As you've probably already heard, Keith Smith is going to commission the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. I honestly have no clue what took him so long to come to his decision...but I'm stoked he'll return. K. Smith has consistent hands, catches well in traffic and runs precise routes...the little things that he does are greatly missed amongst the youth movement that has been thrust into action this season. In football the details matter, and this season, focus on the details has been non-existent for the kelly green Purdue offense. It's pretty impossible to take time in practice rounding out the rough edges when the guys barely even know the play book.
Atop being a damned good receiver, Smith might be the best morale guy in the locker room. Can the return of Smith and the other injured Boilers make a 3 win swing from this season, possible? We'll see.
Since this site's inception there have been a few consistent themes: We're critical of Purdue when we feel it's warranted, we love our Boilers like Paula Deen loves butter, we can't stand media types running the company line and we generally think early season polls, regardless of the sport are nonsense.
The last two pillars are related this year because EsPN has declared Purdue an also-ran, as you all well know, and the media poll has Purdue pretty low since Rob went down. But, the coaches got involved in the nonsensical back-beating of our Boilers this week. After Purdue easily handled its exhibition bidness and made easy work of Howard without playing many of the starters in a normal amount of minutes, our Boilers still dropped one spot...and UNC passed them.
Sure, it makes no sense. UNC struggled in its first real game and their final margin wasn't nearly as large as Purdue's 36-point thumping of the Bison...but let's remember what almost every coach admits- Many have their dogs filling out their polls. By the time the season is up and running, coaches have no time to invest in this nonsense, and they act like it. UNC is a an easier pick...national titles, Caroline blue unis, McDs AAs throughout the line-up...I get it.
Just so we don't take this poll too hard, here are some other oddities in the poll (at a glance):
-Tennessee is ranked (in both polls, no less). Yes, same Tennessee that was beaten by the University of Indianapolis, pretty badly at that, at home. I know it was exhibition...but do people who fill out polls really ignore such a blemish, whether it counts or not. They shouldn't. I don't care what the explanation is, shouldn't matter...it's still a game that was publicly-viewed and was a bad loss.
-Xavier, who is solid each season and has a ton of Juniors and Seniors on the roster, barely beat a bad team in their first contest, so they were booted from the coaches poll and was never invited to the media party. UNC who has a few Juniors returning from the awful team of '10, beats a crappy team by a slight margin, and is rewarded.
-Wisconsin returns three starters, is coached by Bo Ryan and seems to always be rock-solid, beat a lousy team by an eye-popping 44 points is barely-ranked by the coaches and unranked by the media.
There's more...but like the coaches and mainstream media, I haven't seen enough basketball to go through the poll slot by slot. Unlike some sports, it'll all be decided on the field of play, at least.
A New Era
This weekend we saw UM beat a bad Purdue team. All is right in the world, right, college football fans? Well, no.
There's simply no denying how bad Michigan is defensively. But that didn't stop this once-proud program from celebrating like they won the national title as they walked off Ross-Ade's field. I guess the old adage of "act like you've been there before" really doesn't play here...because many on the Wolverines roster, including their coach had never tasted the sweet nectar of beating Purdue at home.
Similarly, Notre Dame's fans rushed the field after beating a non-BCS school at home. At first blush, it seems odd since UND has all that history, and what-not. But, how many ranked opponents have the Irish beaten in recent seasons? But theres's more to this story.
Weeks ago, UND students started commissioning eachother via their student newspaper to rush the field sarcastically after Utah beat them. The significance is that with that game, many thought UND's seniors would become the school's losing-est class EVER.
Obviously, the Seniors avoided that distinction, at least for a few weeks. But as the Irish faithful streamed onto the field last Saturday, I think they helped everyone in the nation understand something that was already known by many: Big talk by big name coaches and heritage doesn't come close to guaranteeing success...ask IU basketball fans- Oh wait, those were the same people who were rushing the field in South Bend...nevermind.
And Speaking of Basketball...
Remember when Scott Martin left Purdue because he didn't like living in the shadow of his lifelong pal, Rob? We do.
His plan to follow his dreams two hours North haven't worked out as he and Mike Brey had envisioned, as you already know. But after a couple games, he's letting his game do all the talking. Martin is currently fourth in scoring, fourth in rebounding, fourth in minutes played, fourth in assists...and first in turnovers for the National Brand, UND.