Joe Tiller is the most successful coach in Purdue football history by a landslide. The school reached a bowl game 10 times in his 12 seasons as the head coach. They had not reached a bowl game for 12 consecutive years before he arrived in West Lafayette.
Tiller passed away last week. Tom Kubat was the football beat writer for the local paper during Tiller’s tenure and shared some memories of his time covering the team.
Tiller knew where he wanted his players’ attention to be during games:
If a player messed up during a game, Tiller didn’t automatically punish him by pulling him off the field, and he didn’t believe in dressing him down when he got to the sideline. He wanted his players to always be thinking about the next play, not worrying about their mistake on the previous one. The coaches could deal with the mistake later during practice.
Like we’ve seen from other leaders, Tiller struck a good balance between being demanding of his players and staff while making it clear how much he cared about them.
World-class quarterback Drew Brees, who played at Purdue during this period, remembered one frequent quote of Tiller’s that has stuck with him to this day:
A saying that he always used was, ‘Do what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it, the way it’s supposed to be done, and do it that way every time.’