Is it still a rivalry?

Before you jump down my throat for asking the question, hear me out.

This is what I think of when I ponder Purdue v. IU:
I am not as old as some of our regular visitors, but I'm old enough to vividly remember watching this live:

There was fire back then...Years later, that inferno was still ablaze:

Don't get me wrong, I still burn for IU, just not white hot. But, I remember how angry I used to get just watching the Ass Hall crowd (versus ANY opponent) as they reacted to their hero's rants and demonstrations. Their hand motions, matching red sweaters and disbelieving faces any time there was a foul on Alford, Bailey, Evans, or any one of the identical big men during the early 80s/90s (ref. Lindeman, Eggers, et al). But that changed.

I watch IU now on TV and am not bothered...and really, I haven't been too upset in the last few seasons either. It all started years ago as Keady overstayed his welcome and had a tough time beating Knight in his closing seasons...then the passion got weaker as Mike Davis was hired- I liked the guy...I liked even more that IU fans didn't like him. But his tenure all but squelched the rivalry...IU beat Purdue like a drum most contests, Keady was a shadow of his former self, then Painter inherited a mess, and most of IU's players weren't Indiana kids. That trend continued briefly under Sampson...with the exception of a few guys. But, the fact that the sweaty-pitted, blue oxford-wearing cheater was there reminded me of how I used to feel about IU.

The sleeping hillgiants had been awakened! The same people that would say, "Bobby graduates his players, and coaches the game the right way..." during the latter years of Knight's time in Bloomington were now saying, "Kelvin made some mistakes, but has changed...he's the right guy for the job..." as his first cell phone insurrections (in Bloomington) started...Those blind loyalists continued, "What's the big deal? They're just phone calls!" As the NCAA sniffed ever closer to the once pristine program. Then, all of a sudden he was gone...and with him, many of the thugs that he had brought in to play in that time, the lemmings told us "I never liked that guy."

But now, the right guy has the job. I've heard some say, "I believe in Tom Crean's plan." They believed so much, that they gave him a contract extension before he had stepped onto the hardwood of Ass Hall. His first recruting class was alright...and have not looked much better than just that yet. But, the yesmen in Bloomington have started to murmur once again..."Tijan Jobe is a diamond in the rough...he's going to be special.

"Tom Pritchard is like Brian Cardinal, only stronger."

And finally, after IU's lone conference win, "Matt Roth is the next Rick Mount."

Seriously??? Yes, it was said on the message boards...and not by just one, but many agreed. I thought it was a joke...granted, it was, but it wasn't intended to be one. This is why the rivalry is still alive- stupid people. They're not going anywhere either...they're still wearing their cream and crimson in the winter, and their blue and gold in the fall.

If you're offended by this, you're one of the tools that I'm talking about. No reversible jacket wearer has an excuse that I'll accept.

Not all of you IU fans are this way...some of you guys are alright. First off, you don't see IU basketball as a stand-alone're an alum or loyalist of the university...hats off to you- you're far too rare. You understand that while it might seem this way, the sun does not rise and set on the forehead of Tom Crean. You can admit when things are bad, and you can be happy and don't have to gloat when they're good. But the mentality and inflamatory statements of the blindly-loyal fan will stoke the gray embers of a rivalry like this when the coals are all but cool to the touch. This rivalry is not dead, it's just quiet for now.

A flare-up between Chris Kramer and DJ White reminded us of the days of yore...and verbal battles between the tag-team of Painter and Weber against the shady Sampson made a few flickers of flame evident. But I have a feeling the contrasting styles of Matt Painter's non-argumentative sideline demeanor and The Forehead's geiser-like temper might help re-ignite old flames. And IU's pipeline of talent is beginning to flow...and the classes that Painter has brought in and will bring in are good.

This year, will probably be fun and give us something to look forward to. Sparks are nearly guaranteed to fly as the hostile Paint Crew bears down on the young Hoosiers as Purdue's defense attempts to suffocate the Hoosiers at the same time. Next season, it'll be even better...and by 2010/'11, Purdue will have around 7 four-star players on the roster, and IU will have around 5 highly-ranked guys and a well-established system in place that''ll make everyone better. Plus, familiarity breeds contempt...and we're going to re-acquaint ourselves with the Hoosier fans once again, after two-straight seasons of just one meeting. It'll be nice to get things back to where they used to be...the way they should be.

Here We Go Again... (CMigrator copy 2)

The 2008-2009 Season -- How We Got Here