10 questions for ... Joe Tiller

10 questions for ... Joe Tiller

Check out last week's chat with Big Ten Network announcer Tony McGee here

10 questions for ... Joe Tiller

The former Purdue coach is enjoying retirement - for now. Living with his wife in Buffalo, Wyo. (population: 3,625), the winningest coach in Boilermakers history keeps busy by working his 40 acres, keeping up with his "honey-do list" and fine-tuning a motor home he plans to drive around the country to take in college football. Sports editor JIM ROSSOW caught up with Tiller this week to discuss the Boilermakers, the Big Ten and his possible return to the game:

What's a Saturday afternoon like in Buffalo, Wyo.?

Slow and slower. It's a laid-back community. When I was coaching at Wyoming, a guy on my staff said never to play the season-opening game the same weekend deer season opens because you'll get about 12,000 fans. He was right. People who live in Wyoming don't spectate, they recreate. That's a fairly accurate assessment. Hunting, fishing, snowmobiling ... if it's outdoors, they do it.

But you're still watching football?

The last two Saturdays we've gone to games on the Wyoming campus. Last week with Texas, now that was exciting. Full house, good game, lots of energy in the stands. I turned to my wife during the game and told her 'I'd love to have a headset right about now.' Times like that is when I miss coaching.

Do you deserve credit for Drew Brees?

Absolutely (laughing), I taught him everything he knows. You know, we recruited him out of Texas in our final year at Wyoming (1995) but he wasn't interested. When we went to Purdue the next year, his high school coach called and told us to call him. I talked to him about three weeks ago and tried to call him this week (after he passed for six touchdowns). But I've got about 50 boxes around the house and I can't find where he put his number.

Jim Tressel is catching a lot of heat these days.

That's to be expected today. The game has changed. You're expected to win all your games forever. Have you read Barry Switzer's book? I'm not a Switzer guy, but someone told me to give it a read. He said it's impossible to feed the insatiable beast. Once he won a national championship at Oklahoma, the pressure was on to win No. 2. He couldn't satisfy the appetite of the beast.

What would it take for you to return to coaching?

A nice job where we have a chance to be successful. I enjoy coaching, I enjoy being part of the game. But the game is changing. It's not as fun as it used to be, so I don't know if I'll ever coach again. It's a good feeling when someone wants you. But I'd have to get my wife to go along with it. She's waited a long time for me to retire. She's happier about it than I am.

Do you keep in touch with the folks at Purdue?

I do. I thought they'd have a good team no matter what other people were saying. Last year was horrible. It was the good Lord's way of saying, 'Tiller, don't change your mind.' Now that I've had time to sit back and reflect, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't have done the coach-in-waiting. I'm not saying Danny Hope is the wrong guy – Danny Hope is the right guy. Situationally, however, it was not a good deal. It could have been a better environment.

Who wins the Big Ten?

The teams I don't think can win are Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State. You always have the Big Three, and Ohio State has (Terrelle) Pryor so they're the favorite. Iowa? It depends. Like Coach Keady used to always say, it's not who you play, it's where you play them.

Give me a typical day for Joe Tiller.

Well, I'm going to wake up (Friday) morning - hopefully. I'll go outside and turn on the water. I've got about 21,000 square feet of sod, and I've planted about 50 bushes. Every morning there's deer all over the place, so I have to get them out of there and start watering. Then I'll work on the storage shed I'm building. Then I might take the motor home into Radio Shack to see if I can get DISH Network on top of it so I can get the Big Ten Network while we're traveling.

And you are traveling.

We have season tickets to three schools: Montana State (his alma mater), Wyoming and Purdue. We're driving back to Purdue to see the Notre Dame game and the Northwestern game.

So the motor home is running smooth.

We hosted our inaugural tailgate last Saturday at the Texas game. We had about 60 people stop by. I discovered that they drink a lot. They don't eat much, just drink a lot. Mack Brown stopped by afterward and I told him, 'While you were walking back to the locker room before the game, your stomach churning and you were pacing back and forth, I had a Bud Light in my hand.' He laughed and gave me a high-five.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports


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jturner wrote on September 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Joe doesn't really get the credit he deserves for picking a Purdue program up out of the ditch and having great success and very quickly I might say. His string of bowl games was impressive for that program. Further, he is one of the last true personalities in the sport. Joe was always good for a story and a laugh.

dgcrow wrote on September 20, 2009 at 10:09 am

I lived in Wyoming when Tiller was the coach there. Class guy.