Hollywood's finest writers and producers could not have scripted it any better.
Joe Tiller's final game as Purdue football coach was striking and vivid. The Boilermakers dominated intrastate rival Indiana 62-10 before a sellout-plus crowd of 63,107 fans at Ross-Ade Stadium on Nov. 22, 2008, to recapture the Old Oaken Bucket.
For Tiller, it put an exclamation point on an outstanding 12-year run on the Purdue sideline. The winningest football coach in school history, he wound up his career with an 87-62 record, including 53-43 in Big Ten Conference games and 10-2 against the Hoosiers Tiller's 149 games coached are the most in Purdue annals.
Tiller topped Hall of Famer Jack Mollenkopf for the most wins by a Purdue coach with his 85th victory - a 32-25 verdict over Central Michigan at Ross-Ade Stadium on Sept. 20, 2008.
Prior to Tiller's hiring in November of 1996, Purdue football had played in a total of five bowl games. In the preceding 15 years, the Boilermakers managed merely a 54-107-5 record. Tiller introduced the spread offense to Purdue, featuring three, four, even five wide receivers and forcing defenses to cover the field from sideline to sideline. It was a radical change from the smash-mouth Big Ten style and, in the basketball-crazed state of Indiana, was dubbed affectionately "basketball on grass."
The result was 10 bowl games, including the 2001 Rose Bowl, an average of more than seven wins per season and a Big Ten Championship in 2000. Tiller coached 64 players who went on to the National Football League, six All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans.
Tiller also endeared himself to Purdue fans everywhere with his personality and humility.
In January of 2008, Tiller was awarded the Order of the Griffin, one of Purdue's highest honors, which is given to individuals whose commitment to the university goes well beyond the call of duty, and whose strength and vision have greatly benefited the institution.
Tiller was appointed head coach emeritus by the Board of Trustees on Nov. 21, 2008.
Tiller's 18-year head coaching record, including six seasons at Wyoming, was 126-92-1, a .578 winning percentage.
Tiller officially turned over the Purdue program to Danny Hope on Jan. 1, 2009. An assistant under Tiller at Purdue from 1997 to 2001, Hope was hired as associate head coach in January of 2008 as part of a succession plan to have him take over as head coach following the 2008 season.
Tiller was inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
Tiller's Purdue Head Coaching Record
|Year||Overall||Big Ten (Place)||Bowl Game|
|1997||9-3||6-2 (T2nd)||Alamo / Purdue 33, Oklahoma State 20|
|1998||9-4||6-2 (T4th)||Alamo / Purdue 37, Kansas State 34|
|1999||7-5||4-4 (T6th)||Outback / Georgia 28, Purdue 25 (OT)|
|2000||8-4||6-2 (T1st)||Rose / Washington 34, Purdue 24|
|2001||6-6||4-4 (T4th)||Sun / Washington State 33, Purdue 27|
|2002||7-6||4-4 (T5th)||Sun / Purdue 34, Washington 24|
|2003||9-4||6-2 (T2nd)||Capital One / Georgia 34, Purdue 27 (OT)|
|2004||7-5||4-4 (T5th)||Sun / Arizona State 27, Purdue 23|
|2006||8-6||5-3 (T4th)||Champs Sports / Maryland 24, Purdue 7|
|2007||8-5||3-5 (T7th)||Motor City / Purdue 51, Central Michigan 48|