When opportunity knocked, Joe Tiller busted the door down. Tiller became a major college head football coach somewhat late in his career. He was hired as the head coach at Wyoming just 12 days after his 48th birthday and became the head coach at Purdue two weeks before his 54th birthday. A disciple of the wide-open offenses used in the former Western Athletic Conference, Tiller’s Wyoming teams enjoyed great success in what he fondly refers to as the "Wacky WAC." After leaving the Cowboys for Purdue, some coaches insisted that his one-back, spread offense wouldn’t fly in the Big Ten Conference, with its physical, smash-mouth style of play. Instead, Tiller’s fast-breaking offense, now nicknamed "basketball on grass," took the Big Ten by storm. Before Tiller came aboard, Purdue had endured 12-consecutive losing seasons. But under Tiller, the Boilermakers have enjoyed arguably their most successful winning stretch ever. Tiller’s first eight teams went to bowl games, including the Rose Bowl. Before becoming a head coach, Tiller had served as an assistant at Montana State (his alma mater), Washington State, Purdue and Wyoming. He also spent nine years in Canada with Calgary of the CFL as an assistant coach, interim head coach, and in the front officewhere he was responsible for booking rock star Alice Cooper and evangelist Billy Graham for appearances at McMahon Stadium, home of the Stampeders. In many ways, Tiller is a typical who has spent most of his life in the conservative Midwest and the open spaces of the western United States. A regular Joe, Tiller’s laid-back style, wry sense of humor and, of course, winning ways has made him a hit with Purdue players and fans alike.
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