Mobile bowl will pit interim versus outgoing coach

The news conference promoting the Bowl was a

coach-free zone.

Darrell Hazell, who will be leaving No. 25 Kent State after the

Jan. 5 game to take over at Purdue, wasn’t available Thursday.

Neither was Gus Malzahn, who has already left Arkansas State to

lead Auburn’s program.

Defensive coordinator John Thompson will be interim coach for

the Red Wolves, but wasn’t here either.

Hazell couldn’t bear to miss Kent State’s first bowl in 40

years, and is busy pulling double duty.

”It’s a great thing for our team because he has such great

respect with our team and our community and our university,”

Golden Flashes athletic director Joel Nielson said. ”There was an

outpouring (Wednesday) from our team and our community that if we

had the chance to have coach Hazell in our bowl, they wanted me to

make the right decision.

”I give Purdue a lot of credit allowing him to have dual roles

here for about a month and allow us to have that for our

student-athletes. That was really important to our team. I talked

to the team and the captains and it was real important to have this

staff involved.”

This is the fifth straight year that at least one of the head

coaches has not coached in the Mobile bowl game because they have

taken another job. It’s the first time other schools have hired

both coaches.

The Boilermakers will be led by receivers coach Patrick Higgins

against Oklahoma State on Jan. 1 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.