On Christmas Eve I published our Festivus Airing of Grievances. Well, we may be a few days late, but it time for some feats of strength. While football was, indeed, rough, there have been some pretty positive stories for Purdue this year. Here are the top 10 in no particular order, with a poll at the end to see what ends up being the top story.
Caleb Swanigan Signs With Purdue
Much of the month of May was dedicated to "Will he or won't he?" Swanigan was long committed to Michigan State, but he never signed on signing day. That made him a free agent, where he eventually decommitted. We will probably never know what was really happening behind the scenes, but we had nearly two weeks of guess as Purdue, Michigan State, and California were in play. This led to a ridiculous public spat between Hammer & Rails and Dan Dakich over a single word. Eventually, Biggie committed and we got our first Mr. Basketball since Glenn Robinson and first McDonald's All-American since Mike Robinson.
John Shoop and Greg Hudson Fired
Perhaps the only good thing that happened during football season is that John Shoop was let go. His offense was a 36-game disaster, so his dismissal was not a bad thing. This is still a developing story as his replacement, Terry Malone, may or may not be a better answer, but the much maligned Shoopfense is gone. Shoop was made a martyr by the New York Times, but that doesn't stop him from being a lousy coach.
Purdue Basketball Recovers
On December 31, 2014 Purdue men's basketball was DOA. A dismal 8-5 non-conference season that included losses to Gardner-Webb and North Florida was a grave disappointment. Purdue opened Big Ten play on New Year's Eve at home against Minnesota, and the Boilers trailed and continued to look awful before Kendall Stephens hit a pair of critical second half three-pointers. It sparked a Purdue victory, and began a turnaround that not only took Purdue to a top 4 finish in the Big Ten and back to the NCAA Tournament, but eventually into the top 10 nationally. It is quite the turnaround and the "Fire Painter" crowd has little ammunition now.
Purdue Volleyball Returns to the NCAA Tournament
The season included a win over No. 3 Minnesota, a team that went to the Final Four, and that helped the Boilers return to the NCAA Tournament after a one year absence. The season ended early with a loss to eventual national runner-up Texas, but Dave Shondell once again why he is one of Purdue's best coaches.
Steele Johnson Wins Two NCAA Diving Championships
Officially Johnson is using an Olympic practice waiver and is not competing for Purdue this year, but his freshman season in 2014-15 ended much like David Boudia's did: with a couple of National Championships. Diving guru Adam Soldati has molded his next great diver. He was the Big Ten and CSCAA Diver of the Year and is pretty much expected to compete for the U.S. in Rio next summer. Yes, Boudia is the gold standard, but Johnson could be there.
Purdue Football Announces Facility Upgrades
A new $65 million locker room and football training facility is on its way for Purdue and some early renderings for renovations to Ross-Ade Stadium have been announced. Those things won't immediately help our moribund football program, but they are necessary improvements that should have been made a long time ago.
Purdue Wins Governor's Cup
Thanks to golf and outdoor track Purdue made a stunning comeback to win the Governor's Cup for a second straight season. Purdue trailed 9-6 with just four events remaining, but thanks to higher finishes in the men's and women's golf conference meets and the men's and women's outdoor track conference meets gave Purdue 10-9 win. Other highlights in the necessary victories were winning the Monon Spike and Purdue sweeping Indiana in Men's Basketball.
Bree Horrocks Comes Out
Earlier this year Bree Horrocks made Purdue history by becoming the first openly gay athlete to compete at Purdue. I know that Purdue is still a pretty conservative school by most standards, but it was good to see her welcomed and accepted by our fans at large and applauded by the college athletics community.
Stephanie White Nearly Wins WNBA Title
Former Boiler and National Champion Stephanie White took over as head coach of the Indiana Fever this year and came within a game of winning the franchise's second WNBA Championship. The Fever fell to the Minnesota Lynx in five games, losing by 17 in the deciding game five. It was still a fantastic season for the first year head coach.
Drew Brees reaches 400 TDs, 60,000 yards.
Everyone's favor quarterback continues to hit career milestone after career milestone. He recently became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to hit 60,000 passing yards. Earlier this year he was the fourth to hit 400 TD passes. He is now the ONLY quarterback to have 10 straight 4,000 yard seasons. Now he just needs a defense instead of whatever the Saints are doing.