Sizzle counts as much as steak here. More, even.
Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski doesn’t need to make the perfect hire to replace Darrell Hazell. Heck, he doesn’t necessarily need a home run.
What he does need to do is swing hard.
He needs at least a double. And it needs to be one of the ringing variety.
The loud kind. The kind that sticks.
- Gerad Parker, the Boilermakers’ receivers coach and Bobinski’s interim choice? The audition starts now.
- Ed Warinner or Tim Beck, the co-Ohio State offensive coordinators? Only if they bring J.T. Barrett with them.
- Luke Fickell, the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator? Not for this.
- Greg Schiano, Fickell’s tag-team partner in Columbus? Getting closer.
It has to get people jazzed. It has to turn heads. It has to make the media bite and the fan base sing. It has to make the bloggers sit up from their couches and the skeptics do a double-take.
Because when it comes to football, the Boilers have gone from the Cradle of Quarterbacks to Apathy U, a place where hope goes to die and fans go to sleep off the tailgate.
Assuming, of course, they come at all. The first three home games at Ross-Ade Stadium this fall averaged an announced crowd of 35,583, compared to 40,026 at the same point in 2015 — a drop of 11.1 percent. One Purdue alum even took to Twitter on Sunday to estimate the continual cash drain, and it wasn’t pretty:
— Paul Henke (@scruffy_p) October 16, 2016
Basically, it’s a financial sinkhole. So at least it goes neatly with the one recently discovered in the south end zone at Ross-Ade.
- Willie Taggart, now 14-6 over his last 20 at South Florida? Unlike Hazell, his career record has ascended as he’s climbed the ranks.
- Jeff Brohm, the quarterback whisperer at Western Kentucky? Or does the Bobby Petrino family tree gives you the willies?
- P.J. Fleck, the man rowing the boat at No. 20 Western Michigan, who dresses like Jim Tressel and gesticulates like Pat Fitzgerald? Warmer.
- Brock Spack, the former Joe Tiller assistant and Purdue alum now running the show at Illinois State? He averaged 9.3 wins with the Redbirds from 2012-’15, and has already accomplished something this fall Darrell Hazell never did: Beat Northwestern in Evanston. Warmer still.
The Boilers are more sleeping than giant, with a ceiling closer to, say, Illinois and Minnesota than Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State. According to a USA Today database, Purdue ranked 12th out of 13 Big Ten public institutions (Northwestern is the league’s lone private school) in revenues with $75.637 million in 2014-’15, ahead of only new boy Rutgers ($70.558 million).
A piece by Land of 10 Iowa reporter Scott Dochterman earlier this year on Big Ten expenditures for the Cedar Rapids Gazette showed that the Boilermakers spent less on recruiting ($1.835 million) from 2012-2015 than all but three public-school Big Ten peers: Iowa ($1.714 million), Wisconsin ($1.024 million), Maryland ($1.212 million).
Is that enough juice to lure Les Miles, the biggest fish in the free-agent pool? At least he’s itching to get back on that horse:
“My wife is already through with me around the house,” Miles recently told FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd. “(She says), ‘I don’t need to organize that, you don’t need to organize this, get out of the house.’ I’m very active in seeing what the lay of the land is for my future.”
So if nothing else, the Mad Hatter is worth a call. The worst thing is he can say is, “No.” Actually, the worst thing he can say is “Go Hoosiers,” cackle, and then hang up. But better to swing from the heels than to bunt and pray.
Who do you think Purdue should pursue next? Vote here or leave your suggestions in the Facebook feed below: