By Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune reporter
August 14, 2013
A sharp and stylish dresser himself, Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen noticed new coach Darrell Hazell's attire quickly.
If clothes make the man, then Hazell is a business man.
"When he walked in, you could tell he demanded respect," Allen said. "He's always dressed up. He is all business."
Hoping to elevate Purdue from middle-of-the-pack status in the Big Ten, Hazell will implement the same elements he used to bring Kent State to prominence last season.
Hazell took the Golden Flashes from a 5-7 record his first season to 11-3 in his second.
The Boilermakers haven't been Big Ten champions since 2001 and they were 6-7 last season.
"One of the first things that I said to our team," he said, "at our very first team meeting on that Sunday night, was Purdue was always a team in the middle of the Big Ten. Never up here, never down here. And I told them it's going to take a lot of work but we're going to put this program on national prominence."
Hazell understands image.
"Self-identity," he said, is one of the most important keys to success.
Upon arrival in West Lafayette, Ind., he dubbed Ross-Ade Stadium "The Furnace" in hopes of creating a more imposing environment.
"If you don't see yourselves as a champion, no one else is going to see yourselves as a champion," he said.
The morale boost was effective instantly, players said.
"It's tough love," Allen said, noting former coach Danny Hope was more of a players' coach. "There are no favorites. He doesn't tell you you're doing good or bad. You're out there and you know you have to keep working."
It might take some work for the Boilermakers to climb the Big Ten ladder.
They lost four of their top five skill-position players on an offense that finished fifth (402.7 yards per game) in the Big Ten last season and ranked eighth in scoring (28.7 points per game).
They also face a schedule that includes four teams that achieved BCS bowl berths last season (Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan State) and Ohio State.
Hazell has familiarity with the Big Ten as an Ohio State assistant from 2004-10.
"Coach (Jim) Tressel was a big influence on me, the way I do things today," Hazell said of the coach who resigned as a result of an NCAA investigation. "There are a lot of great values and just his demeanor through my time there was something you can take from, and the great decisions he made on game day when those bullets are flying. It's a chaotic moment."
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