As most in the Hoosier State are aware of by now, Purdue and Indiana basketball will face off only one time next year, a game that will take place in West Lafayette. Understandably, this has left many in the state of Indiana slightly perturbed. How can perhaps the Big Ten's strongest rivalry only be slated for one matchup during conference play?
Indiana University AD Fred Glass set out Tuesday to try to make this right, saying he hopes to talk to Purdue AD Morgan Burke about scheduling a non-conference game in Bloomington between the two teams.
"I think all of our fans would like to see us play twice, home and away, even though the Bloomington game would not count as a conference game," Glass said. "I hope they accept our invitation to play in Bloomington. I'm not sure why they wouldn't."
And while I'll get to Glass' shyster ways here shortly, first we need to question the people that put these two teams in this position to begin with. For the third time in seven years, IU and Purdue will face off only one time during the conference season. This is the rivalry that ESPN calls one of the two or three best in the sport. While we strap ourselves in to watch the ever intense IU/Penn State and Purdue/Nebraska matchups twice next year, the top rivalry in the country's most basketball crazed state will only see the court once. Rightfully so, Fred Glass, along with every other person in the state of Indiana, doesn't think this is right.
"I talked to the (Big Ten) deputy commissioner in charge of scheduling, and he agreed that it's something that's something worth exploring and worth raising on the agenda," Glass said when asked about establishing protected rivalries in basketball.
So the deputy commissioner, the man in charge of scheduling for one of the most powerful and established athletic conferences in the country, needs somebody else to raise the idea of protected rivalries? If you take one thing from reading this, let it be that. The people at fault for this sit in the Big Ten Headquarters in Park Ridge, IL.
But in steps Hero of the People, Fred Glass, here to save the rivalry.
"Let's play a non-conference game in Bloomington! "
Might make sense on the surface, right? Play a non-conference game in Bloomington this year, and IU returns the favor with a non-conference game in West Lafayette the following season. Wrong.
When Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten for the 2014-15 season, new conference schedules will have to be made, and as a result the "one-play" between IU and Purdue likely turns into a one-year occurrence. This means Purdue would get no return game to West Lafayette in 2014-2015. Fred Glass knows this.
He also knows that days before hatching his diabolical plan, Purdue released its 2013-2014 non-conference schedule, a schedule that already has the maximum 13 non-conference opponents on it. When asked about switching Crossroads Classic opponents so the two teams could play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Glass cited his athletic department's contract with Notre Dame in the December matchup as a roadblock. Did Glass expect Purdue to break a contract with one of its own non-conference opponents to make things work, something Glass himself wasn't willing to do?
Fred Glass knew Purdue's hands were tied when he floated the idea of adding a non-conference game in Bloomington. And good for him. It was a savvy move for the Hoosiers. He knows Purdue isn't going to go out of their way to play an IU team that has beaten them by an average of 23 points the last four times they've played. Why would Purdue give the Hoosiers a game down in Bloomington when it's likely IU would never have to pay it back?
What if the Boilermakers were to move some things around and make it work? Glass sees it as a way to capitalize on another year where IU looks to be the top dog in the state and a way to build upon the Hoosiers success in the rivalry the past two years. However you can bet if the rosters were reversed, Glass wouldn't be knocking down the door to play a heavily favored Boilermaker squad. He knows this is the last year before Purdue poises itself to jump back into the mix for a Big Ten title.
In the end, good for Fred Glass. His role as an athletic director is to give his university every step it can get above the competition. But don't be fooled into thinking Glass genuinely just wanted to keep the tradition of the home and away alive. His goal was to make Purdue look weak and scared by pressuring them into a game they have no way, or reason, to make work.