Deadspin had a pretty interesting idea the other day. If you could change one play in athletics history what would it be? The answers were of course very focused on some of the bigger plays in sports history. Think about Gordon Hayward making the shot for Butler to beat Duke. Imagine Bill Buckner grabbing that grounder. What if Michael Jordan missed his last shot (I refuse to acknowledge that he played for the Wizards)? What if Christian Laettner missed that epic shot in the NCAA Tournament? All of these things could change the course of sports history. Who knows what would've been the butterfly effect of all these outcomes changing. It of course got me to thinking about those awful plays that went against Purdue. If I could go back in time and change the result of one play which one would I choose? Below is a shortlist. Let me hear about yours in our poll below and also in the comments.
Robbie Hummel's Knee Injury versus Minnesota
It's rare that you'd go back in time and change the outcome of a play in a game in which your team won. This of course is a special circumstance. We all know what happened that day. The injury of Hummel really derailed that season. There's no doubt in my mind with Hummel healthy in a victory Purdue would've been ranked number one come the following week. Sure, some of you might say "but Robbie would've hurt his knee later on," and to those people I say, "you're not a doctor!". No one knows what would have happened. Maybe Hummel would've gone through the rest of the year playing at that incredibly high level. Would Purdue have gotten further than the Sweet 16 with a healthy Robbie Hummel? Of course they would've. That's a team I'd like to see play together again.
Purdue Women's Basketball 2001 Final Game vs. Notre Dame
This one always stung. I'll be the first to tell you I'm not the biggest women's basketball fan. I do love Purdue though so if the Purdue women are on I will certainly watch. I remember watching this one at a buddy's house. Katie Douglas had a chance to tie the game at the end but it fell harmlessly to the floor. This wouldn't necessarily have given Purdue the win but it would've sent the game to overtime and give them another chance for Purdue and a second national title. You could also argue for no foul called against Purdue at the end of the game. Maybe then it leads to a Purdue victory on the other end of the floor. Ah the what ifs.
Purdue Football vs. Wisconsin "The Fumble" Game
So with the idea of this story you're only allowed to change one play. In this game there are so many things you could change to change the outcome of the game. First, you could have Kyle Orton get the first down rather than fumble. He slides, doesn't hurt his hip, and doesn't fumble the ball. You could have Ben Jones make the field goal. You could have Kyle Smith make the interception. Any of these things would result in a Purdue victory. I'm going to choose Kyle Orton sliding for the first down, not hurting his hip, and then being able to end the game. Sure there was about 2:30 left in the game but I'm banking on Purdue being able to hold onto the victory at that point. So what happens to the Purdue football season with this victory? Conventional wisdom says that 2004 Purdue team had plenty of holes and was destined to fall apart. I think that's a bit of revisionist history in order to ease the blow from the Wisconsin loss and subsequent tumble. I think this Purdue team, ranked #5 at the time, would've come off a victory over #10 Wisconsin and plowed through the rest of the conference schedule. Purdue lost their next three conference games by seven points total. A healthy Kyle Orton could've turned those games around. Oh what might've been.
Purdue Football vs. Ohio State 2003 Ben Jones Missed Field Goal(s)
Purdue, ranked #11 at the time, had a shot to defeat the Buckeyes and get a share of the Big Ten title for the second time in this new millennium. Instead, Ben Jones missed a field goal in regulation that would've put Purdue up three more, and then missed a field goal in overtime that would've pushed it to a second overtime. This would've given Purdue another chance. This Purdue defense was impressive and easily could've held O$u to another field goal, or even blocked another one. Purdue football and a missed opportunity. They sort of go hand in hand. So with this one I pick Ben Jones first field goal. That gives Purdue three extra points and forces O$u to make that field goal at the end of regulation in order to push it to overtime. If I don't change the outcome there, a Purdue block, we end the game with a victory and a share of the conference title. Would Purdue football be in a different place because of that? I think so but there's no way to prove that.
So those are my big four choices. There are countless other picks. Purdue athletics have been full of heartbreak since I can remember. Sound off in the poll below and in the comments. What one play would you change?