PURDUE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 6, 2012Richmond High School
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us here tonight at this historic day for our University.
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MORGAN BURKE: And I said lifeguard is somebody who makes sure that everybody who comes into his or her territory or space leaves in as good a position if not better, and that's our job, that we take young men in this particular sport, and our job is to turn them into leaders.
Finally, I asked him a little bit about the style of play, and he made an interesting comment. He said, you know, it doesn't make any difference exactly what style of play I would like to use. First thing I do is come in and evaluate your talent and say what are we going to make our niche, what are we going to make our mark. He said at Purdue, you've been, as best he could tell, with the little bit of research he was able to conduct, you've been built for speed. That's who you are. That's the roster that's been built. And he said, there's something in your DNA about quarterbacks, that the guy behind the center, I think we have more starts in the NFL than any other college in the United States, and that's an important element of who we are.
So I pushed back a little bit. I said, okay, so you read the bios and understood exactly what was going on. Help me understand in your career why I should really buy into that statement. He said, well, when I was at Ohio State I was the assistant head coach in charge of the wide receivers, and Santonio Holmes and Teddy Ginn and a lot of them, I was their advocate. We wanted to throw that ball, and actually we got pretty good at it. I said, you know, it's not a bad response.
I'm absolutely delighted. I think we've got a partner here that is eager to build upon the work that's been done. He knows the cupboard is not bare; we've got work to do always. And while the seniors and the team are focusing on Dallas, he'll turn his attention to 2013.
And without further ado if you've seen any pictures of the coach, he's big on baseball caps, so let's get that.
DARRELL HAZELL: Thank you so much. I'm going to start with a statement. Only from the alliance of people working with and through each other are great things born, and it's going to take all of us from the Purdue family to win a Big Ten Championship as well as a Rose Bowl Championship. That's what it's all about, and we're going to do it the right way. I want to give some thanks also to some of the committee, Nancy and Calvin and Tom, and my good friend Morgan, who we text nonstop??
MORGAN BURKE: It's legal for ADs, not for coaches.
DARRELL HAZELL: ?? for reaching out to me and also the governor reached out to me. I can't tell you how excited I am to be here and be a part of this program, a program that's rich in academic tradition and excellence, a program that's rich in athletic excellence, and we are going to continue to get better each week.
I have three goals, three primary goals that I'm going to start prioritizing here pretty quickly. One, I've got to get to know our personnel. Our personnel is our support staff, our players, anybody that touches our kids throughout the course of the school year.
The second thing is I need to go out and hire the best possible staff that can help mentor, teach, be father figures, be great coaches, be respectful to our kids, and help us win championships.
And then the third thing that I need to do is I need to get out on the road and make sure those 13 commits are solid, and I need to do that pretty quickly.
There's a lot of things that this program is going to do in the future, and I'm excited about being the leader. I can't thank you guys must have for selecting me as the leader of this program, and it's going to be really special, very special. I look forward to meeting everyone and getting to know what Purdue is all about and making me part of the fabric that's made this University so great in the future?? in the past and in the future.
Q. This is for Darrell: Point blank, why did you take the job?
DARRELL HAZELL: Well, again, its academic excellence. That's where it starts. But a chance to be very special. Here's a program right now that's in the middle of the pack, but I want to be at the top of the pack pretty quickly, and I think we have an opportunity?? it's kind of unique, when I took the Kent State job, people looked at me like I was crazy. They said, they haven't won there in 40 years, why would you take that job coming from Ohio State. I bit my lip, and we went to work, and that's what we're going to do here, and we're going to win championships here.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about once you get the personnel in place, the offense and defense styles you're looking for?
DARRELL HAZELL: Yeah, we're going to be an attacking football team in all three phases. Offensively whatever we decide to do, and that's going to be based on personnel, we are going to go after people. I just had an opportunity to meet the team at the training table, and we've got some great?looking kids with wide eyes, and they're very receptive to whatever it takes to be successful.
But obviously I've got to do a better job of evaluating where we are with personnel and the things we can do because it doesn't matter at the end of the day, I'd much rather win than throw the ball over the yard 50 times. I'd much rather win than run the ball 50 times. We've got to find a way to win the football game. We're going to be like that offensively, defensively we'll give them multiple looks, have a nice pressure package, and we'll come after people, and our special teams will be outstanding.
Going into our 10th football game this year, we had 15 return yards against our punt unit. There's a lot of pride taken in our special teams.
Q. In your press conference earlier at Kent State, you mentioned in your research about Purdue that fan support was dwindling a little bit. Why should fans be excited about you and where does that excitement level come from?
DARRELL HAZELL: Well, if I need to get out on the campus and visit fraternity houses and the dorms I'll do that to get the fans back into the stadium. But I think there needs to be an energy. I go back to my original statement, it's going to take all of us to win a championship. The more fans and the louder the fans are, the better they are on 3rd down, the better the chance we have to win football games.
Q. Who are some of your coaching mentors and influences that you would point to?
DARRELL HAZELL: I've had so many great coaching mentors in my past. Obviously my last boss Jim Tressel was a guy I speak to quite a bit. Al Molde at Western Michigan, Al Bagnoli at the University of Pennsylvania, Bob Sutton from West Point, and the list really goes on and on. Those guys, they taught you how to and also how not to do certain things, and I think any opportunity you have a chance to learn from anybody, you need to take it.
Q. You said at the press conference a week ago you wanted to get someone that would excite the fan base. Why does Darrell Hazell excite the fan base?
MORGAN BURKE: Well, I think you're going to watch it and see it and I think that'll help him, but as he gets around and you can hear the intensity and the passion?? I watched him tonight work the crowd. He literally went and shook every single player's hands, and it wasn't one of these how you doing and moving on to the next person, there was a genuine eye contact.
Kids connect with him, and I will tell you that based upon his press conference today as he was leaving his team, there's a certain?? kids have a certain passion for him. When kids have passion for the program, the goals you aspire, they play hard. They play hard, fans come into the stadium. They want to see a team?? I think probably the play that would best emphasize it is when we saw Robert Marve take off on his wounded leg to go tackle the guy from Indiana who ran?? the crowd went nuts. So Purdue people want to see hard play, they want to see smart play, and they want to see consistent play.
If you look at what he was able to accomplish, I think I did my math right, you only had five home games this year. You know how hard it is to go on the road and be 11 and 1 ranked 17th in the country and lose a heart?breaking game in double overtime with the very same kids who two years earlier were 5 and 7. There's something there, and I think our fan base, based upon the response that I've gotten today and I've seen out there, are starting to catch it.
I've had people come to me and say, all right, Purdue, you've invested. You've demonstrated this is an important aspect of certainly the sports program, but we view football as a way to activate our 450,000 living alums. I think people are seeing that we stepped up to bring a staff here?? you heard Darrell say we're going to hire the very best possible staff. I told him, I want to go back to Pasadena. That's what I told you guys two weeks ago. I want to go back to Pasadena.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about, my understanding is the fact that you're going to coach the Bowl game for Kent State?
DARRELL HAZELL: I am.
Q. And you want to get out on the road and make sure the commits are there. How do you balance that?
DARRELL HAZELL: Well, my calendar looks like this: I'm going to fly back tonight. I will spend the next two days at Kent preparing practice, we'll practice on Friday and Saturday, I'm going to hop in the car and drive back over here Saturday, spend Sunday, Monday through Thursday talking to the previous staff, interviewing the previous staff during the daytime. At nights I'm going to go visit recruits, then I'm going to go back out for our practice. We're in finals next week, as you are, and then we'll have a four?day practice right before Christmas break, we'll take a few days off, I'm going to come back out here with the family, we're going to look at some houses on the 21st and 22nd, take a day off for Christmas, and then go back out there and we're going to fly out to Mobile on January 2nd, and then I'll be here permanently January 7th. The game is on the 6th.
MORGAN BURKE: Let me add, under NCAA rules there are provisions that allow you to recruit at one institution and coach at another. It requires some waiver provisions that we're prepared to seek so he'll be within the guise of the NCAA rules.
DARRELL HAZELL: Always.
MORGAN BURKE: You remember the first value, integrity, that's good.
Q. Coach, the significance of being the first African?American either football or basketball coach here and the fourth in the Big Ten?
DARRELL HAZELL: I got that same question my last job. It's an honor. It's an honor to be here. I love making a difference in kids' lives, and so be it that race has something to do with it. But I don't put much into that.
MORGAN BURKE: I would just say that to me the email that I got from a mother of a former player from Ohio State today probably symbolized why he's the right guy, irregardless of race, and that mother said, you know, I don't normally send an email to an AD, but my son was recruited at Ohio State and played for Darrell. She said the Purdue people don't know what a gem they've gotten. And so I said, you know what, she didn't have to take the time. I sent that on to all of our parents because I want them to understand the commitment we have to these young men. If they feel that commitment, they'll play at a level, they'll study at a level and they'll comport themselves in a manner that will make Purdue proud and make their families proud.
TIM SANDS: Well, we hired Coach Hazell because he's the best person for the job, period. That said, life experience and relating to student athletes and all stakeholders is an important part of being a head football coach, and I'll let him describe what his life experience brings to that. But we're just glad to have Darrell Hazell.
Q. Coach, we were able to kind of talk to a couple of your former coaches today, and they keep saying how you're disciplined and detail oriented, but you still are able to kind of balance kind of the tough guy thing to relate to the players. How would you describe why you've gotten to this point in terms of your characteristics and how you're able to relate to the guys?
DARRELL HAZELL: I think there's a criteria you set with your guys, and I think you have to be demanding and you have to hit all your checkpoints in order to be successful. You lay it all out for them in the beginning and you say, here are the expectations. There are no shortcuts. And then as they hit those checkpoints, you're able to pat them on the back and embrace those guys. But there's a certain level of expectation that everybody in the organization must meet, and that's?? that really goes back to my whole philosophy as a program is that every person in the organization, the A players must get As, and if you're an A player you have to get an A, if you're a B player you have to get a B. No one in the organization underachieves, and if you can do that, you're going to be pretty successful.
Q. How quickly do you want to get your staff assembled and what is your timeline for that?
DARRELL HAZELL: The most important thing is I get it right, so however long it takes. These guys touch these guys' lives every single day, and the most important thing is for me to take time, make sure we're getting the exact person that we need and mesh this all together. There's nine guys, ten guys in the room, knowing these idiosyncrasies at 10:00 at night, all those things are important, and their work ethic and making sure that our kids get the right guy around them. That's the most important thing. So I don't really have a timeline.
Q. In talking to a variety of fans today, Purdue fans of all ages, there is kind of an excitement, and part of that excitement comes from the fact that your team got on the radar screen quite a bit this year with some TV. When John Pont left Miami to go to Indiana a long time ago, people were asking, who? Now with social media, television, does that give you an advantage, at least a head start, because peopleI was surprised knew a lot about you and a lot about Kent State. Could you address that?
DARRELL HAZELL: Yes. I don't know if you recall, but we got on TV for the first time this year because our guy ran the wrong way (laughter), and they laughed at us. But throughout the course of the season, we were doing some good things. We had a great little running back kick return guy Dri Archer, and we started putting strings of wins together, 10 wins in a row, all those things. And maybe that gave us some national publicity.
I think that'll help, but it has no bearing on how well we do here, none, zero.
Q. Obviously Morgan Burke and President Sands here have shown a commitment to you. Can you talk a little bit about the commitment that they've made to the assistant staff, maybe any kind of upgrades or anything like that? And Morgan, if you want to chime in on that, that's fine.
MORGAN BURKE: He's got all the money he needs to go out and hire the best staff he needs.
DARRELL HAZELL: I concur with that.
Q. This question is for Morgan Burke. Just the very, very, very first time you met Darrell, your very first impression of him?
MORGAN BURKE: I thought he was going to be taller. (Laughter.)
I'm just kidding. Actually there's a calmness about him. You can feel the intensity, but there's a calmness in his eyes. That's what I noticed when we were?? he was sitting in a conference room in the Akron?Canton Airport, and there was four people kind of zeroing in on you, and great eye contact, and he was connecting with you, he wasn't talking above you or kind of all over the place. There was a calmness, but you could see the eyes were?? the focus was kind of very intense, and I thought, if you're late in the game and those kids look over to the sideline, that's probably the face I'd want to see, somebody who gives you that sense of confidence that, hey, we've been in these problems before, we can get out of here.
Q. Two?part question for Coach Hazell and Morgan. What has Jim Tressel meant to you in your career, and for Morgan, did you talk to Jim Tressel about Darrell and what was the feedback?
DARRELL HAZELL: Coach Tressel and I talked last night probably three different times. You talk about calmness, he's a guy that always has a way of putting things to make you at ease. He did that for me yesterday when we were going through all this decision making. But he was a guy that kept calling me back and saying what do you need, what else do you need to hear. But he's been an unbelievable guiding light for me for the last seven years. He really has.
MORGAN BURKE: And the answer is yes, I did. I had a considerable discussion on two occasions with Jim. The football gang of three as I call them were unbelievably helpful. They could run references, they could get through to people. I mean, if Ryan Grigson or Bill Polian or Rick Smith are on your speed dial, you're going to pick up that phone, and when these searches start moving and you want to connect dots, the ability to acquire information as quickly as you can and get accurate information is important.
And I've known Jim Tressel for a long time, and I admire him for the many great things that he's done in his career. He knows Purdue. He told me he didn't like coming here a couple times, came out with a bad outcome.
But he just said that this is the perfect spot for Darrell. He gets kind of the work ethic, and he went on and on and gave me some great examples. I said I just don't think we're going to get our fan base excited if we line up and play like Wisconsin. That's not who we are and it's probably not when he does the evaluation of talent who we are. He said, don't worry about that, drove me crazy, wanted to throw the ball all the time. I said, well, I don't think he has to throw it all the time, but a little bit of the time. He said, you won't have any trouble with that.
But he was helpful. Maybe he was going back and forth, Darrell, maybe he was talking to me and talking to him. I didn't ask him to do that but maybe that helped connect the dots a little bit. These guys are coming off very stressful seasons. They're trying to sort out really life?changing moves in a matter of days, and that's just the way it is. They understand it.
But boy, you really want to try to make sure you make the right decision with the right information. So to me Grigson, Smith, Polian and Jim in Darrell's case were exceedingly helpful to make sure from a football, from a character standpoint, things you can't glean from an interview, they were able to help, I think, create some assurances for us that are important.
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DARRELL HAZELL: I had to tell the team there was lots of rumors out there, so that eased it a little bit, but it really didn't, and I just went through it and it's hard. I mean, when you live with guys seven days a week all around the calendar and you're close to these guys and they pour their hearts out and you pour your heart out, that's difficult to separate so quickly. They understood. I got 100 texts after that saying, Coach, we're happy for you, we wish you well and we're going to miss you. But it's hard for both parties. That's the reality.
Q. I understand you have a saying that you like to greet people with. It's "be great." Can you talk a little bit about what that means to you and how you try and use that in your life and coaching?
DARRELL HAZELL: Be great? Hmm. I didn't realize I had that saying. (Laughter.)
We talk to our guys about reaching excellence in everything they do all the time, and it's a constant reminder, how they present themselves, their dress, their speech and all the things that they do to represent the organization.
Q. Morgan, why was it time to step up financially at this moment?
MORGAN BURKE: Because we want to go to Pasadena. I mean, we know we needed to invest. We did the benchmarking. We knew what we had to do to put the human resources in place. We feel like the last four, five, six years we've worked hard to restore the physical base of our assets, and we realize that we're at a point in time now where we've kind of hit a little bit of a ceiling, we haven't been as consistent.
This is a team that took the two only undefeated teams in the country, got beat in the last 47 seconds in Columbus and had kind of a good field goal for Notre Dame. So this is a team that could have very easily been 8 and 4 but it was also a team at home that struggled and didn't play as well. We've got to break out of that orbit, and it was at that point in time we said, we've got to really make sure that the same investment we've put into the physical assets we put into human assets.
We presented the plan to Tim and to other members of the board and said, if we want to really activate this place and get Ross?Ade the way it's been in the past, we've got to raise the level of our commitment to the program.
It was a lengthy dialogue. I wouldn't say it was just me, but my job is to be a catalyst, and I think we reached that conclusion, I think we've done it, got the right guy in the captain's chair, now we've got to get him some lieutenants and let's get on with it.
Q. When Morgan came to you and said this is what we want to do, why were you so receptive and why was the board finally receptive to doing this?
TIM SANDS: Well, I think it gets back to some of the comments that Mitch Daniels made, which I think reflect all of our perspectives that we really want to see a higher integrity program, and we wanted to focus on the student, part of the student athlete and make sure that that is not forgotten that these are students, and we wanted to be self?supporting. If you really look at the self?supporting part of it, which our program is, our intercollegiate athletics are self?supporting, as a matter of fact they give back to the academic side of it, as well, and when you look at the long?term and you look at the fact that we're talking about 580 student athletes who are future leaders, you take that big picture, then it all makes sense.
I agree that if you look at it superficially, it seems like things in intercollegiate athletics have kind of gotten out of whack, but if you look at what the output is and what the impact is on the institution, it's worth it. You've got to go all the way, you can't just say you're going to do it part way. I think we all reached that consensus simultaneously that we really do have to make the investment, we want to make the investment, and the beneficiaries are all the Purdue stakeholders, especially our student athletes, including those that aren't on the football team.
MORGAN BURKE: We know that 95 percent of our revenue comes from two revenue streams, so it supports the opportunities for 580 young men and women, and I think the point is we're doubling down. We're not going to sit here and be status quo. And we've made that decision that we're going to move into a new orbit, and that's kind of what Purdue does. We're going to shoot the rockets and get going.
Q. Coach, kind of an interesting situation, you'll be preparing, I believe, for your Bowl game the day Purdue will play it. Had they lost any of those three games they wouldn't be going to a Bowl game. You can watch the film of everybody to evaluate. Does it help you that they did qualify for a Bowl game and that you will have an opportunity to watch them as guys you will be coaching in the future?
DARRELL HAZELL: Absolutely. I don't think there's anything like watching live action, and I'm going to attend the Bowl game and try to get an evaluation. I'm going to have to study the film, also, to see who's where skill?wise and skill level. But being able to see them live, I think that'll help us, help us all make another evaluation.
MORGAN BURKE: My answer was some of those spirited practices in December as they audition for next year. I could already see that today.
Q. Just another recruiting question for you. You talked about where you're going to recruit, but could you comment in general what you look for in your average recruit, what kind of characteristics you're looking for in a kid?
DARRELL HAZELL: Well, it starts with the academic piece, making sure a guy can not only be successful but also flourish in the classroom. Then it goes to character, and you've got to ask those tough questions in the school to the people that are not necessarily the advocate for that young man. And then it goes to obviously the skill set of that person and that position. We'll do a good job evaluating that. I watch every single guy that we'll offer. It goes from the area coach to the position coach to the coordinator to me, and then I'll pass it along if it seems fit.
But we'll do our due diligence. We will not do what a lot of schools are doing now, which is recruiting by ear; this guy is a four star, this guy is a five star. We're going to do our work and we're going to watch the film and we are going to make our good decisions from the film.
Q. Coach, you mentioned that you had met some of the players. I know the meeting was brief and everything, just your gut feeling, what was your first impression of the players?
DARRELL HAZELL: Eager, very eager and excited. You know, any time you have a change of leadership, there's a renaissance, and the guys that might be pigeonholed, now it's a breath of fresh air for those guys, and everyone's slate is clear. I just felt like there was?? the weight was lifted off some of their shoulders and they're ready to go. They're very anxious to get going.
Q. Piggy?backing off of that, what did you tell them about the future and the expectations you have for them?
DARRELL HAZELL: I told them to do a good job in the finals next week, I told them that this group is going to do something very special. I thought the most important thing is that we bond together as a team. Nobody cares who gets the credit, and we'll move forward and we'll do some great things.
Q. Just your Kent State team this year going from five wins last year to 11 wins this year, what was the big turnaround attributable to?
DARRELL HAZELL: Well, there's really no one thing that you can attribute it to. I think we moved some guys around. I think there's a strong belief system. There was a calmness in their eyes throughout the course of the season. We were down three or four times in the fourth quarter and there was no panic on the sideline. But that comes from preparation. Our guys prepare extremely hard, and they didn't worry about being 7 and 1 or 8 and 1. All they cared about is preparing for the next contest.
Q. How would you describe your personality?
DARRELL HAZELL: (Smiling) That's hard. Well, I think that I like to give everybody a chance, give everybody the thought that they have a chance to be successful, and it's genuine. It's sincerely genuine. Everybody has a purpose and a role to help us win football games.
Q. All coaches, you have to start by playing, and you were a receiver. Were you a slot receiver? Were you fast? Tell us about your playing days and what impact that had on your coaching style and philosophy.
DARRELL HAZELL: Well, that was 30 years ago. (Laughter.)
I played at Muskegon University, and we didn't have a slot receiver back then, we had two wide guys. And I was where the quarterback needed him to be.
Q. I don't think this has been addressed, but maybe for Morgan, can you talk about the terms of the contract?
MORGAN BURKE: Six years, and we'll have the financial details come out later.