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Purdue's Hazell and football's changing landscape

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For more on college athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Boiler coach wants July for family time

Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 12:01 am

WEST LAFAYETTE -- Darrell Hazell is trying to restore Purdue's football luster even while the college football landscape changes dramatically.

The Big Ten now has 14 teams with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers. The Legends and Leaders division names have given way to East and West. A college football playoff is coming. Talk of giving players the “full cost” of an athletic scholarship is growing.

As the former head coach at Kent State, a mid-major school that likely would struggle to find the money for enhanced scholarships, Hazell understands the ramification of such a decision.

What are his thoughts on that, and more? The coach recently met with the News-Sentinel to discuss a variety of topics during a wide-ranging interview. This is the third of a multi-part series.

THE BIG TEN HAS ANNOUNCED NEW DIVISIONS TO ACCOMMODATE THE ADDITION OF MARYLAND AND RUTGERS. DO YOU LIKE BEING IN THE WEST WITH IOWA, WISCONSIN, NEBRASKA, ILLINOIS, NORTHWESTERN AND MINNESOTA? DO YOU AGREE WITH THE PERCEPTION IT'S “EASIER” THAN THE EAST?

I do like the new divisions. It was done geographically and it makes sense -- monetarily and for a lot of other reasons. A lot of smart of people came up with that decision. Now we add Rutgers and Maryland. We'll play six in-division games, keep our key rivalry (with Indiana) intact and then two cross-over games. I like the way it's set up now.

Every team in the Big Ten is good. Some are better in some years. Others are better in other years. Who knows who will be the next team that is going to be the good team? You might perceive it some way today, but a year or two from now it might be someone else. I like the way they did it.

THE SWITCH TO NINE BIG TEN GAMES STARTING IN 2016, COMBINED WITH NOTRE DAME'S MOVE TO THE ACC, HAS JEOPARDIZED THE STATUS OF THE NOTRE DAME SERIES. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO CONTINUE THAT RIVALRY?

It's a rivalry that's gone on forever. It's an important game to a lot of people. I know (athletic director) Morgan Burke is doing everything he can to continue that rivalry. I know that Notre Dame is looking at all avenues to keep it, as well. It's a big rivalry. We would love to keep it. We'll see how it all shakes down. We're trying to work it out.

BASKETBALL COACHES CAN NOW WORK WITH THEIR PLAYERS OVER THE SUMMER. NCAA RULES PROHIBIT FOOTBALL COACHES FROM DOING THE SAME THING WITH THEIR PLAYERS. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THAT CHANGED?

I don't know how much, if at all, that I'd like to work with the players over the summer. There might be a film session you might want to do in the summer, but to get out there and work them out, I'm not so sure. There is burnout with players and burnout with coaches. I like to spend July with my family pretty much exclusively. Get away before you get ready to gear it up for four or five months.

I don't want to sound that I'm sitting on the fence, but I don't know if I want to run out on the field with my guys in the summer and do drills. I'm sure other coaches would like to do that. Maybe give some of the younger players some work. There's a lot of mixed feelings about that in listening to the Big Ten coaches.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON GIVING PLAYERS THE FULL COST OF A SCHOLARSHIP (ESTIMATES ARE AN EXTRA $2,000 TO $3,000 A YEAR PER PLAYER), KNOWING THAT A LOT OF MID-MAJOR CONFERENCES, SUCH AS THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE, LIKELY WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO AFFORD THAT.

It's so hard because of the 120 Division I schools, if you want some equity to be able to pay whatever that amount is, whether that's $2,000 or $3,000, that's hard because there are some schools that can absolutely not do it. Then you face gender equity -- are you going to do it across the board for every sport? Then, what happens if a player leaves. You pay him, then he transfers, is that money gone?

There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. There was something mentioned at the Big Ten meetings. What if you put away money for these guys, and make it as an incentive to graduate and finish your degree. It's almost like a bank account for these guys. They can't get it until they get their degree. I felt that was a great idea. Let's say it's a thousand dollars a semester. A kid stays for eight semesters (four years). He gets $8,000 in his bank account that helps him get started in life after he graduates. The whole key is you have to make sure you get that degree and stay at that school. If you transfer, the money is gone. That's something that definitely needs to be investigated if you decide to go to the allowance.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NCAA PROPOSAL TO COACHES HAVING UNLIMITED ABILITY TO TEXT AND CALL RECRUITS?

It's all about what's that other guy doing. Here's my stand on it. If I'm a high school student, or a high school coach of an elite guy, my phone is constantly going off.

Like the recruit I visited when I was at Ohio State (as an assistant coach). We were sitting at his dining room table -- the recruit, his mother and me. I asked him if he got the letter I sent him. He said, 'Yeah, I got it.' He leans over underneath the table and pulls out a laundry basket of all these letters that he got. None of them are opened. Not one.

At what point in time does that elite athlete say, I'm done with that process. This is where I am. I want to concentrate on school and football and my high school team. At some point with coaches being able to text guys in class, he's going to put his phone right back in his holster. It won't mean anything to him. There has to be some limitations. That's my opinion. There probably are another 100 different opinions out there.

The same thing with the high school coach. You're constantly calling that coach. He has a life, too. He's in the middle of class and his phone is buzzing because he has a great player. There has to be a little bit of separation.

RECENTLY CHANGED NCAA RULES ALLOW BASKETBALL COACHES TO GET SIX WEEKS TO PREPARE FIVE STARTERS FOR THEIR SEASON OPENER. FOOTBALL COACHES, WHO HAVE 22 STARTERS, GET LESS THAN A MONTH TO PREPARE FOR THEIR SEASON OPENER. SHOULD FOOTBALL COACHES GET MORE PRESEASON TIME?

I just went through all of my practice scripts. Every single thing we're doing from Aug. 2 until our first week of school. We get 29 practice opportunities from the day we report. We're going to use 27.

It's very important that our team goes into the first game sharp, really detailed on the things we're doing and understanding our assignments, but also well rested.

You know they're going to play hard. They will play hard. But how many different ways can you run power, or run zone sweep or throw the curl route? You'll run it 45 times before the first game from all the different formations that you have. Is a 46th time going to make or break you?

I like where we are right now. Even what the NCAA did a few years ago with going to 2-1, 2-1 (one day of two-a-day practices, then one day with one practice, then another day with two practices) saves your players. It keeps guys fresher in their minds. It creates longevity in their bodies.

SO YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO PUSH THE START OF PRACTICE INTO JULY?

No. No. Don't touch my July.