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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 1

Gold and Black is a multi-platform media company that covers Purdue athletics like no one else.

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Page 12 of 78

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 1 13 W elcome to Purdue, Mike Bobinski. The job ahead of you as Purdue's new athletic director is not a small one, but not an unmanage- able one either. You are inheriting a jack-knifed football program in need of a straightening-out, which you well know is Job 1 here because it was undoubtedly a central theme in your hiring process. You may hear it suggested that Purdue has a "one-sport" problem, and in some ways that may very well be true. How- ever that one sport is a problem for everyone when it's a problem at all. The good news is you come with experience, from Geor- gia Tech, where the fight — the fight for eyeballs, the fight for dollars, the fight to physically get from Point A to Point B at rush hour, or any hour — is real on so many fronts, including fiscally. And soon, the Big Ten Network will be making it rain, af- fording some breathing room while the Football Problem is chipped away at. Football is Priority 1 on Day 1 of Year 1, and while your school's fans have fire in their bellies, so many of them being just a rumor on Saturday afternoons in the fall, the guess here is that their pilot lights remain aflame. Generally speaking, they have not crossed that line en masse between anger and apathy, and as you know, the for- mer must be preferred to the latter. An angry fan is one that still cares. You will encounter angry fans in the months to come. Maybe "angry" is a strong word. But "frustrated" is not. Neither is "tired." And that will be part of your job, too. Purdue football fans are upset, but they're also tired. I know. I hear from them virtually every day. These are people who, for the most part, just want to be- lieve that things are going to get better. They're reasonable enough to understand that an athletic director can't make this year's team run faster, throw more accurately or tackle more surely, but that's not what they'll be asking of you. They'll be asking for a thorough and objective assessment of the program to be made and for you and your superiors to act accordingly based on the result, whether that results in Darrell Hazell staying or going. That is your first order of business, one that's absolutely critical to your new depart- ment and important to this university as a whole. Purdue's won in football before and it was a great, great thing for the entire campus community, in context at least. But, hell, no one has to tell a Notre Dame man that. Want some insight into winning in football at Pur- due? Call Joe Tiller. I'm sure he'll talk to you for six or seven hours about it. Your résumé suggests you know a good basketball team when you see one, and you'll see one on your new cam- pus this winter. You must hope that you see an especially good one come March, because this season to come should judged on the postseason above all else, short of regular-sea- son championships. Morgan Burke has left you infrastructure, facilities being a key piece of his legacy around here. Purdue's aren't college sports' standard-bearers, but they'll certainly do for the time being. Get football going, then worry about the stadium, not vice versa. Instead, in the short term, if there's bold change to be made, look closely at coaches' salaries. Not necessarily head coaches, but their assistant coaches and support staff. There's no reason to not get the best and brightest at Pur- due, and keep them for a while. You're at a competitive dis- advantage with your assistant coaches working on year-to- year deals, as you were with Olympic sports coaches before that worm started turning this spring. People know that everything won't, or can't, change over- night. This will be a process. But for the good stuff you're inheriting — and you are inheriting good stuff — there's also something of a blank slate in place. It's a chance for you to make your mark. j Neubert can be contacted at First Orders Of Business From Editor Brian Neubert

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