We have candidate number two, and it's one probably not many of us were expecting based on our original lists.
Cal will interview Kent State's Darrell Hazell today— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 2, 2012
Although Hazell doesn't have quite as great a record of Dave Doeren in the MAC, he has proven he can turn around a moribund team in a remarkable period of time. And while Northern Illinois has generally been good for an extended period of time (seven bowl appearances since 2004) before Doeren, Hazell has led Kent State to their first bowl game in 40 years, and it was nearly the freaking Orange Bowl.
The last head coach to take Kent State to a bowl game? Don James. Not bad at all.
Hazell has had two years of head coaching experience, but has done a remarkable job in turning Kent State around in his two year stint. After years of finishing under .500 (including going from 5-7 to 5-7 in his first season), Kent State finished 11-2 in 2012, and Hazell earned MAC Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. Other than a loss to Kentucky, Hazell ran through the rest of his schedule unscathed. They were on the verge of a BCS bowl berth before falling short in overtime in the MAC Championship.
Hazell also has done a good job of revitalizing academics at Kent State, with 50 players receiving GPAs over 3.0 during the spring semester. It's impossible to tell anything conclusive about the APR since Hazell has only been there two years, but those seem to be outward good signs that he's doing his best to improve the program in a quick period of time.
Hazell also has big conference experience, having spent over half-a-decade at Ohio State as an assistant coach, mostly coaching the wide receivers with Jim Tressel. He also has coached at various spots on the East Coast, from Oberlin to Penn to Army to West Virginia to Rutgers before landing with the Buckeyes. Very intriguing out-of-the-box candidate.
Hazell is the second candidate that Cal has reportedly interviewed for the job. Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes also received an interview according to multiple reports.