After perhaps the single worst run in program history, Purdue has finally decided to pull the plug on the Darrell Hazell era, opening up the first, and perhaps only, Big Ten job of this coaching cycle.
It’s only mid October, but there are now three head coaching openings in FBS, as Purdue joins LSU and Florida International on the job market. As more and more teams find themselves ineligible for bowl games, and as buyouts get just a little bit smaller, don’t be surprised if that list grows again before November.
Unlike LSU and FIU, and perhaps unlike almost any other position that’s likely to open up in the next month, the Purdue opening could impact Ohio State in a pretty substantial way. It might be an ideal landing spot for an Ohio State assistant coach.
That’s not just idle speculation from us Buckeye fans. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg lists Ohio State’s Tim Beck and Ed Warinner as potential candidates for Purdue. Dan Wolken, of USA TODAY, goes even broader.
Pretty much every assistant at Ohio State and some at Michigan are likely to be candidates for Purdue, I’m told.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 16, 2016
Such a move is certainly popular in the Big Ten right now. When Maryland and Rutgers had to find new coaches for struggling programs last cycle, they struck out on a few bigger names, and decided to go for assistants from the Big Ten’s most successful programs. Maryland tabbed D.J. Durkin out of Michigan, and Rutgers grabbed Ohio State’s Chris Ash.
Purdue fans would probably like somebody a little more established, like a young, successful FBS head coach, like a P.J. Fleck out of Western Michigan, or maybe a Jeff Brohm out of Western Kentucky.
But the dirty little secret about Purdue, even moreso than Maryland or Rutgers last year, is that it isn’t that great of a job right now. The institutional support and vision lags behind other Big Ten schools. They’ve been completely passed in the state of Indiana by a resurgent Hoosiers program. Recruiting has cratered. The roster has a ton of holes, and oh yeah, they open with Lamar Jackson and Louisville next season.
It would be shocking for Purdue to open the purse strings and spend lavishly for a bigger name, given how the university and athletic department have operated in recent memory. If you’re a hotshot FBS head coach, it may make more sense to wait another year for a position with a better recruiting trajectory or institutional buy-in, than throw your chips in with Purdue.
But that calculus may be different for an assistant coach. Ohio State’s assistants have constantly been in high demand, as other schools try to emulate Ohio State’s wildly successful internal culture. Plus, that Urban Meyer guy seems to know a bit about developing assistant coaches.
All four of those listed Ohio State coaches have a lot of experience in evaluating and recruiting talent in Purdue’s recruiting footprint. All four would be in Purdue’s budget. And if they’re looking for their first crack at a head coaching job (or in Schiano’s case, a rehabilitation job), Purdue may look a lot more attractive.
Urban Meyer asks Ohio State assistants for a two year commitment when they sign up for Ohio State. Everybody on that list but Greg Schiano has hit that benchmark, and given Schiano’s previous experience, relationship with Urban Meyer, and unique contract, he might be an exception.
Ohio State will probably lose at least one assistant coach this offseason. That’s a problem that highly successful football programs have to deal with. Don’t be surprised if one of those assistants ends up heading to Purdue.
Luckily for Ohio State fans, Urban Meyer has shown he’s pretty okay at hiring new assistants.