Wrapping up the weekend that was in the Land of 10, Week 7 …
The Point After
The Mad Hatter will turn 63 next month. When you Google the words “Les Miles, offense,” the words that jump out in headlines that pop up ain’t kind: “Stubbornness” and “fans deserve to see a better product” and “no passing game.”
Joe Tiller, he ain’t.
And yet the rumor mill connecting the former LSU coach to Purdue hasn’t hushed in the least. In fact, it started spinning faster Saturday following the Boilermaker’s latest loss — and even faster Sunday when Purdue finally answered its remaining fans prayers and fired coach Darrell Hazell:
As Purdue marches toward the inevitable conclusion, one name I’m told to keep an eye on there: Les Miles
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 15, 2016
On the surface, sticking Miles — king of the SEC slobberknocker, Mr. 9-to-6 — at a school that used to pride itself as being “The Cradle of Quarterbacks” sounds like a match made in Hell. Because here’s a look at how LSU’s offenses have ranked in points per drive against FBS competition since 2010, according to Brian Fremeau’s BCFToys.com site:
2016: No. 98 (1.65)
2015: No. 21 (2.77)
2014: No. 85 (1.88)
2013: No. 8 (3.14)
2012: No. 74 (2.03)
2011: No. 25 (2.65)
2010: No. 43 (2.28)
Aesthetically, eating grass at a place where Tiller’s “Basketball on Grass” was beloved sounds more than a little crazypants. And yet Miles would be probably an absolute home run for new athletic director Mike Bobinski right out of the chute, and for one gigantic reason:
Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm.
The Boilermakers, at the moment, are surrounded by none. Not a whit. When they aren’t marked, they’re ignored. If Purdue football was a puppy, it would have sad eyes and be staring at you longingly in an ASPCA commercial, begging for adoption and warmth.
A 49-35 Homecoming loss to Iowa drew a crowd of 40,239 to Ross-Ade Stadium, or less than 65 percent of capacity. Hazell coached 42 games and won 9 at Purdue. His Big Ten record was 3-24. He’d been under fire for more than a year now by those who still cared.
And with each passing week, that number kept on dwindling.
Which is why Bobinski got the green light to finally pull the plug — or enough money raised from passing-the-hat to handle Hazell’s exit fees.
Hiring Miles throws the most golden of the Old Gold and Black a bone . It’s a jolt to the system, a fire lit under everyone’s belly again, offense or no offense. It wakes up the fan base. It stirs local media. It brings national scribes in and southern scribes north to sleepy West Lafayette, Ind., to chronicle the Mad Hatter’s newest, maddest reclamation project yet.
It’s not a cultural stretch, given that Miles is a Big Ten guy at heart, having played on the offensive line for Bo Schembechler at Michigan. He gets it. More than that, he gets in your face:
Miles might be too old a dog to learn new tricks. He might not make Purdue relevant. But he’d make the Boilers interesting again, and that kind of adjective hasn’t been attached to the program for — well, more than a decade now.
The Hatter also wouldn’t come cheap, and would probably demand more rope than Bobinski might be willing to give his first showcase hire.
But as a risk, why the heck not? In terms of winning the first major battles — public relations and recruiting — Purdue couldn’t land a better fit.
Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Jim Harbaugh at Michigan injected instant buzz to a pair of flailing powers just by showing up. West Lafayette isn’t Columbus or Ann Arbor, not by a long shot, but the principle is the same. Purdue probably can’t get much more out of the gate than hiring Miles, however flawed, however aged. Although surely Miles could aim higher than Purdue, given a choice in the matter.
Some of you guys are really overestimating the job market for Les. Not huge demand for guys on wrong side of 60 who run draconian offense
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 15, 2016
Then again, maybe not.
Things that impressed the CFP committee
- J.T. Barrett. With his back against the wall, trapped by a damn good defense and thousands of cheeseheads, the Texan rose to the occasion, and rose late: 11-for-15 passing in the second half and in overtime at Madison.
- Ohio State and Michigan are each now 2-0 against schools in the Sagarin top 30. Only two programs have are better: Alabama (4-0) and Texas A&M (4-0).
And the thing that didn’t
- Mark Dantonio doesn’t need a quarterback. He needs an exorcist.
One man’s rolling Heisman ballot (Big Ten edition)
- J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. Still leading the Big Ten in pass efficiency (159.3) and passing touchdowns (16).
- Jabrill Peppers, OLB/QB/PR, Michigan. Tweeted out 10 emoji eyes during the Ohio State-Wisconsin game. Sure enough, Twitter freaked out.
- Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern. Always a workhorse, the Illinois native has added breakaway runs to his game — a 58-yard score at Iowa, and now 29-yard and 26-yard gallops at Michigan State.
Big Red superlatives, Part I
Nebraska is riding a seven-game winning streak dating back to last winter’s Foster Farms Bowl. It’s the longest for the program since stringing together 13 straight from 2000-’01.
Thanks for coming, hope we didn’t hurt your boys too bad
Iowa 49, Purdue 35
Northwestern 54, Michigan State 40
A healthy Purdue defense was always going to struggle to hold the point of attack against Iowa, and a crew with no Jake Replogle or Ja’Whaun Bentley had pretty much no shot whatsoever. The Hawkeyes averaged 6.9 yards per carry whenever they ran the ball, evoking happy road-grading memories of the 2002-’03 Orange Bowl juggernaut, and had 13 plays that accounted for 12 yards or more — 10 of those plays coming in the first half.
And ain’t it funny how a month — and a mess of injuries — can flip the entire tenor of a season? The Spartans surrendered the most points ever to the Wildcats in their 55 meetings Saturday and the most points to anybody, period, since a 56-21 thrashing at Wisconsin in 2003.
Not even a pro like Dave Revsine can spin this bad boy
Illinois 24, Rutgers 7
Since 2012, the Fighting Illini have picked up two wins by 17 points or more against a conference foe. The only other one before Saturday? At Ross-Ade Stadium against the Boilermakers last fall, 48-14. Not the sort of company Chris Ash needs — or wants — to keep at this point.
Big Red superlatives, Part II
Nebraska’s 3-0 start in league play is the first time the Huskers have opened a season with three straight Big Ten victories — and their first 3-0 conference mark since 2006.
Ask A Silly Question: You say it’s Wisconsin by a paw to win the B1G hoops crown
unit dude of the week
Ifeadi Odenigbo, Northwestern
After 4 sacks at Iowa set a new single-game school record and got an underachieving Northwestern season off the canvas, the senior out of Ohio was at it again in East Lansing, picking up 2 more sacks and 4 tackles as the Wildcats (3-3, 2-1 Big Ten) climbed back on to the postseason radar and doomed Sparty to a new low-water mark in The Dantonio Era. In fact, the purple have a rare trifecta after Week 7: The Big Ten’s leader in sacks per game (Odenigbo, 1.17), rushing yards per game (Jackson, 116.3), and receiving yards per game (Austin Carr, 99.2).
On-the-radar unit of the week
Wisconsin’s offensive line
The engine ran out of coal in overtime, but the fact remains: The Badgers did to No. 2 Ohio State things that teams — even Oklahoma-caliber teams — do not do: 450 total yards of offense, 236 rushing yards on 46 carries, 32:09 of possession in regulation, and the first touchdown scored against the Buckeyes on the ground this season. The real meat, substantive meat, of Wisconsin’s schedule remains, and coach Paul Chryst could take even more positives from how his team played Ohio State than from how it fared up at Michigan on Oct. 1.
Big Red superlatives, Part III
Nebraska hasn’t opened a season 6-0 since 2001. That set of Huskers would open the campaign with 11 straight wins before a loss at Colorado on Black Friday, 62-36. The Big Red lost to Miami in the Rose Bowl, 37-14, to cap an 11-2 season. They’ve only posted four double-digit win campaigns since, after having posted 14 during a 20-year stretch from 1981-2000. It’s also the last Nebraska squad to lose fewer than three tilts in a given season.
Do the Ferentz Shuffle
The Hawkeyes (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) have used five different starting offensive line combos this season. They used four in all of 2015. Right tackle Cole Croston didn’t play at Purdue because of an ankle problem and left tackle Boone Myers left the win at West Lafayette with a leg injury.
Welcome to the Hot Seat, pal
Darrell Hazell, Purdue
When you do this …
Purdue just called a timeout with 2 seconds left in the half….to take a knee.
— Student Union (@StudentUSports) October 15, 2016
And go down 35-7 at the half during Homecoming, you get this:
Hazell went 9-33 at Purdue, 3-24 in the Big Ten. Now Purdue makes a change: https://t.co/fvU12Kv8cT
— CoachingSearch.com (@coachingsearch) October 16, 2016
Fare thee well, coach. We’ll always have Champaign.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet(s) of the week (spelling bee edition)
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) October 15, 2016
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) October 15, 2016
3 games coming up we’d seriously pay to watch
- Wisconsin at Iowa (Noon ET, ESPN). The first really, really huge Big Ten West title test, and another slugfest. The visitor has won five straight in the series, and seven of the last nine.
- Ohio State at Penn State (8 p.m. ET, ABC). Team Urban gets a squad coming off a bye for a second straight week. The last time these two met in Happy Valley, the Bucks pulled off a 31-24 overtime win.
- Indiana at Northwestern (Noon ET, BTN). A Quick Lane Bowl elimination showdown. The game that Purdue-Illinois secretly aspires to be.
The takeaway number
Over their last 11 Big Ten contests, the Boilermakers have given up 300 or more rushing yards six times — or 54.5-percent of the time — including three-for-three in league games so far this season. In Hazell’s tenure, Purdue has surrendered 300 or more in 10 of 27 Big Ten contests dating back to 2013. Over the previous decade, 2003-2012, the Boilers had been torched for 300 or more just six times. And when there’s that much scorched earth, repeatedly, at the same spot, it usually isn’t long before somebody gets rewarded. Usually with a pink slip.