Record: 1-6, 0-3 Big Ten. 6th in Leaders Division.
Head Coach: Darrell Hazell, first year at Purdue. 17-16 in three seasons overall.
After spending four seasons as head coach at Eastern Kentucky leading the Colonels to an overall mark of 35-22, Danny Hope returned to West Lafayette in 2008 where he spent that season as associate head coach, working with the offensive line, managing recruiting and monitoring academics as part of a succession plan to replace longtime head coach Joe Tiller.
An assistant under Tiller at Purdue for five seasons from 1997 to 2001, Hope became the 34th head football coach in the school’s history on Jan. 1, 2009, following the retirement of Tiller after 12 years at the helm.
In 2009, Hope completed his first season as the program’s head coach with a 5-7 overall record and 4-4 Big Ten Conference mark. Sitting with a 1-5 record in mid-October, the Boilermakers began a second-half ascent with a thrilling 26-18 win over seventh-ranked and eventual Rose Bowl champion Ohio State at Ross-Ade Stadium. The victory snapped a 19-game losing skid to ranked opponents.
Three weeks later, the Boilermakers again were riding high, defeating Michigan 38-36 for their first road victory since 2007 and their first win in Ann Arbor in 43 years. Moreover, Purdue beat Ohio State and Michigan in the same season for only the third time in school history (also 1984 and 2000) and Hope became the only person in Big Ten history to defeat the two in his first season as the head coach. The Boilermakers capped the season with a 38-21 win at Indiana to keep possession of the Old Oaken Bucket.
In 2010, the Boilermakers endured injuries rarely seen by any collegiate football program. Starting four different signal-callers in the same season for the first time at the school dubbed the “Cradle of Quarterbacks,” Purdue went the entire year largely without the services of its leading returning rusher and receiver, as well as their second- and third-string backups. Despite the numerous injuries, Hope’s team jumped out to a 4-2 start, but lost its last six to finish 4-8.
The 2011 Boilermakers went 7-6 overall and recorded a number of signature wins, including a victory over previously undefeated Illinois, beating Ohio State in overtime, downing Indiana in Bloomington and winning the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl with a victory over Western Michigan in Detroit. Purdue finished third in the Leaders Division in the Big Ten standings at 4-4 and the win over the Buckeyes marked the first time the Boilermakers have beaten Ohio State in back-to-back home games in program history.
Hope’s 2012 edition of the Purdue football team had high hopes entering the season as both Ohio State and Penn State from the Leaders Division were ineligible for the Big Ten championship game. Those high hopes were also due to having 15 starters back from the 2011 team, with eight on offense and seven on defense. After going 3-1 during the non-conference portion of the schedule while nearing knocking off Notre Dame in South Bend, the Boilermakers lost five-straight to start Big Ten play. The only close game during that stretch was a 29-22 heartbreaking defeat in overtime to Ohio State in Columbus. The other four, though, were not close at all, losing by a combined score of 160-64. Purdue went on to win the next three games to close out the regular season, but it wasn’t enough to save Hope’s job as he was fired less than 24 hours after the win over Indiana. Under interim head coach Patrick Higgins, Purdue was blown out by Oklahoma State, 58-14, in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Some of the names mentioned early on to replace Hope were Cincinnati’s Butch Jones, Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren, Illinois State’s Brock Spack and Ball State’s Pete Lembo. But on Dec. 5, 2012, Darrell Hazell from Kent State was named head coach.
In 2011 and 2012, Hazell spent two seasons as head coach of the Golden Flashes, going 16-10 overall. In his final year at Kent, he guided the squad to an 11-3 mark and nearly got Kent State to a BCS bowl before losing to Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
Prior to Kent State, Hazell spent seven years in Columbus. He was hired in 2004 to be the wide receivers coach at Ohio State. From 2005-2010, Hazell had the additional title of associate head coach added during his time under former OSU head coach Jim Tressel.
It’s been a rough seven games for the Boilers who are 1-6 on the year and 0-3 in Big Ten play. The lone win came against FCS-member Indiana State (20-14) on Sept. 7. The losses were to Cincinnati (42-7), Notre Dame (31-24), Wisconsin (41-10), Northern Illinois (55-24), Nebraska (44-7) and Michigan State (14-10).
Last season, Purdue was fifth in the Big Ten in total offense (402.7 ypg), but were just eighth in scoring offense (28.7 ppg). In 2013, the Boilermakers are dead-last in the conference averaging 13.1 points per game with an equally pathetic 278.6 yards per outing average, also 12th in the league.
In 2012, Rob Henry was the third-string quarterback behind Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve, but played in 11 of the 13 games at either quarterback, running back or wide receiver. During his junior year, Henry completed 21 of 38 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns, rushed 38 times for 74 yards and touchdown, and caught six passes for 65 yards.
As a fifth-year senior, Henry began the 2013 season as the Boilers’ starting signal-caller, but late in the first half and struggling against Northern Illinois five weeks ago, Coach Hazell pulled Henry in favor of true freshman Danny Etling.
Henry was 81-of-152 passing (53.3%) for 832 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions in six games, while Etling has played in four contests and made three starts, completing 47.5 percent (47-99) of his passes for 585 yards with three TDs and four INTs.
Even though he still leads Purdue in rushing touchdowns with two, Henry has since moved over to the defensive side of the ball and is listed as a back-up safety on this week’s depth chart.
The top ground-gainer for the Boilers’ is junior Akeem Hunt, who has netted 293 yards on 80 carries (3.7 avg.). He also leads the team in receptions with 24 to go along with 239 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
After catching 56 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns last season, O.J. Ross would of been one of Purdue’s top receivers, but he was suspended by Hazell for violating a team rule and decided to leave the program. With that, true freshman DeAngelo Yancey tops the roster with 327 receiving yards on 15 catches and one TD.
Last year, the Boilers were 11th in the Big Ten in total defense (416.2 ypg), and 10th in scoring defense (31.2 ppg). This season, Purdue is eighth in total defense (399.6 ypg) and 11th in scoring defense (34.4 ppg), so not much of a change. Just bad all over.
A pair of safeties, sophomore Anthony Brown and junior Taylor Richards lead the team with 38 total tackles. Senior defensive end Bruce Gaston tops the Boilermaker roster with 3.0 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Senior cornerback Ricardo Allen and sophomore cornerback Frankie Williams each have two interceptions.