Darrell Hazell's No. 1 goal: Climb out of the middle

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday May 15, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on May 15, 2013

In two years, Darrell Hazell was able to quickly turn around the culture at Kent State.

He took over a program in 2011 that had one winning season since 1987. The Golden Flashes lost six of their first seven under Hazell, but won four of the last five that year and then went 11-3 last season, just missing on a BCS bowl berth.

That change made it especially hard for him to leave for Purdue, he explained on SiriusXM College Sports Nation.

"It was a great place at Kent State," Hazell said. "You get to be around those guys and we changed the culture as a group. Anytime you can do that, you've built some special bonds and special ties. But (Purdue) was the perfect place for me. I'm so excited to be representing Purdue as their head football coach, and I look for some great, great years to come."

In order for that to happen, Hazell needs to change culture again.

"I think the biggest thing is Purdue's always been a team that's been perceived in the middle. That's what I want those guys to understand, how people perceive you on the outside world. We've got to do a lot of work to climb out of the middle. That's our No. 1 goal.

"Obviously the brand of football we play in this conference is a physical, big-boy league, and you have to have that mindset."

Purdue returns a large amount of starters and has reached back-to-back bowls, so Hazell isn't starting from scratch.

"We have a lot of talent at the university right now," he said. "Obviously, you can never have enough, and we're always trying to create some depth at different positions because you're going to need those guys in October and November to win you championships.

"You can never have enough talent. I haven't studied all the teams in the Big Ten within the last few years because I've been gone from the conference, but I'm sure the league's very talented."



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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