Dienhart: Purdue lands Kent State's Hazell

After failing to land Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, Purdue was able to grab Kent State coach Darrell Hazell.

Hazell went 16-9 in two seasons at Kent State, a notoriously bad MAC program. He went 11-2 this season, including an 8-0 mark in MAC play, on his way to claiming the East Division title and MAC Coach of the Year. The Golden Flashes just missed out on a likely BCS bowl bid when they lost a 44-37 double-overtime thriller to Northern Illinois in the MAC title game.

Kent State is headed to the GoDaddy.com Bowl to play Arkansas State, which just saw head coach Gus Malzahn leave to coach Auburn. It’s Kent State’s first postseason trip since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl.

[RELATED: View our 2012-13 bowl schedule]

Hazell is a native of New Jersey and went to college at Muskingum. Hazell began his coaching career at Oberlin in 1986, and he’s spent time at Eastern Illinois, Penn, Western Michigan, Army, West Virginia, Rutgers and Ohio State. The stop in Columbus was his last before taking over Kent State, as Hazell was the Buckeyes’ assistant head coach and receivers coach under Jim Tressel.

Darrell HazellA big key to Hazell’s success will be dependent on the staff he builds. Will his entire Kent State staff come with him to West Lafayette?

His 2012 offense ranked No. 8 in the MAC (391.2 ypg), with the passing game ranking last (162.9 ypg) and the rushing attack No. 2 (228.3 ypg) en route to ranking No. 3 in scoring (34.6 ppg). The Kent State defense was No. 6 overall in the MAC (418.7 ypg), ranking No. 3 vs. the run (142.2 ypg), No. 11 vs. the pass (276.5 ypg), and No. 3 in scoring defense (25.1 ppg).

Hazell, 48, takes over for Danny Hope, who was fired after four seasons, going 22-27 overall and 13-19 in the Big Ten. He led Purdue to bowls each of the last two years, something the program hadn’t done since 2006-07. But inconsistent play and declining attendance doomed Hope.

[RELATED: Twitter: Boilers react to Hope dismissal]

Hazell will be Purdue’s first minority coach in football or men’s basketball, as he takes over a program that’s headed to play Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl after a 6-6 season. Hazell also would be the fourth minority coach in Big Ten history, joining Dennis Green and Francis Peay at Northwestern and Bobby Williams at Michigan State.

Kent State has a history for producing coaches. Don James was a standout coach for the Golden Flashes before going to Washington. Nick Saban, Gary Pinkel and Lou Holtz all played at Kent State.

Four current Big Ten coaches were head coaches in the MAC: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (Bowling Green); Minnesota’s Jerry Kill (Northern Illinois); Illinois’ Tim Beckman (Toledo); Michigan’s Brady Hoke (Ball State).

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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4 Comments

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Cliff Bartz on 12/5/2012 @ 6:49am EDT Said:

Another small time coach, I don’t know anything about him, but why can;t Purdue go out and get a big name and turn that program around.

Kathy Brewster on 12/5/2012 @ 11:21am EDT Said:

Purdue has struck gold in the hiring of Coach Darrell Hazell!! Their players are so fortunate to have such a great coach and incredible man become their new head coach. My son was recruited to Ohio State, from Florida, by Coach Hazell. He will not only win games at Purdue, but Purdue will be extremely proud to have him as their Head Coach!! Congrats Purdue and Congrats to Coach Hazell!!

Ken Mapes on 12/5/2012 @ 11:46am EDT Said:

I think this is a great hire for Purdue. He has recruiting ties in the Big 10 as well as success. Just because hecame from a small school does not mean he is small time. Look at Kelly at Notre Dame. Urban Meyer is another example. I expect good things from this guy. Players from his previous teams are saying he will turn Purdue into an annual contender!

J.C. on 12/5/2012 @ 2:35pm EDT Said:

Very detailed-oriented, very-respected coach.

Purdue has hired a good coach in Hazell. He had Kent State on the right track in two years. Hope he does the same at Purdue.