The Friend of My Enemy is My Friend

By Johnny Ginter on December 10, 2012 at 5:00p

Far below the Earth's crust, sits a man in a bunker. This man is wearing a sweatervest with a kangaroo emblazoned on the left breast, and sitting in an easy chair watching events unfold before him.

"Bielema to Arkansas, huh?" he giggles, trying to restrain himself. "That's a weird career move to go from head football coach to mascot, even if he is perfect for the job." Jim Tressel, craned his neck and looked around the small concrete room, outfitted with cans of macadamia nuts and jars of pickled beets. All alone. No one had heard him. "Damn!"

He's baaaccckkkk!

Suddenly, from the TV, the confirmation that he had been looking for: Darrell Hazell hired as Purdue head coach.

Jim grinned to himself. He was a patient man. He could hold grudges for a long time and see his machinations for revenge lay dormant until the best possible time for a strike. It was his philosophy: Slug Life.

Watching his former protege put on the Boilermaker hat, Tressel gripped the armrests of his La-Z-Boy. "Yeeessss!" he hissed into the thin air that surrounded him. "Yeeeeessssssssssssssss!"


The Darrell Hazell hire was easily the best move that Purdue could've made after their dismissal of Danny Hope. They're getting a smart, experienced coach who has been well liked everywhere he's been, turned around a dire Kent State program (and very nearly got them into a BCS bowl), and also has a working knowledge of the types of places that Purdue will be recruiting from. He's got all of the tools needed to make Purdue a force, kind of, in the Big Ten, and quickly.

Of course, this is an Ohio State blog, so today I want to talk about why that sucks, and how, in time, I will learn to hate a man that I used to feel was the rightful heir to the Jim Tressel throne.

He's Experienced

Darrell Hazell doesn't look like a 48-year-old man, but a 48-year-old man he is. He's had a number of coaching gigs, including stints at Army, West Virginia, and Western Michigan, but where he really made his hay was at Rutgers, where he eventually rose to the position of assistant head coach under Greg Schiano.

This is relevant because the de facto role that many of us put him in, that of the heir apparent to Jim Tressel, was in my opinion the role he was actually going to one day play. Being an upwardly mobile guy, he realized that the opportunity to one day coach Ohio State was slightly bigger than the opportunity to coach Rutgers, and so he left.

He's Driven

And really, that's the theme here. With the current state of college football, if you're given opportunities for advancement, it doesn't really help to have emotional ties to your job. Darrell Hazell left Rutgers for OSU because it was the logical choice, and I believe he left Ohio State for Kent State for the same reasons.

Not rotating four of these guys might help, too.

Again, the guy is 48, the same age as Urban Meyer. I feel that it has to be at least somewhat frustrating to see others in your field win national championships and get millions while you are forced to wait your turn behind a coach you'll likely never be able to live up to.

Kent State is likely as grateful as they are understanding that Hazell is making this change, because it now firmly puts him in the driver's seat of a nationally (kind of) recognized program.

He Might Be Really Good

The immediate problem for Ohio State and the rest of the Big Ten is that Purdue might've just hired a coach that can actually do something with the relatively decent talent that the Boilermakers posses, although this isn't without some reservations.

It's interesting to see how people tend to dole out recognition for the offense during the Tressel years; when the team performed well, it was thanks to Hazell. When they were average, that must mean that Tressel had taken the reins, and of course when they were flat out bad that meant Bollman was calling plays again.

I don't know what the real answer is. My guess is that all three coaches worked collaboratively on game plans, but beyond that, assigning credit is a crap shoot. Here's what I do know: in two years, Kent State more than doubled their offensive output in terms of points per game from 2011 to 2012, and Hazell has proven to be an energetic motivator and an aggressive recruiter. He could fail, but I'd be surprised if he did.

Urban Meyer has already learned the lesson that Ohio State fans are just beginning to understand; when a coach is successful, often too is their coaching tree, and so it follows that they will come back to haunt their former employers.

Darrell Hazell is now a ghost. A friendly ghost, but one that might haunt us for years to come.


Comments Show All Comments

Colonel Quaritch's picture

Those opening couple paragraphs are absolutely brilliant!

"The question isn't who's going to let me, it's who's going to stop me." 

popeurban's picture

In advance, let me ask for forgiveness; but what is it about Hazell that has everyone all excited? 
I really liked him when he was here, but was he really the braintrust for our offense in the good years. 
I am really just looking for some insight into why everyone is so enamored with him.  Thanks

BuckI_1033's picture

Look at Kent State before his arrival and look at them after he departed. 

"You'll be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community, and most especially in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the football field." 

popeurban's picture

I have a great deal of respect for what he did at Kent St.  I guess I have a hard time giving mad props to a guy with a two year head-coaching resume.  Either way, best of luck to him as long as it does not negativley affect us. 

DaiTheFlu's picture

Why am I enamored with Darell Hazell? Let's take a look at some of the WR's coached during Coach Hazell's tenure: Santonio Holmes, Tedd Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Brian Hartline, Brian Robiskie, Dane Sanzenbacher, Devier Posey. Three of those were first rounders and that's just off the top of my head; I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple.
Now let's look at some of the starting WR's we have had since his departure: Philly Brown, Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas, Verlon Reed, Devin Smith. I love Devin Smith's potential and Philly has turned into a fairly reliable target, but the contrast between these two groups is STUNNING. We were very spoiled at the position during Coach Hazell's tenure here, and from what I've seen, most of those big-name guys have nothing but great things to say about him. Obviously I'm not giving him all the credit for recruiting the former group, most members of whom were among the most talented in the history of Ohio State Football. However, his contributions to the group and the success that they - and the school - had during his tenure cannot be ignored. I think Coach Hazell will do a damn fine job at Purdue.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

popeurban's picture

Not sure hazell gets credit for Holmes, I think his first year was Holmes' last.  Otherwise great point.  Thanks for the post.
edit: he had Holmes his last two years.

Poe McKnoe's picture

Hazell was generally credited with evolving the play calling from the Dark Ages to the 1970s.

Doc's picture

Nice write up Johnny.  I think Purdont made the right hire.  I think this is still a stepping stone job for Hazell.  If he can resurect a below midling Boilermakers he could be on to greener pastures in the next 3-5 years.
I'm still looking forward to a breakdown of his (along with whomever Wisky is going to hire)  coaching philosophy on both O & D.  I think that will give us a good insight on what to expect down the road from these programs.

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Nappy's picture

Good stuff, Johnny.  I don't think he'd pass up an opportunity to coach OSU after Meyer is done.  I hope he does well at Purdue, just not as good as OSU.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

DannyBeane's picture

I hope he has a lot of success against everybody but TOSU. If he does make Purdue into a very successful program then I hope he stays in the B1G. I am sick of other conferences stealing our coaches and talent then claiming superiority when they win.

BKLYNBuckeye's picture

The biggest development about this hire, other than the fact that he seems to be a good coach, is that Purdue is paying a competitive salary. The B1G as a whole needs to reinvest some of that TV money back into HC's and assistants.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Rumor has it that the B1G brass is starting to require that some of the also rans in the conference must start spending on their facilities and personnel.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

DaiTheFlu's picture

I've been saying this for awhile now. There's no reason why a team like Purdue or Northwestern, who gets just as much revenue from the conference as Ohio State, can't be successful. These teams need to pony up.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

slicksickle's picture

Something you have to take into consideration is that OSU and UM bring in a substantially larger amount with ticket sales and licensing agreements. Yes, all schools will bring in the $17-25m, or whatever it is (not researching the #'s right now), but there is still a huge disparity between the incomes of the athletic departments. OSU football foots the bill for the entire athletic department, and still manages to put funds back into the university. NW, I believe broke even either 2011 or 2010. Where will the $2-6m difference for head/assistant coaches come from for these schools that can't bring in 105k fans at $70 a ticket for 8 games a season along with what I believe to be superior licensing agreements?

hail2victors9's picture

This 60 Minutes piece is on topic [Warning: Michigan is the feature school]

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

Doc's picture

Sorry, unable to watch.  I have an anti-AACC filter on my computer.

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andretolstoy's picture

Had some time to mull this over. If I had been in Hazell's position, I would have waited a few years before jumping to this level as HC. May another year at Kent St. Then another couple at a Utah St-level team.
The reason why I say this is that his first year at Kent St. showed me this man is a big time coach if he took the Urban route and not jump the gun.
Purdue may have picked him before he's completely ripe.

Poison nuts's picture

I guess we'll know soon enough if he's ripe or not. I think he is...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

slicksickle's picture

How close is Purdue to being a Utah St level though? When the opportunity arises, take it. Even if he has a Beckman-level year for 2013, its worth the chance to have a few growing pains.

Doc's picture

Purdont IS a Utah State level team.  Unless you menat Utah St. is higher than Purdont, if so then DERP on my part.

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JBuckeye's picture

As a Buckeye fan this was the scariest coaching announcement so far for the B10.  I think he's got all the right pieces, and it looks like Purdue is willing to play the game with salaries and the like.  I think maybe they see themselves taking over PSU's spot as the third premiere program in the B10.

MAVBuck's picture

amazing write up! I still say he'll come home one day and lead the buckeyes!

osubuckeye4life's picture

I wish him the best of luck against everyone except tOSU.