The hottest thing involving Purdue on the Internet today is a post made by my cohort J Money over at Boiled Sports. If you haven't read it, you should, as J sums up what most of us are thinking in regards to the constant pleas for patience coming from the athletic department. J is tired of being patient, and I have to say that I agree with him:
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!
Much of the rest of the post is J ranting and venting a lot of pent up emotion that comes from being a fan and supporter of a team that is sitting at the bottom of the Big Ten. To me, what makes the pleas for patience worse is that we have been so agonizingly close in recent memory only to win up where we are at this moment:
Football - The Fumble - Many of us were there, but for one glorious day Purdue was being talked about on the same level that the Alabamas, Florida States, Oregons, and others of the college football world. We were a top five team with a legitimate Heisman candidate at QB and eight minutes away from a program-changing win that might have been the springboard to something more. Who knows what happens if Kyle Smith intercepts the pass directly in his chest of Kyle Orton holds on to the ball. Does it push Purdue to a National Championship and into the upper echelon of college football, opening recruiting doors and other things to keep us there? We'll never know.
Basketball - That Night in The Barn - I still firmly believe that Purdue makes the Final Four if not wins the national championship is Rob never has his knee injury. It was the most tragic of these because it wasn't a mistake or anything but a freak accident. If Rob doesn't get hurt Purdue gets a No. 1 seed (likely Syracuse's), making the question "Does Butler's run happen?" relevant.
Baseball - Let's all go to Gary - Yes, baseball needs to be included in this too. I blame this one not on the games so much, but on the administration dropping the ball so severely that we had to play a regional in freakin' Gary about 100 miles from campus because they couldn't get Alexander Field done in time. Once there, Purdue had its disastrous second inning against Kent State where they scored five times with two outs and no one on, followed by a dropped fly ball that led to four runs in the elimination loss to Kentucky.
In all three Purdue was right there among the elite. We had a taste of what it would be like, only to have it ripped away. That's what makes the current state of affairs so frustrating. We're being told to be patient and that good things will come, but not only have they not come, we've been close to the mountaintop and seen nothing but a steady decline since. With football, it has been nine years from near national title to "worst major conference team". With basketball, it was four years from top to bottom. Baseball only took two because of the massive turnover from that great team in 2012.
I don't want to take away from the school's other successes. Stories like the women's golf team, women's volleyball, Casey Matthews, and David Boudia are excellent and I am extremely proud of those athletes. Unfortunately, those triumphs carry maybe 1/100th the weight that even a Big Ten basketball title carries.
Here is more of what J says:
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.
I know a lot of this comes from their personal experience with Purdue, so I cannot speak for what Purdue has done to them, but what I have seen is a culture that has become complacent and continues to do things the same way it has always done them in hopes that everything will change. We've see signs of changes, like Morgan Burke recently taking a stand for stipends and I like the work that Chris Forman does with the basketball program, but I also know that J has a point on the drug testing issue.
I know he has a point because I was a victim of that same thing. Back in 2010 you may remember that I received an email talking about a player that had failed multiple drug tests with no punishment. Against my better judgment I ran it, and it led to me getting blackballed by the athletic department for about a year before I sat down with Tom Schott to clear the air about what we do here. The post was only up briefly because it named names, but the damage was done. I had a credential revoked and I had to work hard to get it back.
Strangely, however, the very same player I mentioned would later sit for a game under the mysterious "conduct detrimental to the team" punishment that is the catch all for any kind of offense, then would later fall out of favor and be forced to sit an entire season despite being a long-time starter and legitimate NFL prospect. We were never told why.
But back to the patience principle. At this point, we have to be patient. There is no other choice. Football and baseball cannot go any lower. Basketball is going to have an extremely young team with a lot of turnover which may end up buying coach Painter even more time. I said before he could be on the hot seat next year if there is a third straight losing season, but with no seniors, five true freshmen, and only 10 scholarship players eligible it is hard for me to see him getting tossed unless something drastic happens like a 5-25 year.
I am willing to give that patience though. Coach Painter has won before and I believe he can win again. I believe in the guys he has coming on board and I support Painter mostly because of what he says about needing year-round guys and players with different attitude. I believe it because I have seen the attitudes we have had on the court the last two years and it is clear not everyone is on the same page.
I am willing to be patient with Coach Schreiber and baseball because he has won before as well. He is the most successful coach in Purdue's baseball history and is in the middle of a dramatic rebuild from a top 15 team that lost virtually everything. Add that to playing a sport where Purdue already has an arm behind its back due to climate and it can be very tough.
I am even willing to be patient with coach Hazell because he is overhauling everything. So much needed to be changed with football that a season like last year was almost inevitable. Purdue wasn't even a fundamentally sound football team by the time coach Hope left, and really got by in his final season by smoke and mirrors, plus playing six lousy teams.
Where I have lost patience is with the administration. J touches on this here:
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.
I agree with this right here. You all know I am a crusader for lights, but I do it not because of recruiting or because I like night games, but because we look like freakin' backwards idiots resisting change when clearly things are going in one direction.
This has long been the attitude of those in charge, and it will only change when things at the top change. I would love for a guy like Brian Cardinal to take over as athletic director because he would at least bring different eyes and a different attitude, but until Purdue is willing to make the hard decision and not reward those in charge for seasons like this year nothing will change. We're a charter member of the Big Ten, yet we historically have the worst athletic department department int he league. I think 120 years of waiting is enough.