Hazell led the Golden Flashes to an 11-2 record, 8-0 in the Middle Atlantic Conference this season. They fell short of winning the conference title in a double-overtime loss to Northern Illinois 44-37 in the MAC Championship game. In his second year at the helm he was named MAC Coach of the Year after leading the Kent state to their first winning season since 2001.
Hazell replaces Danny Hope, who was fired after four years as the Boilermakers coach with an overall record of 22-27.
Before accepting the head coaching position at Kent State, Hazell served as the wide receivers coach for Ohio State Buckeyes from 2005 to 2010 under Jim Tressel. Hazell’s familiarity with the Big Ten pushed him to the top of the list for the job after Cincinnati coach Butch Jones turned down the job offer.
Kent State will face Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6 in Mobile, Ala. The Red Wolves also found themselves with a coaching vacancy on Tuesday, too. Auburn named Gus Malzahn, who was the offensive coordinator on the Tigers’ 2010 National Championship team, as its new head coach after firing Gene Chizik last week.
For now it is unclear if Hazell or Malzahn will be coaching the bowl game.
Hazell joins the small amount of minority coaches to coach a BCS team. Two weeks ago, when Jon Embree was fired as head of the University of Colorado, raising the issue of lack of black head coaches. Embree, who compiled a 4-21 record in two seasons, emphasized that African-American coaches seldom get a second chance as a head coach after being fired.
Bill McCartney, who coached Embree at Colorado and won who a national title at the school in 1991, concurred with his former player.
“I believe black men have less opportunity,” McCartney told the Denver Post. “It didn’t happen to me. Why should it happen to a black man?”
In McCartney’ s first two seasons as the Buffaloes’ coach were losing seasons, but said he was able to keep his job because he was white.
Before taking the position at Kent State, Hazell said that mentoring from other coaches and hard work set him up for the Purdue opportunity.
“I’ve always believed that if you put enough work and effort into something, everything else will take care of itself,” he told Yahoo Sports.