A pair of below-.500 seasons don’t have Purdue football coach Danny Hope or athletic director Morgan Burke panicking.
Burke isn’t interested in the coach-on-the-hot-seat issue, saying fans and media blow that out of proportion.
Hope isn’t interested in talking about feeling any pressure in his third season. He has plenty of desire and passion to win every season, he said.
It helps that both men are optimistic for 2011.
They certainly can’t see a repeat of 2010 when injuries ravaged the team so badly a fourth-string quarterback was forced to start.
In spring practice, Burke knew most of the players and had seen them play.
That had him excited.
There were a lot of unknowns with our team, but I was still optimistic we could win last year because I was confident in the level of talent we were putting on the field. It just wasn’t ready yet, Hope said in Fort Wayne last week for the Coaches’ Caravan booster event. I felt like it would grow and develop throughout the course of the season and had confidence in the potential that we had and the direction we would go in. It felt like at the end of the season, we would be a good football team. I couldn’t really predict the injuries.
The injuries are behind us now, and we feel like we’re going to be able to recover from most of those injuries, so I look at the 2011 season and say that I’m confident not in spite of but because of what we have coming back.
Hope said he likes his experienced quarterbacks, though he still won’t say whether sophomore Rob Henry or senior Robert Marve will be the starter. Henry was ruled the starter in the spring, in part because Marve wasn’t playing while rehabbing a torn ACL.
Hope said he likes that he has all four starters back in the secondary, including All-Big Ten sophomore cornerback Ricardo Allen.
He also said that he likes his big, veteran offensive line; that he has more experience at defensive tackle and linebacker; that star running back Ralph Bolden will be back from a knee injury; and that there’s more speed at the skill positions.
We feel like the season last year only made us stronger and better prepared for the upcoming season, said Hope, whose team finished 4-8 in 2010. So we look forward to it.
Hope said he isn’t motivated by fear of failure – he says coaches can’t be that way. So he won’t let any hot-seat talk creep into his mind this season.
Even if Hope, who is under contract through 2014, and Burke still have to address it at points.
Every season is important for these guys, Burke said. But I’ve said when Jim Colletto was here, when Joe Tiller was here, Gene Keady, I’m going to manage with facts. I’m not going to manage with emotions. If this team’s underlying fundamentals are improving, we’re not going to change for the sake of change. Danny Hope and his staff have done a lot of great things.
He always said he had a plan, and I’ve watched him. He’s very methodical. He’s got a lot of energy. He’s a driven guy. We’re going to get there.