Joe Tiller Train Crashing To A Halt This Weekend

Yes, yes, Joe, we know -- ten bowls in twelve seasons.

It's hard to believe it, but suddenly it's here -- we're careening quickly towards the end of the Joe Tiller Era at Purdue and in just five days, Joe T will coach his last game as head coach of the Boilermakers.

What do we do to mark such a truly mixed emotion event? Clearly, we have to say something... or a few things, as we'll try to do during the week. But we really are at a strange place right now. This is one of those anticlimatic times where you kind of feel like you want to give him a proper sendoff, but after the debacle the season -- and, some say, the program -- has become, many simply want him to be sent off. Period.

So what has Joe Tiller meant to you? I'm genuinely curious. I know there are Tiller defenders who, by and large, are loyal to the man to a fault. They will say nothing bad about him because of the darkness he brought the program out from. However, it's also hard to ignore the complete full-circle nature of Tiller's tenure at Purdue.

The 1996 season, just before Joe's arrival, saw the Boilermakers go 3-8 and finish up losing the bucket to a truly terrible Indiana squad. And here we are, just twelve short years later... and the Boilers are 3-8 and facing a truly terrible Indiana squad again this weekend.

You can certainly point out all the success Joe has brought to us, and yes, he can hang his hat on any number of things, including being the winningest football coach in Purdue history (though with a program history like ours, isn't that kind of like being the prettiest girl in Wisconsin?), having taken the Boilers to a BCS bowl game (2001 Rose Bowl), nine wins three times, eight wins another three times, and just generally making Purdue football relevant for a fairly decent period of time.

However, Joe's also had only one season when he lost fewer than four games -- and that was his 9-3 first season at Purdue. The last two seasons prior to this one were inexcusable whiffs on opportunities for ten-win seasons (something that has completely eluded Tiller), with 5 and 6 losses, with more cupcakes than a Boilerdowd birthday party.

Yes, we've been "spoiled," one could say, by having a quality product on the football field for the better part of a dozen years. But just because things got better doesn't mean we're not entitled to expect more success. Improving, by its very definition, means you continue to get better, and the Purdue football program, quite frankly, has not gotten better since about 2004. We've more than once mentioned that we firmly believe the 2004 Wisconsin game effectively ended the upward swing of the program under Tiller. Whether you agree or not, and no matter who you blame, it's a hard fact to deny. The program has never been the same, and those of us at BS tend to think that game irreversibly broke Tiller's spirit.

As Boilerdowd has said before, we think we'd love to have Joe Tiller as our neighbor. He seems like a nice man. And he definitely made the Purdue football program something to be proud of again, after years of true embarrassment. And for that, I know we all thank him.

As I asked though, what is YOUR take on ole' Cowboy Joe?

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