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Purdue Vs. I.U.: A Thank You To The Big 10

In the spirit of our letter writing campaign on Hammer and Rails, I finally get around to writing the Big 10 schedule makers a thank you letter.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Big10 Schedule Makers,

I'm writing you today to apologize. When the Big10 basketball schedule was released, I was furious. How could you essentially hand Indiana basketball a shot at the Big10 title? The first thing I noticed when I looked at the Hoosier's schedule was away games at: Rutgers, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn. St., Michigan St., Illinois, Iowa. Before the season tipped, I had it pegged as W, W, W, Toss Up, Toss Up, W, L, W, Toss up. I mean, come on, you only served them up one game on the road where a win would be surprising. Then I looked further into the schedule, and started to grind my teeth a little. I mean seriously, they only play Purdue, Michigan St., Maryland, and Ohio St. once, with only the Michigan St. game on the road? Does Tom Crean possess compromising pictures of you guys? Has he agreed to share any Big10 win incentive money with you? Did he at least provide you with unlimited tanning at the spa of your choice? How could you provide I.U. with such a cupcake of a Big10 schedule? I mean, ESPN currently has Indiana with the 109th ranked conference strength of schedule in the nation. You couldn't even manage to get them into the top 100 to make it look like you were trying?

Then I watched the Hoosiers play in Maui and I realized why you guys are the professionals, and I'm just a lowly blogger. They got beat by a pitiful Wake Forest team with little talent and a new coach. I thought it was just early season jitters, but then they got beat by an equally bad UNLV team. I watched them go on the road and get embarrassed by a down Duke team. How could a team with 3 5* players look completely confused about the basic objectives of basketball? Could Tom Crean's job actually be in jeopardy? The thought alone sent shivers down my spine.

You see, as a Purdue fan, I became a huge Tom Crean fan after watching him lead a senior laden squad with two lottery picks to crushing defeat in the Sweet 16 against Syracuse. Crean had every weapon you need to destroy Syracuse's 2-3 zone at his disposal, and couldn't figure out how to use a single one. He had a skilled post player capable of running the offense from the free throw line. He had a stretch 4 capable of drilling clutch 3 pointers. He had a freak athlete at the 3 capable of attacking the baseline and going over top of the zone. He had 2 point guards that could bomb away from 3. Hell, he even had an energizer on the bench capable of pulling I.U. out of any sort of lull with his energy alone. Crean managed to put together such an inept game plan, that a truly rare collection of talent only managed to score 50 points in their biggest game of the year. I'm fairly certain that I could have coached that I.U. team to at least 45 points against Syracuse, so essentially, I.U. had a coach that maybe had me by 5 points. After that game, I prayed that Crean would be at Indiana for decades to come, because I knew those dusty banners were only going to continue to molder with him in Bloomington. Sure, he was going to recruit some player, and sure, he was going to win some games, but I was confident Indiana wasn't even going to return to a Mike Davis level of tournament success with Crean running the show.

So, I'm writing you this letter to thank you for helping Tom out this season. I.U.'s assembly of shooting guards and small forwards were destined to take a beating this season with a decent schedule. They are wretched away from the friendly whistles of Assembly Hall, so you made sure when they did leave Bloomington, they mostly left with a talent advantage so wide that even Crean couldn't screw it up. I mean, sure, he did manage to fumble away a game against Penn St., and yes, he couldn't beat Wisconsin when Wisconsin was playing like team that didn't even want to win basketball games, but you helped him enough to win back over the I.U. fans. All is right in Bloomington again, and Tom Crean is firmly off the hot seat. As a Purdue fan, I couldn't be happier.