As Purdue fans we've gotten pretty familiar with disappointment in the last few years. Not the type of disappointment that one loss brings, but the type of disappointment that sits with you during the off season because the season simply didn't go as planned.
We've seen it in basketball, we've seen it in football. In 2012, I thought my Boilers would win 7 or 8 fooball games and 21 basketball games. I was wrong. The football team struggled to win six games and the basketball team was two games under .500 with just 16 wins. These two programs were in very different positions coming into last season. The football team had a lot of experience and seemed to be healthier than it had been in a while. The basketball team was short on experience and Seniors in key roles and had a few players that weren't quite healthy as the season started.
But both suffered from one similarity, players weren't developing as many thought they would…and that's a big problem that leads to seismic shifts.
There were a few players on Purdue's basketball roster that simply hadn't taken steps forward as they needed to. One guy didn't get stronger and couldn't take the pounding under the basket. Another couldn't create his own shot after starting his career as a promising scorer from long range…so a ton of Freshman had to mature quickly in the void.
For the gridiron Boilers, one guy promised fans big things, but wilted in the biggest games, another battled recurring injuries that kept him out of practice…but it seemed there weren't many individuals getting batter and the collective team was in a similar bog.
The end result for the football team was the coaching staff was replaced. In hindsight, the toughest predicament that the last staff left this current staff in was not bring young guys along. We've said it before, but FORTY SEVEN players on the current roster are Freshman. Some of those guys who showed promise last year should have probably saw the field earlier…maybe in a 40 point loss…I dunno, I'm just spit-balling. On top of the guys that were completely held back, you've got players that were ready to play that simply didn't. The end result is what we've seen this year.
Growing pains are hard…we saw that in Mackey Arena last year as Freshman struggled to give consistent effort, wore out quickly and were just outgunned. We're seeing the same thing this year…but I'm hoping that the '12/'13 season for the basketball team and the '13 season for the football team are the turning points for both programs.
One thing is for sure, massively-disappointing seasons have costs that go deeper than wins and losses.
For the basketball team, nearly a quarter of the roster transferred and the coaching staff changed slightly. Poor chemistry is obviously easier to detect when players are as close as they are on the court…and there are no helmets to disguise the faces of the players when things aren't going great. Plus, it's just tougher to blend in on a roster of 13 or 14 players.
I'm not so sure chemistry has much to do with the football team's woes this season…BUT, players are not on the same page all of the time due to so many guys playing bigger and unfamiliar roles.
My fear is that this season's ripple effects might be similar to that of the basketball team. There will most-assuredly be transfers…I'm hoping they're not in key areas. I can say, with almost 100% confidence that the football team will not lose a quarter of the roster to transfers.
Some Purdue fans have been pointing fingers one direction for a long time
Perhaps (not too sadly) there will be changes to the coaching staff as there simply has to be. The head coach isn't going anywhere, nor should he…but one or more of his coordinators might not be at Purdue next season unless there is a shockingly-positive change in the remaining six games.
Poor ticket sales and no-shows are starting to become more obvious at Ross-Ade…much of the momentum that Hazell's positive PR blitz had yielded in the winter, spring and summer has been lost. And the fanbase is sniping at itself on message boards, via Twitter and in comments sections on sites like this as fans begin to question one another's mettle. One thing you can be assured of within a fanbase that has a ton of engineers- there are going to be a lot of very logical people in the group. But I gotta tell you, and I'm a heart-over-head type of fan, generally…it's kind of tough to deny facts week after week. Someone like me gets angry and is disheartened, for others malaise might have set in by now. I would think that apathy is the toughest thing to overcome for the ticket office.
This is the crazy thing- the season just reached its halfway point…but it kinda feels like we've been through 12 weeks already.
There are 125 teams in the NCAA…so these stats might smart a bit.
118th in points allowed.
118th in 3rd down conversions allowed.
117th in points scored.
114th in yards rushing/game.
113th in pass completion percentage.
110th in 3rd downs converted.
112th in turnovers lost.
104th in turnover margin.
0 wins over D-IA opponents in five tries.
In Division one athletics, stats like those have a cost. Boiler Sports Reports' Chris Emma talked about how this is a key juncture for Hazell's first team…one in which the Seniors must show leadership in order for something positive to be taken out of this season…for the program's sake. We'll see how well the upper classmen stay on task, and how quickly the young guys grow up. Both will help decide the final record for this team and possibly help with the offseason direction of the program.