Purdue Football: Ryan Walters reaction
First and foremost, Ryan Walters is the head coach at Purdue. Your feelings about Ryan Walters being a head coach wouldn’t change that fact. As Bordeaux fans, we are left with two options. We can throw our support behind our young new coach, giving him every opportunity to thrive, or we can whine, complain, woo our support, and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. I’m firmly in the “support the coach until proven support isn’t warranted” camp, because my record in predicting the future isn’t great.
I was personally humiliated when Clemson’s alma mater hired Dabo Sweeney, a young wide range coach with no coaching experience to replace Tommy Bowden in 2008. I thought Clemson was too big a program to hire a guy like Sweeney. 12 (and counting) 10 straight seasons and 2 national championships later, I think maybe I was a little quick to judge. I advise you to avoid this fate.
Personally, it wasn’t my favorite candidate, but I’ve learned that cutting my nose to spite my face doesn’t get me far. He was destined to be a Power 5 head coach for the next two seasons (he was a finalist for the Colorado job). Purdue is no better than Ryan Walters.
The young coaching marvel gets into a tailspin at Purdue. Jeff Broome and his buddies didn’t do the Boilermakers any favors with their (alleged) sudden departure after the Big10 Championship game. He was already late, and it would be hard to catch up. Here’s what should happen right away.
Hire a coaching staff
One of the issues with bringing in a young coordinator is communications. Coaching is about who you know, and at 36, Walters Roladex’s coaching isn’t as strong as the other candidates. It does not come with a ready-made training staff. I’m sure this was discussed during his interview, and it will be interesting to see which direction he takes.
It came from an Illinois program that relied on running back to control games. If that’s what he wants in Purdue, he needs the strength to make it happen. If he wants a traditional Purdue offense, I’m fine with that, too, but we’ve seen what happens when a coach’s (Daryl Hazell/Bob Schaub) style of play is dictated. I don’t need to tell you all the results.
Hiring an offensive coordinator that fans can get behind, no matter what style of play he chooses to employ, will go a long way in devoting himself to the Purdue believer. Fans don’t know much about him at the moment, but a couple on the offensive side of the ball should hire Boiler Nation interest. Nailing the hiring OC will not only help in the field, but PR.
CEO or Coordinator/Head Coach
This goes along with hiring a staff, but it’s another major decision for Walters. Jeff Brohm was the head coach/coordinator, and he struggled to balance these roles at times. Walters got this job because of his record as a defensive coordinator. He needs to decide if he wants to stay in that position at Purdue, or if he can trust another coach to call the defense while helping with the big picture like defensive plan and philosophy.
I think young coaches have a problem when they try to take on too much responsibility at once. I’m a big fan of the CEO coach over the coordinator/head coach, but it’s up to Coach Walters to make that choice.
Get a trusted support team
One thing Dabo Sweeney credits with helping him navigate the college football coaching scene as a young coach without a head coach was the experienced support team he hired at Clemson. His first move as a head coach was to hire longtime advisor (his former coach at Alabama), and respected coach, Woody McCorvey. “I told Woody I needed him by my side,” he said at the awards banquet. “I needed him to help me with life coaching and help run the program.”
At Clemson, McCorvey takes on several behind-the-scenes jobs that can lead to program hiatus or hiatus. He is the liaison between Coach Sweeney, the athletic departments and IPTAY. He manages Clemson football’s administrative offices, oversees the budget, and oversees the academic support staff. Until now, he is the first person the coach turns to when he needs advice.
I highly recommend Coach Walters to find Woody McCorvey. Things can be choppy early in his tenure, and having an experienced counselor around to bounce ideas back and help smooth the air will be invaluable.
Recruit the current roster
I expect Coach Walters to be a great hit with the current players. He is young, energetic and has experienced what they face as a player. Purdue needs a coach to come in and stop the bleeding, and Coach Walters is the man for the job.
Defence, which I feared would be picked cleanly by Broome, Hagan and English in particular, should have a positive response to this recruitment. Joe Strickland, Purdue’s third-highest recruit of the Class of 2022 recruited by Mark Hagan, looks excited.
If Coach Walters can keep guys like Strickland, Nick Caraway and Yanni Karlaftis on board, the defense could help anchor the program while the offensive side of the ball gets coached.
Then there is the looming question of quarterback. Brady Allen was targeted by Jeff Brohm as the perfect fit for his crime. Can Coach Walters convince him to stay? The quarterback position is wide open, and the new crew will be evaluating every player in the program, so will they keep Michael Alemu in the fold? The quarterback is the most important position in sports. It’s hard to win without one. The coach needs to boost Purdue’s stellar football position.
I don’t expect Walters to coach a bowl game. His top priorities should be hiring a staff, evaluating and stabilizing the roster, saving the recruiting class, and scouring the gate for immediate impact help.
At the same time, Brian Broome and Mark Hagen have to go. The power dynamic of having Louisville coaches lead Purdue onto the field for the next month is untenable. I don’t have a ready made solution to this problem, but I don’t get millions of dollars to find solutions. If Mike Bubinski dies due to Brohm’s zombie crew staying put, I think it would be a mistake and send the wrong message to the remaining players. The sooner Purdue gets a clean break with the former employees, the sooner the program can begin to recover.
Recruit the fans
This is an area where Coach Walters should thrive. Purdue’s fan base is more than bottom line after the Brohm debacle (having Louisville coaches in Purdue’s coaching offices doesn’t help). He comes into this job knowing it’s not what Boilermaker fans were expecting, or don’t want to get out of this internship hunt.
I’ve listened to Coach Walters speak many times, and I think you’re all in for a pleasant surprise. He’s a great talker, confident, and never comes off as a cheerleader. It’ll be a breath of fresh air from the often gruff and dismissive Jeff Brohm. After watching a few hundred Brohm’s press conferences, and feeling like he’d rather be anywhere, doing nothing else, than answer questions about his show, I expect Coach Walters to be a lot more approachable and informative.
On the field, his demeanor reminds me of Matt Painter. He maintains his composure no matter the situation. Gone are the days of coaching staffs getting crucial 15-yard penalties.
Athletics Director Mike Bubinski will very well have a mic in front of him at every possible opportunity over the next few months. Coach Walters would win the fan base by standing up to the media, Purdue fans, and just being himself.
Here are some examples of his training style and press conferences over the years.
I understood you all. Some of you are frustrated. Theres nothing wrong with that. Mike Bubinski set expectations in his press conference, and then apparently failed to meet that standard. This is not Ryan Walters’ fault.
This appointment is better received outside of Purdue circles than within Purdue circles at the moment.
Ryan Walters is a great hire for Purdue. I have no idea if it will work.
Tom Fornelli December 13, 2022
Ex Mizzou/Illinois DC Ryan Walters to Purdue! He’s a formidable DC, through his fingers he can translate that into HC’s success as well. Big win for Bordeaux.
– Aaron Taylor (@AaronTaylorCFB) December 13, 2022
Ryan Walters is going to do great things at Purdue. It’s time to show the world how special he is. Purdue just hit a home run.
– Carl Reed (@CoachReedLive) December 13, 2022
Two years before 36-year-old Ryan Walters arrived at Illinois, he was ranked 108th in defense. This year, his defense is ranked second in the nation. He did a great job there and was a huge influence in Mizzou before that. He is definitely one of the rising stars in the coaching business.
– Bruce Feldman (BruceFeldmanCFB) December 13, 2022
Ryan Walters is only 36 years old. His career path is seismic.
• First Non-GA Job: CB Coach, North Texas (2013)
• First coordination. Job: Co-DC, Mizzou (2016)
• Full time DC, Mizzou (2018)
• D.C., Illinois (2021)
• Now HC, Purdue (2023)
Purdue has just made an exceptional hire.
– BenScottStevens December 13, 2022
I can’t tell you how to act. I can’t tell you how to spend your money. I could ask you to give Coach Walters a fair chance, and I do just that. Declaring him a failure before his first match doesn’t help anyone. I have no idea how this happened, nor does anyone else. This is how 99.9% of hired coaches go about it. Making a final statement either way, “This guy’s home runs! (Tom Hermann),” or “How can we hire this guy (Dabo Sweeney)?” is wrong.
I know I will support Coach Walters. I have no reason not to. I hope some of you will join me. College sports are supposed to be fun, and lamenting the fact that your favorite program didn’t hire the person you wanted isn’t fun.
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