November 26, 2016.
That was 1,000 days ago as of today, and a lot has changed since then. Jeff Brohm was still at Western Kentucky and was coming off of a 60-6 win at Marshall that day, clinching a berth in the Conference USA title game. Purdue fans were upset with Matt Painter because he had not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2012 and there were questions if he was worth his huge contract, especially after losing a big early season game vs. defending NCAA champ Villanova. I was still basking in the honeymoon of a Cubs World Series title, but it was tarnished on this day by Indiana’s 26-24 win in the Old Oaken Bucket game. That was the fourth straight win for the Hoosiers in the series, the first time they had done that since the Truman administration.
Purdue has not lost to Indiana in football or men’s basketball since.
Sure, things have been back and forth in the annual Governor’s Cup with the schools splitting the last four, but most eyes are on football and men’s basketball as the two premier sports. On November 26, 2016 Purdue football was at the nadir of 9-39 in the previous four seasons with four straight Bucket losses. Men’s basketball had a series of heartbreaks and Indiana was the reigning Big Ten champions.
But what a difference 1,000 days makes.
Jeff Brohm is 2-0 against Indiana, winning both games by a touchdown and clinching a bowl bid in each while denying Indiana a bowl. He’s only 13-13 in his first two seasons, but that feels like a near miracle given the crater he inherited.
Then there is men’s basketball. Matt Painter has reached three straight Sweet 16s, won a pair of Big Ten championships (and was a single rebound from a third), produced a pair of All-Americans in Caleb Swanigan and Carsen Edwards, got Purdue within two tenths of a second of the Final Four, and has gone 5-0 against Indiana. This includes the program’s first ever three-game winning streak in Assembly Hall. One of the sweetest wins ever in the series was in 2017 when Purdue’s win in Mackey Arena clinched a Big Ten championship and Indiana had to have confetti rain down on their heads as they left the floor.
In that time the Hoosiers have not sniffed the NCAA Tournament, fired a two-time Big Ten champion coach, and have gotten absolutely pantsed at home by Indiana State and Fort Wayne of all teams. When the two teams play this winter Purdue will not have a single player on its roster that has lost to Indiana. That means Tommy Luce can get the Hoosier Sweep for his career of 7-0 (or even 8-0 if there is a Big Ten Tournament meeting).
I am not going to imagine a world where Purdue ever loses to Indiana again in football or men’s basketball. That is unrealistic. Things can change quickly. Just look at women’s basketball, where Second Round Sharon still has a job after losing to Indiana three times during the 2017-18 season. Somewhere down the line we’re going to lose the Bucket again. Indiana is too good at home for Purdue to continue its dominance in Assembly Hall in indefinitely.
That still is not going to spoil the last 1,000 days, and hopefully it is at least 1,000 more before we feel that sting again.