LINCOLN — Gerad Parker was hoping Tuesday would bring some normality back to the Purdue football program as the Boilermakers continued preparations for Nebraska.
Purdue fired Darrell Hazell on Sunday and named Parker the interim head coach.
“There’s been a lot of things change over the last 48 hours, but certainly appreciate all the support from our administration, and from family and friends and our players and staff,” Parker said on the Big Ten teleconference. “We’re excited about an opportunity to get our guys back on the field today and just get a chance to remove some distractions and get ourselves preparing for a great opportunity in Nebraska.”
Parker is the Boilermakers’ receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Asked why Purdue decided to shake things up at midseason, he said he was not involved in those conversations.
“I know through our administration and those people, they didn’t see some things they wanted to see from our staff, and that’s why they decided to make the change,” he said. “Like I’ve told a lot of people, in questions and interviews, it’s been a difficult situation on our whole staff and our players, and obviously a weird situation for me.
“All we can do now is embrace it, and turn into a positive.”
Opponent’s NU connection
The Purdue staff will include a familiar face Saturday. Boilermakers defensive coordinator Ross Els was a Nebraska assistant coach for four seasons, then was among those not retained after the Bo Pelini firing.
Els coached Husker linebackers, including current upperclassmen like Josh Banderas and Michael Rose-Ivey but knows other veteran defensive personnel.
“I’m sure the offensive coordinator is going to be in his ear, asking about everybody and asking about matchups and stuff,” Banderas said. “I’m excited that he’s coming back, excited to see him and get to talk to him. But it’s definitely an advantage for them.”
Els helped last season at Lincoln Southwest before Hazell hired him Jan. 1.
“He’s just one of the smartest coaches I’ve ever had the privilege to be coached by,” Banderas said. “He knows his X’s and O’s better than anything.”