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B1G 2013 // Keeping The Enemy Close - Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Purdue's struggles reflect a bit too harshly for one MSU alum.

We can do this all day.
We can do this all day.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Familiarity breeds contempt.

I have reached an age that has made me a little more reflective. I’m not "Get off my lawn old" yet - but I am starting looking at the underlying assumptions about things I think, believe and do to in order to make mid-course corrections (if you will) if necessary.

Today, my "hatred" of Purdue goes under the microscope.

As a graduate of Michigan State University, I should probably acknowledge that Purdue and MSU face more common challenges dealing with recognition and respect than I am comfortable admitting. To wit:

Formed in the shadow of a more illustrious predecessor?

MSU 1855/UM 1817 – Purdue 1869/IU 1820 Check.

In-state rival who has generally had more success historically in the sports that you have the most success in?

MSU is one of two schools that have won National Championships in Football, Basketball, and Hockey. UM is the other one. In addition, UM is the only school to win a National Championship in Football, Basketball, Hockey, and Baseball. Does the phrase, "Banner Up – Boiler Down" ring a bell? Check.

In-state rival that supports a team sport that is generally listed in the top five programs in the history of the sport and that you must face at least once each season?

The football list usually includes in some order: UM, Nebraska, OSU, ND, and Alabama. The basketball list usually includes in some order: Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Indiana, and Duke/UNC Check.

In-state rival with instant name recognition and better brand awareness?

Uh. Duh. To paraphrase a recent television commercial Double Check.

Where does hate come from? I think we hate the things we fear: fear being, fear thinking, fear becoming.

I look back through history and I see that going into the 1940 season, Purdue was one of the more dominant programs in the history (albeit at that time – short history) of college basketball. Purdue had won 11 B1G titles since the sport first was contested in the conference in 1906. This included an amazing run of 10 titles between 1921 and 1939. Seriously, Purdue won 10 B1G titles in 18 years. The Boilers had even been judged in 1936 by the Helms Foundation to be the National Champions of the sport in 1932. In the eyes of most discerning fans, Purdue was the top dog in the state of Indiana and maybe in the college basketball world. They were clearly ahead of their biggest in-state rival in basketball titles (PU – B1G Titles 12/NC 1: IU – B1G Titles 3/NC 0) and prestige. The 1940 season held true to form as Purdue outlasted the league competition and garnered their then unprecedented fifth outright B1G title. However, following the 1940 regular season Indiana University was selected to play in the then lesser-known NCAA basketball tournament, which they won. Purdue would not win another B1G title in the sport until 1969. Purdue has never won the NCAA basketball championship. The Hoosiers meanwhile would go on to win eighteen more B1G titles in basketball to Purdue’s nine B1G titles and four more NCAA Tournaments to Purdue’s zero.

It almost seems that this fact poisons every conversation about Purdue sports. This frantic, desperate, nearly Sisyphean drive to get back to the top of the college basketball world - to get back to where they once belonged - sucks any enjoyment out of following the team as they repeatedly disappoint their fan base by falling short of the elusive goal of a National Championship.

Sure. I know this is supposed to be about college football. I’ll get back to that shortly. Leprechauns must really be lucky, as they have stolen all of the football mojo in the state of Indiana. Our B1G representatives from the State of Indiana really suck in the sport.

In reflection, I look at MSU’s football history and I see that from 1952 until 1966 we won three B1G titles (one behind OSU’s four during that span) and three National Championships. UM had a single B1G title in that span. To date, that was the zenith of the MSU football program. After 1966, segregation of college sports in the south ended (Tulane integrated their baseball team for the 1966 season – their last in the SEC), our iconic coach left, and the wheels fell off the program. Sure there were some highlights, but we have been scratching and clawing to get back to the top ever since. Just like Purdue in basketball since 1940.

So maybe the reflection of Purdue’s struggles in basketball that mirror MSU’s struggles in football is a bit too revealing for my taste. It hasn’t been 81 years since MSU was judged the top football program in the land. It has been "merely" 47 years since MSU reached the peak. Which is longer than my lifetime and I am no longer a young man. Each successive year adds more weight and just increases the desperation we feel as a program. It even seems fitting that MSU week is right after Purdue week. A program that craves greatness follows a program for which consistent mediocrity is the standard.

I'm not correcting anything.

I hate Purdue because I don’t want to be Purdue.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Now. Get the #$%^ off my lawn.

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