Hope picks familiar face to lead Boilers defense

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Purdue head coach Danny Hope returned to his Eastern Kentucky roots and named Donn Landholm as his new defensive coordinator today.

Landholm replaces longtime Purdue assistant Brock Spack, who left last month to become head coach at Illinois State. The 52-year-old Landholm spent the last 12 seasons at FCS Eastern Kentucky, serving on Hope's staff from 2003-07.

Landholm has coached Eastern Kentucky's linebackers since 1997 before adding the coordinator title in 2005 and becoming the team's recruiting coordinator last year.

"Donn is a tremendous football coach and an excellent recruiter, and he will be a difference-maker on our staff," Hope said in a statement. "He knows what it takes to win a championship. When he worked for me at Eastern Kentucky, his guys consistently overachieved. Donn is as good a teacher as I have been around. He is extremely organized and pays tremendous attention to detail."

Hope also announced that Mark Hagen will coach Purdue's linebackers while Terrell Williams will work with the defensive line. Hagen and Williams had shared the line responsibilities in 2008. Lou Anarumo will remain as the Boilers' defensive backs coach.

Landholm has a history with Hope and extensive experience coaching and recruiting at the FCS level. In 2007, Eastern Kentucky had 35 takeaways and led the nation in turnover margin (plus-18).

The concern with this hire, as it was with Hope, is whether Landholm can succeed in the Big Ten. He hasn't coached in the FBS since 1991, his final season as a volunteer assistant linebackers coach at Arizona State.

Landholm won't serve as Purdue's recruiting coordinator but should strengthen the team's ties to Florida and the southeast. Purdue currently has 12 commitments from Florida and two from Georgia for its 2009 class.