Purdue looks to reinvigorate the defensive line by bringing back a familiar face.
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Mark Hagan will be hired to fill the recently vacated defensive line coaching position.
Source: Purdue is hiring former Texas DL coach Mark Hagen as the school’s defensive line coach. He brings nearly two decades of experience in the Big Ten footprint from time at Indiana and Purdue. Also coached at Texas A&M.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 11, 2021
If that name rings a bell, it’s because Hagen was a key member of Joe Tiller’s staff from 2000-2010 and helped establish the Boilermakers as premier destination for defensive linemen, specializing in defensive tackles.
Purdue Coaching Resume
2000-2005 – Defensive Tackles
2006-2007 – Linebackers
2003 – 2008 – Special Teams Coordinator
2008 – Defensive Tackles
2009-2010 – Linebackers
Since his time at Purdue, Hagan has bounced around the college football world as an in-demand defensive line/linebackers coach. He’s made stops at his alma mater Indiana, Texas A&M and Texas and has found success at all of them. He was relieved of his duties at Texas after Tom Herman was shown the door, opening up an opportunity for the Carmel native to return home.
What it Means For Purdue
This is the best case scenario of the Boilermakers and we should all thank Texas for making it happen. Hagan is one of the most beloved former assistants during the Tiller era and commands the respect of former Purdue players. Some of his former charges include Matt Mitrione, Craig Terrill, Brandon Villarreal, Kawann Short, Alex Magee, and Stanford Keglar. He also credited with helping mentor guys like Ryan Kerrigan and Anthony Spencer even though they weren’t technically in his position group.
Hagan, above all else, should bring a sense of calm and normalcy to what has been a tumultuous few years for the defense. He’s a well respected, steady hand, who should be able to ring every drop of talent out of the Boilermaker defensive line. When a guy like Hagan talks, players listen, because he’s helped get players where current players want to go (the NFL).
This should also be an incredible hire in terms of recruiting. Mark knows the state of Indiana after stints at both Purdue and I.U. and may be able to open some doors that were previously sealed shut in-state. In addition to his in-state experience, his time at both Texas and Texas A&M could reopen the Lone Star state, a former recruiting pipeline during the Tiller days, for Brohm and the Boilermakers.
From a coaching staff prospective, it makes the Terrance Jamison exit understandable. It appears that Brohm wanted to bring Hagan into the fold, and once Jamison’s former mentor, Bret Bielema, took the Illinois job, things fell into place for both Jamison and Hagan.
Purdue has yet to fill the open defensive coordinator position, but hiring Hagan to coach the defensive line may tip Brohm’s hand in terms of the defensive style he’s looking to bring to West Lafayette. Hagan is most known for coaching a 4 man line, although Texas moved between a traditional 4 man line and a 3 man line with a stand up end (similar to Nick Holt’s defense) over the last two years. Either way, I expect you’ll see Purdue return to their more traditional 4 man front when a new defensive coordinator is hired (this also means the rumor that Purdue let Jamison go because the new defensive coordinator is also a defensive line coach was nothing more than a rumor…although hiring Hagan doesn’t preclude a defensive coordinator with a defensive line background).
What it Means for Recruiting
I imagine Coach Hagan will introduce himself to 4* Center Grove defensive tackle Caden Curry in the near future. Purdue wasn’t considered a serious contender for the top rated player in Indiana but a change of defensive philosophy and the addition of Hagan may garner the Boilermakers a second look. It’s probably too late, but you never know until you ask.
Kenneth Grant, a 6’4, 335 pound nose tackle out of Merrillville may be a more realistic target, and one that would fill a desperate need on the Purdue roster. He currently holds offers from Cincinnati and Nebraska but the Boilermakers could make a move by hiring the experienced Hagan.
At defensive end, Joe Strickland, a 4* defensive end out of Brebeuf Jesuit will be at the top of Hagan’s recruiting menu. Strickland has shown interest in his Purdue despite that coaching changes, and this gives the Boilermakers a fighting chance against I.U., Michigan, and Penn State.
I’m sure Coach Hagan will be making his own evaluation of Purdue’s recruiting board once he gets settled, but those are the 3 names that spring to mind.
What it Means for Current Players
This is a hard reset for the Purdue defensive line. It will be interesting to see how he handles the defensive tackle situation. There is some talent, but it’s all untested. Former highly rated recruits like Bryce Austin and Steven Faucheux have an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and impress their new position coach. Same goes for defensive end, where Dontay Hunter II and Greg Hudgins III could make a move after not seeing the field last season in Diaco’s 3 man front.
I love this hire.