When Purdue Athletic Director Morgan Burke hired Darrell Hazell after the 2012 season, he didn’t envision a 6-30 start.
That’s why Hazell, who is under contract through the 2018 season, is believed to be on the hot seat entering his fourth year in West Lafayette. Some expected Burke to make a move following another bowl-less season in 2015. Instead, he came out and showed his support of Hazell in November by assuring he wouldn’t make a change.
Burke is actually the one who is on the way out, though he won’t retire until the summer of 2017. He’ll still have to make a decision on Hazell’s future after the 2016 season.
But Burke said he believes that Hazell will turn things around and be the coach of the future.
“I’m big on succession plans,” Burke told ESPN.com. “If we could get somebody in early, that person certainly could take the lever and I’d be there to support them in any way I can. The good news is, I think our president, our board of trustees chairman — who played football here — and I are all in tune with were the program is right now.
“But I’m pretty confident that the call we’re going to have to make is to extend Darrell Hazell, not release him.”
In the ESPN.com interview, Burke cited Duke’s slow rebuild in the beginning of the David Cutcliffe era. The Blue Devils actually missed bowl games in his first four years in Durham, but since earned four straight bowl appearances.
Duke, however, hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1994 before it got back into the postseason in 2012. Purdue went to two straight bowl games before Hazell took over.
What makes Burke think that 2016 can be the year that Hazell turns it around? The fact that Purdue has 36 of its 44 two-deep players back.
Still, the Boilers will likely have to earn more than two B1G conference victories — Hazell’s three-year total — for an extension to happen.
Burke is well aware of the doubters.
“It will be kind of fun to see whether I’m right or if some of the pundits are right,” Burke told ESPN.com, “but I’m confident in Darrell.”