As I was listening to the latest episode of the Hammerin’ Ales podcast I got to thinking about if Purdue really could knock off Ohio State this weekend in what looks like will be a sold out Ross-Ade Stadium. The answer is, I honestly don’t know. And that’s a great feeling. In so many recent years Purdue football has given us fans no hope, well ermmm there was one Hope but he turned out to be not the hope we needed nor the one we deserved, but now we certainly have hope. I look at this game on Saturday and even though Ohio State is ranked #2 in the country right now I honestly think Purdue could stay with them and maybe pull off the crazy upset. Will it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? Absolutely.
It’s incredible the way Jeff Brohm and this coaching staff have turned around the attitude of the fanbase in just two years. Under Coach Hazell this team and these fans truly did hit rock bottom. Apathy. That was the feeling most Purdue fans had during the final seasons under Hazell. For a sports team that’s worse than any other emotion. Simply not caring if you watch your team or not is the worst thing that can happen to any sports franchise. Apathy is hard to shake. Jeff Brohm did it in one season and is making things even better in year two.
Under Hazell and to a lesser extent Hope Purdue football just wasn’t fun. The team made stupid mistakes, the coaches were inconsistent and/or laughably incompetent at times, and the games were blowouts more often than not. It was so bad that there were times when I was going to be doing something on a Saturday and I didn’t even bother to record the game. That may not seem like a lot to most of you but it would be darn near scary to many people I knew growing up. I still watched nearly every game, but if I didn’t I just didn’t. It didn’t matter as much because I knew I would just be mad. I love Purdue football but at a certain point, it just wasn’t loving me back. I didn’t want to move on but for my own mental health it seemed like the best decision.
There truly are no words to describe how much Jeff Brohm has meant for this team and the Purdue fans. Under Hazell I still watched, because I’m a masochist, but I wasn’t nearly as into the games. My brothers, sans one, and Dad always text each other during games but the last Hazell years the texts were more or less strings of profanities followed by the word TACKLE in all caps numerous times. It just wasn’t fun anymore. These last two seasons under Brohm have been filled with optimism. I just want to share one short text exchange between my Dad and I before the Boston College game that I think highlights the difference two years can make.
Me: I won’t be watching the game live today. Gotta DVR it since I’m in class this morning.
Dad: Okay, no texts from me. That’s okay, the wifi sucks at Ross-Ade anyway.
Me: Very true. I’m just not sure how we win today. Their running back is gonna carve us up and if we sell out to stop him our DBs and safeties aren’t good enough to play one on one.
Dad: All true, which creates terrible problem. But yet we have hope. True fans. Go Boilermakers!
Purdue would of course go on to win that game. I’ve looked back at this text exchange a couple times since that game and just remembered how different things were just a short time ago. No matter how long we have Jeff Brohm, and I happen to think it’s going to be a very long time, we will always have him to thank for giving us our Saturday’s back. Purdue may not win each and every game but just the fact that they could has made me look forward to Saturday’s again and for that I’m eternally grateful.
But yet we have hope. True fans. Go Boilermakers.