Purdue Football still matters, to me.
I know, it has grown stale to many of us, but for some reason when the beginning of August rolls around I still see myself trembling in excitement prepping for the football season. Regardless how we do, I seem to always support these young men trying to achieve their athletic and academic dreams.
Let me take you back.
The year was 1999, as a young 7 year old I attended my first football game. At home against Notre Dame. As a young lad I didn't attend many games, a few here and there, but this game my uncle took me to see this guy named "Drew Brees" to me, I didn't care, I was excited to just go to a game with my uncle. I do remember he talking the game up as we were both ranked in the top 25 and we started the season by pounding Central Florida. This game did not disappoint. As we came out victorious 28 to 23 over the Irish from South Bend. While we ended the season on a loss in the Outback Bowl to Georgia, I fell in love with Purdue football that year.
Let us jump to my middle school years.
I will fast forward to 2004. The year of Orton. Looking back on that year, seeing what Orton did that season, just wow. nearly 3,100 yards in the air, 31 touchdowns to only FIVE interceptions! I was going to Purdue games regularly at this point, my friends tailgated and of course I would tag along at the expense of his parents I am sure. WE STARTED THE SEASON 5-0, Orton was the leader of the Heisman and West Lafayette was ALIVE. Then, the fumble. #5 Purdue hosting the talented 10th ranked Badgers. We seemed to be okay... then this happened.
I am not trying to bring up bad memories, but as a 12 year old it hurt. It hurts as a near 24 year old now too. I will never forget what happened after that, three straight losses, that were all very close. A loss to Michigan by 2, a loss to Northwestern by 3 and a loss to Iowa by 2. We did kick IU's A$$, but then finished the season by losing to the Sun Devils.
Disappointment was at all time high for me.
Sophomore year of high school, Hope was hired, rumor was everyone wanted Spack, but Hope was cheap. Hey we got to some bowl games here and there. He recruited the hell out of Florida and did a good job of having upsets along the way.
Ill never forget my first year in college (2011) when we upset Ohio State. We were nearing the end of the Hope run, you could tell with the empty bleachers. I was on the side of the student section, where the peasants from Ohio State could purchase tickets. I was with one of my best friends at the game. We all know O$U fans love to to run their mouths. As we went into halftime, up 17-7 my buddy and I were felling pretty good. So we started running ours back.
In typical Purdue fashion, we let them come back. All we could hear is "HOOOLLLY BUCKEYE, HOLLY BUCKEYE" whatever that means, I'm still not sure to this day. We go to overtime and we all know how it ended, they kicked a field goal, we get the ball back and Robert Marve punches it in from 1 yard out. So of course the O$U fan gets the "HOOOLLYY BUCKEYE, F*&K YOU". We proceeded to storm the field, I got a picture with KK Short and got it signed the next season and now he is even better then what I thought he would ever be.
We can fast forward to the Hazell hire. Not going to lie, I was not mad with the hire. A Tressel disciple, a younger coach and he talked a good game. Said all the rights things, seemed like he was ready to take a step forward. That first season of "Reshape, Rebuild and Return" was all but wrong.
He was right though, it would be a start of the rebuilding process and the reshaping process. I am going to protect him a bit and say that the cupboards were bear when he took over the program. Defensive lineman playing Offensive line etc.
I had a feeling we would be further now than what we are, but we are behind in the "arms race" we are finally starting to catch up and the 2017 recruiting class is starting to shape up as a good one. Sure, we can look at our last few seasons of recruiting and know that it hasn't been great, but West Lafayette is not a football hot spot.
Purdue football still matters to me. It mattered as a young child, as a middle school student and playing high school football (Hell I wore #40 for Mike Alstott). I am not trying to persuade you to back Hazell and what he is doing. But back these young men as they try and obtain their academic & athletic achievements.
So let us cheer on Markell Jones as he rushes for 1,000 yards this season. Let us cheer on Blough when he makes a great throw. Let us cheer on Jawhaun Bentley as he comes back from an ACL injury and will lead our team in tackles. We are still young and we cannot build this thing overnight.
As an Alumni now, I will be there on Saturdays. I know a lot of our readers will be there too. Purdue football still matters to me, but does it matter to you?