Hazell addresses Cal interview, rumors

Head football coach Darrell Hazell at the Mid American Conference Championship game in Detroit, Mich. on Nov. 30. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Head football coach Darrell Hazell at the Mid American Conference Championship game in Detroit, Mich. on Nov. 30. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Grant Engle

Experts, insiders, bloggers and major media outlets have labeled Kent State head football coach Darrell Hazell a hot commodity going into the college football offseason.

The most recent development came Sunday when ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy tweeted that Hazell interviewed with the University of California earlier that afternoon.

At the regularly scheduled Monday football press conference, Hazell confirmed that he interviewed for the head coaching position at Cal, but he is unable to comment on most of the process.

“There are so many rumors that are floating around,” Hazell said. “Every time a job comes open, my name is [mentioned] — and that’s honoring.”

A spokesman for the Cal athletic department said the university does not comment on coaching candidates or the hiring process until a head coach has been hired.

Hazell’s interview with Cal came two days after the Flashes lost in double overtime to the Northern Illinois Huskies in the Mid-American Conference Championship.

Dave Doeren, now former Northern Illinois head coach, agreed to terms with North Carolina State University the day after his team beat Kent State 44-37.

Doeren’s yearly pay as the head football coach at N.C. State will be nearly quadruple what he earned at Northern Illinois.

Cal’s former coach, Jeff Tedford, made more than $2 million per year with the Golden Bears. Hazell’s current deal pays him $300,000 per year.

Junior defensive end Zack Hitchens said the team is more focused on the GoDaddy.com Bowl than on Hazell’s status with the team, and he thinks the team would understand if Hazell left for a lucrative opportunity.

“We love him,” Hitchens said. “But if it’s best for his family and for himself, then that’s what he has to do.”

Archer to the NFL Draft?

Hazell pointed out that he heard a rumor Monday morning that junior running back Dri Archer may enter the NFL draft after the season, but he hasn’t discussed that possibility with Archer yet.

Archer has scored 23 total touchdowns this season and was named the Mid-American Conference Special Teams player of the Year. His numbers garnered national media attention toward the end of the season.

It’s common for college football coaches to get input from NFL front office personnel and draft experts before a student decides to enter the draft, and Hazell said he makes all of that information available for any player who is looking at the NFL.

“You always want to do what’s best for the player,” Hazell said. “But I think — in my perception of where Dri is right now — it would probably do him good to stay.”

Flashes face long layoff before bowl game

By the time the Flashes compete in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., the team will have not played a game in 37 days.

Hazell chuckled when he was asked whether or not the extended break could cause the team to lose momentum or come out flat in the bowl game. He cited his experience as an assistant coach at Ohio State.

“That was always the story when we didn’t have success when I was at Ohio State,” Hazell said. “I don’t buy into that.”

The MAC Coach of the Year said the Flashes will have about 14 practices from now until the bowl game — 11 in Kent and three in Mobile.

Kent State will take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves at 9 p.m. Jan. 6., in Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN, and it is the final game of the season before the National Championship game Jan. 7.

Contact Grant Engle at [email protected].