B1G Media Days: Purdue Head Coach Darrell Hazell
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Darrell Hazell.
COACH HAZELL: Good morning to everyone. Let me first start off by saying how proud I am and how much of a privilege it is to be standing here as the Boilermaker head football coach.
I've been here for about seven months. There's a few things I'm certain about. And one of those things is that Purdue is an excellent academic institution.
We just popped into the top 50 in the world in academics, and there's 17,036 schools that we're compared against, and we're in the top 50. So we're an excellent academic institution.
Second, we have a coaching staff that I'm proud of and that they all have the vision to change Purdue football to where it needs to be. And I can't be more proud of my coaching staff.
And, third, we have a great group of young men who are committed to the cause and the cause is to make Purdue football special on the football field in 2013. So we're excited to get started next week. We open up practice on August the3rd and then we kick off the season against Cincinnati on August31st, but I'm very excited to get started.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You said you and your coaching staff has a vision to change Purdue football to where it should be. Where do you think that should be, and what is it going to take to get to that level?
COACH HAZELL: One of the first things that I said to our team, very first team meeting on that Sunday night, was Purdue was always a team that's perceived in the middle of the Big Ten. Never up here, never down here.
And I told them it's going to take a lot of work but we're going to climb ourselves out of the middle and we're going to put this program on national prominence for a long point in time.
Q. Coaches have a lot of people who have influenced them to get to where they are, hodgepodge. But I wonder about your six years at Ohio State, maybe what you can say about that, what kind of stuff you'll take into your job at Purdue?
COACH HAZELL: I've spent seven years at Ohio State and Coach Tressel was a big influence on me, the way I do things today. There's a lot of great values and just his demeanor through the course of my time there was something that you can take from and the great decisions that he made on game day, when those bullets are flying, it's a chaotic moment. I learned a lot from Jim Tressel there at my seven years at Ohio State.
Q. Just wanted to ask you your thoughts on the offensive line, what do you have to see there? What has to happen?
COACH HAZELL: We evaluated the offensive line for 14 practices, and I think that from practice six on I thought they continually got better. We still have a lot of valuation to do there. I think there's about seven or eight guys that I think that we can count on.
We have to be able to create some depth early in the season by putting those guys out there and because you know at some point in time we're going to lose a guy throughout the course of the season.
We'll have to try to create some depth but I think there's enough capable bodies for us to be good. We're going to try to keep it as simple as we can, for those guys and the communication is absolutely critical, for those guys and it starts with our center, Robert Kugler.
Q. You talked a while ago about moving, changing perception of Purdue football what's the key to getting it to the top? What have you identified as what needs to be done?
COACH HAZELL: I think it all starts with your selfâ€‘image. How we see ourselves. And that's where it all starts, because if you don't see yourselves as a champion, no one else is going to see yourselves as a champion.
And then you have to put the work in. Obviously we want to change our image. We want to be a tougher football team. We want to be a smarter football team and play with greater discipline.
Q. You've looked at the films of your team from last year. You kind of want a recount on the Ohio State game, is it still kind of hard to believe that you lost that game?
COACH HAZELL: Well, there was a lot of close football games that Purdue lost, and we talked quite a bit in the spring about finishing football games. Everything you do you have to be able to finish.
And I hope that the mindset of our coaches and what they've done and what they're continuing to do that we'll be able to finish games this fall.
Q. You were talking about getting out of the middle of the pack. How do you feel about your roster this year? Do you feel that you have the talent to get there? How long do you think it would take to rebuild this program and get to where you guys want to be?
COACH HAZELL: I'm very fortunate that I was able to be in this conference for seven years. So I know quite a bit about the conference. I'm not saying I know everything but I know quite a bit about the conference.
There's not a great difference between team one and the last team in the conference. What I do know is that the preparation that goes in and being able to get your A players to the game each and every week, then you've got a chance. And you've got to find a way in those critical situations to make a play.
And I think we have enough good players to be able to make those plays.
Q. Your team last year had an incredible turnover margin, did you do anything in practice to get that incredible turnover margin?
COACH HAZELL: That's probably the number one component to losing football games is turning the football over. And everybody on our team is responsible for that, from the quarterback to the offensive line to the running backs to the defensive back who picks the ball off.
We have a great responsibility to Purdue football to take care of the football. That was one of the key emphasis on turning this program around.
Q. Can't get out of here without a quarterback question but how will you go about picking your starting quarterback?
COACH HAZELL: We have a nice quarterback battle going on. We have a senior in Rob Henry, and Danny Etling, a true freshman that came in. Competed extremely hard. A third guy that can get himself back in the mix with Austin Appleby. But we'll give them equal reps. One guy will run with the ones in one group, in one drill, and the next drill the other guy will run with the ones. And in about two weeks after we start practice, we'll make a decision and have that guy have ownership of our football team going into our first game.
And I think it's obviously critically important because number one component for that guy is to take care of the football. Number two is to get us in the right place, number three to be tough enough to stand in there on third and five and take a shot.
And we need a big play.
Q. You turned Kent State around pretty quickly. What in your mind besides selfâ€‘image, when did you see that sort of like get into their eyes that they believed in themselves and what do you see in the eyes of your players right now in that regard?
COACH HAZELL: You know, we made small changes since we've been there. And anytime you can Foster morale within guys, I think it supports the things that you're doing and the direction that you're heading.
So anytime we can make small changes, whether it's a visual change, whether it's a pat on the back, I think those are the things that will help you win football games in the long run.
And I thought the maturity of our football team, when you bring guys in and they handle the situations that are going to happen throughout the course of a year that you can't plan on, when you have a mature football team, that's when you know you've got a chance.
Q. When you were an assistant at Ohio State, how much back then did you think about in the back of your mind to prepare yourself to be a head coach some day, and did you think that you could be back in the Big Ten this quickly as a head coach here?
COACH HAZELL: The way I live my lifeâ€‘â€‘ and this is a true statementâ€‘â€‘ is I try to do the best possible job wherever I am for that particular day. Whatever happens from that point on it happens. So did I say I was going to be at Purdue or Michigan State or Ohio State, I didn't think about those things but I took notes from all those smart people I was around and I accumulated a file of those things that I think that can help us win championships.
But I'm so happy to be back here in the conference. I think this is a phenomenal conference with great coaches and great pageantry, and a lot of excitement in the stadium. So it's a pleasure to be back in this conference