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Purdue AD expects changes after dismal football season

December 2, 2015

Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke was blunt.

He is not ready to hire a new football coach, but he is not ready to accept any more losing seasons. Three days after the Boilermakers finished their season 2-10 and with another loss to rival Indiana, Burke made it clear he expects to see significant differences in 2016.

"How about winning some games and getting the (victory) flag up?" Burke said Wednesday. "Anything I say to people probably will create a firestorm. It probably already has. But with the makeup of our roster, we've got an age gap. I wish we could close it a little faster."

That's not something that's going to change overnight, which may explain why Burke decided to be patient with coach Darrell Hazell rather than giving in to public pressure to fire the third-year coach.

Since Hazell arrived, the Boilermakers are a dreadful 6-30 with three wins against FBS schools, two wins in Big Ten play and no wins against the Hoosiers.

Clearly, Burke has thought long and hard about where the program is now and where it needs to go next.

He talked glowingly about specific players such as freshman running back Markell Jones and junior defensive tackle Jake Replogle.

Burke also acknowledged the Boilermakers (1-7 Big Ten) still need a quarterback who can be a consistent playmaker, new offensive and defensive coordinators who are better fits with the current roster and show more discipline than they did last weekend when they were called for six personal fouls against the Hoosiers.

"That's not who we are and that will be addressed in the offseason," Burke said.

There are other reasons Purdue needs to change directions.

As Burke called the football program the "lynchpin" of the athletic department's finances, the number of empty seats at Ross-Ade Stadium has been causing consternation. Burke noted that in 2014, football ticket sales came in roughly $3 million less than expected. He has not yet calculated the figure for 2015.

Plus, Burke is trying to raise money for a $60 million football performance complex that was announced in October. The proposal is expected to be voted on at this month's board of trustees meeting.

While Burke knows it won't be an easy sell in this environment, he also realizes the upgrades are desperately needed.

"When you recognize the weight room is half the size you need, the instructional space is antiquated and small in size and that football athletes spend more time in the classroom than on the field, you have to do something," Burke said. "It really just eliminates a deficiency."

Critics continue to believe, though, that many of Purdue's problems could simply be solved with a new coaching staff.

Burke doesn't buy it. Though he acknowledged the decision to fire offensive coordinator John Shoop and defensive coordinator Greg Hudson was made days before the Indiana game, Burke had already settled on bringing back Hazell in 2016.

When asked if Hazell's costly buyout was a factor in keeping him, Burke responded: "Zero. Z-e-r-o."

But the primary reason Burke did not make the change is that he believes Hazell can get the program fixed if given enough time to finish the rebuilding project he started.

"We know there are deficiencies and we've got to get them fixed," Burke said. "But we're not ready to hit the reset button and start over, either."

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