The Non-Winner Mentality

In the wake of our commentaries over the weekend, we've received some very nice feedback from many of you, who seem to feel we're publishing what your heart and mind have been feeling for quite some time. While we're selfish bastards who do this for our own entertainment and catharsis, it is always a nice ancillary perk to know we've hit the mark with so many of you.

Naturally, there were some who disagreed with our takes, but it's interesting how few actually took umbrage with it. We put forth some pretty forceful opinions and by and large, the responses were "right on, handsome devils."

Believe me, it gives us no pleasure to acknowledge how futile the direction of the football program is. But it was something that we felt needed to be addressed.

I've been thinking about it more in the past couple of days and I think I know what part of the problem is. It's a mindset issue that exists among the fanbase and, most likely, also among the athletic department and coaching staff. I'm sure nobody would admit it, but I certainly will.

I don't want to call it a loser's mentality, because that sounds a little too harsh. Maybe it goes back to that word I kept landing on over the weekend -- mediocrity. Once mediocrity becomes acceptable, you're toast. If excellence is the goal and you fall short, you might still have something to be proud of. If mediocrity is your goal and you fall short, you're sadly raising a pizza bowl trophy over your head in front of a 60% full, cold-weather venue on a Tuesday in late December.

The issue here is that so many people associated with Purdue athletics look at things from the "Look, it's setting up for us!" perspective. How many times have we heard that the division is there for the taking this year? How many times have we heard people talk about Purdue "sneaking" into the Big Ten championship game? Why can't the Big Ten title game be the goal no matter what kind of foes are on the schedule? That's the goal for good teams in all conferences: Win. Be better than everyone else. Work harder until you are.

It is not "Win some games, maybe surprise a couple teams, write off the hard ones, and hope to back into a nice finish to the season."

Yet, at Purdue, isn't that what we're all cheering for? That Purdue can somehow beat a good program like Michigan or Wisconsin, avoid anyone being hurt at Ohio State (Hey! We'll sacrifice our pride, though!), and then hope to cling on to a 4-4 or 5-3 conference record to squeak into the Big Ten title game? Is that really what we should be cheering for? To get lucky?

This is a problem that has seeped its way into many programs. You get used to your place in the order of things. You accept that you'll never be a powerhouse. You put out of your mind the idea of competing in ways we haven't seen in decades.

I, for one, reject that out of hand. Sure, it would take some serious re-evaluating of what's important in West Lafayette. It would take a complete and utter mindset change. And along with those things, it would most likely mean a change of mentality from the very top on down.

Well, President Daniels takes office in January. And while there are some people who naively think that he's going to cut funding and budgets because of his deficit hawk ways as Governor, the fact is that you have an aggressive, success-minded leader coming in who knows the value of a dollar. Mitch Daniels the Purdue University President will be a different man than Mitch Daniels the Governor of a state with an $800 million deficit when he took over.

Let's hope he starts by evaluating everything and deciding how to make Purdue stronger in every way.

Can Purdue Compete? (Guest Post)

Don't Blame Caleb