RICHMOND, Ky. – Former Eastern Kentucky University head football coach Danny Hope has returned to his alma mater as the program’s offensive line coach, current EKU Head Coach Mark Elder announced today.
“We’re very excited to have coach Hope return to EKU as our offensive line coach,” said Elder. “He brings an extraordinary amount of experience – both as a leader of men and as an offensive line coach. He will help our players continue to develop themselves as men, grow in their technique and will bring an edge of toughness to our offensive line. His experience will certainly help us on offense from the standpoint of putting together a game plan and leading a group on that side of the ball. His experience will be instrumental in helping us be successful.”
In five seasons as the Colonels’ head coach (2003-07), Hope posted a 35-22 overall record and a 32-8 mark against Ohio Valley Conference teams. In his final season, Eastern went 9-3 overall and 8-0 in the OVC on its way to the program’s 19th conference title. The 2007 Colonels clinched the program’s first Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff appearance in 10 years, helping Hope earn OVC Coach of the Year and AFCA Regional Coach of the Year accolades.
“It’s great to be back. We wanted to be here,” Hope said. “The last four or five years Sally and I have not had much football in our lives. We have had time to get many things in our life in order that you normally don’t have a chance to do at our age. I came to a point where I said, ‘what do I want to do now.’ I’m not really ready to retire. I’ve been following the program, been supportive of coach Elder and my Colonels. I saw the opportunity that they needed a line coach. That’s something I love to do and something that I’m good at.”
In his first four seasons as the head coach at EKU, Hope guided the Colonels to three runner-up finishes in the OVC. Eastern led the league in total offense three times during Hope’s tenure – 2003, 2005 and 2006. He produced 24 first team and 22 second team All-OVC players. Also, two Colonels garnered OVC Defensive Player of the Year honors, two others notched OVC Offensive Player of the Year accolades and four were selected as All-Americans under Hope’s guidance.
After the 2007 season, Hope joined the Purdue University football staff as associate head coach. Hope, who served as an assistant coach at Purdue from 1997-01, spent one season as associate head coach before replacing Joe Tiller as the Boilermakers’ head coach at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
Hope led the Purdue program for four seasons (2009-12). During that time, the Boilermakers qualified for two bowl games, went 3-1 against rival Indiana, beat Ohio State twice and beat Michigan in Ann Arbor for the first time in 43 years. Hope led the Boilermakers to a 26-18 win against the seventh ranked and eventual Rose Bowl champion Buckeyes in his first season as head coach. In 2011, Purdue knocked off Western Michigan, 37-32, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. He compiled a 22-27 record, with 13 wins his final two seasons.
In 2015, Hope served as offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator/run game at the University of South Florida. He helped the Bulls set 30 new offensive school records, go 8-5 and earn a spot in the Miami Beach Bowl.
A 1981 graduate of Eastern Kentucky, Hope played for legendary head coach Roy Kidd. Hope’s Kentucky connections also run through Louisville, where he served two coaching stints. The first came under Howard Schnellenberger. The second came under John L. Smith.
Hope played on some of the best teams ever to grace the field in Eastern colors. He started on the offensive line from 1977-1980 and was a part of the 1979 squad that captured EKU’s first national championship. He was also a captain on the 1980 team that finished as the national runner-up.
“I understand the industry and the media,” said Hope. “I have no interest in being the head coach here or anywhere else. EKU has a great coach. I just want to be a part of something special. This is an opportunity to do something I love to do – coach the offensive line – be at a place that means something to me, to be around people I’m familiar with and to be a part of something that means something to me. I have a purpose and a passion to come back here to EKU and coach football. I came back here to have fun and get it done.”
After graduating from Eastern Kentucky, Hope returned to his native Florida and began coaching the offensive line at Manatee High School in Bradenton. Hope then began a graduate assistantship at Louisville in 1985. He was the team’s tight end coach in 1986 before becoming the offensive line coach in 1987. During his first stint at Louisville, the Cardinals climbed as high as 13th nationally in the Associated Press poll after a convincing 34-7 Fiesta Bowl win over Alabama.
At the conclusion of the 1994 season, Hope left Louisville to join the staff at Oklahoma. Hope latched on with Joe Tiller at Wyoming in 1996. That season, the Cowboys captured the WAC Pacific Division title and climbed as high as No. 22 in the AP poll.
Hope left Laramie with Tiller for Purdue to begin the 1997 season. In his first season in West Lafayette, Hope and the Boilermakers rose to No. 15 in the AP poll. Purdue defeated Oklahoma State, 33-20, in the 1997 Alamo Bowl, marking the first of five straight bowl appearances. At the end of the 1998 season, the Boilermakers knocked off No. 3 Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, 37-34.
In 1999, the offensive unit ranked eighth in the nation in total offense and Purdue made its first New Year’s Day appearance in the Tiller era, falling to Georgia in the Outback Bowl by a field goal, 28-25. The team’s outstanding 1999 season was an indication of what was to come the following year. The Boilermakers ended the 2000 season ranked 13th in the AP poll and earned a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Drew Brees quarterbacked the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Purdue offenses. Brees finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1999 and third in 2000. His record-breaking NFL career began when he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2001 draft.
Following the 2001 campaign, Hope returned to Louisville as assistant head coach and offensive line coach. He helped the Cardinals reach the GMAC Bowl in his one season before returning to EKU as head coach.
Hope has recruited some of the most fertile grounds for football talent in the country during his career. He has extensive contacts in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, the Gulf Coast and Miami areas in Florida as well as the Chicagoland area. Hope has also worked the states of Indiana and Mississippi. He has recruited
Kentucky nearly every year of his coaching career, keeping strong ties to the Bluegrass State. His recruiting work was rewarded twice, being named as one of the nation’s top recruiters in both 1993 and 2000.
“It has been very pleasing to me to see coach Elder and coach Hope develop a great relationship over the past couple of years, and to see that build into an opportunity for Danny to be part of our football program on a daily basis again,” Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller said. “It’s a rare occasion for a football program – at any level – to be able to add a coach with Danny’s experience. As a former player and coach, he knows what it means to be a Colonel. He will be a tremendous asset to our team.”
The Colonels ended the 2018 season with four straight wins and were in the conversation for a playoff spot. Eastern Kentucky finished 7-4 overall and third in the OVC with a 5-2 mark. EKU will begin the 2019 season having won 10 of its last 16 games.
Of the 61 players on the 2018 season-ending depth chart, 50 are back in 2019 including 13 starters. Eastern lost just 15 players from the 2018 squad who had ever played in a game.
“I’m very familiar with coach Elder and the state of the program,” Hope said. “I think he’s done a great job and has made huge improvements in every phase of the program. He has a team that has been improving and I think I’m coming on board at a good time. Coach Elder has the team in position to take a big step this year and I want to be a part of that. I appreciate him considering me and bringing me back to a place that means something to me. We need great support from our fan base. This is an important season to get on board. Fans can help us take the next step. They can make a difference now.”