notre Dame, 2-6 against ranked teams, blown out four straight times by Wisconsin and lost three consecutive times to Michigan.
This was a program going nowhere fast.
If he was retained after winning the Old Oaken Bucket, how would’ve Hope spun the 58-14 bowl debacle to Oklahoma State, in what was easily the most embarrassing performance ever by the program in the postseason?
When you get right down to it, Hope was very fortunate to have ever been Purdue’s head coach. He would never have sniffed the job, had he not been on Tiller’s coaching staff 1997-2001. Hope won one conference championship as Eastern Kentucky’s head coach and had no playoff wins, yet got the Boilermaker head coaching job when there were so many more qualified candidates.
Instead of bad mouthing those who gave him his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being a BCS head coach, Hope should be grateful, keep his mouth shut, send Tiller a thank-you card and ride off into the sunset.
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.