Last night when Purdue was given the news that they'd be making the short trip to Detroit to play Western Michigan, many players weren't celebrating, but instead were complaining about the draw. Hours, if not minutes later, the tune changed...and this morning that continued.
Hope and some of the Seniors weighed in on GBI saying they were grateful for getting the invite...and honestly, they all should be. Two teams eligible for bowls, Ball State (6-6) and Western Kentucky (7-5), didn't receive bowl bids...but everyone who was eligible to go from the B1G got an invite. That's right TEN of the 12 teams in the conference are going bowling. That's the most ever invited from one conference. But is it something to brag about when four of those teams are .500? I think not.
If you've listened to the Handsome Hour the last few weeks, you've heard me say that you have to be nearly trying to not get into a bowl in this era...this year is another case in point. Illinois lost six of their last six games and was rewarded with a trip to San Francisco to play UCLA...yes, the UCLA team with a 6-7 record (FYI- they're the second team ever to go to a bowl with a losing record). Quite an honor, indeed. These two teams played so well this season that both coaches got fired. So two interim coaches will square off in a bowl that their fan bases probably don't care too much about in the cold, drizzly San Fran air...in a baseball stadium. Dream come true.
Our Boilers were invited to play in Detroit v. Western Michigan...at least it's indoors.
Purdue's opponent has only one win versus a team with a .500 record- Ball State. And like Purdue, when their defense failed, they left no doubt. They allowed MAC champ Northern Illinois to score 51 points and lost a heartbreaker to a solid Toledo team 66-63. During those losses, they allowed their two opponents to rush for over 400 yards. Also noteworthy, the Boilers & Broncos shared two opponents- Michigan and Illinois. The Michigan game was odd because most of the fourth quarter was simply canceled due to lightning as WMU lost 34-10 (Purdue lost 36-14 in a full contest). When they faced a hot Illini team in Champaign, they lost a nail-biter 23-20 (Purdue won at RA 21-14). We'll talk more about the game as it approaches.
The players who complained on Twitter were bothered that Northwestern got to go to Texas to play in the Meineke Bowl v. Texas A&M, and even more pissed that an Ohio State University got to play in Florida v. Florida in the Taxslayer.com Bowl. But the thing that really blew up Purdue's chances for playing in a warm-weather climate was the Sandusky sex scandal.
A lot of bowls and their corresponding sponsors openly-expressed trepidation about inviting PSU. But as PSU fell from grace and down the bowl ladder, the Ticket City.com bowl caught the Lions. That bowl had expressed on multiple occasions that it wanted the Boilers due to Purdue's large alum association in the Texas. So the Ticket City Bowl ends up with a team that was nearly in the BCS and another that probably deserved to be a second-tier bowl as Houston will face PSU on Jan. 2.
Iowa will face the disappointing Sooners of Oklahoma in Tempe in the Insight.com Bowl. Nebraska gets South Carolina in the Cap One Bowl. MSU plays the weakest 10-win BCS conference team ever in Georgia in the Outback. Michigan gets VaTech (very weak 11-win team coming off of a sizable loss...and only two quality wins) in the Sugar...and Wisconsin will play Oregon in the Rose.
I'm not sure if I've ever cared less about a bowl season than this one...maybe it's just me.
So back to our Boilers. Some fans on message boards and Twitter joined the players in the complaining saying Purdue should have rejected the invitation to Detroit...Are you flipping kidding me?
I'm positive they're talking about the same Purdue team that hadn't been to a bowl since their last trip to the Motor City in '07. They're also talking about the team that was manhandled by Iowa at home in a game that would have put them in a more-respectable/attractive bowl game. Yeah, this is the same Purdue team that got drubbed by Wisconsin, Michigan and Notre Dame...and probably most-noteworthy, lost to the powerful Rice Owls. Sure, my favorite squad beat aOSU, Illinois...but we can no see these games for what they were- wins over fellow mediocre squads.
I have a very hard time hearing any fellow Purdue fans or current players talking with any hint of entitlement in their words. Purdue played just-well-enough to get into a bowl...and in turn, we all got a bowl that is barely a bowl.
After the crappy BCS gets its pick, the auto-tie-ins grab the next layer of teams...then, every team is at the mercy of perception. 'Does that fan base travel? Is their offense exciting? Do they, as a team, have an 'it' factor that the average fan wants to tune in to?' and of course, 'Which team will make us the most money?'
That's what all of the bowl games are about at the end of the day. That's why EsPN champions the losing cause of the awful BCS system that holds college football fans hostage. That's why there are 35 stinkin' bowls...check that. There are about 17 or 18 stinkin' bowls...the rest are fine.
But at the end of the day, Coach Hope had this right- Purdue fans and players alike should be grateful for the bowl bid we received.