Rock Bottom

Rock Bottom

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FEI rankings are out for Week 7, and they're not pretty. Purdue is 89th overall, two spots ahead of Army. Offense is 101st, defense is 88th, special teams are 125th (only South Alabama, Tulane and Miami are worse), remaining mean wins are 0.6 - basically, the average team in Purdue's position would maybe win one more game. S&P is actually worse: 98th overall (at least Army is 111th, but Maryland is 87th and Rutgers 92nd), 104th on offense, 80th on defense. Massey has Purdue 98th in DI, Sagarin has them 105th ... you get the idea. (Portland State is 110th. I should have finished my master's.) Basically, the numbers all suggest that if this were EA's NCAA series, someone would boot Purdue from the Big Ten in exchange for Toledo or something, and it would be justified. There's no shortage of content on this here site about how people feel, so it's not a case of people being ready to revolt and the numbers saying "wait, it's not what you think." It's exactly what you think. In fact, it may be worse.

Nine times in Purdue history, the Boilers have managed no more than one win in a season. Six of these were during the pre-Rose Bowl era (not before the game itself, before the conference began its obsession with the bowl), and one was Colletto's 1993 squad. (Note that Colletto was 17-38-1 at Cal State Fullerton and still landed the Purdue job 12 years later. Thanks, George! (Colletto is not someone we can blame on the current AD.)) The other two are Hazell years.

Of course, back in the day you could play the entire conference and not play 10 games in a season, which was the case for those first six (9 games in 1942, 7 or fewer in the others). It shouldn't be hard to figure out that the 2013 squad holds the record for most losses by a Purdue team in a season; 2015 is on pace to tie that record. We're not talking Northwestern-level struggling (from 1976-81, NU was 3-62-1; as '81 coach Dennis Green might have said, they were who we thought they were), but then when John Pont went 1-10 in consecutive seasons, the 'Cats probably thought Rick Venturi could turn things around.

SRS is sports-reference's rough measure of strength, with 0 being average. The 2015 team will finish below 0, marking the sixth straight time that's happened. (Hope's first team finished at 0.79.) From 1986 to 1993, the Boilers were under 0 ... but in single digits each time, and Colletto's 1992 team was at -0.01. No other stretch finds six or more Purdue teams below 0.

Depending on what happens in the last five games, Purdue might stay above the -10 mark; if so, the 1906 team will keep its record at -15.87, with 1907 right behind them at -14.67. Are you that concerned about what happened 100 years ago? Me neither. The modern-era worst is the 2013 team, -12.43, followed by '86 Akers (-7.6), 2014 (-6.33), and the current team (-5.45).

The worst part about all this is that while Purdue is sliding backward, everyone else in the conference, even the tire fires added in 2014, is drifting forward out of sight (even the worst programs aren't declining as rapidly). Three teams are under 0 this season; Maryland is next-worst at -0.94. Five teams are in double-digit positives, led by Michigan at 20.87. Last year, Purdue was worst, but at least Indiana wasn't that far ahead (-5.32 to -6.33). In 2013, only Illinois joined the Boilers below the line (-3.86), and Bill Cubit has them at 5.96 so far in 2015.

Darrell Hazell wanted to establish a rushing game and grind opponents down with it. Purdue is 105th in rushing yards per game, just ahead of Kansas, and tied for 103rd in yards per carry. (Remember that sacks are counted as rushing attempts.) While the passing game looks better (77th in yards per game), that's a volume thing, brought on by constantly being down 2-4 scores. The Boilers are 117th in yards per attempt, although oddly that puts them 12th in the conference. (Maryland and Northwestern are worse. Somehow.)

You get the idea. Over halfway through Hazell's third season, the program is not only demonstrably worse, it's hard to find an era where it was as bad as things are now ... and even if I could, who would care? The point of hiring a new coach isn't to say "at least it's not as bad as 1906," and yet that's where we are now, largely because an AD with no idea what he was doing offered a six-year contract to an unproven coach at a dollar figure that would be impossible to buy out early.

Thanks, Morgan.

When Do You Pull the Plug?

When Do You Pull the Plug?

Purdue Basketball Beat #28: Season 3 Episode 4, featuring SID Chris Forman

Purdue Basketball Beat #28: Season 3 Episode 4, featuring SID Chris Forman

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