WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Joe Tiller's decision to retire from
Purdue had more to do with fishing than football.
"I'm 65, and there's a lot of rainbow trout waiting, and
they're not going to wait much longer," he said.
Tiller hopes the fish can wait at least a year. Tiller will
retire after next season and be replaced by new associate head
coach Danny Hope, the university said Friday in an announcement
that had been expected.
Hope was 35-22 in five winning seasons at Eastern Kentucky. The
49-year-old Hope was an offensive line coach on Tiller's staffs at
Wyoming, then Purdue, before leaving the Boilermakers after the
In 2007, Hope led the Colonels to a 9-3 record and the Ohio
Valley Conference title and was a Football Championship Subdivision
Regional Coach of the Year.
Hope will coach Purdue's offensive line in 2008, and Tiller said
his linemen are in for a rude awakening when they go through Hope's
demanding practices. Tiller said Hope's intensity and teaching
ability made him an ideal choice.
"I must have had my fingers crossed behind my back because I
think he's the right guy, at the right time," Tiller said.
Hope took Tiller's spread offense to Eastern Kentucky.
"It really was the backbone to a lot of our success," Hope
Brock Spack, Purdue's defensive coordinator, also was a
finalist. He said it was tough to be bypassed, but Hope is a good
"I respect the decision they made," he said. "I think it's
the perfect decision for right now."
Hope will be signed to a six-year contract, with the final five
as head coach, the university said. Athletic director Morgan Burke
said Hope will make between $470,000 and $550,000 his first year,
then a minimum of $825,000 the next year with incentives that could
take him over $1 million.
His appointment as head coach must be ratified by the Board of
Tiller came to Purdue from Wyoming in 1997 and has a record of
83-54 with the team, one win short of the record 84 won by Jack
Mollenkopf in 1956-69.
Tiller said he's been thinking about retirement for several
years, and approached Burke about it in the spring of 2007.
Burke said he wanted the transition to be smooth, something the
school hasn't been able to do with its football program in the
Tiller said he never felt Burke wanted him to leave, and Burke
squashed reports that Tiller was unaware of a plan to name a
"Our transition is a planned one," Burke said. "Joe and I
haven't been in any boxing matches -- he's too big, and we've
traveled too many miles together."
Tiller said he still enjoys coaching football, but felt the tug
of family pulling him away.
"I like being around young people," he said. "Young people
keep you young. I really like game day. Some of the stuff will wear
on you after a while, but I never had trouble getting up to come
Burke called Tiller a member of the class of 2008. Tiller said
it's a good group that should be successful next season.
"I love this year's senior class," he said. "I have to talk
fast so I don't get emotional. This was the last class I knowingly
told I promise I'll be here."
Hope said he watched Purdue's bowl win against Central Michigan
on television and liked what he saw, but he's had little time to
get familiar with the team. He'll officially step in on Monday and
jump right on the recruiting trail.
Under Tiller, the Boilermakers made 10 bowl appearances in 11
years, including the high point in 2000 when Drew Brees led the
team to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1967 and was third
in the Heisman Trophy voting.
The move resembles the way the university replaced longtime
men's basketball coach Gene Keady with Matt Painter after the
Burke said the assistant coaches remain on staff, but Bill Legg,
the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator, has been
reassigned to an undisclosed position.
Tiller said the plan to have a successor in line helps because
Hope and the current assistants will get familiar with each other
before Hope creates his staff.
"He'll get to know them and they'll get to know him, and
there'll be a much better chance he'll consider them," Tiller