DALLAS - Purdue will have three head coaches - of sorts - at the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Tuesday.
Interim head coach Patrick Higgins will be running the show and calling the plays from the sideline, incoming head coach Darrell Hazell will watch the game from the press box and former head coach Danny Hope also will attend.
Hope sent his former players an email on Monday telling them he would be at the game, players said.
"I love it," senior end/linebacker Robert Maci said at a press conference on Monday. "He's our coach and he deserves to be here just like we do. I'd love to have him with us, but I know it's a business, but I'm glad he'll be looking down on us.
"I think it says a lot about his relationship with us as a players' coach. He enjoys us a lot, and we like having him around. It just shows he likes us."
Hope reportedly recently had his second interview for the head coaching opening at Florida International.
It's unclear where Hope will watch the game from, whether he is in the stands or is able to secure a place in the press box.
"Danny is a huge part of their lives," Higgins said. "He recruited all of these guys, and he's the main reason they're here, so it means a lot to have the support of Danny, and it means a lot to the assistant coaches, too."
Dream come true Akeem Shavers finally was able to put his feet on the grass inside the Cotton Bowl on Monday.
For a Texan who grew up watching games at the historic stadium, it was a special moment when the Boilermakers snapped team pictures there Monday morning before playing against Oklahoma State there on New Year's Day.
"It was like surreal," Shavers said. "This is what I've been watching for so long and now, I'm right here in the middle of it. It's something I've always wanted to happen, and I'm about to live out one of my dreams, so it's going to be great for me."
Shavers will one of several seniors - many of whom are pivotal starters - who will play his final game in a Purdue uniform on Tuesday.
He's been thinking about that while being in Dallas.
"I'm trying to make my last game my best game," he said. "I'm definitely going to leave it all on the field. It's crossed my mind a lot. This is all I'm used to, football and school is the only thing I know. I definitely want to leave a great impression for this last game."
Purdue sold 2,714 tickets through its ticket office for the bowl game through Sunday night, associate athletics director for communications Tom Schott said.
The team was scheduled to have a walk-through at the Cotton Bowl before its press conference on Monday, but with rain in the area, Higgins opted to just utilize the Hyatt Regency's ballrooms instead.
"We took the team photo and to put the kids out in the rain for 30 minutes, probably not the smartest idea," Higgins said. "It was an effective day."
After the press conference, the group headed back to the hotel for some rest and some meetings before an earlier curfew, Higgins said.
There's a slight chance Gary Nord will make it to the game, Higgins said. Higgins said Nord had a procedure done a day ago, so it'll be up to the doctors if Nord is allowed to make the trip.
Asked what his message will be to the team in his first pregame speech as Purdue's head coach, Higgins said "just go out and have fun and win."
Higgins said his biggest concern entering the game is his players' conditioning. He has tried to simulate game speed in bowl practices, but it's difficult to do, and Oklahoma State is expected to have an up-tempo approach on offense.
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