When Kent State football coach Darrell Hazell meets with his players this morning, he’s likely to tell them goodbye.
Following a day of whirlwind speculation, sources close to the program have confirmed that Hazell is leaving to coach at Purdue.
KSU’s director of football operations Tommy Cook texted the team’s players late Tuesday night, requesting that they report for a team meeting at 6:30 a.m. today. While the text didn’t explain the reason for the meeting, the players believe it was for Hazell’s farewell.
Kent State officials hadn’t received official word from Hazell, although CBS and ESPN reported the move late Tuesday as a done deal.
“As of 9 p.m., Kent State believed no deal was done,” said a source close to the program. “But we still wouldn’t be surprised if something with Purdue happens very fast.”
Hazell led the Golden Flashes (11-2) to a historic season. Kent State finished the season ranked No. 25 in the BCS standings following a double-overtime loss to Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference Championship game Friday in Detroit.
The Flashes will face Arkansas State (9-3) at the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6 in Mobile, Ala.
Purdue, which finished the season at 6-6, fired coach Danny Hope more than a week ago.
After Cincinnati coach Butch Jones turned down the Purdue coaching job Tuesday morning, Boilermaker officials turned their attention to Hazell. Purdue had contacted him about the job before the MAC title game, but Hazell reportedly told the recruiters that he wouldn’t discuss the move until the regular season ended. The Flashes fell 44-37 in double overtime to the Huskies at Detroit’s Ford Field.
After talking with another suitor Saturday in California, Hazell reportedly appeared to be considering staying at Kent State, where he has four years remaining on his contract.
Hazell denied original reports about going to Purdue as they began to leak nationally late Tuesday afternoon. At one point, he told players that the reports weren’t true, as they took to Twitter trying to calm the team’s nerves. Hazell did a radio interview at 5:30 p.m. with the hosts of 1350 AM’s Big Time Sports, once again denying that he’d accepted the job.
Perhaps that’s why some players reacted angrily at the news of an impending team meeting just four hours later.
“I’m not going to no meeting @ 6:30,” sophomore running back Trayion Durham tweeted. Followed by: “I guess its time to pack mi bags too.”
Other players were more understanding.
“Life is one big business people you gotta keep moving up the ladder! Congrats to Coach Hazell,” senior safety Leon Green tweeted.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.