As much as I like Darrell Hazell, Purdue should have had better options they could have pursued. They stated in the search they were looking for a QB-friendly offensive head coach. There were better options available than Hazell. A school like Purdue is not going to recruit itself. But that's ok, because several schools have become successful without the advantages of natural recruiting bases, blue blood tradition, and/or large metropolitan areas of an Ohio St, USC or Texas. Texas Tech did it in Lubbock with Mike Leach. Mike Riley is doing it in Corvallis and Mike Gundy is doing it in Stillwater.
In every conference, you have the "haves" and "have-nots". But just because Purdue has historically been a have-not, does not mean they must accept that position. The key is to get the right guy to lead the program, and then put the resources (more than just money) in place to have success.
Mike Gundy's wide open offense would have been a perfect fit for Purdue, and he has proven he could recruit to a place like Stillwater, Oklahoma. His relationship with Oklahoma St AD Mike Holder "reportedly is not what it once was." Did anyone at Purdue even call to inquire? Has anyone at Purdue noticed the job Dan Mullen has been doing at Mississippi St, the most "have-not" of SEC have-nots? His QB-based spread attack would go over very well in West Lafayette. Purdue could financially afford to raise his $2.6m, as well as Mississippi State's $1,990,000 assistant salary pool. If Butch Jones was their guy, they should have been able to sign him quickly, before Tennessee was turned down by everyone from Gruden to David Cutcliffe and UT was forced to overpay Jones at $3m/yr.
One coach Purdue absolutely could have hired was Bobby Petrino. The guy is an offensive savant who won the Orange Bowl at Louisville, the Cotton Bowl at Arkansas, and took the Razorbacks to their only BCS bowl game. He had good recruiting classes at Arkansas (a "have-not" in the SEC) recruiting against LSU and Alabama. He made a stupid decision regarding a girl, but he doesn't have any NCAA issues. He has won 74.2% of his games as a "have-not" everywhere he's been. He just got hired by Western Kentucky for $850,000, which is even less than Danny Hope made in 2012. His contract could easily have been structured to include a large buyout if he leaves and major penalties for Petrino if any significant NCAA or moral issues pop up. You want to claim the moral high ground? That's fine. But what was the reaction of the WKU Hilltoppers players regarding his moral missteps? "So what? He's a good coach." Think 17 year old boys would want to play for him at a BCS school? Of course they would.
Purdue's hire of Hazell reminds me of Illinois's hire of Tim Beckman. 2 or 3 years at a MAC school with about a 60% winning percentage. Beckman has looked to be in over his head in every head coaching aspect from game management to recruiting and media relations. Mike Leach would have been an inspired hire where he could draw talent from Texas and Chicago. (See a lot of speedy receivers around Pullman, WA, do you?) His air raid offense would be a smash at Illinois and he's proven he can win on a national level, despite the stigma of a certain millionaire dad with the ESPN mouthpiece who hired a PR firm.
I like Hazell. He did a great job as the receivers coach at OSU for years. But I wish he had 2 more 10+ win seasons at Kent before becoming a Big Ten head coach. Imagine a Big Ten leaders division with Urban Meyer (OSU), Bill O'Brien (PSU), Chris Peterson or Jim Tressel (Wisc), Mike Leach (Ill), Bobby Petrino (Purdue), and Kevin Wilson (Ind). Now, give that group of coaching talent 3 years to build programs and see how competitive we are on January 1st, 2016.