I had originally penned this post back in March, when the basketball season had (mercifully) ended, which had followed football season mercifully ending. I was pissed and tired of being told to be patient. My post basically was a scorched-earth missive – I took a flamethrower to everyone and everything even tangentially related to Purdue athletics. Some of those people didn’t deserve it, but a lot of what I wrote was and is how I truly feel.
As is so often the case with emotional outbursts, it was something innocuous that triggered it. Right as the season was ending and Purdue fans were pleading with the school to most certainly not accept any third-tier postseason tournament bids, a guy we like from within the athletic department sent out a couple of tweets about Mackey attendance and how it improved this season.
This smacked of small-time, Purdue-ish thinking. That the mark of success was really only whether or not people were coming to the games and buying overpriced souvenir cups. Something within me snapped, and off I went. I then passed it through Boilerdowd and he suggested a few parts be toned down but otherwise he liked it. And then somehow I lost steam and tried to figure out when would make sense to post it.
This morning, I ran across a post on Big Ten Powerhouse that talked about the crossroads that Purdue basketball is at. I’m not here to dissect the post, much of which is completely on point, but I did take issue with the constant undertone of how dumb and knee-jerk the fan base is. That we all need to be patient and not be “foolish” in losing patience with Matt Painter like we did with Joe Tiller. As though Joe Tiller was still making an effort in his final four seasons or something.
Accepting mediocrity for years on end and telling everyone you just need to keep waiting is certainly one approach. But it’s an approach that older Purdue fans like us are just tired of being lectured about. We’ve been Purdue fans for – literally – decades and it’s always been the same old story. Just…you..wait! We’ll be good one day!
Well, I’m tired of being patient.
It’s a low time for Boilermaker fans – specifically those who take pride in our football and basketball programs. As has been alluded to on this here site, when a football season goes south, we often find solace in the comforting arms of our lady basketball (weird metaphor? I don’t care…continuing). When basketball punches us in the gut, we turn our attention to spring football. And by August, we’re positively frothing at the possibilities, however remote, that our Boilermakers might go out there and surprise us. Or at least not make us all the butt of jokes.
And so the vicious cycle continues.
That’s what it feels like these days. If feels as though there is no reprieve from the turd sandwich that is Purdue football and basketball. Sure, I know we can all enjoy the success of diving competitions, the occasional baseball uprising, and ladies golf and volleyball. And yes, I’m being a bit sarcastic, but let’s make no mistake – if Purdue is competing in any activity, we’re pulling for the Boilers. That said, those don’t quite scratch the itch the way the big two do, and b- and f-ball are primarily what we launched BS for in the first place.
There is a growing contingent that is fed up with Matt Painter. There is a perhaps larger group that is fed up with Morgan Burke. Those in the know might also be fed up with the petulant, petty behavior and small-time thinking of Tom Schott. As boilerdowd noted in this excellent post in March, we also wish to be clear that we think there are some very good people within the Purdue athletic department. So let’s again just put that out there (as I prime my flamethrower).
Those who think Matt Painter deserves more time, whether that’s one more year or five more years, preach patience. They tell us that he needs time to make these guys “get it.” He needs better assistants perhaps, or more talent around the talent he already has. Or better facilities, or more money. Many of these ills were seemingly cured with the renovation of Mackey (no thanks to us, am I right, Nancy Cross??) and the increase in Coach Painter’s salary. More budget, better facilities, more prominence….all seemed to lead to better recruits.
Ah, but we need to be patient still, we’re told… as we need to let Coach Painter and company overcome the two bad recruiting classes he endured. Well, “endured” might not be the right word there, because after all, weren’t those recruiting classes Coach Painter’s responsibility, too? So maybe he didn’t “endure” them so much as he caused them. Whether it be poor judgement, bad luck or a lousy budget, it happened on his watch. Maybe it was those darn compact cars the coaches had to rent, right? What will be the next excuse?
How much of what we hear is stuff being pumped out by Purdue’s PR folks and lapped up by the obedient media? And if you don’t think the local media is in Morgan Burke and Tom Schott’s pocket, you’re only deluding yourself. I could point out the examples of how we’ve been tacitly blackballed, how Travis was abused by Schott, or how we’ve been blocked by Purdue football on twitter with nobody even being adult enough to answer us when we inquire why that is. Even if you only look at the local, “traditional” media, you can begin to wonder, mainly because they absolutely refuse to acknowledge us either in person or online. It’s almost as though they’ve been told not to interact with us, lest their access be squashed. Does this sound like a conspiracy theory? I’m sure it does. I don’t care. We’ve been compiling empirical data on this for years.
How hard is this to believe? If you’re a reporter in Lafayette and the only thing you’ve really ever covered is Purdue….aren’t you (sadly) at their whim? So much for impartial press. (Note, I’m not saying I blame them if this is the case – as I said, you have to make your living and if they’re telling you who you shouldn’t talk to, well, what are you gonna do?)
How about the fact that we were blocked by Purdue Football’s twitter feed right about when we fully lost patience with Danny Hope’s embarrassing ineptitude? How about the fact that our coaching search suggestions actually were pretty accurate? A little too close to home? A little embarrassing that a couple of middle aged guys in their mom’s basements could figure out what needed to happen before they did? Matt Rector reportedly runs the Purdue Football feed and we’ve asked him directly more than once for an explanation for why we’re blocked. He doesn’t acknowledge us. Oh well.
How come the story of Morgan Burke effectively firing Hope with three games to go that season didn’t surface until after the final game? No investigative reporting? Or a mandate to not breathe a word of it or your press pass (and access to doughnuts!) is yanked?
How come we were the only ones to write a critical column about Purdue’s embarrassing drug testing situation? How come nobody even asks questions about this sort of thing on the record? Maybe you don’t care about Purdue as a reporter, but a lot of people do and journalistic integrity (what’s left of it) sort of demands questions be asked at the very least.
I’m tired of waiting for the Purdue athletic department not to act like draconian empire that hasn’t come close to earning the arrogance it displays. I’m tired of Tom Schott being a spoiled brat and bullying people around for sport. I’m tired of seemingly nice guys like Chris Forman seemingly extending an olive branch and conversing with us, only to yank the branch away and go dark the minute we ask about something like how we’re treated by Purdue.
Boilerdowd mentioned that Brian Cardinal called him a few months ago. He called me, too. When he sent DMs asking for my phone number, I told bdowd I didn’t want to be “grin-fuck*d,” as the expression goes. I didn’t want to be placated. I wasn’t angry at Purdue in order to get a reaction. I don’t matter – Purdue athletics has made that clear. I’m nobody and they’ll see to it that I remain nobody.
What I said to my co-editor at the time was this: “I like Brian Cardinal a lot…and I don’t want him to give me a reason not to like him.”
B-dowd gave him my number anyway and we had a pleasant chat. And I believed BC when he told me he was specifically not calling to tell me to tone it down or anything like that. He knows there are issues in Purdue’s athletic department approach. He’s genuinely trying to improve things for all alums, including us peons. I do believe that. However, while that’s all well and good…I’m tired of being patient.
When Joe Tiller got tired and the program begin a slow-motion – but very evident – decline, we were all told to be patient. Joe had gotten us nearly to the top before, he could do it again. But he couldn’t.
Then we were told to be patient with Danny Hope. He was a guy who loved having the job but was hopelessly and hilariously unqualified for the job pretty much from day one. However, we were told he could recruit! And to BE PATIENT. And then he drove program into the ground, leading to an empty stadium for 11 AM kickoffs with nobody watching on Saturdays. As I’ve said to people since those days got that dark, sometimes when watching other college football on fall Saturdays, it doesn’t even look like they’re playing the same sport as Purdue.
And now we have Darrell Hazell and a young team. Again. And so once more, the rallying cry is to be patient.
We’ve said it multiple times and I’ll say it again here – we like Hazell a lot and think he’s the right man for the job. But how much longer do we need to be patient? Immediate success can happen and does happen, especially with talented players.
Which brings us full circle back to the dumpster fire that was 2013-2014 Purdue basketball. There is no reason we should need to continue to be patient for that program. And if you want to talk about how long we’ve been patient, that’s fine, too.
You may think there was a run of success at Purdue thanks to the Baby Boilers, but did it translate to a Final Four? To blue chip recruiting classes? To a culture of 25-30 win seasons for the forseeable future?
The last time Purdue got close to a Final Four was in 2000, as an unexpected 6-seed led by the aforementioned Brian Cardinal. That was 14 years ago, for those of you slow with your calculator. Fourteen.
That fall, Drew Brees led Purdue to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. That happened over 13 years ago now. Has Purdue been in a bowl game of note since then? I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up – no, they have not.
It’s curses. It’s fumbles at inopportune times. It’s the ACLs that are torn. It’s small budgets. It’s the fact that no stadium lights are evidently the way of the future. It’s all bullshit. It’s all excuses. That is all any of it is.
VCU. Witchita State. George Mason. Minnesota. Illinois. Just a few programs that have gotten to Final Fours since Purdue’s last attempt. Hell, since Purdue’s last Elite Eight!
Want some teams that have gone to BCS bowl games recently? How about Boise State… Louisville… Maryland… Duke… CONNECTICUT. Fricking Duke and UConn. Do not tell me it cannot be done.
Do not tell me I need to be patient. Do not tell me about a multi-year plan. Do not tell me we have to blame someone else or something else. Do not tell me about our poor donation history and how that makes it hard to keep coaches. Do not boast about marginal attendance bumps during a shitshow of a basketball campaign. Do not do small time things. Do not send emissaries to pat us on the head and tacitly ask us to behave.
Make our programs and our department something to be proud of. Being clean is wonderful and it is indeed what we all want. But let’s not hide behind that, either, as yet another excuse.
It’s time to win.