As an Ohio State assistant, Darrell Hazell always knew Purdue would be a tough place to play. He intends to keep it that way as the Boilermakers' newest head coach. Purdue introduced Hazell on Wednesday night, signing the former Kent State coach to a reported six-year deal worth $2 million annually. Hazell, 48, will coach Kent State in the upcoming GoDaddy.com Bowl while also handling his duties at Purdue, which include putting together a staff and, of course, recruiting.
ESPN.com caught up briefly with Hazell after his news conference Wednesday.
Darrell Hazell: It's a great institution. It's rich in academic excellence, and it has a phenomenal football tradition. You think about the players who have come through here and gone on to do great things. It's a place where you can recruit nationally. It's an exciting place.
What will be your recruiting strategy at Purdue, and how will your ties to New Jersey and that part of the country help you out?
DH: We've got to do our due diligence in getting into the right schools and finding the guys who can help us win. We've got to get into this state [Indiana] to find out who's left in this state, but then we've got to hit Chicago and Texas and Florida and probably New Jersey. I haven't studied the roster, but there seem to be a lot of guys from the Georgia area as well.
Indiana isn't packed with top prospects. Do you need to take a national approach at a place like Purdue?
DH: It's got to be a blend. You've got to be able to get three or four, maybe five of the best players in this state that you can get. That puts bodies in the stadium. And then we've got to find out who else is out there.
How would you describe your offensive philosophy that you'll bring to Purdue?
DH: We'll be an attacking offense. Whether we're spreading it out and doing it or coming downhill and doing it, we're going to go after people.
Where are you as far as your staff and what will you be looking for with your assistants?
DH: Well, I'm at ground zero right now. There's a bunch of guys that are reaching out to me, but I'm going to take my time and make sure we get the right people in here.
From what Morgan [Burke] and others have told you, what are they looking for at Purdue? What do they need to get their program back to where it was?
DH: I think they need some energy. Obviously, with that you need to have execution and the disciplined part of football games. It's naturally in my character to provide energy on the field and also in the meeting rooms. I think you've got to have energy in the meeting rooms. That becomes contagious throughout the team.
What was your impression of Purdue while you were at Ohio State and before they approached you about this job?
DH: I'll tell you, it was always a hard place for us to play while I was at Ohio State. We lost two times when I came here. The year we went to the Rose Bowl, we were 10-2 that year and one of our losses was to Purdue. So it's a hard place to play when you get the right attitude in the stadium.
What has Coach [Jim] Tressel told you about this job, and how will you use him to help you with it?
DH: I use him a lot. He's a great sounding board. He's very unbiased. He just tells you what he sees. He's been a great resource for me. The two big things I learned from him are, you've got to make great decisions in critical times, and the other thing is there's got to be a calmness to you that eases your football team.
Your team at Kent State is good on special teams and disciplined with turnovers. How important is it to instill those things with Purdue?
DH: Absolutely. You can't turn the ball over and win football games. It just doesn't happen. It's too hard on your defense. And our special teams play has got to be superior than the teams that we play.
How do you feel about Purdue's resources, especially what they're going to give you in putting together your staff?
DH: They've given us everything we need to be successful. I'm very grateful for that.
We talked in February about the lack of minority head coaches in Big Ten history. Does it mean anything extra that you're the first in 10 years?
DH: It's special, but I haven't studied it closely enough to make a comment on it. It's good for me, just to be able to get back into this conference.
What are your short-term and long-term expectations at Purdue?
DH: We've got to continually get better every day, that's the short expectation. In everything we do, we've got to make improvements. And the long expectation is obviously you're in here to win championships. You can't let that be a secret, and you just can't talk about it. You've got to work toward those goals.
What will your next few weeks be like?
DH: I'm going to be running back and forth. I'm going to coach our team in the bowl game at Kent, but also, I've got to put together a staff. I need to visit the committed recruits. That's pretty much it. I'll be able to reach out to them once I get the [NCAA] waiver to recruit here. I can't recruit here just yet, but that should happen pretty soon.
What will your message be to those players?
DH: I'll tell them you made a great decision for the right reasons to come to Purdue, and now you're really going to have a chance to compete at the highest level and potentially win championships as we go forward.