Joe Tiller doesn't want any credit, even if everyone else in the Big Ten seems to want to give it to him.
When Tiller came to Purdue from Wyoming, he was one of the few coaches in the conference to utilize the spread offense, a pass-heavy, wide-open style.
He'd set up in a shotgun formation, stick one running back in the backfield and spread four receivers, sometimes five and nix the back, across the field.
He was countering the smash-mouth football so many of his opponents preferred.
He was "basketball on grass."
He was forcing defenses to scramble, trying to find ways to cover the entire field. They didn't have many answers.
Purdue was 33-16 in Tiller's first four seasons, which finished with trips to the Rose Bowl, two Alamo Bowls and the Outback Bowl.
"There's no question Joe deserves great credit in being an innovator as far as the spread offense is concerned," said Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, who was an assistant coach at Purdue with Tiller in the late 1980s. "He felt that was something Purdue needed to do to have success, and he was right."
Tiller appreciates the praise but doesn't necessarily believe it.
He said the Boilermakers in the late 1990s were part of a "trend." More specifically, at the front end of one: At least eight of the 11 teams in the league are expected to regularly use some kind of a spread offense this season.
"It's a sickness that has spread throughout the country now," Tiller said of the offense. "I call it Sissy Ball. You don't line up and hit anybody anymore. I cut my teeth on Wing-T football, and if you threw nine passes a game, that was a big deal."
In his first three seasons at Purdue, the Boilermakers threw the ball 60 percent of the time twice.
Purdue had what Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema called "coverage beaters," passing combinations and routes against certain defensive schemes that were nearly impossible to defend. Tiller essentially brought a short and intermediate passing game, the 3- to 12-yard routes, to the league, Bielema said. He said the Boilermakers utilize those routes just as well as any other team in the country.
"We came in the league and we saw the way people were defending us and every Monday we had to go to the hospital to get the grin removed from our face because we knew they weren't capable of defending the offense the way they were choosing to defend it," Tiller said.
The defenses mostly have caught up to the innovation now, Tiller said.
But that hasn't stopped teams from using the spread - they're just tweaking it. Purdue included.
Tiller installed some option plays from the spread two years ago, and new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is bringing his successful version of the spread from West Virginia.
Ohio State may even add more elements of the offense with freshman phenom quarterback Terrelle Pryor on campus.
Tiller may have been the man responsible for bringing the offense to the Big Ten, and he'll leave with the spread offense firmly established in the league.
"He brought a whole new concept to the Big Ten as to what we could do," said Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who is returning to the spread this season after two years of a more traditional offense. "Joe came in and started to open up offenses and created a lot of problems, and we in coaching are all people that are mimics. I think Joe did that, and he did it with a lot of class.
"I'm very, very fond of Joe Tiller. I think he's been somebody you like to see in college, and I'm sorry he's going."