It’s been 35 years since Purdue football has posted 10 or more wins in a single season. The coach of that 1979 team was Jim Young, and the starting quarterback was Mark Herrmann.
These days, it’s second-year coach Darrell Hazell trying to turn around a program that’s been struggling since a 9-4 record posted in 2003. Last season, Hazell’s Boilermakers won a single game against Indiana State. I’m usually a fan of giving a coach at least three years to work, but in Hazell’s case, it’s time to get moving.
The reason, I’m confident in saying that Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke won’t be so patient with Hazell is because of the lesson learned with previous head coach Danny Hope, who hung around for four seasons of very mediocre, bland football. His firing was long overdue. It’s difficult to see the same program making the same mistake in such a narrow gap of time.
Assisting Hazell in his efforts this 2014 season is a change in division scenery. Purdue will be competing in the Big 10‘s West Division starting this season, which is almost undoubtedly the weaker of the two divisions. Two mandatory crossover games slot the Boilermakers against Michigan State and Indiana, but it’s safe to say Purdue’s chances of improving are drastically improved in the West.
So now we answer the question for any coach fighting for his job: What will it take?
Looking at Purdue’s schedule, the non-conference portion alone should be enough to lift the Boilermakers past the single win posted a season ago, but that won’t be enough. Purdue is going to need to prove it can compete with the division’s big dogs. A good start would be not getting blown out of the water Nov. 1 at Nebraska, and also to win the games it should.
I know it’s very simple line of reasoning, but if Purdue wins the games it really should, we’re likely talking about a four- or five-win team. Would that be enough to lock down Hazell for another season? Probably.