Kawann Short knew coaching Division I football is a heartless business, a tightrope with the wire often greased.
But when your athletic department wields its giant ax with one swoop and shakes the entire house, you're personally affected.
That happened Sunday when Purdue football coach Danny Hope was fired after four seasons. He had been Short's biggest fan, constantly working to have the East Chicago Central grad excel on the field and especially in the classroom.
Short didn't disappoint and has become a likely first-round draft pick at defensive tackle.
But losing is bad business, causing alumni and fed-up administrators to turn on you like a rabid dog.
So Hope is gone and his 6-6 Boilermakers (they began the season 3-1) wait for a possible bowl bid in an otherwise disappointing fall.
"Coach Hope was always on me to work hard and helped me be the best player and person I could be," Short said. "Doing well in the classroom was the most important thing to him.
"Everyone on our team and all the coaches really respected Coach Hope."
Short has been selected to the Jan. 26 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., marking the seventh consecutive year at least one Boilermaker will participate.
The showcase event will be crawling with NFL scouts who have volumes of notes and hours of video on the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder.
"I feel I could've had a better season. I don't think I played as well as I could've," added Short, who started all 49 games of his career.
If that were the case -- he led Purdue in tackles for loss (14.5), sacks (6) and blocked kicks (4) -- Short wouldn't be in the running for several postseason lineman awards.
Hope had a 22-27 record at Purdue, including 13-19 in Big Ten play, but only 15-13 at Ross-Ade Stadium, where home-field advantage was seldom a factor.
And though the Boilermakers ended their season on a three-game win streak, it came against woeful Iowa (4-8), Illinois (2-10) and Indiana (4-8).
"It's all been pretty crazy," Short admitted. "I've seen coaches get fired everywhere but Coach Hope and I came here together four years ago. He's helped me in so many ways.
"This is sad."
Hope spoke to his team shortly after being launched from the West Lafayette campus and though there were a few tears, Short said the ex-skipper stayed positive, wishing his athletes good luck in earning a bowl bid for the second straight year.
Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke gave the standard company line in announcing Hope's departure, thanking him for his years of service and saying it was time to go in a different direction.
Hope is under contract through the 2016 season and will receive a $600,000 buyout to soften the blow.
Talk of his dismissal began late last year.
Of Purdue's six losses this season, five were by 24 points or more and that wasn't Burke's idea of competitive football and projecting the proper image.
"It was a lot of different things," Short said. "Coach Hope had us prepared but we were too inconsistent all around."
That quickly greases the tightrope at the D-I level.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org