So last year I wrote a long article about why I hate Indiana football. As I was trying to think of something to write for this year's hate piece, I had an epiphany:
I don't hate Indiana football. I love it.
Why the change of heart?
It's not really a change of heart, it's just a different way of thinking about the Hoosiers. I don't love IU in the sense that I root for them to win games. I love them precisely because they are so terrible at winning games. On many a Saturday after a Purdue loss, I can take some consolation by checking the IU score (they lost, by the way).
Why would you want your rival to be a good team? Think about being a Michigan fan during the Rich Rod years. Not only did they have to watch the Wolverines stink up the field, but OSU was doing pretty well at the time. That would suck. Not only do you get the sadness that comes with rooting for a mediocre team, you also don't get many opportunities to revel in your rival's defeats.
Purdue football has been inconsistent over the years. When I was in school they were pretty good, but now they aren't. Meanwhile, Indiana has been very consistent. Since Kurt Cobain passed away in 1994, IU has not went .500 in conference play. The record books say IU went 4-4 in 1994, but that was only because Michigan State forfeited their win because they were and remain dirty cheaters.
Anyway, I'm getting off topic here. Rarely are there teams that are so consistently bad. I am lucky to be the fan of a team that gets to count as its rival the losingest college football team ever. As I am a fan of college football, I like to see my rival team get beat. How lucky am I that I get to see that rival lose more than any other school in history? Fans of good teams can't say that.
As a way of keeping perspective, many times I think of those less fortunate than myself. If I am envious of that new Northwestern grad (who probably has about $200K in student loan debt) driving around in his new Porsche like a jerk, I think of people that have to ride the bus to work. If I'm having some sort of issue at work, I think about people that aren't lucky enough to have a good job. Whatever my situation, it could always be worse.
That's how I think of IU football. No matter how Purdue is doing, we could be worse. We could be IU.
- So Danny Hope's trotting out a 16 quarterback system this year? Well, at least we don't have a little field behind the end zone where kids run and play during the game as if it were a middle school game instead of a major conference college football game.
- So Wisconsin just ran over us like they did Nebraska in Indy? No big deal, Ball State just beat the Hoosiers for the third straight game.
- So everybody on the team just tore their ACL? That sucks, but Indiana is the losingest team ever.
I've drifted away from my point. I love Indiana football and I'm not ashamed to admit it. They consistently bring me joy as a Purdue fan because they are consistently terrible, and there's no reason for me to hate something that makes me so happy.
As the late, great Mariah Carey once sang, "I had a vision of love, and it was all that IU football had given to me."