College football notes: Hazell follows Hope at Purdue

December 6, 2012 

Darrell Hazell officially became Purdue's 35th football coach on Wednesday. Contract terms were not announced, although reports are it's for five years at a guaranteed $2 million per year. Hazell made about $300,000 a year at Kent State before bonuses.

Hazell left Kent State with a two-year record of 16-9, including this season's 11-2 mark. Six of the victories came on the road. That set a school record for wins in a season and helped him take Mid-American Conference coach of the year honors.

He replaces Danny Hope, who was fired after going 22-27 in four years.

"Darrell is a great fit to build on our existing foundation," Athletic Director Morgan Burke said. "His leadership at Kent State, combined with his prior experience at Ohio State and other stops along the way, has prepared him to help us continue to move toward developing a championship-caliber program."

Hazell led Kent State to its first bowl game in 20 years. It will play Arkansas State in the Jan. 6 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Hazell said he would like to coach in the game. Purdue officials have agreed to that, but Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen said he will make that decision.

Hazell said Purdue's attendance drop and the lack of excitement about the program were his biggest challenges.

Cristobal out at FIU

Mario Cristobal took over a winless team at Florida International and wound up leading the Panthers to consecutive bowl appearances.

One bad season later, Cristobal is looking for work.

The Panthers fired Cristobal on Wednesday, a somewhat surprising move that came nearly two weeks after FIU finished an injury-filled season with a 3-9 record. Athletic Director Pete Garcia's decision caught both the sixth-year coach and his team by surprise.

"Stunned. Sad," Cristobal said. "We did a lot of good things. We graduated kids. We sent kids to the NFL. We turned a lot of things around. We had one bad year."

Garcia called the season "a total collapse," noting that FIU had 19 returning starters from a year ago and was expected to contend for a Top 25 spot this season, its last before going to Conference USA. He also said the fact that FIU's three wins this season came against teams that combined to win a total of six games was a factor.

Garcia has close ties to Butch Davis, the former Miami Hurricanes and Cleveland Browns coach who last was working on North Carolina's sideline. Davis would figure to be a candidate at FIU, especially because Garcia has made splashy hires before — including Basketball Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas, and then Richard Pitino, the son of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, earlier this year.

Cristobal was 27-47 at FIU, which won the 2010 Sun Belt title and Little Caesars Bowl that season.

Irish star wins Mackey

Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert has won the John Mackey Award that goes to college football's best tight end.

Despite drawing extra attention from opposing defenses, Eifert had 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns as the top-ranked Irish finished the season unbeaten. His reception late in the game against Michigan sealed a 13-6 Notre Dame victory.

A senior, Eifert is Notre Dame's all-time leading receiver among tight ends.

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