"[Hartline] said he's the best coach in the Big Ten," Griese said on Saturday. "Those were pretty strong words coming from a guy who knew him."
Griese met Hazell for the first time on Saturday, joined by Purdue football alumni in the Mollenkopf Center. Griese and former Purdue fullback Mike Alstott spoke to the Boilermakers before their spring game.
After the two Purdue greats spoke, Hazell explained to his players what the program's past means. He then met with each of the former players and inspired confidence in Purdue's future.
"Great coach, great track history," said Alstott of Hazell. "There's no question that [alumni] love where he has been."
When Alstott spoke with the Purdue players, he emphasized the importance of believing in Hazell and the new coaching staff.
"He has their attention, you can tell—Coach Hazell has the attention of this team," Alstott said. "He's very well respected."
Alstott, a star with the Boilermakers during the early 90's, played 12 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winning a Super Bowl in 2003. He currently resides in the Tampa Bay area and is a high school football coach.
For Alstott, a return to Purdue has been rare with a busy schedule. His message to the current players emphasized what it meant to be back on campus.
"That's why we come back," Alstott said. "After you're done, you can't put the pads and helmet and wear the gold and black anymore, it's a situation where you really feel pleasured and honored to be a part of this university."
The visits to Purdue have been infrequent for Griese, too. Since graduating in 1967, he played 13 seasons in the NFL, leading the Miami Dolphins to a pair of Super Bowl titles, then went into broadcasting after retirement. He worked with ABC Sports' college football broadcasts and currently serves as a color commentator for the Dolphins.
Griese has followed the landscape of the Big Ten in the changing world of college football, and believes his alma mater can be successful.
"You have to have good players, you have to have good coaches, and you have to be motivated," said Griese. "It's not about [Michigan and Ohio State] and the rest of the league anymore."