Darrell Hazell's many influences: 'He taught me how you talk to kids on the phone'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday November 26, 2012

Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 26, 2012

Two years in, Darrell Hazell is on the brink of history at Kent State.

The Golden Flashes are ranked No. 17 in the BCS. If they reach the top 16 and are ahead of an automatic-qualifying champion, they earn a BCS bowl berth. So if Kent State beats Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship and No. 16 UCLA loses to Stanford, the Golden Flashes would likely earn that berth.

"Obviously it's a great honor for our football program, to see how far we've come in such a short period of time," Hazell said on The Tim Brando Show. "But if we focus on that, we're in trouble. We need to focus on Northern Illinois, a great football team we're going to play Friday night for a championship."

Brando asked Hazell about his coaching influences. Like many coaches who finally get national recognition and become a hot commodity, Hazell had a long list of people to thank.

"You look back and reflect on all the guys that helped you in this area or helped you in that area," he said. "I started at Oberlin College, a small Division III school and my boss, he was at the game the other day, was Don Hunsinger and he taught be the basics of recruiting and how you talk to kids on the phone at the time.

"You move on, and I spent some time at the University of Pennsylvania with Al Bagnoli who's been there for ever and done an unbelievable job.  His strong suit was his calmness on the sideline, no matter what happened.

"Went to Western Michigan with Al Molde and he did a great job talking to players that were always having some issues off the field. I went to Army with Bob Sutton, and he's a great guy. He always sends me quotes and I always use his quotes with our team still today.

"Then I went and spent time with Don Nehlen (at West Virginia) and you talk about an organized guy. Just a phenomenal coach and a phenomenal communicator. Obviously my seven years with Jim Tressel, you can't put a measurement on how valuable he was to me."

Kent State will play for a MAC Championship and possibly a BCS berth on Friday. Things have come a long way since a 1-6 start to the Hazell era last season.


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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to chris@coachingsearch.com

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.

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