Per Tom Dienhart
and various other sources, Purdue linebackers coach Mark Hagen, who was an an all-Big Ten linebacker at Indiana in the early 1990s, finally will return from the dark side and will coach the defensive line and special teams for new IU coach Kevin Wilson. Hagen
has been on the Purdue staff since 2000 in various capacities, and was a member of the staff that led the Boilermakers to the 2000 Big Ten title and Rose Bowl bid. Before joining Joe Tiller's staff, Hagen worked as a graduate assistant for his old coach, Bill Mallory, at IU, and then for former IU assistant Joe Nowak at Northern Illinois. At Purdue, Hagen has held, at various and overlapping times, the positions of defensive line coach, linebackers coach, special teams coordinator, and assistant head coach.
It will be interesting to see how this move is received and covered. Hagen was long reputed to be angry at IU for firing Bill Mallory. IU fans, on the other hand, put stock in unflattering rumors about Hagen. I don't have any knowledge about the truth of the rumors, so I won't recite them in any detail except to say that they concerned recruiting techniques but not even a hint of NCAA violations. In any event, the unfortunate spectacle of seeing a Hoosier letter winner sitting in the press box scheming against IU is over: Mark Hagen is back at his alma mater.
There are a couple of things I really like about this hire. First, Hagen is something of a good luck charm in the Old Oaken Bucket game. Hagen was at IU from 1987-1991, including his redshirt year, and during that time IU went 4-1 against Purdue. During his 11 years at Purdue, the Boilers dominated the series 8-3. That's a fairly impressive 12-4 personal record in the rivalry game. Second, while this isn't technically a lateral move, it's pretty close. Hagen will be the special teams coordinator at IU in addition to his D-line duties (assuming the reporting is correct), that makes it something of a promotion, but not a career-changing promotion. As noted above, he has been a special teams coordinator before, and such a position is not generally considered on par with being a defensive coordinator or offensive coordinator.
After IU's win in the Bucket game, Travis of Hammer & Rails
pronounced (either on his site or in comments here, I can't fine it) that IU had moved ahead of Purdue in football. I thought, and still think, that's an overstatement. Purdue still has a decisive advantage in the overall and recent history of the series, a stronger tradition, better fan support, and a walking commercial named Drew Brees who is beginning to make Peyton Manning look underexposed. Still, there's no reason that Purdue has to be better than IU in football. I'll take our stadium, our facilities, our campus, and our town any day. Our staff, of course, is unproven. Kevin Wilson has not coached a game at IU (or anywhere else as head coach), but I like the way his staff is shaping up. If I have any reservation about the hire, it's how Hagen will pivot from selling Purdue to Indiana high school kids and then begin selling IU to the same kids. Still, Hagen's decision to vote with his feet and his family probably says more than could be expressed in words.
: be sure to check out this Gold & Black Illustrated article
about Hagen's departure, particularly for the list of Purdue players for whom Hagen was the lead recruiter. Summary: lots of good ones.