Hazell has been deemed the guy to bring Purdue to the top of the Big Ten. At Kent State, he turned a middling MAC program into an 11-game winner in just two seasons. His story has been well documented by now.
One of Hazell's greatest challenges was to win over the locker room—namely the seniors who understood the program's best days aren't likely to come this year. But Hazell made them believe in this year. The team bought in.
"In order to be successful, we have to buy into Coach Hazell's plan," senior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston said. "Now that we're in his plan, we're all working much harder. We want to make that plan come to fruition."
Over time, Hazell has established his methods. Known as an excellent communicator, he has conveyed his discipline to the team. After an incident in the locker room this offseason, he removed something from a player's locker to send a message. It hits hard.
During the summer, college coaches are not permitted hold team workouts. Many players go home for the summer while others stay on campus for classes. For many coaches, their players' offseason behavior is a worry. Just ask Urban Meyer.
Hazell outlined the expectations for his players—no arrests or incidents are allowed. Don't mess up; don't affect the plan. They've followed through.
Purdue has stability in Hazell and promise for the future. It's ironic that the switch from Danny to Darrell has brought ‘Hope' to West Lafayette. Hazell has proven that he can turn a program into a winner and the Boilermaker players recognize that. They're committed to making it work.
"You can just tell by the way he carries himself, he's about his business," senior tight end Gabe Holmes said. "When you see that, you've got be about your business, too."
Holmes described the attention to detail that Hazell presents with everything he does—from simple conversations to detailed planning.
"He holds himself disciplined," added Holmes.
The team understands that this is how Hazell works, and it will make them successful.
There's a great anticipation for the start of the Hazell era—more excitement than Purdue has seen in the past decade. Hazell has spoken of bringing the Boilermakers out of the middle of the Big Ten and making them a perennial conference contender.
It didn't take too long for the players to buy in.
"We feel very confident," Gaston said. "There's no doubt in our mind that Coach Hazell will lead us to success."