Darrell Hazell is gone from Kent State and headed to Purdue.
He had to go. It’s the reality of the business. It’s that reality that college sports are a business.
A big business.
Kent State’s history-making, record-breaking football season Hazell on the radar of BCS programs, and a few days after meeting with officials from Cal, he’s now the former Kent State head football coach and on to Purdue. Hazell has meetings set for early Wednesday morning in Kent.
One meeting with his coaches, and another with his players. Considering Hazell just guided those players to an 11-2 record and Kent State is due to make its first bowl appearance in 40 years, that was probably a very tough meeting.
Hazell knows the Big Ten well from his seven years as an assistant to Jim Tressel before taking over at Kent State in Jan. 2010. Don’t be surprised if some familiar names from those Tressel staffs eventually land on Hazell’s staff at Purdue.
That’s the way the business goes.
Just hours after beating Kent State in double overtime in the MAC Championship Game last Friday, Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren took the job at NC State.
What does Hazell see in Purdue, besides a salary that’s going to be significantly higher than the base of $300,000 he was making at Kent State? He sees a BCS-level program backed by the Big Ten Network and an athletic department with deep pockets. Speaking of pockets, he sees a Purdue program that’s had pockets of success. Expectations won’t be ridiculously high — they can’t be while playing in the same division as Urban Meyer and the machine he’s building at Ohio State — and he inherits a very gifted young quarterback in North Canton native Austin Appelby, who redshirted last fall.
All these things matter. And so does the money.
MAC realities are MAC realities, and Kent State’s resurgence under Hazell made for a great story. But the MAC can’t pay what the Big Ten can pay, and these great seasons end with new chapters starting. He’ll make 13 former MAC head coaches now coaching at BCS programs.
Thirteen. That’s an impressive number.
Hazell went 16-9 in two years as Kent State’s head coach with the Flashes winning 15 of their last 18 games starting in the final week of October, 2011.
Thursday morning, Hazell was due to fly to Mobile, Ala., with university officials and his senior captains for a site meeting for the Jan. 6 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Instead, he’s off to Purdue. Hazell is a good man and a good coach who earned this opportunity.