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December 27, 2012
Kickin' with Kitch: Bowl edition
I do love bowl season and I don't really care how many games there are. I say the more the merrier. I think it speaks volumes that the first bowl of the season had a better TV rating than most any college basketball game this year.
I am fired up to head to Dallas to watch our Boilers compete against a really good Oklahoma State team. You will see players playing for a variety of reasons. Some are playing for a better draft spot, some are playing for Coach Hope, some are playing to impress Coach Hazell, some are playing because it is the last time they will ever don a football uniform. But all are playing for Purdue University and to represent our school in the best way they know how.
For me , bowl prep was always so much fun because it's just us on campus. No distractions, just your teammates and coaches with an opportunity to bond and become a closer family.
This year, however, is much different in terms of bowl prep than any other year in Purdue Football history. No other coach at Purdue has been fired after leading a team to a bowl game let alone a New Year's Day bowl, but that is the situation Purdue football finds itself in. So instead of using bowl prep to prepare for the future with "Boiler Bowls" and young guys getting most of the reps, the coaches are coaching for a (future) job. The focus is on preparing from day one to beat Oklahoma State while putting the game plan in early. This means the young guys get fewer reps and the vets are digging in right from Day One.
If you have read my articles this year I made no bones about where my loyalties lie and I was sad to see Coach Hope fired. Football is the financial driver of the athletic department and when a number of fans decided to stop coming to games then Morgan Burke's hand was forced and he had to make the tough decision of firing the coach who is only the second coach in the last 30 years to take Purdue to back to back bowl games.
I know Coach Hope will land on his feet and continue to make a positive impact on student athletes wherever he lands. However I may feel about the situation is irrevelant now as the Danny Hope era has ended; it is time to focus our attention on The Darrell Hazell Era and I am fired up about it.
Looking at the future of Purdue Football; I think great things can be ahead. This team is built for success right now and I think Coach Hazell will do great here. I am behind him 100 percent because of my interaction with him and the things I have read. I think as fans get to know him better they will feel the affinity that the folks at Kent State have for him.
He carries himself in a different manor than most coaches. He is very engaging and polished. He has the feel of a general manager. He will be wonderful with fans and I think the media will like him as well.
We are Purdue (so to speak) and expectations are far different then when I first came here in 1997. So as the late great Al Davis said "Just Win baby". It all comes down to wins on the field and butts in the seats. Gone are the days of being satisfied with any bowl game.
I am excited about the support Coach Hazell is getting from fans that I have talked to. There is an air of excitement about Purdue football and I hope that it carries over to ticket sales in the fall. There is nothing better than running into Ross-Ade Stadium with 60K+ screaming fans.
Right now we are all about this Purdue team playing its last game together on New Year's Day in Cotton Bowl Stadium. I am loading up the family truckster and heading down with my wife and kids for a great five days. Hitting the Mesquite Rodeo, Fort Worth Stock Yards, Cattlemans Steakhouse, JFK Memorial, Jerry's World, and whatever else we can squeeze in. We hope to end the trip with a great Boilermaker victory! I hope to see the Gold and Black out shine that ugly orange in Dallas.
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