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5 Names Purdue Boilermakers Should Consider in Replacing Darrell Hazell

With the inevitable firing of Darrell Hazell coming on Sunday afternoon, it is time for the Purdue football program and athletic department to move on.

Some would argue that Purdue’s football program has become the least attractive job in the Big Ten. Considering there has been just three wins for in conference play, there’s validity to that argument. However, the Boilermakers are upping their game on the facilities front and completion of that project is in the near future.

That can help the program become more attractive to recruits and coaches alike. However, the big mystery seems to be the thought of what Bobinski is looking for from the new head coach. He hasn’t had to make a football head coaching decision since 1994 at Akron.

College football has changed a lot since 1994 and Akron isn’t exactly Purdue football either.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five names the Purdue should be reaching out to as it begins what could be a long search for a permanent replacement.

*Of course this isn’t a list of actual candidates…just names we would be reaching out to if we were Bobinski. 


P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan Head Coach

You, your mom and everyone else in the market for a head football coach in a Power 5 football program would be wise to get on the phone with Fleck and kick the tires of interest.

He is a master motivator, a relentless recruiter (some say too aggressive) and knows how to get the most out of his talent on the offensive side of the football.

Tune in to a Western Michigan football game this season and watch an enjoyable offense for a change. Heck, he even knows how to compete and win in the Big Ten — having beaten both Illinois and Northwestern this year.

Put simply, Fleck is the man that should be at the top of Purdue’s list.

The question here is if Fleck even picks up the phone to listen to Purdue. There are bigger and perceived better jobs already out there and Fleck is likely a candidate to watch for all of those openings thanks to the performance of Western Michigan this year.

Bo Pelini, Youngstown State

Say whatever you want about his off-field antics or the way he burned his bridges at Nebraska, the fact is Bo Pelini is a consistent winner.

Need any more proof than Pelini taking on a once powerful Youngstown State program and turning it in to an immediate power once again? The Penguins are 4-1 and ranked No. 12 in the FCS rankings this year.

Pelini knows what it is to recruit with disadvantages and Purdue certainly has those in spades. If I’m Bobinski he is a name I reach out to to at least gauge interest in making a return to FBS football.

I’m guessing Pelini has learned a lot from his firing at Nebraska and may just be a better person and coach for it. Could Purdue be happy with consistently making bowl games and winning 8 to 9 games like Pelini did at Nebraska?

You bet they could, and that means Bobinski should be reaching out.

Chris Klieman, North Dakota State Head Coach

Hey, at least Klieman was able to beat Iowa…unlike Darell Hazell.

Seriously though, Klieman knows who he is and most importantly what his football team needs to look like to be successful. Purdue tinkered around with its identity a ton under Hazell and Klieman doesn’t do that.

Most importantly, he can win championships. As in winning the last two FCS national championships while turning the Bison in to a straight up football powerhouse regardless of division they are playing in.

While his offense may not be super sexy, Klieman knows how to recruit and recruit well for his system. Hello, Carson Wentz anyone?

Craig Bohl, his predecessor at North Dakota State is beginning to see signs of progress at an even tougher job — Wyoming. So, the jump shouldn’t be too big for Klieman to handle.

He’s one of the names to watch in the Midwest and with Purdue needing to find an edge with in-state recruits this could be a perfect fit.

Art Briles, Ex-Baylor Head Coach

We know, the baggage associated with Briles is large and certainly fresh in the minds of college football fans everywhere. However, I would also argue that Purdue is a far cry from the situation that took place at Baylor.

The University and its police department aren’t going to sweep alleged sexual assault under the rug and we’re also guessing the Briles is going to pay much more attention to character of recruits going forward.

Even with the baggage, Briles is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football and there isn’t a single program that needs a bigger shot in the arm on the offensive side of the ball than Purdue does.

Briles made Baylor a winner, of all places, perhaps he can do it again if he wants to coach.

We’re not saying he’s going to get the job or anything like that, but Bobinski should be making a call to gauge interest and to understand how Briles has and will change as a head coach going forward.

If the answers are to Bobinski’s satisfaction, Briles should be a serious candidate.

Dave Aranda, LSU Defensive Coordinator

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…or something like that.

Purdue fans should be very familiar with the name of Dave Aranda, who wrecked havoc on the Boilermakers offense for three seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Word is, his wife and family loved Midwest living and he has proven that his scheme can work wherever he has gone. It doesn’t hurt that he also is one of the most underrated and effective recruiters in the country.

Aranda also helped to seal the deal with most of Wisconsin’s starters on the defensive side of the football today and that group happens to be pretty freaking good this season without Aranda around.

Given Purdue has gone offensive in each of its last three hires, perhaps it is time for a defensive mind to get a shot in West Lafayette. Aranda is a rising star and a coach who may be in for a move up the ladder after a crazy start to his LSU career (you know Les Miles getting fired and all).

What isn’t known is how exactly Aranda would attack things on the offensive side of the football. He’s been around a lot of different philosophies, but we’re guessing he’ll want a high-powered attack on that side of the ball.

We’re also guessing his varied roots in coaching will help him network for the best offensive coordinator hire possible (I’d be looking at South Dakota State’s Eric Eidsness and his QB-friendly attack). He’d be high on my list of names to contact that’s for sure.


Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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