More than a million dollar hike from one coach to another is a substantial one, especially for an athletics department that has been conservative with its money in the past, according to former Purdue head football coach Joe Tiller.
In his first season at Purdue, new head football coach Darell Hazell will receive $2 million guaranteed, plus the possibility of additional bonus money for on-the-field results and performance in the classroom.
Former Purdue head coach Danny Hope earned $950,000 in his final season with the Boilermakers.
“For years, the knuckleheads and others, around the Purdue program have accused Morgan Burke and Purdue of being cheap when it comes to staff salaries,” said Tiller.
Tiller said he didn’t know how accurate that is, but that they were often below scale when comparing salaries with the competition.
“One would be relatively certain to assume that Purdue assistant coaches have been underpaid,” said Tiller. “That’s all in the past, but I do think we have to be sensitive to overpaying based on experience, qualifications and long-term performance. In my opinion to overpay – if that’s the suggestion – is as wrong as underpaying.”
Hazell, who was 16-9 in two seasons with Kent State, earned a base salary of $300,000 this past season.
“I’m not one to judge whether a coach is overpaid or not, I’m just saying, we should be sensitive to the qualifications and performance,” said Tiller. “With Coach Hazell, perhaps both have been met, time will tell.”
In his final season at Purdue, head coach Danny Hope ranked last in the Big Ten in salary earned – the only coach in the conference to be paid under $1 million, according to a database compiled by the USA Today. The average salary in the Big Ten, when the findings were released, was $2.3 million.
ESPN commentator Dan Dakich has high praise for Purdue’s head football coach.
“I think Purdue made a great hire,” Dakich said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people about it. I think he’s going to bring toughness. I think he’s going to bring a sense of community among the team.”
Dakich says the money is what makes big-time college athletics what it is today.
“It is what it is in college athletics these days,” Dakich said. “If you want to get the guy that you want to get and he is in demand, you’re going to have to pay ... good for Morgan Burke for deciding to do that.”
Although Tiller has some hesitations about the money being given to the new coach, he says from the outside looking in, the hire looks like a positive one for Purdue.
“Obviously you don’t win 10, 11 games if you’re not doing something right,” Tiller said, who coached from 1997-2008. “I don’t think he’s withstood the test of time just yet ... Obviously this guy’s a good football coach.”
By all accounts, he is just that: A good football coach.
His 11-3 mark this season at Kent State is the school’s first winning season since 2001 (6-5), and its first bowl game since 1972. Hazell took over a program that was accustom to losing, a program that in the 20 seasons before he took over, won two games or fewer 10 times.
Tiller says that he never had any run-ins with Hazell when both were in the Big Ten, but Tiller’s defensive coordinator while at Purdue, Brock Spack, worked with Hazell at Eastern Illinois.
Tiller said that Spack, and others that have worked with him, have positive things to say about the 48-year-old New Jersey native.
“They say he’s a smart guy, charismatic and a good coach and the like,” Tiller said. “They say he’s not a boisterous guy. I have a feeling his personality is going to be about a 180 degrees different from Coach Hope’s.”
Another significant difference will be the salary pool for the new staff working under Hazell.
The athletic department has increased its pay to the rest of Hazell’s staff by about $500,000, up to $2.1 million. Hope’s staff had an accumulative salary of around $1.6 million. Hazell’s staff – including new defensive coordinator Greg Hudson – and their individual salaries have yet to be announced.
Tiller said he didn’t have the luxury to pay his staff like Hazell will be able to do at Purdue, which caused him to lose coaches to other jobs and struggle to get coaches across the country to come to West Lafayette.
“You try to hire the best guy you can,” Tiller said. “That’s based on two things. Number one: Doing the homework on the guy ... but the other side of the coin is what kind of a pay-package you have to offer.
“Some guys you wanted to hire, Purdue wasn’t going to pay them as much money as they were making at their current jobs. So you end up sliding down that ladder a little bit and keep your fingers crossed.”