How I Would Handle the Losing
We’ve talked about it before and fairly recently on one of the podcasts, but when things get as bad as they currently are with Purdue football, everything begins to irritate me. When guys are smirking and chipper during the postgame presser after losing to Notre Dame, I’m annoyed. When I see guys with helmet stickers during an abomination of a 1-5 season, I’m really annoyed. And when I see alternate uniform combinations (like those stupid Oreo cookie numbers from homecoming), I’m disgusted. Why? Because it feels like a treat for the players and, let's be honest, they don't deserve any cookies right now.
We’ve talked about alternate unis here before – and especially alternate helmets – but let’s make no mistake: we don’t think they should be worn whenever the players want to or overused like the all-black look in Danny Hope’s first season. We think they should be special and only trotted out rarely.
What’s my point in all of this? Glad you (didn’t) ask.
With the performance we’ve seen on the field over the past few weeks, I’d go in the opposite direction. I’d strip away anything special about the uniforms until the players earn them back.
We’ve heard from multiple sources that Coach Hazell has been beyond irritated with his team’s play in these blowouts. You saw it yourself if you watched the Journey last week. So what’s a coach to do when his 18-22 year olds aren’t performing in a way that makes him (or us) proud? Begin taking things away, like you might with a child.
First, you remove the helmet stickers. It’s a dumb, old tradition anyway, and one that Purdue had done away with after Danny Hope’s first season. One thing I felt Hope did somewhat right was in his first season, when players got helmet stickers after victories and for nothing else. Helmet stickers for individual accomplishments (and what the hell could anyone be earning them for this season?) are stupid and call attention to the wrong things. Who cares what anyone did well if you lose by 30+ points again? Whatever it was, it wasn’t worth sh-t because it did nothing in terms of helping the team win.
Next, you do something fairly simple and not really at all controversial, and you rip those names off the backs of the jerseys. Joe Tiller came to town and removed them, making it clear that who you are didn’t matter – the team mattered, the goals mattered. Nothing else did. Time for that mentality again.
After that, you go further and begin to strip away things that make them proud to be Boilermakers. And this will get their attention. You peel the motion “P” off the helmets. They come in for game day and find very basic black jerseys with no names, gold pants and plain gold helmets with no Purdue markings (see photos in this post as examples -- though, I would go with gold pants in the Etling photo). As Boilerdowd said on our podcast a few weeks ago when we talked about this, perhaps all Hazell would have to do then is walk in and say, “Hey, maybe you’ll earn them back today, boys.” I’d say that might get their attention and enhance their focus.
We’ve said it before here. As fans and loyal Boilermakers, we can tolerate losing (hell, we’ve done it many times) as long as it’s leading somewhere. But to lose in such cataclysmic fashion…to be utterly noncompetitive…is just inexcusable. It’s not us. It’s not Purdue. And if you’re part of the team that is not representing Boilermakers the way they deserve to be represented, then I think you deserve to be the first time in recent history to have their Purdue markings removed from game attire. Earn ‘em back. Make us proud.
We’re damn sure ready.