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Danny Hope: An Analysis of His Purdue Coaching Tenure

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Danny Hope: An Analysis of His Purdue Coaching Tenure
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In his five years at Eastern Kentucky, Danny Hope went 35-22 and appeared in one Division 1 FCS tournament. After 2007, he went to Purdue to serve as associate head coach in 2008. In 2009, Hope took full control of the program.

That year, Purdue finished 5-7, but was actually 4-4 in Big Ten play. The 2009 team was good enough to be in a bowl and could have conceivably ended the season 10-2, as five of those losses came by seven points or less. The problem that year, however, was fumbles. Besides that, the 2009 team was a very good team.

In 2010, Purdue was destroyed by injuries, especially to the skill positions, and the team finished 4-8 (2-6).

Through the first two weeks of 2011, the Boilers are 1-1.

Looking through Hope’s tenure, there are some items that standout and look encouraging, until further critiqued.

The 2009 was a very competitive team and was five plays away from a ten win season. That’s true, but who were the players on the 2009 team recruited by and developed by? That’s right, Joe Tiller.

Yes, the 2010 team suffered an amazingly high number of injuries to the skill players and that can’t be blamed on Danny Hope, but in the first few games of the year (apart from Bolden) the team was healthy.

Without more signs of success, when should Purdue pull the plug on Hope

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Keith Smith was hurt early against Western Illinois, but a 10-point win is still pathetic. In the third game (before injuries were really beginning to pile up), Purdue beat Ball State by 11 with a TD coming on a deflected (should have been intercepted) 76-yard pass. If that is caught, it may have been seven the other way and Purdue loses.

This year, the team is close to healthy, and it’s Hope’s third year (fourth year in the program). He should now have his system in place and his recruits on the field. This is probably the worst team of his three years.

This team is essentially last year’s team as the Boilers returned 16 starters and got Bolden back. Yes, Henry got hurt, but anyone that willingly starts Rob Henry at quarterback is in trouble (maybe Marve can still save the offense).

Don’t let the fact that they are returning nine defensive starters fool you. They are essentially returning less than half as Ryan Kerrigan (a Tiller player) was the 2010 defense.

This is Hope’s year to show what he can do and what he is showing is that he can be .500 in a non-BCS conference.

In his first 26 games Hope’s Purdue record is 10-16 (6-10). He’s 0-2 versus Notre Dame, 1-1 versus Indiana, and includes losses to Northern Illinois, Toledo and now Rice.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Prior to Hope’s arrival the most recent loss to a non-BCS team was in 2003. Hope has lost to a non-BCS team every year.

The little that Danny Hope has accomplished (beating Ohio State in 2009) was on behalf of Tiller. He has done nothing noteworthy (although three non-BCS losses in as many years are worth remembering).

Both the game management and recruiting have been poor.

In terms of actually coaching a football game, Hope is below the curve. On multiple occasions, Purdue has lined up Joe Holland in man coverage only to see him get beat by five yards (most notably the first drive vs. Toledo in 2010 and the McGuffie TD last week). For some reason, we are forced to watch this week after week.

Hope is doing the same thing defensively every week, but this year Ryan Kerrigan isn’t there to save the day. Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, and this is exactly what Hope is doing on defense, as he either thinks Holland will start being able to cover or that the opposing team will just stop throwing there. Something must be changed.

Then to time management; this was first brought up during the Notre Dame game in 2009, but continues to be an issue. I don’t feel like the decision against Notre Dame was bad, but the Rice game was awful.

The timeout before deciding to punt was costly; the decision to spike the ball on first down in the final minute was equally costly. If either of those is not done, Purdue is able to stop the clock before the field goal and still have the field goal be the last play of the game.

The spike is particularly bad. If they just go up and run another play, Rice probably would have never bothered calling a timeout (and if they did it wouldn’t have mattered) as Purdue could have ran again on second down and spike was two seconds left on third down. Then the field goal time has all the time they need.

With recruiting, Hope has wanted to recruit better athletes and he has been able to go into Florida and recruit faster players. I’m sure this year’s team could beat the 2000 team in a relay, so he has gotten faster.

But he nor will Purdue ever steal the top Florida players away from Miami, Florida, and Florida State, so he is getting the lower level recruits. They might be fast, but that doesn’t make them good (unless it’s a video game). When you are competing with non-BCS teams for recruits, that’s how good you’ll be.

There are two ways to be successful in college football. You can recruit superior athletes or have better player development, game-planning, and clock management. Danny Hope has not recruited the top-notch athletes, nor has he out-coached the opposing team. When you have non-BCS level players and a sub-par coach, you will never be good. That is exactly Purdue’s fate so long as Danny Hope is employed. 

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