About 24 hours after winning back the Old Oaken Bucket against rival Indiana to become bowl-eligible again, athletic director Morgan Burke announced he had fired Hope and had made receivers coach Patrick Higgins the interim coach for the Boilermakers’ next game.
The swift move was no surprise to Boilermakers fans who had grown increasingly restless with a program that had been no better than mediocre for much of the past decade. That wasn’t good enough for Burke.
“Make no bones about it, we want to go to Pasadena. That’s what it’s about,” he said. “We’ve got to put ourselves in a position to do that.”
During a hastily-called news conference with reporters Sunday evening, Burke repeatedly praised Hope’s commitment for trying to resuscitate a program that was already sinking when he took over after the 2008 season and then was ravaged by injuries.
Even so, a three-game winning streak, back-to-back bowl games and three wins over the hated Hoosiers couldn’t save Hope’s job.
Burke had said he would wait until the end of the season before making a decision. Apparently, he came to the conclusion before Saturday’s 56-35 rout over archrival Indiana _ a win that made Purdue bowl eligible for a second straight year, the first time that had happened since 2006-07 _ and he saw no point in wasting any more time.
“I think when it became clear to me that no matter how hard one was working, it was going to be difficult to reverse the image and the view of the program,” Burke said. “I don’t like people to have to continue to put 120 percent effort in _ and Danny is a 150 percent effort guy, he gives it all he’s got _ and to recognize that there are forces beyond your control. As the season progressed, it became increasingly clear to me that we were probably going to have to make a change.”
Burke did not provide much detail about how the national search would be conducted, though he did say Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, Texans GM Rick Smith and Colts ex-vice chairman Bill Polian would advise him.
Burke also did not provide a timetable for hiring a new coach.
Some names that have already been percolating include Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren, Illinois State’s Brock Spack and Ball State’s Pete Lembo. Other names also have bandied about over the past several weeks, but Burke declined to comment on any of the potential candidates.
One thing is clear: Burke does not want a complete makeover.
“We are an offensive-minded program. That’s where we’ve made our mark over the years and I don’t see us changing,” he said. “We’re certainly not going to move into a coach that has a dramatically different scheme. Because we built this team to play a certain kind of football, and we’ve seen other institutions who have made a coaching change and then they change their style of play and it took two or three years to adjust. We’re not going to do that. We’ve got talent in this program.”
Hope was the hand-picked successor to the school’s all-time winningest coach, Joe Tiller. He left Eastern Kentucky, spent one season on Tiller’s staff as an assistant and then went 22-27 in four seasons as the head coach. He ended the school’s three-year bowl drought last season and brought Purdue its first bowl win since 2007 by winning the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit last December.
He also received a two-year contract extension in December that was to keep him at Purdue through the 2016 season.View Entire Story
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