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Eastern Kentucky Head Coach Hope reportedly leaving for Purdue
By Nathan Hutchinson, Richmond Register Sports Editor
RICHMOND — Several media outlets are reporting that Eastern Kentucky University football coach Danny Hope is set to join the coaching staff at Purdue University, perhaps as early as Friday.
The reports indicate that Hope will serve as a the team’s top assistant next season before taking over as the head coach the following year (2009) — after the retirement of long-time coach Joe Tiller. Hope was an assistant coach under Tiller at both Wyoming (1996) and Purdue (1997-2001).
According to the Journal and Courier (West Lafayette, Ind.), one source inside the football program confirms that Hope already has agreed to the deal and will be introduced later this week. The Gold and Black Illustrated and the Wisconsin State Journal also are reporting that Hope is the school’s choice to succeed Tiller.
Hope, 49, was in Anaheim, Calif., on Wednesday attending the American Football Coaches Association Convention and could not be reached for comment. He did not respond to several voice mails left by the Richmond Register.
Officials at both Purdue and EKU had no comment about the situation and a spokesman for the Big Ten school said on Wednesday afternoon that there was no press conference scheduled for Friday despite several media reports that indicated the official announcement already was planned.
Hope recently completed his fifth season as head coach at his alma mater, leading the Colonels to their first Ohio Valley Conference title in 10 years. The former offensive lineman was named the league’s coach of the year and also was selected as a Football Championship Subdivision Regional Coach of the Year by the AFCA after the Colonels finished the season with 8-3 record. EKU went undefeated in the OVC before losing in the opening round of the FCS Playoffs to Richmond.
Hope has a 35-22 overall record at EKU and still has three years left on his current contract.
Hope was an offensive line coach on Tiller’s staff at Purdue and Wyoming and also served as an assistant coach at Louisville and Oklahoma. He took over for legendary coach Roy Kidd in 2003 and has led the Colonels to five straight winning seasons.
Tiller has been the driving force behind the resurgence of the football program at Purdue during the past decade. Prior to his arrival in 1996, the Boilermakers had only one winning season and no bowl appearances in a miserable 12-year span.
But under Tiller, Purdue has been to 10 bowls games, including the Rose Bowl in 2000. The Boilermakers were 8-5 last season and defeated Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl.
Tiller has an 83-54 record at Purdue and is just one win short of the tying the school record for wins — which only fuels speculation that coach would like to stay on for a least one more season.
Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was rumored to be the front-runner for the position in recent weeks, but reports indicate he is no longer a candidate. UCLA offensive coordinator Jay Norvell also was among the finalists for the position, but has also dropped out of contention.