This Is What We Asked For
(Photo credit: Paul Sadler)
Purdue will play this weekend against Wisconsin in an effort to win their second Big Ten game of the year, a feat not accomplished since Danny Hope did so as a dead man walking in 2012 (when he started 0-5 in conference, was effectively fired behind the scenes, and then finished with three garbage-time Big Ten wins). The last time Purdue was 2-1 in Big Ten play was back in 2011. And what have we been lamenting and begging for ever since the Joe Tiller days?
Competitiveness. Fight. Preparednes. Accountability.
Note that nothing in there says winning. Sure, we all want to see wins and we all understand that’s the ultimate goal…winning football games. But Purdue was at a stage where watching their games was an exercise in madness. You would either be screaming at your TV and clenching your fists and grinding your teeth because Purdue was sh-tting the bed in winnable games against meaningful opponents, like Oregon or Notre Dame, or you were drinking heavily and kicking your dog because Purdue was showing up disinterested, unprepared and undisciplined for entirely winnable games against MAC opponents or Rice University.
Remember, before Jeff Brohm and company laid waste to a pretty good Ohio University team this year, Purdue was 1-3 in their last four against the MAC. That is….absurd. And do you know what else feels absurd? That it’s already turned a corner.
Jeff Brohm isn’t doing this with tricks and gimmicks. Sure, there are trick/gimmick plays, but what I’m saying is that he isn’t lucking into this 3-2 (1-1) start to the season. He’s taken essentially the same talent that Darrell Hazell had and has turned it into a team that’s really fun to watch. Not because they’re for certain to win every week, but because we know it’ll at least be interesting. We know they won’t be awful for the entire game. Sure, against Minnesota, they looked discombobulated for much of the first half. But what happened then? The coaching staff made…what are those? Wait, let me check my notes.. yes, I believe those are called adjustments. Legitimate adjustments. They looked at what was working an what wasn’t working and *gasp* changed the game plan!
They swapped QBs, rather than being weirdly and illogically loyal to one who “practices well,” or some other such nonsense. And you know what? Those QBs aren’t salty about it. They’re not looking over their shoulder terrified and they both speak highly of their coaches. Maybe they’re just good young men. Maybe the coaches are such straight shooters it’s impossible not to like and respect them. Maybe it’s all of the above. You know what it isn’t? Disorganized.
What this has called out to me is just how awful the prior coaching staff really was. Sure, we all suspected they were substandard but it’s also easy to say “Hey, look, they don’t have any talent, we’re Purdue, what’re you gonna do? Let’s go to Harry’s.”
No! They do have some talent, first of all. They’ve in fact got Purdue-level talent all around. I was going to call out some guys by name but there’s no reason to do that. Because right now everybody is playing hard, everybody is doing their job, everybody is carrying out their assignments as best they can. And when they don’t, they get coached up by competent coaches and then…then, those players go out and try again with maximum effort. Oftentimes, they execute better. Sometimes they don’t. But thus far on the season, we’re not seeing the repeated screw-ups we saw in past years. We’re seeing guys functioning as a unit and buying in to what their coach is telling them and teaching them.
The coaching staff sounds in control. They sound like they have a plan. They don’t use 100 words where 25 will do. Nothing sounds like utter nonsense. It’s really quite refreshing and, sadly, something we’re unaccustomed to.
This is what we asked for. Make fall Saturdays fun again. Make people want to come watch. We said more than once that it won’t take an 8-10 win team to make fans come back to Purdue – it’ll take a team that is trying and is trying to get better. We have that now.
This is fun.