(Ed. note: This is the first part in our summer long preview series'. Each week we'll explore a specific team in our "Countdown to Kickoff" series, starting things off will be the Purdue Boilermakers)
Ahh, the Danny Hope era - its safe to say no one will ever be nostalgic for the days that he roamed the sidelines at Ross-Aide Stadium and 2012 was a perfect example of just that. So much so that Hope is no longer at at the helm thanks to a 22-27 overall record in his four years in West Lafayette and a losing record in the Big Ten.
So, why was 2012 a perfect example of why Hope lead to change in Boilerland? Well, let us explore what went down and what led to his firing, shall we?
Um... They made a bowl game? That's really about it. Nah, that's not really it. There were a few other things to like in 2012. First on the list if you are a Purdue fan was absolutely beat down you put on rival Indiana, winning 56-35 to take the Old Oaken Bucket.
We'll have more on that whole bowl game thing later, but moving on to some other positives.... Perhaps the biggest positive to take away was that this team didn't fold when it looked like their season could be completely over, putting together a three game winning streak to end Big Ten play. Sure it was against the likes of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana - but we're not talking about a team head and shoulders above any of these teams.
Individually there were some very good performances from a few Boilermakers and that actually included a QB for a change. We're talking about Robert Marve, who despite some bad performances actually was one of the more consistent QB's in the league last season, ranking 6th in passing yards per game and 5th in QB efficiency ranking for 2012. It helped that receivers O.J. Ross and Antavian Edison ranked inside the Top 5 of receptions per game.
Defensively both Short and Johnson were dynamic players and you'd expect that from a pair of all-conference performers.
Despite having two of the better players at their positions (Kawann Short at DT and Josh Johnson at CB) the defense let this team down time and again, especially in Big Ten play. They were 10th in scoring defense overall and next to last in total defense, giving up 415.8 yards per game.
Kind of hard to win games when you are giving up more yards than your offense is producing.
Additionally, the game against Ohio State has to be on this list. The Boilers were up by eight points with 47 seconds left - that should be a W, right? Especially with the history of Purdue versus Ohio State. Alas, the Boilers found a way to allow the Buckeyes to drive all the way for a TD, oh and do it with their backup QB in as well. OT was unkind and the Buckeyes pulled it out at home in a 29-22 victory. Had that game reversed courses I'm not sure we're talking about this being the final season of the Danny Hope era.
Remember that whole bowl game - the Heart of Dallas Bowl - to be exact? Ya, well I'm sure Boilermakers everywhere would just as soon forget about it. This was a mismatch from the announcement and the game proved everyone's worst fears correct. Oklahoma State pounded the Boilers into submission, beating them 58-14 and ending a less than memorable season to say the least.
All of this helped lead to the demise of the Danny Hope era in West Lafayette and perhaps more than anything the declining attendance numbers were the greatest indication that the fans had lost faith in a program that was at least competitive at the top of the conference on a once in a four year basis under former HC Joe Tiller.
So, as we move forward to 2013 and begin to look at what's to come the Boilermakers turned to the MAC for their new head coach, Darrell Hazel, who produced one of the best seasons in recent history at Kent State. Unlike past seasons hope actually is springing eternal entering the 2013 season and it's got nothing to do with poor puns about Danny Hope's last name.
For more on "Purdue Preview Week" make sure to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.