After taking over a program that had struggled to break out of the middle of the MAC standings for years, Darrell Hazell revitalized the Kent State program, leading them to an 11-2 record in just his second season on campus. That caught the attention of many decision makers around the country, namely Purdue, who will announce the hiring of Hazell Wednesday morning to help resuscitate the Boilermaker program.
Hazell spent just a year or two (beginning in the late 80’s) at most of his early stops like Oberlin, Eastern Illinois, Penn, Western Michigan, Army, West Virginia, and Rutgers before getting somewhat settled into things at Ohio State beginning in 2004. In December of 2010, Hazell left his job as the receivers coach and assistant head coach for the Buckeyes for his first head coaching job at Kent State.
This season the Golden Flashes improved over 90 spots in rushing offense, and were one of the only programs in the country to produce two 1,000 yard rushers. You can’t get that done without developing a physical mindset up front and among your entire team. Hazell’s group also ranked second nationally in turnover margin, and 26th in sacks.
There’s no doubt that the program made significant strides under coach Hazell and his staff. Just a few days ago Kent State took a BCS bowl bound Northern Illinois squad down the the wire in the MAC title game before losing 44-37 in double OT.
At Purdue, Hazell takes over a similar that he inherited upong taking the job at Kent State. The Boilermakers have been stuck in the middle to bottom of the Big Ten for years. The Boilermakers have reached the 9 win mark just three times since 1990, and haven’t won the Big Ten title since Drew Brees’ senior season in 2000.
As a first time head coach, Hazell has proven he can take a struggling team and change their mindset, while getting them ready physically, mentally and emotionally to compete at a high level all season long. Hazell’s experience recruiting the Midwest, and Ohio and Indiana in particular, were likely huge assets for him in getting the Purdue job, and will play a even larger role if he’s going to be successful in West Lafayette.