Purdue fired football coach Darrell Hazell on Sunday midway through his fourth season, ending his tenure with the worst winning percentage of any Boilermakers coach in 95 years.
The school announced that Gerad Parker, who starred in high school at Lawrence County and played in college at Kentucky, has been named interim head coach. Parker, who had been the team’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, is in his fourth season on staff.
“We have a lot of football still ahead of us this season, and it’s important that our primary focus be on providing our team with the best possible preparation and opportunity for success,” Purdue Athletics Director Mike Bobinski said in a statement. “I appreciate Gerad taking over on an interim basis and look forward to his leadership and the continued commitment and efforts of our entire football coaching staff.”
Hazell was 9-33 overall (.220) since taking over in 2013, and his dismissal had seemed almost inevitable entering this season. A 3-2 start with victories against FCS opponents Eastern Kentucky, Nevada and Illinois gave some hope that he would be given one last full season to show progress. But Bobinski, who was hired away from Georgia Tech in August, decided to make the change in the middle of the season.
“From the first time I met Darrell, I could tell he was a man of high character — a quality person who you would want leading a group of young men — but our inconsistent performance and inability to generate positive momentum thus far this season, along with the disappointing results of the past three seasons, made it clear to me that we needed to make a change,” Bobinski said.
The Boilermakers lost 49-35 at home to Iowa on Saturday and trailed 42-14 heading into the fourth quarter. Purdue has averaged 32,078 in attendance at Ross-Ade Stadium, capacity 62,000, for four home games.
The last Purdue coach to have a worse winning percentage than Hazell was William Henry Dietz, who went 1-6 in 1921.
The Boilermakers play at No. 8 Nebraska on Saturday.
After starting his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Kentucky, Parker also worked for Tennessee-Martin and Marshall.