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August 17, 2012

Light showcases right mix

Matt Light speaks with reporters after kickoff luncheon

Matt Light's message to Purdue players at the team's kickoff luncheon on Friday was about working hard, being accountable on the field and putting the team first.

They're crucial elements to team success, he said.

And Light would know: He not only helped lead the Boilermakers to a Rose Bowl but also won three Super Bowls with the Patriots in his 11-year NFL career.

Another key, though, is to never lose sight of the big picture, and that means having plenty of fun along the way.

"I've always tried to have a great time in everything I've done," said Light, the featured speaker at the luncheon.

As Light's offensive line coach in the 1990s, Danny Hope could attest to Light displaying all those traits during his days as a Boilermaker.

"The thing that he did, when he put his hand on the ground, he meant business," Hope said Friday during Purdue's kickoff luncheon. "When that ball was snapped, he had one speed and one speed only and that was full speed.

"In between the plays, there's no telling where he was at. He was all over the place. That's what made him so much fun."

Hope said he could talk for hours about Light's shenanigans while at Purdue. Instead, he gave two stories.

While at the Rose Bowl, Light called Hope's home phone and left a voicemail, disguising his voice, saying that Sally Hope's dog had bitten a kid in the neighborhood. Danny Hope spent a couple days once he returned home walking around trying to find the victim.

It also was a common occurrence for Hope's car to be gone from the parking lot after he'd spent a long day in the office, only to have Light call and tell him it was blocks away.

Now, though, without teammates for the first time in his life, Light will have to find another group to prank.

He joked he'd turn those efforts toward his kids - and maybe his extended Purdue family.

During the luncheon, Light took a drink of water only to find he was gulping down loads of salt. Some of Purdue's offensive linemen had gotten to the drink first. First, he gave them kudos. And then started plotting revenge.

"I owe these offensive linemen after what happened," he said.

Perhaps Light will find targets at ESPN where he was recently hired as an NFL analyst. For Light, the opportunity simply allowed him to stay close to the game.

"Really at the end of the day, it's kind of fun to still have that relationship and that tie-in with football. So I'm looking forward to it and it's been an interesting transition being on the other side, so to speak," he said. "I'm looking forward to doing some great features and bringing some different aspects to the fans that they can relate to with these players they see each and every day."

Light also is excited about doing more with his Light Foundation, an organization that focuses on instilling values of responsibility and hard work in children through several events.

And the extra time also will allow Light to keep closer tabs on Purdue football and his former line coach.

"It doesn't happen overnight, but what he's done is he's really built that foundation back up," Light said. "You look at the academic side of it. You look at how these guys present themselves and how much fun they have around each other, that will all translate to wins. That will all help get Purdue back to that winning tradition. Having last year and the experience they had going to the bowl game, winning the bowl game, that'll hopefully get us back to the year-after-year, in-the-hunt, these guys understanding what it means to win and what it takes to win. I think we'll see another good long-term hopefully bowl appearances year-in and year-out."

Notes from luncheon
Hope had some strong words for the fans in attendance.
"We have very high and lofty expectations. Our football team, our coaches do. We expect to win, win big, win our division and compete for and win the Big Ten championship," Hope said. "I know we'll be scrutinized some when people know what our goals are. But that's OK. It's about us and where we're at and where we're going and what we believe in.
"When it all comes down to it, we plan on being what we said we were going to be. There's something different about this team. I can tell it. I can feel it. I know they can, too."
Jonathan Curry and Ishmael Aristide were introduced with the running backs. Curry, a freshman, came to Purdue as a tight end, and Aristide had been listed as a receiver on the roster. Aristide is out two months, though, while recovering from knee surgery.
When introducing the tight ends, grad assistant coach Pete Nochta said his group had the highest GPA of the summer semester on the team with a 3.4.
Robert Maci was introduced with the defensive line, leaving only five players as outside linebackers.
Defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar said Dwayne Beckford has "done everything we've asked of him" coming back from off-field issues and has done a "remarkable job of catching up" with the new defense. Tibesar said he expected "great things" from Beckford this season.
Freshman Jordan Shine, who has yet to get medical clearance, was at the luncheon, wearing a No. 5 jersey.
Former Boilermaker tight end Tim Stratton also attended the luncheon.




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