Coach Matt Painter is not going anywhere. It’s crazy, the height of internet frenzy, that this is even a thing.
Seriously. Let me be very clear. Every single one of you that has written or breathed the words or written them on a piece of paper and quietly tucked them into your pocket, it’s not happening. It shouldn’t be happening.
I don’t care about your arguments. I don’t care about the lack of Elite 8’s or Final Fours, the lack of 5-star recruits or your displeasure with his in-game adjustments. I just don’t, and neither does the Purdue University board and Athletic Department.
Because they’re silly arguments, based around impatience and a real lack of reality. Seriously, I have heard every single argument there is possible against Coach Matt Painter. My day to day job is bartending, my boss is constantly busting my balls, and I write on here, a popular and free Purdue sports blog with ravenous Boiler fans with takes they are not afraid of sharing. I’ve read the takes, heard them drunkenly slurred, had them teased out there for me to react to.
I have heard every argument against him. And I have come to one conclusion about anyone who makes them wholeheartedly: U R DUM.
My first argument is very simple. We have made it to the final sweet 16 the last two years. Here’s why this is my argument: it seems to be your argument, too!
I don’t understand. Sweet sixteen means the last of over 300 division 1 programs with a chance at winning the National Title. This isn’t just mediocre, this is impressive. He did it this year despite losing the second best player in college basketball last year. He did it despite losing his biggest advantage on the court in the first game of the tournament. He did it two years in a row, while coaches all across the country wished for that kind of consistency. Coach Izzo, morally corrupt and classless at this point, has two sure-thing lottery picks on his roster this year and as many as five NBA players all together, and he can’t say the same thing. His team got bounced in the second round this year.
So did Tennessee. So did Cincinnati. So did Xavier. So did UNC. So did Auburn.
Virginia didn’t even make it out of the first round. Ditto to Wichita State. Miami. Arizona.
And you want to fire this man because he has made it to two consecutive Sweet 16’s? Go away, U R DUM.
It’s almost like the tournament is really hard and random, and Coach Painter, while not breaking into an Elite 8, has recruited a team and coached them into a group that was consistently one of the last 16 with a chance to win a title before running into a buzzsaw of a #1 seed playing at home and taking on a Texas Tech team that had no answer for Isaac Haas, but didn’t need one because all the braces in the world couldn’t unfracture an elbow.
But it’s deeper than that. At the end of the 2005 season, Purdue basketball was an unfathomable 7-21 under legendary Coach Gene Keady. When Coach Painter took over, they moved to 9-19 in ‘06 and then 22-12 in his second year while getting into the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Then Coach Painter recruited the Baby Boilers.
In the 2013 season, the last of the Baby Boilers were gone, and Coach Painter’s team struggled. The previous freshman class would all eventually transfer from the program, and only two of the 2012 class would stay - Rapheal Davis and A. J. Hammons. It was a disappointing ending for a once young and promising looking team. They would finish 16-18 and miss the tournament.
The 2014 season was even more bleak. All four freshman, all seemingly extremely talented would also all eventually leave the program: Kendall Stephens (transfer to Nevada), Bryson Scott (transfer to IPFW), Basil Smotherman (transfer to Georgia State), and Jay Simpson (heart condition). Purdue would finish 15-17.
But once again, Coach Painter would follow up two dark years with one recruiting class capable of changing not only the record around, but the culture of the locker room. He brought in five players: Jacquil Taylor, Dakota Mathias, PJ Thompson, Isaac Haas, and Vincent Edwards.
Then he got Biggie. Then he got Boogie. One a Mcdonalds All-Americans and five-star recruit from Fort Wayne, the other a quietly heralded kid out of Texas, both college All-Americans by their sophomore year.
Coach Painter has twice stared down the twilight of Purdue basketball and twice found the stars to light the program in one recruiting class. Twice those classes were unable to fulfill their full potential. Not because of bad coaching or bad rosters, but because of injuries.
Robbie Hummel, All-American, and one of the most versatile and efficient players in the history of college basketball. Lost to an ACL, twice.
Isaac Haas, one of the most dominating big men in college basketball history and this year’s teams biggest mismatch, and honorable mention All-American. Fractured elbow.
Still think Coach Painter should be fired? That he’s incapable of winning the big one? Then you’re blatantly ignoring the incredible bad luck of losing two of your program’s best players.
And I’m convinced: U R DUM.
Ask Villanova or Michigan what it’s like to stick with your guy.
(The writer of this article is both tired and angry of the constant whining and hate and will gladly contest you on twitter @caseybartleyhr .)