Tiller to retire side after 2008, be replaced by Hope

Updated: January 11, 2008, 7:12 PM ET
Associated Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Joe Tiller's decision to retire from Purdue had more to do with fishing than football.

"I'm 65, and there's a lot of rainbow trout waiting, and they're not going to wait much longer," he said.

Tiller hopes the fish can wait at least a year. Tiller will retire after next season and be replaced by new associate head coach Danny Hope, the university said Friday in an announcement that had been expected.

Hope was 35-22 in five winning seasons at Eastern Kentucky. The 49-year-old Hope was an offensive line coach on Tiller's staffs at Wyoming, then Purdue, before leaving the Boilermakers after the 2001 season.

In 2007, Hope led the Colonels to a 9-3 record and the Ohio Valley Conference title and was a Football Championship Subdivision Regional Coach of the Year.

Hope will coach Purdue's offensive line in 2008, and Tiller said his linemen are in for a rude awakening when they go through Hope's demanding practices. Tiller said Hope's intensity and teaching ability made him an ideal choice.

"I must have had my fingers crossed behind my back because I think he's the right guy, at the right time," Tiller said.

Hope took Tiller's spread offense to Eastern Kentucky.

"It really was the backbone to a lot of our success," Hope said.

Brock Spack, Purdue's defensive coordinator, also was a finalist. He said it was tough to be bypassed, but Hope is a good coach.

"I respect the decision they made," he said. "I think it's the perfect decision for right now."

Hope will be signed to a six-year contract, with the final five as head coach, the university said. Athletic director Morgan Burke said Hope will make between $470,000 and $550,000 his first year, then a minimum of $825,000 the next year with incentives that could take him over $1 million.

His appointment as head coach must be ratified by the Board of Trustees.

Tiller came to Purdue from Wyoming in 1997 and has a record of 83-54 with the team, one win short of the record 84 won by Jack Mollenkopf in 1956-69.

Tiller said he's been thinking about retirement for several years, and approached Burke about it in the spring of 2007.

Burke said he wanted the transition to be smooth, something the school hasn't been able to do with its football program in the past.

Tiller said he never felt Burke wanted him to leave, and Burke squashed reports that Tiller was unaware of a plan to name a successor.

"Our transition is a planned one," Burke said. "Joe and I haven't been in any boxing matches -- he's too big, and we've traveled too many miles together."

Tiller said he still enjoys coaching football, but felt the tug of family pulling him away.

"I like being around young people," he said. "Young people keep you young. I really like gameday. Some of the stuff will wear on you after a while, but I never had trouble getting up to come in."

Burke called Tiller a member of the class of 2008. Tiller said it's a good group that should be successful next season.

"I love this year's senior class," he said. "I have to talk fast so I don't get emotional. This was the last class I knowingly told I promise I'll be here."

Hope said he watched Purdue's bowl win against Central Michigan on television and liked what he saw, but he's had little time to get familiar with the team. He'll officially step in on Monday and jump right on the recruiting trail.

Under Tiller, the Boilermakers made 10 bowl appearances in 11 years, including the high point in 2000 when Drew Brees led the team to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1967 and was third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

The move resembles the way the university replaced longtime men's basketball coach Gene Keady with Matt Painter after the 2004-05 season.

Burke said the assistant coaches remain on staff, but Bill Legg, the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator, has been reassigned to an undisclosed position.

Tiller said the plan to have a successor in line helps because Hope and the current assistants will get familiar with each other before Hope creates his staff.

"He'll get to know them and they'll get to know him, and there'll be a much better chance he'll consider them," Tiller said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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