|Purdue coach Tiller prepares for finale|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 18 November 2008 14:20|
Tiller will coach the final game of his 12-year stay with the Boilermakers Saturday against Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket.
Finally, after constantly denying that the countdown to his retirement was affecting him, it showed. When he mentioned that former player Stuart Schweigert called his radio show on Monday night, he couldn't keep his feelings in check.
``I struggled not to get a little emotional then, because I have a lot of good memories here,'' he told a reporter. ``So next question. I don't want to get emotional now.''
Though Tiller never shed tears, his mood at times was sullen when asked about his retirement. He was overwhelmingly positive about his experience with the program.
game with a record of 86-62 at the school.
This season has been injury-riddled, and a disappointing 3-8 record makes the end a little easier to take.
``You would have to be a masochist if you would want to continue this for another eight weeks or some such thing,'' he said. ``You know, I feel bad about the season. It's the worst win-loss. I can't say it's the worst season I've ever had because, you know, our team has been a real joy to be around, the seniors have been great. The things I cherish the most have been positive and good.''
The poor season eliminated any questions about whether he'd try to coach again.
``Maybe it took this kind of a year to absolutely convince me in my mind that I don't want to coach again. Because if we had won eight or nine or 10 games, something like that, I might be thinking, 'Oh, I can keep doing this someplace else or whatever.'''
Tiller already is thinking about what he'll do after he's done coaching.
``One of my goals is to learn how to become a very good fly fisherman, and you can only do that with practice and time,'' he said. ``I'm glad I talked about it so much, because I've been invited on a half-dozen fly fishing expeditions.''
Tiller was in typical form Tuesday, cracking jokes and directing quips toward reporters. He kidded about possibly becoming a Wal-Mart greeter, and jokingly wondered if gold 'Thank You' notes on display at a banquet he attended Monday were left over from when basketball coach Gene Keady retired in 2005.
Tiller's sense of humor will be a large part of why his players will miss him.
``He's a very, very likable guy,'' said Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter.
``It was very easy for me to go in and talk to him about anything. It's not anything about football. He's just a great guy and a great friend to people.''
As a coach, Tiller has been hard-nosed and direct.
``He knows what he wants, and he really puts it out there,'' Painter said. ``Some guys like it, some guys don't. I think for the most part, people respect that.''
Defensive tackle Ryan Baker said he'd enjoy visiting Tiller at his home in Wyoming.
``I would love to sit down with him for a couple of days and really get to know him,'' Baker said. ``I have a lot of respect for him.''
Tiller said he has enjoyed most of his four decades of coaching, but recruiting became a sore point for him in recent years because it became more cumbersome and competitive.
After Purdue reached the Rose Bowl after the 2000 season, expectations increased. That's why he said his most enjoyable years at Purdue were the first two, in 1997 and 1998. Purdue finished 9-3 in 1997 and 9-4 in 1998. The Boilermakers won the Alamo Bowl at the end of each of those seasons.
``My wife described it best when she said every Saturday was like Christmas,'' Tiller said. ``I mean, everything was innocent, I guess, pure, and people didn't expect us to walk on water or anything like that. It was just, 'Hey, it's nice we get another win.' I think people were much more appreciative then. The expectation level certainly wasn't what it is today.''
Tiller's early success largely was due to the newness of his spread offense to the Big Ten and his ability to find good quarterbacks.
Drew Brees owns Big Ten records for pass attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and total offense. Kyle Orton ranks in the top ten in conference history in each of those categories, and Painter broke Brees' record for yards passing in a season with 3,985 as a sophomore.
``He's turned that program around,'' Brees told The Associated Press of Tiller earlier this year. ``He took it from a program that hadn't been winning in years, and now it's 10 out of 11 bowl games. He's changed the culture.''