I know you’re hurting. We all are.
Part of what made Saturday so upsetting to so many was because of how high we all were heading into it. Boilerdowd wrote about it on Saturday morning – he couldn’t remember the last time the entire fan base was this amped for the start of a season. Even when there was excitement around the potential of a Hope season or later-years Tiller season, there was also the trepidation of knowing the bottom could fall out at any moment.
But this year felt different. Everyone has been excited since Coach Hazell got to town. And it hasn’t been smoke and mirrors – you can’t fake what Coach Hazell has put forth. He changed the approach. He changed attitudes. He changed how we all felt in a matter of months. He made us believe success was possible and that it was reasonable to expect it sooner than later. Whether it was a big season or not, he made us all feel as though competing was something we could count on. And that didn’t happen Saturday.
There are coaches out there who will tell you that you simply cannot allow yourself to get too high or too low over the course of a college football season. Sometimes that sounds like a middling mentality, but it’s sage advice. Danny Hope allowed games to feel as though they were the end-all, be-all of a season and when they didn’t go well, it felt as though there was little left to play for. Joe Tiller won some of those huge games, but those very same teams always managed to find a banana peel during their most talented years, costing Purdue a chance at the really memorable seasons that could have been.
In the end, I still think Coach Hazell’s approach is the right one. He’s still working with Danny Hope’s guys and, while I think they’re plenty talented to complete better than they did Saturday, their mentality during games is still that of a Danny Hope team. As much as I hate to say this, even the D-team ESPNU had doing the game noted that Purdue’s defense didn’t look like it wanted to be there in the third quarter. That is not good. To put it mildly.
I’ve seen people talking about how thoroughly disgusted they are. I’ve seen people talking about the drive they made out to Cinci to cheer this team on and how much a gut-punch it felt like. And we all saw the terrific turnout in Indy – that illustrated to me the huge turn Darrell Hazell already had this program making. Following it up with that turd sandwich was not ideal.
But you know what? I’m glad you’re disappointed. I’m glad you’re pissed off. I’m glad you want more and expect more and demand more from these guys. I’m glad you’re not waiting around for the next Drew Brees to come sauntering in. I’m glad you want to see these young men lead your favorite college football team to glory and to make you proud of the black and gold. That means you care. It means you’re ready to win. You’re ready to have the pride that always resided within you come back to the surface. You’re ready for people to think it’s great that you went to Purdue because Purdue football is fun.
The anger and frustration so many of us are feeling is only there because we’re not apathetic. And that’s a good thing. You may not have gotten a win, but you’re also not chirping about hanging 70+ on an MVC school. Your team isn’t rubbing an FCS program’s nose in an eight-point win.
Yes, there were things that embarrassed me about the Cinci game, too, but I’m much more curious to see how these guys react to this. Will adjustments be made? Will Rob Henry not look like he’s throwing with the wrong arm, as one of our readers put it? The good news is that in just four days, we get to find out. And a week later… we really get to find out.
I’m glad we’re all irritated. I’m happy we’re not lethargic and passive about our favorite program getting spanked. I’m ready for the progress we all know is coming. I demand it, too. And I expect to see it.
Choo fricking choo.