WEST LAFAYETTE -- Purdue has just one win to its seven losses. It has been outscored by a margin of 114-7 in the last three games. And its offense hasn’t seen the red zone in more than a month.
The struggles—and there have been many—could easily take a toll on head coach Darrell Hazell, but the Boilermakers’ first-year leader remains the same even-keeled guy.
“You know what to expect,” defensive coordinator Greg Hudson said of Hazell’s mindset. “It’s not up and down; he’s very positive and determined. The way he carries himself and goes about his business is infectious. It’s easy to rub off on you.”
The smiles aren’t an act for Hazell. He sees positives in this Purdue team. It’s all in the film, where the coach sees reasons for optimism.
“There are plays to be made,” Hazell said. “That’s the frustrating things for our fans, is you see no success. But if you watch the film—you see a guy steps here, makes this block—that’s where the hope comes in.”
It’s not just Hazell staying upbeat amid struggles. The head coach has his assistants keeping confident, too.
“Believe me, I’m going to stay positive,” Hudson said. “I’m going to bounce around and have fun, and enjoy it. I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world. You better buy season tickets now, because when we’re pushing people around, you’ll wish you did.”
Even through a miserable season, the Purdue coaching staff has continued to work as if the Boilermakers were 7-1, not 1-7. It all stems from Hazell, who is pleased with his assistants’ work this season.
“We’ve got an excellent staff, and I stand by those guys,” Hazell said. “Sometimes, you feel a little bit bad, because they’re not having the success that they wanted to have, just like all of us. But those guys are excellent coaches. They know what they’re talking about.
“When we start winning championships, they’ll think we’re geniuses. We’re not geniuses. When you lose, they think you’re idiots. We’re not idiots.”
The health of football coaches has been a topic in the news, with the Denver Broncos’ John Fox experiencing heart attack symptoms and the Houston Texans’ Gary Kubiak suffering an apparent mini stroke on the sidelines of Sunday’s game.
For the 49-year-old Hazell, his physical health is in great order. He credits exercise and his daily Activia yogurts for keeping him in shape. But being in physical shape is only half the battle; a coach must keep the stress from becoming a burden.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself, whether it’s exercise, eating right, or trying to get enough rest,” Hazell said. “It’s a concern in our profession, it really is. You’ve got to be smart, or you’re not going to be around to coach.”
As these stressful struggles continue, Hazell has kept the Boilermakers feeling upbeat. His positive mindset has spread throughout the Purdue program.
“I’m learning a lot from him,” said Hudson. “My first instinct is usually to blow up. It’s helping me a lot.”