A question has been rattling around in my head since the Bucket Game on Saturday...and perhaps earlier than that. Is Purdue football small-time? Whether it is or not, it's acting and being treated by alums and administration as a small-time program. So I guess that means it is.
I love the school. I love the program. I want nothing more than to see these guys succeed. And it's these guys I want to see succeed, because I think they're talented enough to do so. I'm not longing for five-star, entitled punks who don't go to class. I like the guys who are there because they want to go to Purdue. That's one of the things that made the 2000 season so special and made the '03 and '04 seasons so almost-special.
Then I read quotes from Danny Hope at last night's football banquet and one of them is this:
"Everything about the program is going in the right direction. It’s unfortunate that we had some struggles."
Really? Really? Everything??
No, Coach, just....no. Everything is most assuredly not going in the right direction. And do you know how I know? I can simply look at the W-L record this season. And beyond that I can look at the way Purdue had no shot in several games. Simply no chance... primarily because they couldn't move the ball, or stop turning it over, or stop other teams from moving the ball... it all depended on the week, but no matter what, there were serious problems all over the field. Suggesting everything is going in the right direction is, quite frankly, absurd.
There is no accountability in this program, and that quote underscores it. Guys are fumbling. Guys don't know plays. Guys aren't in the right positions. Guys don't close the deal when they clearly should be able to. And the team is losing to good competition, mediocre competition, and inferior competition. The team is losing at home... on senior day... in the Bucket Game.... to a horrible IU team. And at home to a MAC team....two years in a row. That's simply inexcusable.
And no matter how many times we raise these issues, there are readers who -- inexplicably -- attack us for being so demanding and it's always the same excuse -- the injuries. Injuries, I'll say surely not for the last time, do not cause guys to not know plays. Or to not block properly. Or to not tackle properly. Or to drop passes. Or any number of other things that come down to 1) Coaching and 2) Accountability. If you make fundamental errors or repeated mental mistakes... you should be benched. Not permanently, but temporarily. I don't care if a walk-on has to take your place for a half. How much worse would things be? And it would make a point to the unprepared or unfocused player.
Or hey, how about working on fundamentals in practice instead of being everybody's best pal, Coach Hope? How about not making f-cking jokes to the sideline reporter going into halftime? Take this shit seriously. You're paid -- handsomely -- to make this program respectable. Nobody expects Purdue to be competing for national titles. Nobody really even expects Purdue to challenge for the conference. All people want is exciting football and average bowl seasons. Seriously, isn't that what the majority of fans and alums seemingly are okay with?
And there, my friends, is the problem. When you expect or hope for mediocrity and fall short, it's dreadful. If you shoot for the moon and fall short, perhaps you at least begin to plant the seeds for success. Say what you want about Joe Tiller -- and we have -- but when he came in to Purdue, he rejected out of hand the losing culture. He simply said they were going to compete and build a winner. And he did that. Understand something here: while Joe mailed it in his last few seasons, his first 6 or 7 years were inarguably impressive. Tiller won 9 games his first season. He beat Notre Dame. He won the Alamo Bowl. Purdue beat good teams. They scared teams. They changed the way the conference played offensively. People want to talk about Rich Rodriguez bringing his offense to the Big Ten. No, sir. Joe Tiller made that high-flying spread offense accepted in the Big Ten 13 years ago.
My point? That is can be done, but this coaching staff and this athletic department doesn't want it bad enough. Danny Hope should be sickened and disgusted by a 4-8 record and 9-15 over two years. Okay, so it was injuries this year -- what was it last year? Because, despite some excitement, last year was a lousy year, too. 5-7 is not good. It's not promising, it's not acceptable...it's not funny.
More than half the teams in the country go to bowl games. You only have to go .500 to qualify. Not going to a bowl these days is a referendum on your program. Not going three years in a row? Unacceptable. Simply unacceptable.
How come there is all this media talk about Rodriguez potentially being fired at Michigan? Two lousy years and now a pretty soft team that clawed to 7-5. Unmitigated beatdowns at the hands of their rival. And, rightfully, the natives are restless. Randy Shannon at Miami gets bagged after four years, 7-5 this year, 9 wins last year and a ranked team..... but it wasn't enough. Now, maybe Miami and Michigan fans are sometimes delusional....but the point is, they're simply not accepting average/mediocre teams. And let's be clear: those programs/teams are in far better shape than our Boilers.
So why are we at BS the only ones saying the Purdue football program's current state is unacceptable? Where is the media? Where are the alums? Come on, old John Purdue Club members! This team lost to Notre Dame, a MAC team and IU this year! How low do things have to get before people with influence begin to get pissed? 1-10? 0-11? I'm not suggesting (yet) that Coach Hope definitely has to go. I'm simply asking why it feels like we're the only ones in the Purdue realm who are highly concerned/irritated at the state of things? How come nobody is questioning Danny Hope's nonsensical rah-rah "everything is going well" baloney? That's just....stupid. And insulting.
All is not well, Coach Hope. And for things to begin to get better, you need to recognize that and get angry and do something about it.