CHICAGO | New Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said there’s not a great difference between team one and the last team in the Big Ten Conference.
He’ll be able to test that theory this season on Nov. 2, when the Boilermakers host Ohio State, which went undefeated in 2012, and Nov. 23, when Purdue meets Illinois, 2-10 last year, at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Hazell’s Kent State teams were 16-10 over two years, which was an improvement over the past, but what attracted Purdue brass to him was his seven years working on the offensive side of the ball at Ohio State. And Hazell kept going back to his Big Ten experience in trying to explain how the Boilermakers, 6-7 last year, including a 58-14 pounding by Oklahoma State in their bowl game, and without an eight-win season since 2007, will rebound.
“In the first meeting, I said to the team, ‘Purdue has always been perceived as a team in the middle of the Big Ten.' I told them it may take time, but we’re going to the upper level, and we’re going to stay there a long time," Hazell said.
“It all starts with our self-image," he said. "If you don’t think you’ll be champions, you won’t be champions. We’ll be a tougher football team, a smarter football team, play with greater discipline.”
What Hazell won’t have when fall practices start is a starting quarterback. Instead, he’ll have a two-week competition between senior Rob Emery, true freshman Danny Etling, and redshirt freshman Austin Appleby.
“We’re going to give them equal reps,” Hazell said. “In about two weeks, we’ll make a decision and that guy will have ownership of our football team going into our first game. The No. 1 component for that guy is taking care of the football. No. 2, he’s got to make the right plays. No. 3, he’s got to be tough enough to stand in there on third-and-5 and take a shot when we need a big play.”
IU looking to the future: Indiana lost its last three games last season and finished 4-8 and 2-6 in conference play. But third-year coach Kevin Wilson is ebullient.
“We’ve got 19 starters back, and that’s 19 offense and defense,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a great recruiting class. We had 130 players on campus training this summer. There’s a lot of good energy with what’s going on.”
Logically, this means Wilson is looking beyond the 2013 season for success, but Wilson was forced to start players as freshmen -- 16 in 2011 and 11 last year -- because they were so thin when he took over the program.
What Wilson isn’t sure of is the name of his quarterback.
“We’ve got three guys that are all very unique, can manage us,” Wilson said. “They’re going to earn it on the field."
The scrap is between junior Cameron Coffman and sophomores Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfield.
Notable: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany reiterated his belief that “laundry money,” which when he was at North Carolina in 1970 was $15 a month, should return to college athletics. “It’s the right thing to do,” Delany said. “Whether that’s $2,000 (annually), $3,000 or $4,000, I don’t know, but we need to address that.” ... Ohio State’s Urban Meyer on having three players in legal trouble over the weekend: “It drives you insane that you have to deal with the nonsense. I don’t want a disruption for this team. The guys work too hard. To have a couple of knuckleheads make some decisions that reflect on the entire program, that’s not ... I guess it’s part of the deal.”