- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. (AP) - Morgan Burke wants Purdue back in the Rose Bowl, and he’s willing to put his money on Darrell Hazell to get there.

After a whirlwind week of speculation, Burke ended the chatter by introducing the 48-year-old New Jersey native as the Boilermakers’ head coach Wednesday.

The contract is for six years and comes with a succinct message from Burke: The Cradle of Quarterbacks is about to start rocking again.

“We did it because we want to get back to Pasadena,” Burke said.

Hazell comes to West Lafayette with a perfect resume.

He’s a disciplined student of the game who spent seven seasons as the receivers coach at Ohio State under Jim Tressel, where he spent part of the time as the Buckeyes’ assistant head coach and most of his time pleading with the sweater-vested coach to throw more.

After more than two decades, Hazell finally got a chance to run his own program _ becoming the first black coach at historically bad Kent State.

In just two seasons, Hazell was already turning heads. The Golden Flashes went 5-7 in 2011, good enough to give longing Kent fans hope in 2012.

Kent State delivered on that promise, too, finishing 11-2 (8-0) for the school’s first winning season since 2001. They won the East Division crown, got the school’s first bowl bid in four decades and came within a victory in the league championship game of playing in the MAC’s first BCS bowl game. The loss to Northern Illinois sent Kent State to the Jan. 6 GoDaddy.com Bowl where it will face ill play Arkansas State with Hazell on the sideline.

Purdue will play Oklahoma State on Jan. 1 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and Burke has already installed receivers coach Patrick Higgins as interim coach for that game.

“I had two goals when I went to Kent State,” Hazell explained. “One was to win a MAC championship, and the other was to go to a bowl game, so this is too big to miss.”

Burke gave him his blessing, just as he did when he hired Joe Tiller more than a decade ago.

Hazell was rewarded for this season’s success with the conference’s coach of the year award and the instant visibility that made him a candidate at Purdue.

School officials would not confirm financial details of Hazell’s contract, saying only that they would be made public at a later time. Some reports have said the deal is worth $12 million _ a huge jump from the Big Ten-low $950,000 salary Danny Hope was earning before he was fired Nov. 25.

Burke insisted Hazell, now the first black football coach at Purdue and the fourth in Big Ten history, is worth it and offered to spend whatever it takes to find the best assistants, too.

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