INDIANAPOLIS — Not even a bad season can deter Darrell Hazell.
The Purdue coach is sticking to his original plan. He believes his young quarterback is bound for stardom, and he's confident those young receivers can emerge as playmakers. He insists his young defense will emerge as the kind of reliable, stout unit the Boilermakers need to get back to the postseason and he's intent on getting more speed into the program next season.
It's time to find out if Hazell has it all right.
"You have to get players in, but you also have to develop the players that are in your program," he said after Saturday's 56-36 loss. "We'll work the plan and we'll be a good football team when it's all said and done."
The question is when.
Hazell doesn't have a definitive answer yet after one of the worst seasons in school history.
Purdue went a whole month without a taking a red-zone snap, wound up losing its final 10 games, failed to score more than 24 points in any game until the season finale and did not beat a Bowl Subdivision team all season. It closed things out by turning over the Old Oaken Bucket to the dreaded Hoosiers last weekend, and Hazell & Co. will be reminded of all those struggles next season when they try to avoid matching the school's record skid — 11 straight losses from 1906-08 — in the August opener against Western Michigan.
Hazell went through similar struggles at a moribund program at Kent State before turning things around in Year 2, and he's been studying how Jimmy Johnson in Dallas and Chuck Noll with the Steelers and Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin turned floundering programs into consistent winners.
"They had a plan and they were going to stick to the plan," Hazell said. "They understood that things aren't always exactly the way you want it when you first go into a situation. But you've got to get it to the point where you do want it."