State of the Program

There is an intense debate raging among Purdue fans, students & alums about the state and overall direction of the program. I would say this debate started years ago, but seemed to really gain a lot of momentum in the past three seasons.

Many Purdue fans think Joe Tiller has worn out his welcome and are ready for a change. There are divisions within this faction that argue he should be fired...But that simply will not, nor should not happen as Purdue continues to win more than it loses. The depth of the program is not that of the perennial powers, thus a winning season is still an acceptable season for many in the Purdue family.

The other side of this debate seems to be worried and bothered that if Joe Tiller leaves or is forced to leave, the world will come to an end...This group points to Coletto, Akers & Burtnett as the only other option when it comes to Purdue football.

I honestly understand parts of both sides of this debate, but before I weigh in on this, I'd like to reiterate something I've said here and in person for quite a while: The program is stuck.

Tiller's teams are neither good, nor bad. They do not surprise anyone with great wins over favored opponents, nor do they lose games they're supposed to win. Tiller-coached teams win about 7.5 games per season and have gone to a bowl game in each season, with the exception of one. All that said, of the ten bowl games Purdue has gone to, our Boilers have won three. It's almost as if the goal is the reward of the invitation and the game itself is worthless.

Joe Tiller-coached teams have consistently beaten MAC opponents and mediocre UND teams during the pre-conference schedule and followed it up by beating Northwestern, Minnesota, IU, Michigan State and Illinois. They have struggled versus Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State and only beaten Michigan and Ohio State a total of three times during 11 seasons. That record once again places Purdue squarely in the middle of the pack at number 6. Number six in the Big Ten will get a bowl invite...but so will 63 other teams in the nation. Getting to a bowl in the day and age of 32 bowls per year is not a victory unto itself. There are 128 D-I football programs...can you go to a bowl and be just average? You tell me.

Going to the Insight or Sun Bowl might be something that rebuilding programs and lousy ones alike would revel in...I consider these post-season contests no longer thrilling especially when my alma mater no longer seems to be a threat to win that contest. It's become a bit of a tradition...we all gather at someone's house, get excited and watch our Boilers act as if they left their shoulder pads and cups back in West Lafayette...A calling card of this era seems to be bowl teams that simply don't look prepared...regardless of the venue.

So, how do things look on the horizon? Well, to me, the next three games are extremely important for Joe Tiller's legacy. Why? Because if Purdue can win out they will likely get invited to the Alamo or Champs Bowl...If they can win that contest, it might show the guys coming back that the program is still capable of great things (it would be Tiller's first 10-win season as Purdue coach and only Purdue's second 10-win season ever).

This program and this team needs as much momentum and confidence as it can muster heading into the '08 season as things are not getting easier. Purdue loses 4 offensive starters next season (3 will most like receive some sort of honor from the conference) and five defensive starter...not to mention the offense and defense will both lose two additional off of the two- deep chart. The schedule's pretty rugged as well. In one four-game span, Purdue will face Oregon, ND @ ND, Penn State and OSU @ OSU. After a week break versus Minnesota, They'll face UM then MSU @ MSU and finally Iowa @ Iowa. On the upside, it seems the coaches have been doing their best to prepare the twos and threes this season for what lies ahead...unlike some coaches.

I've heard it said that Tiller should retire after Painter graduates. That season (next season) to me, seems to look more and more like the second in which Purdue would not make a bowl under Tiller...but if they did get an invite it would probably be at 6-6. I guess that'd be fitting in some ways. But honestly, I'd like to see him leave on a high note with a record above .500. Perhaps the end of this season makes the most sense.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

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