|For some reason, I love that Craig James was part of
the dirtiest program ever.
I watched the 30 for 30 film Pony Excess last night on ESPN and it got me to thinking.... how many of us out there would accept some level of cheating if it meant the kind of on-field success SMU was having and would have likely continued to have?
They went 41-5-1 over four seasons from '81-'84. That's roughly 10-1 per season for four years. What would you accept for that? Anything? Would you be okay with the rules of recruiting being bent? Would you be willing to look the other way as an alum/student/fan?
Or are you okay with the current state of things, wherein Purdue has a good, relevant, nationally significant presence every 25-35 years?
I want to see Purdue football win again. They were so close, as we've documented here before, in 2004. Top 5 in the country, GameDay in town, leading the game that night, likely to move to about #3, etc. But then it all fell apart and the program has truly never been the same. And that 2004 team was Joe Tiller's best chance and he knew it. It was a seven year buildup of recruiting, coaching, scheduling, etc.... it was all falling into place -- once. And then it didn't. Because the window for a program like Purdue is just that small, especially when you're not cheating or bending the rules.
But what if Purdue could have a run of success like SMU did? Let's also recognize the fact that no matter how bad it gets, the NCAA would never implement the death penalty again on a program. As the movie detailed, that sanction detonated the Southwest Conference and affected other teams/programs important to the NCAA. And let's also keep in mind that there's always the defense of "Hey, everybody else is doing it."
I think in the end, I would not be okay with it, because then we as Boilermakers would be no better than the cheaters as USC or other schools that haven't been publicly outed yet. As one of the guys interviewed in Pony Excess said, "Show me a school that wins a lot and I'll show you a program that cheats."
I like to think it's not that simple but, sadly, it probably is.