Darrell Hazell’s tenure as head football coach at Purdue has come to an end when he was fired on Sunday after four seasons.
Purdue confirmed the move, with vice president and director of athletics Mike Bobinski speaking on the decision in a program release:
From the first time I met Darrell, I could tell he was a man of high character – a quality person who you would want leading a group of young men – but our inconsistent performance and inability to generate positive momentum thus far this season, along with the disappointing results of the past three seasons, made it clear to me that we needed to make a change. This is not a decision taken lightly, and I respect and appreciate the dedicated effort Darrell has put forth on behalf of Purdue. We have a lot of football still ahead of us this season, and it’s important that our primary focus be on providing our team with the best possible preparation and opportunity for success. I appreciate Gerad [Parker] taking over on an interim basis and look forward to his leadership and the continued commitment and efforts of our entire football coaching staff.
Nathan Baird of JCOnline.com first reported the news of Hazell’s departure after Purdue limped out to a 3-3 record, and he was let go after Saturday’s 49-35 loss to Iowa.
Hazell entered 2016 seemingly on thin ice with the Boilermakers. He compiled a record of 6-30 in his first three seasons with the program and no bowl appearances.
Despite those struggles, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported last November that Purdue was going to bring back Hazell for the 2016 season at a time when he owned the worst winning percentage (.188) in school history.
However, per Forde’s report, former Purdue coach Joe Tiller did note that Hazell’s contract may have played a role in the program not firing him:
Purdue is pretty close to the buck, and they’re not going to pay him that kind of money to [buy him out]. People have asked me during the course of this fall if coach Hazell is on his way out and I said, “I don’t think Purdue will replace him for at least one more year, and maybe two.” More power to him. I like Darrell. Having been a coach for more than 40 years, I hate to see any coach get fired.
Purdue hired Hazell away from Kent State after the 2012 season when he led the Golden Flashes to an 11-3 record. His deal was for six years with an average annual salary of $2 million.
ESPN’s Jesse Temple wrote last year that Purdue’s decision to keep Hazell was more about money than wins and losses, citing the $6.6 million buyout in his contract.
After a 2-1 start this season, Hazell seemed to be building momentum at Purdue for the first time. Dustin Schutte of SaturdayTradition.com did note there had been speculation if the Boilermakers had lost their third game of the year against Nevada that Bobinski “was going to send a message.”
When the leash for a head coach is that short, especially at a program like Purdue that hasn’t made a bowl game since 2012, Hazell wasn’t going to do anything that would salvage his job.
Hazell’s future as a head coach anywhere doesn’t seem certain. He’s got six seasons under his belt, but only one year over .500 and did nothing on a bigger stage in the Big Ten.
Purdue needed to make a change. The school invested $60 million to upgrade its football facilities that will be completed before the start of the 2017 season.
The deck was stacked against Hazell as soon as Purdue announced he was returning last year. He didn’t do anything to show the program was making improvements on the field and now both sides get a fresh start to prepare for next year.
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News