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Sept. 30, 2017
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Joe Tiller, one of the most beloved and popular figures in Purdue Athletics history, passed away Saturday morning at the age of 74 in Buffalo, Wyoming.
Tiller served as the Boilermakers’ head football coach from 1997 to 2008. The winningest coach in school history, he posted an 87-62 record, including 53-43 in Big Ten Conference games. Tiller’s 149 games coached are the most in Purdue annals.
“Joe Tiller was one of the great coaches in all of Purdue history,” Purdue president Mitch Daniels said. “The next time we go to the Rose Bowl, our first thoughts will be of him, and we will miss him every day in between. Our hearts go out to Arnette and the entire Tiller family.”
Prior to Tiller’s hiring in November of 1996, Purdue football had played in a total of five bowl games. In the preceding 15 years, the Boilermakers managed merely a 54-107-5 record. Tiller introduced the spread offense to Purdue, featuring three, four, even five wide receivers and forcing defenses to cover the field from sideline to sideline. It was a radical change from the smash-mouth Big Ten style and, in the basketball-crazed state of Indiana, was dubbed affectionately “basketball on grass.”
The result was 10 bowl games, including the 2001 Rose Bowl, an average of more than seven wins per season and a Big Ten championship in 2000. Tiller coached 64 players who went on to the National Football League, six All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans.
Tiller was recognized as the 1997 Big Ten and national Coach of the Year.
In addition to the Rose Bowl, the Boilermakers played in the 1997 Alamo, 1998 Alamo, 2000 Outback, 2001 Sun, 2002 Sun, 2004 Capital One, 2004 Sun, 2006 Champs Sports and 2007 Motor City bowls. Purdue was nationally ranked in the Associated Press poll for 80 weeks — tied for the most under any coach in school history — including a high of No. 5 during the 2004…