When Kyle Brindza’s 27-yard boot connected with the netting at Notre Dame Stadium in the waning seconds to give Notre Dame the final say in a 20-17 matchup, no one could have known balance would be fully restored. If Notre Dame is to become a consistent national presence once again, Purdue is a must-win every season. When your schedule includes the likes of Michigan, USC, Oklahoma and Miami, a “W” must be etched beside Purdue in September. And since Brian Kelly’s arrival Purdue has mustered a 0-3 record against the Irish, including the 2011 shellacking the Irish dropped in West Lafayette, 38-10, when Notre Dame racked up two running backs with over six yards per carry against the Boilermakers.
Purdue head coach Danny Hope is out after posting a 6-6 record in 2012 and a lifetime mark of 22-27. His mustachioed, Wilfred Brimley-esque sideline personality will be missed. Cue Darrell Hazell, former Kent State head coach and 2012 MAC Coach of the Year. The Boilermakers are hoping his freshly-shaven face will focus less on the benefits of eating oatmeal and more on breathing life into an ailing program. Hazell boasts a solid pedigree, having coached under Jim Tressel from 2004-2010 (hopefully he’ll at least sport a sweater vest if he doesn’t grow a bushy ‘stache, else the Purdue program will be nearly unrecognizable this fall) before taking over for Kent State. The Golden Flashes struggled under Hazell’s direction during year one, but in 2012 Kent State managed an 11-3 record and a MAC Championship appearance.
So what can Irish fans expect from Purdue’s newest hire? Hazell’s focus will be on scoring points and fixing the Boilermaker rushing attack. Under Hope’s tutelage Purdue’s offense sputtered, ranking 58th nationally. Hazell led a relatively prolific offensive attack at Kent State, finishing 35th nationally in scoring and 18th in rushing. And while it’s difficult to change the culture and product of a program in one year, Hazell managed to land a key piece to make
Purdue’s rushing attack more dynamic in 2013.
QB, Danny Etling (4-star, Terre Haute, IN)
Etling is the only 2013 Purdue recruit that made the Rivals 250, coming in with the 167th spot. His only other offers came courtesy of Colorado and Iowa, though his lack of an offer sheet is more than likely due to his early commitment to Purdue rather than a reflection of his abilities.
DB, Leroy Clark (3-star, Miami, FL)
Clark was a solid signing for the Boilermakers. Clark chose to spend his collegiate days in West Lafayette over a very respectable group of programs, such as the in-state Florida Gators, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
RB, Keyante Green (3-star, McDonough, GA)
Though not a member of the Rivals 250, Green is arguably the most important signing for Purdue in 2013, even surpassing that of 4-star quarterback Danny Etling. Darrell Hazell showcased his ability to develop a rushing attack while at Kent State, and Green’s offer list looks the part of a Rivals 250 member even if his name failed to make the cut. Green held offers from Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, South Carolina and Virginia Tech before ultimately signing
with the Boilermakers, and he’ll be a player Irish fans should keep their eyes on into the future.
Another interesting factor regarding Green: he attended Eagles Landing High School in Georgia and was a high school teammate of 2013 Notre Dame signee, Isaac Rochell, as well as highly coveted 2014 recruit Andrew Williams.
Purdue’s 2013 recruiting class finished 56th nationally, marking a pretty average overall effort. Which is why it’s all the more surprising Purdue didn’t really register any misses this recruiting cycle. Considering the Boilermakers posted a 6-6 record and recruits were aware Danny Hope was on his way out, Purdue did an excellent job in meeting their needs. Darrell Hazell was formally announced as Purdue’s head coach on December 5th, yet they still managed to finish ahead of
conference champion, Wisconsin, on the recruiting trail, as well as signed a talented running back in Keyante Green. The recruiting season likely should have ended far worse than it did, and Hazell passed his first test in the Big Ten with flying black and gold colors.
I’d offer a big “Boiler up” to Hazell for his efforts but considering the phrase literally makes no sense, I’m unsure if I’d be saying it in its proper context.
Notre Dame vs. Purdue Recruiting Battles
|Hunter Bivin (OL)
Michael Deeb (LB)
Mike Heuerman (TE)
Cole Luke (CB)
James Onwualu (WR)
Jaylon Smith (LB)
The above table is a bit of a misnomer. While Notre Dame signed seven recruits that held offers from Purdue, Purdue was never truly a threat with any of them, negating the idea these were truly battles. For example, 5-star linebacker Jaylon Smith, an Indiana resident, held offers from nearly every program in the country including Purdue, though Ohio State was more of a threat for his services than the Boilermakers.
In reality Notre Dame and Purdue never truly went head-to-head in recruiting in 2013, as evidenced by the fact that not one of Purdue’s signees held an offer from the University of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame brushed past Purdue in 2012 by the skin of their teeth. Or by the hair on Kyle Brindza’s leg. Whichever phrase you prefer, the Boilermakers arguably gave ND one of its biggest scares of the season. Though it was only Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson’s second game as the starter, the scrappiness with which Purdue played should still give Irish fans pause in 2013. Particularly now that the Boilermakers possess a coach known more for his success on the field than the hair he grows above his lip.
Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles as well as co-founded a nationally-featured non-profit organization. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24 hours a day. Scott can be found on twitter at @HumbleBoaster.