Darrell Hazell has done everything right in his first nine months. The fans and community loves him. Recruits are buying into his promise. The players are committed to making this work.
One of Hazell's duties as the new leader of Purdue's football program is to bring a new energy. It takes a winning attitude to have a winning team, and Hazell has brought that to the Boilermakers.
But it's time to judge Hazell as a coach. The offseason is over and it's time to see what he can do.
How will Hazell respond when the Boilermakers face adversity? Have Purdue's preparations paid dividends? Will the players execute the game plan?
What will Hazell do on fourth-and-short? How will he manage the young quarterbacks? Will this coaching staff click in game action?
These are the key questions Hazell will face. Those answers are to come.
Hazell has built energy and excitement aplenty around his Purdue program. Ticket sales have risen far past the totals of the Danny Hope era. Boilermaker fans believe in their new leader. But it will take wins to keep them aboard the train.
Give Hazell time to build this thing up. He speaks of Rose Bowl dreams, but a trip to Pasadena won't happen overnight. It will take years to build up recruiting classes capable of competing at the top of the Big Ten. But Hazell surely can do it.
Patience will be needed for this Purdue team. It's a rebuilding year, with Hazell establishing his personnel and schemes into the program. With a brutal schedule and a young team, this season could be a struggle. Throw out Hazell's record for this season. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't judge his every move.
Be harsh of his missteps, and give praise for his bold moves. Don't be afraid to think critically about the head coach—no matter what this team's record is. It's time to see what Hazell can do as a coach, not just a figurehead.
It all starts tomorrow in Nippert Stadium. The Darrell Hazell begins with a tough road test. How will the Boilermakers play?
Hazell left preseason camp pleased with the effort of his Purdue team. His coaches established their ways while installing their systems. After an evening walk-through, that's it for game preparations. Will the players execute their coach's plan?
The honeymoon is over. All the key questions will get answers. We're about to learn whether Darrell Hazell can coach.