As Purdue fans we've gotten pretty familiar with disappointment in the last few years. Not the type of disappointment that one loss brings, but the type of disappointment that sits with you during the off season because the season simply didn't go as planned.
We've seen it in basketball, we've seen it in football. In 2012, I thought my Boilers would win 7 or 8 fooball games and 21 basketball games. I was wrong. The football team struggled to win six games and the basketball team was two games under .500 with just 16 wins. These two programs were in very different positions coming into last season. The football team had a lot of experience and seemed to be healthier than it had been in a while. The basketball team was short on experience and Seniors in key roles and had a few players that weren't quite healthy as the season started.
But both suffered from one similarity, players weren't developing as many thought they would...and that's a big problem that leads to seismic shifts.
There were a few players on Purdue's basketball roster that simply hadn't taken steps forward as they needed to. One guy didn't get stronger and couldn't take the pounding under the basket. Another couldn't create his own shot after starting his career as a promising scorer from long range...so a ton of Freshman had to mature quickly in the void.
For the gridiron Boilers, one guy promised fans big things, but wilted in the biggest games, another battled recurring injuries that kept him out of practice...but it seemed there weren't many individuals getting batter and the collective team was in a similar bog.
The end result for the football team was the coaching staff was replaced. In hindsight, the toughest predicament that the last staff left this current staff in was not bring young guys along. We've said it before, but FORTY SEVEN players on the current roster are Freshman. Some of those guys who showed promise last year should have probably saw the field earlier...maybe in a 40 point loss...I dunno, I'm just spit-balling. On top of the guys that were completely held back, you've got players that were ready to play that simply didn't. The end result is what we've seen this year.
Growing pains are hard...we saw that in Mackey Arena last year as Freshman struggled to give consistent effort, wore out quickly and were just outgunned. We're seeing the same thing this year...but I'm hoping that the '12/'13 season for the basketball team and the '13 season for the football team are the turning points for both programs.
One thing is for sure, massively-disappointing seasons have costs that go deeper than wins and losses.
For the basketball team, nearly a quarter of the roster transferred and the coaching staff changed slightly. Poor chemistry is obviously easier to detect when players are as close as they are on the court...and there are no helmets to disguise the faces of the players when things aren't going great. Plus, it's just tougher to blend in on a roster of 13 or 14 players.
I'm not so sure chemistry has much to do with the football team's woes this season...BUT, players are not on the same page all of the time due to so many guys playing bigger and unfamiliar roles.
My fear is that this season's ripple effects might be similar to that of the basketball team. There will most-assuredly be transfers...I'm hoping they're not in key areas. I can say, with almost 100% confidence that the football team will not lose a quarter of the roster to transfers.
Some Purdue fans have been pointing fingers one direction for a long time
Perhaps (not too sadly) there will be changes to the coaching staff as there simply has to be. The head coach isn't going anywhere, nor should he...but one or more of his coordinators might not be at Purdue next season unless there is a shockingly-positive change in the remaining six games.
Poor ticket sales and no-shows are starting to become more obvious at Ross-Ade...much of the momentum that Hazell's positive PR blitz had yielded in the winter, spring and summer has been lost. And the fanbase is sniping at itself on message boards, via Twitter and in comments sections on sites like this as fans begin to question one another's mettle. One thing you can be assured of within a fanbase that has a ton of engineers- there are going to be a lot of very logical people in the group. But I gotta tell you, and I'm a heart-over-head type of fan, generally...it's kind of tough to deny facts week after week. Someone like me gets angry and is disheartened, for others malaise might have set in by now. I would think that apathy is the toughest thing to overcome for the ticket office.
This is the crazy thing- the season just reached its halfway point...but it kinda feels like we've been through 12 weeks already.
There are 125 teams in the NCAA...so these stats might smart a bit.
118th in points allowed.
118th in 3rd down conversions allowed.
117th in points scored.
114th in yards rushing/game.
113th in pass completion percentage.
110th in 3rd downs converted.
112th in turnovers lost.
104th in turnover margin.
0 wins over D-IA opponents in five tries.
In Division one athletics, stats like those have a cost. Boiler Sports Reports' Chris Emma talked about how this is a key juncture for Hazell's first team...one in which the Seniors must show leadership in order for something positive to be taken out of this season...for the program's sake. We'll see how well the upper classmen stay on task, and how quickly the young guys grow up. Both will help decide the final record for this team and possibly help with the offseason direction of the program.
I would love to see a BS article on the other coaching candidates we were interested in and how they're fairing in there first seasons. It is obvious now that Hope left our cupboard completely bare, but I'd be interested in reading about whether or not the other candidates fell into similar situations. Just an idea.
From this self same blog, 8 months ago: "I'm going to give Shoop a chance to show he won't do to Purdue's
offense what he did to the Bears' offense from 1999-2003..." Well, sorry to say, he did. I got faith we'll do better this coming weekend, though. For the same reasons I'm hopeful each spring that this is the Cubs' year. Get more of the kids reps, see what they got, and maybe someone will rise up, give a damn, and try to play like he got a pair.
The sheer volume of underclassman playing explains a lot of things including the size differential, the lack of execution, the lack of stamina, etc.; it also speaks to just how poor a job the last guy was doing: Hope's rope was too long and now we are reaping the results. For this reason, it seems proper to give Hazell the benefit of the doubt, but that won't last long especially if there is absolutely no improvement, and thus far that seems to have been zilch.
The thing is unless this club starts showing a bit of a pulse soon, there will be NO development of new talent since the prospects will not want to come: no one wants to play for a team that seems so thoroughly incompetent in all aspects of the game and devoid of any noteworthy talent.
Disappointed... Don't know what else to say. I am a very optimistic fan, but also pretty realistic. I let my gut feelings get the best of me sometimes. This season is pretty tough to swallow, but looking at a lot of things can put it into some perspective.
1. 4th toughest schedule in the country
2. If they thought D-line was our bright spot and most talented on the team based on spring and off season, then what did that really say about the rest of our team..... We are not very talented.
3. The O-line is atrocious. I don't care who the QB, RB, or WR's if were have no holes, time, or forward movement we have no offense.
4. We played 25 1st/2nd year players. That will make us look undersized I would think and also very inexperienced, but it also shows that Hazell's knows that the future has to start now.
5. Hope's recruiting is showing. I also think that his discipline with accountability and fundamentals has shown since the first interception of the first game. Players automatically had their heads down and walking off the field (Upperclassmen especially).
6. Injuries have not helped our cause, but it also wouldn't have made up for 30+ loss games and non existent offensive ability.
7. I like the switch at QB and realize it is going to take time, but again no OL presence doesn't help that.
8. I would also like some reasons why some select players have not been playing, or been being used. Their are several, but the one that gets me every time is Cottom???? Any info would be great on this one. The only thing that my dad and I can guess is that his grades have not met Hazell's standards????
Overall, it saddens me how this season has shaped up so far. It isn't so much surprising as to us having the record we have, but these have been some brutal games. Hell Wiscy just demolished NW over the weekend also and they are one of the top teams in the B1G also.
I like the switch to playing our underclassmen, because it will build character, teach them to not give up, and will get them to come together as a team, and not want to ever feel this way again. If you are a player that is not in this mindset then hopefully you will leave or be removed.
Here's hoping for brighter days... Until then I will still be sitting in my season tickets that have a legacy fee tacked on and hoping for some special moments! BOILER UP!!!
One thing that stuck out to me on Saturday when I was at the game was how SMALL the Purdue players looked when lined up against Nebraska. I don't know if there is any real data to support that, but it seemed like Purdue has fielding a Sun Belt team to play against against big, physical B1G teams. I'm afraid that this is the final remnant of Danny Hope: a bare cupboard with a team of guys he recruited to play a style of football that isn't going work against the most talented teams in the conference. I think Danny Hope did some pretty awful things to this roster, and we need Hazell to get his guys into the game.
There's also a significant difference between a season that blows up near the end - say, a bad loss the last weekend in October that leads to a winless November - and a season that blows up in September. In the former case, it's easier to start younger players, tweak the schemes a bit, and do other things to acknowledge that you're not going to accomplish anything or note ... but in the latter, well, you can't exactly fart around for 8 games.
It's dispiriting to have to look closely at where this team is compared to where it could be reasonably expected to be. To put those numbers in context, keep in mind that there are 62 power-conference teams in I-A football (now that we no longer have to pretend the former Big East is actually respectable). The AAC and Mountain West are kind of in-between conferences - some decent teams and some bad ones - and then Conference USA, the MAC, and the Sun Belt bring up the rear, usually in that order.
So a rank in the 60s means you're middle-of-the-pack in I-A, sure, but one of the weakest teams in your peer group. In the 80s, you're nearer the bottom of the next group down, and in the 100s, you're in the middle of the weakest group of I-A teams. A rank like 24th is good (in kick return average, which surprisingly is only 3rd in the conference, behind Minnesota and Illinois; of course Purdue has more practice, and is top-10 in kick return yardage), but 119th is ... not good.
That's Purdue's rank in total offense, with just 287.3 YPG. Below the Boilers are: UMass, a bad MAC team that only recently moved up to I-A and still doesn't have a team full of corresponding players; South Florida, which has one of the worst offenses I've ever seen; Florida International, also relatively new to I-A football; and Miami (Ohio, of course), at 213.7 YPG. In a sense, there are teams much worse off than Purdue, but none of them are in a conference anywhere near the Big Ten. (C-USA and AAC are the others.)
And it's no consolation to say "but here are these other teams that are nearly a full 100 yards worse than Purdue!" There should be. Michigan, who's been struggling offensively pretty much the whole season, is over 100 yards better than Purdue - 395.7 - and is 9th in the conference. Indiana is more than 100 yards better than Michigan - 504.3 - and they're only second in the Big Ten. (Wisconsin is first.)
Shoop isn't running a bad offense. He's running a nonexistent offense. I generally don't agree with midseason firings, because it's hard to change schemes between games, and unless there's an offensive genius sitting by his phone (hint: there isn't), you're going to be moving not just one guy, but several guys, because you have to move someone up to fill the new OC's old position, and then someone to fill his spot, and then someone has to cover that guy's spot ... and all this is just to tide you over until the offseason, when you might well hire a guy with a completely different approach. The problem, though, is that if you don't fire the OC, then you're not going to see much change ... and it isn't like Purdue's playing Little Sisters of the Poor next.
It's tough on everyone. We all want the Boilers to turn things around, but there's no reason to expect that this season. We want the team to know we support them, but it's hard to spend two or three figures (disclosure: I don't go to football games, so I don't do this myself) on a team that will almost certainly be crushed in two of its remaining home games. (Iowa looks kind of bad as well these days.)
Losing sucks. Losing badly really sucks. Here's to not losing badly next season.
@SideWayz Here's where they stand as of today...for shits and giggles.
Tennessee: 3-3, blown out by Oregon, handily beaten by Florida, barely beat South Alabama, took Georgia to OT. Passing 111th (164/game), Rushing 29th (211/game), Points for 52nd (32/game), Points against 75th (28/game)
California: 1-5, blown out by aOSU, Oregon, Wazzu, and UCLA, beaten handily by NW, barely beat Portland State. Passing 5th (371/game), Rushing 111th (112/game), Points for 89th (25/game), Points against 125th (44/game)
NC State: 3-3, beaten handily by Clemson, Wake Forest, and Syracuse, barely beat Richmond, easily won against Louisiana Tech and Central Michigan. Passing 54th (250/game), Rushing 57th (179/game), Points for 91st (25/game), Points against 28th (21/game).
Definitely apples to oranges, but you can see none of the hot coaching prospects from last year are exacting immediate change and winning a lot. It takes a lot more than a new system to win. You gotta have the right guys for the system, both coaches and players.
@SideWayz I thought about that...but don't want it to look like I've got wanderlust already. Check out what Sonny Dykes is doing this year at Cal if you don't want to be depressed.
@SideWayz That would be interesting, but it would be a real apples/oranges comparison, simply because all programs are different in academics, conference, how the previous coach left the program, etc.
@zlionsfan Thanks, Z, kind of...
Is Shoop's contract public? Do we know how salty that's going to be?
@winamacboiler @zlionsfan The contract itself isn't readily available, but fortunately for us, multi-year assistant contracts may not yet have arrived in West Lafayette. (I don't see Burke going in that direction any time soon ... especially not given what we're seeing now.)
That's good news, financially, because it would mean Hazell could simply tell Shoop and whoever else that they won't be returning in 2014. Shoop's base salary is $400K, tops among assistants, but it's unlikely he'll be reaching any bonuses other than perhaps for team academic performance, and by "unlikely" I mean "totally impossible".