Danny Hope inherited a team that had a great run of success from the Joe Tiller. Drew Brees, Kyle Orton, and even Curtis Painter had help build expectations in West Lafayette. Hope was unable to live up this bar and failed to even contend in the Big Ten. In his defense, no one (outside of Purdue) really expected him to. However, 2012 was an especially poor effort considering the opportunity that existed in their division. Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible and Wisconsin was nothing close to dominant. It was their year to at least push for a Big Ten Championship Game berth and possibly make the BCS. After this year, teams will reload and the Urban Meyer era in Columbus looks to put a lock down on the division for years to come. The competition only grows in two years when Maryland and Rutgers (so far) join the conference. If the Boilers hope to compete and at least become credible, they need to make the right hire now. Here are the candidates:
Reaching for the stars:
Jim Tressel (Former Ohio State Coach) - The vest would bring publicity and experience to the Boilers, but could they withstand the scrutiny and sanctions? He is a proven great coach with a fantastic track record. He knows how to recruit and would definitely put pressure on the rest of the Big Ten. I think the “show cause” penalty is much more strong language than anything else.
Butch Jones (Cincinnati Coach) – I’m not sure he would consider Purdue a step up. It’s easier to win in the Big East at Cincinnati and Brian Kelly proved that one great season at Cincinnati can open some big doors. However, he does run a system that would work at Purdue.
Mark Helfrich (Oregon Offensive Coordinator) - Similar to Butch Jones, he can probably do better than Purdue. Make no mistake, Oregon, contrary to popular belief is the best team in the country. I feel sorry for whoever plays them in the bowl game. The offense is nearly unstoppable (sans a fluke game vs. Stanford) and their offensive coordinator sits in a position to possibly inherit the team if Chip Kelly decides to jump to the NFL.
Sonny Dykes (Louisiana Tech Coach) - Dykes runs an efficient Air Raid offense that Boiler fans will recognize from the Brees/Painter/Orton eras. He knows how to get the most out of players and has done wonders with Louisiana Tech this year (go look at their stats). He turned Colby Cameron and Quinton Patton into award contenders (even though they won’t feel the love). He would be a great hire, but with all the jobs open, Purdue would need to act fast before someone else scoops him up.
Dave Doeren (Northern Illionois Coach) – The coach had an impressive year in the MAC (11-1 going into the championship game), but again with all the openings he might get a better offer. However, he would be a great fit in West Lafayette and knows the Midwest.
Kliff Kingsbury (Offensive Coordinator Texas A&M) – Kevin Sumlin would have to give his blessing (and help) to talk a highly coveted SEC assistant to move to the head coach’s Alma Mater, but the former All American quarterback seemingly would be right in line with Purdue’s QB-centric philosophy.
Might have to settle:
Darrell Hazell (Kent State Coach) – He is a former Ohio State assistant, but I’m not sold on his success from 2012 yet. At this point, Hazell appears to be one of the front runners.
Pete Lembo (Ball State Coach) - He knows the state and has consistently performed well, but I feel like this would be a “last resort” and most Purdue faithful would view this a cop out.
Pat Narduzzi (Defensive Coordinator Michigan State) – He has build a reputation in East Lansing and was high on the list for a number of jobs until the Spartans disappointing 2012. Still, he knows the conference and is a strong defensive mind.