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Mike Beas: Purdue's loss to ND

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Some men are born to be college football coaches. Head college football coaches. Others because of their personality and/or coaching strengths and weaknesses are better suited to remain the outstanding assistant they were prior to getting an opportunity to sit in the big office.

After watching Purdue's nationally televised 24-21 loss to Notre Dame, I remain on the fence as to which category Danny Hope belongs in.

The stunning reality behind the Boilers' 1-3 start is that they should/could/would be 4-0 if Purdue: A) Knew how to tackle (Oregon), B) had been properly motivated to play a supposedly inferior program (Northern Illinois) and, most recently, C) hadn't gone to the Bob Davie School of Clock Management (Notre Dame).

With the sting of Saturday night's heartbreak still fresh, some Purdue fans are crying for Hope's head as the program, losers of its three games by a total of 12 points, continues to find new and creative methods of coming up short.

There is plenty to like about Hope. He bleeds gold and black (he was Joe Tiller's offensive line coach from 1997-2001), mines prep talent from Florida better than some of the college coaches from that state and is a firm believer that hard work and discipline are time-tested paths to that elusive next level. Like tear-away jerseys and Swoosh-free football pants, Hope is a throwback. A get-you-to-run-through-a-brick-wall throwback who probably idolizes Mike Ditka, Knute Rockne and every other one of yesteryear's iron-fisted football coaches.

I want Hope to succeed. Really. But in another era I badly wanted Leon Burtnett to continue what Jim Young had started, Fred Akers to clean up the mess Burtnett had made and Jim Colletto - or Jim Colletta, as Lou Holtz used to call him - to at least achieve some semblance of mediocrity after Wrong Said Fred lost his job and retired to the comfort of his Texas reputation.

It remains too, too early to see where the Purdue program is going under Hope's guidance. For one, most of his players were recruited by Tiller, who, frankly, didn't fare well in that department his final few seasons in West Lafayette. We must also remember Hope is following the program's all-time winningest coach, a man who did the unthinkable by leading Purdue to its Emerald City, the Rose Bowl, not to mention nine other bowl games in his 12 years.

Tiller set the bar high. Whether Danny Hope has what it takes to jump up and knock it down or spends the next few years pawing air remains to be seen. October will tell us what we need to know.


RIVALRIES GOOD FOR FOOTBALL - Lane Kiffin calls out Florida's Urban legend and in less time than it takes mimic the Gator Chomp, it's on. Brett Favre has the audacity to sign with the despised Vikings and suddenly the state of Wisconsin yearns to Lambeau Leap all over anything purple.

Rivalries tend to have more to do with two of our favorite classes - geography and history - than anything else, though every now and again a good flame-fanning is required simply to keep things interesting. Kiffin's big mouth and Favre's inability to remove himself from the limelight have accomplished this.

Tennessee vs. Florida is now relevant beyond the invisible boundaries set by the Southeastern Conference; Minnesota-Green Bay, whose snow-drift games from the 1960s and '70s are legendary (until the Vikes wussed out and built a domed stadium), again is must-see television.

Sagging rivalries take note. That's you, USC-Notre Dame. One way to spice it up would be to accost the guy paid to dress up as the Trojan mascot and instead parade Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis around on the horse in front of USC players prior to kickoff.

Just make sure to apologize to the horse afterward. His back will be killing him.

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