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Mailbag - Is Purdue For Real?

Remember, you asked us these questions

NCAA Football: Purdue at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Is Purdue for real, or is Mizzou just really bad? Or perhaps, just a combination of the two?!?

-Jim Hoffman

Candystripes: Loathe as I am to admit this, Purdue might be real, you guys. I was dearly hoping this day wouldn’t come for a couple years yet, but here we are. Also, this still doesn’t mean they should beat Michigan, but this year, who knows?

Townie: I’m coming to you live from high atop the Brohm bandwagon. The view from here is good. Remarkably improved from last season. While I’m not prediction full blown B1G champs, this team will not end the season at the bottom of the Big Ten. And that’s a huge improvement for the Boilers.

Speth: I'm going to go with 70% Purdue is for real, 30% Mizzou sucks. Mizzou does suck, but Purdue did exactly what a “real” team should do and took them out back to the woodshed. Is Purdue going to go 12-0? No, but this isn't a bad team, and I'd be kinda surprised if they don't go bowling. Bad teams don't curbstomp bad teams when they're on the road.

BRT: This weekend will be an interesting game for Purdue, as it will let us answer the “Is Purdue for real” question a bit more definitively. As for me, I’m onboard the train--even though I’m not declaring “Purdue will win the conference” or denying that Mizzou is very, very bad (hahaha), it’s not a game that Purdue would have showed half that well in last year. They’re undeniably improved, feeling a confidence no one on that team has felt before, and they’ve got a good QB. They’ll make some people very sad this year by beating their team. Likely me among them.

Creighton: I’m jumping on board this hype train and not looking back. Brohm is a wizard and Purdue is Alabama now. ROLL DAMN BOILERS!

Thumpasaurus: Mizzou is very bad, and I say this not just because I hate them. Since Gary Pinkel’s retirement, Barry Odom, who was kind of unpopular as the replacement head coach, has lost the plot. He was Pinkel’s defensive coordinator, so he retained control of the defense...which has fallen apart, allowing an enormous amount of points to an FCS team and 31 to Will Muschamp’s South Carolina Gamecocks. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: Odom responded by firing the defensive coordinator even though he himself was running the defense.

Despite what the recruiting rankings say about Purdue’s talent level, Jeff Brohm inherited a little more than nothing. David Blough has a great arm and the ability to move in the pocket, and on the whole the roster has a decent level of experience. To sum up my rambling, Purdue is much much better than expected, but considering what a low bar that was to clear, some pumping of the brakes might be in order.

Now that Maryland > USC is confirmed and Purdue is SEC East champs, what are the chances of trains v. turtles in Indy, and why is it shockingly non-zero?

-Badgers & Bruins

Townie: /vomits in his mouth...

Candystripes: I object to this question on the grounds that it doesn’t fully acknowledge why “SEC East Champs” became a meme (for those playing the home game, it isn’t just because we beat Mizzou, it’s because they went on to actually be the SEC East Champions that year. This year’s version is decidedly less likely to do so).

Speth: /hops off Purdue bandwagon for a second

It's still zero. Minnesota isn't the only team that hasn't beaten Wisconsin since Facebook was invented and it's hard to get Harbor’d when you're a large virtually immovable mass of land/offensive linemen.

/hops back on Purdue bandwagon

MNW: I’m with Candy here. This is an improper use of “SEC East Champs” as a meme. The Committee has ruled, thank you for your inquiry.

BRT: It’s non-zero, but it’s still pretty close to zero. It’s a bigger stretch for Maryland than for Purdue, and the amount of crazy that would have to happen to make this scenario come to life is extremely far-fetched. But since my team is terrible, I’m completely on board with this happening. Go chaos.

Creighton: You just proposed the B1G nightmare scenario I never knew I wanted. The fact that we’re even talking about this as a remote possibility is awesome. Here’s your road map: Michigan is a lock for 3rd place in the East, and the wheels are going to fall off of Penn State at some point. That leaves Ohio State as the only obstacle. The Buckeyes have already proven themselves vulnerable and with subpar quarterbacking. As for Purdue, they play in the West and have as good a chance to win the division as anyone. You know, except Nebraska.

Thumpasaurus: Something like this actually happened in NASCAR recently and it involved Purdue. For the 2014 season, NASCAR implemented an extremely silly elimination-based knockout-style championship formula that would cover the last 10 races, with the idea being to put a greater emphasis on winning races. The final race of the season would see four drivers still eligible for the championship, and whoever among them finished the highest in the last race would be the champion.

Somehow, despite not having won a race all year, Purdue graduate Ryan Newman stumbled into the championship race still in the hunt and finished second. He would have been the NASCAR champion despite not winning a single race...if the race’s winner, Kevin Harvick, hadn’t also been one of the “final four.”

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not gonna happen because it would be too fun and that is not what college football is about. It’s about The Process, and the haves crushing the have-nots, and the oppression of the proletariat.

Fill-in the following: Bret Bielema:Mark Mangino::Paul Chryst: ?


Townie: David Lee Roth: Sammy Hagar: Some guy singing Karaoke in a bar in Newark

Speth: I don't get it.

Creighton: I can’t put my finger on what trait your analogy is alluding to between Bert and Mangino, but the answer is definitely Tim Beckman.

What are your favorite and least favorite football #narratives? These can be as broad or as specific as you like.


Townie: Dislike anything to do with the primacy of the SEC. Recruiting, team speed, championships, etc… I’m so over that shit. My favorite is a good, solid linebacker filling the gap, making a clean tackle that knocks the running back off his feet for no gain.

Speth: Favorite: Wisconsin owns Minnesota.


No. It is never the year. One year Minnesota will upset Wisconsin. I mean laws of statistics say that Wisconsin cannot continue to beat Minnesota every year, even if Minnesota is Wal Mart brand Wisconsin on paper. Just stop predicting it to happen every damn year Goofer fans. You're not coming into Madison and beating us.

BRT: My favorite is “Notre Dame is BACK!” because they never are, and then it’s funnier when they are, yet again, mediocre to bad.

My least favorite is… I don’t know. I’m suddenly realizing I hate a lot of things about this stupid sport.

Creighton: Least favorite: “Wow Penn State really overcame all that ‘hardship’ they went through.” Most favorite: “The Big 12 is definitely getting left out of the playoffs again, aren’t they?”

Thumpasaurus: My very least favorite, as you can tell from Infographics, is “Football program now redeemed from bad off-field thing because they won enough games.” You heard it with Florida State winning the national title a few years ago, you heard it with Penn State last year, you heard it with Michael Vick when he had a good season in 2010, and it’s repugnant every time because it strongly implies that winning football games absolves one of sin. It shouldn’t be that way.

Very specific narratives I really hate are “Illinois should never have fired Ron Zook,” “Lovie Smith is trying to bolt for the NFL and has been since day 1,” and “Bill Cubit wasn’t that bad.” If you say these things, you are either trolling or completely and utterly ignorant.

I could go on for days about media narratives I hate. This could be its own article.

How does Nebraska get from this moment to a moment with an AD and a head football coach that can bring the program back to B1G West-contending prowess?


Speth: NOW WAIT A MINUTE. I WAS TOLD THAT THE ONLY THING STOPPING NEBRASKA FROM DOMINATING THE BIG TEN WAS MAYBE OHIO STATE BECAUSE LOL BIG TEN SUCKS. I refuse to go on the ESPN boards to find the proof, but it's there. Now a mere 5 years later they're significantly behind Wisconsin as a program? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

BRT: Sounds like Speth and 06Lion are trading some highly inaccurate pillow talk. Whatever revs your motors, boys.

Dead Read: If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there. I just alluded to Alice in Wonderland. Two pick sixes and a loss to NIU have sent Huskerdom through the looking glass (again).

Creighton: Devote all their resources into the engineering program and invent a time machine.

Thumpasaurus: I’ll tell you how NOT to get there. It’s not ideal.

Will Penn State beat Akron again this week? If yes, why don’t more teams pursue this strategy? It seems Rutgers could benefit from playing Morgan State each week, for example.

--Green 96

Townie: Oh no...when we beat Iowa, it’s Iowa. There’s no going, “they didn’t beat us, that was Akron…” Bullshit. When the Hawkeyes lose, it wasn’t Akron, it was Iowa.

Speth: Nah Iowa is a Big Ten team. Rutgers might be Akron though. Then again Akron might actually be able to beat Eastern Michigan this season.

Creighton: If we win, I’m racing over to Black Shoe Diaries to get banned for a series of “Penn State basically the same as North Texas” shitposts.

Thumpasaurus: It’s not that every team is Akron, it’s that every win is the same, feels the same, and has the same level of significance to Penn State.

Here’s a scene from Penn State’s Week 1 victory against Akron

When Penn State comes to Maryland how many of my credits will transfer into the Akron system? I didn’t choose to go to Akron and now there is nothing I can do to stop the inevitable, is this even legal?


Townie: See above Yinzer. When Penn State leaves cleat marks on that car wreck of a flag you claim, you ain’t Akron, as much as you’d want to be anywhere else at the time.

Speth: Same as above. Maryland is a Big Ten institution not regularly embarrassing the conference by ruining 38-0 records against MAC bottom feeders and as such deserves the respect earned by doing such things as beating Texas.

BRT: It is not legal, but Penn State has tied for first in their division one whole time, so you see, they have earned the right to do whatever they want.

Creighton: I have a pamphlet for you that explains the entire process. It’s called “James Franklin’s takes are dumb and he is dumb and the whole ‘Pitt=Akron’ thing was dumb”

Thumpasaurus: Once again, you’re missing the point. Every win has equal importance to Penn State. It’s not that Franklin meant to disrespect Pitt, he meant that Penn State’s standard is such that they treat every win the same emotionally.

Here’s James Franklin’s emotional interview after defeating Georgia Southern last week

Which B1G football coach would you like to punch the most and why? We all know there are many strong candidates in the field for this prize, but I’m interested in the reasons that may push one or another coach to the front of your punching reception line.

--EastLosRandy/Hawk Hulk whatever his new name is



Speth: PJ Fleck. Not even close. Super punchable face. He's the frat boy from Georgia that tries to steal your girlfriend during spring break in Florida and then tries to fight you despite barely being upright because he drank too much Smirnoff Ice 3 hours later on the beach. Also he coaches Minnesota.

BRT: Did Mitch McConnell ever coach in the Big Ten? Can we pretend he did, maybe at Maryland, because he looks like a turtle? No? Ok. Then James Franklin.

Creighton: Franklin would be the most satisfying to punch, but Harbaugh seems like he’d be the most fun to fight. Does that make sense?

Thumpasaurus: lol obviously fitzgerald

Which Hogwarts House do you belong to? And to make it tangentially about football, which B1G coach is your head of house? (Slytherins, you’ve got a LOT of choices.)


Speth: Slytherin. And this is an interesting one, because (do I really have to spoiler alert Harry Potter? I mean SPOILER ALERT I guess) Snape ends up being a good guy and he was head of Slytherin. I guess I pick a coach of questionable character that's actually a good guy? James Franklin maybe? He kinda looks like a snake. And icing a kicker up 56-0 seems like a really Slytherin move.

BRT: Ravenclaw, all day, every day. I suppose the obvious choice for head of house is Pat Fitzgerald, because NERDS.

Creighton: I hate Harry Potter because I’m not 8 years old, so I’ll say that Iowa fandom has many similarities to House Eorl of Rohan.

Thumpasaurus: (Spoilers) You know, it’s funny that Snape gets to be universally classified as a good guy. He was fine with Voldemort’s whole pureblood magic Nazi terrorism campaign until Lily Potter became a target; only then did he have a problem with what the Death Eaters were doing. What if the Longbottoms had been the target instead? What then? Snape would have been right there, probably torturing their pets just to be an edgelord.

But let’s give him just a bit of credit. He sees that the only thing he ever particularly cared about (besides himself of course) died to what had been his cause. He could have taken this moment to realize that, in spite of its flaws, the wizarding world has assets worth defending. Despite being a former terrorist, he’s offered a highly influential position at Hogwarts. This is a chance for him to devote the rest of his life to ensure people don’t fall to darkness as he did.

Instead, he just becomes a surly brooding asshole, abuses his influence, encourages Slytherins to be edgy douchers, and has his personal grudges constantly neutralize his ability to teach and contribute something positive to the world. His treatment of Harry is particularly horrible in light of the fact that Harry’s ignorance of the wizarding world stems from being an orphan whose parents’ murder was perpetrated by the leader of Snape’s own death cult.

Anyway, Lovie Smith is still dealing with a lot of youth on this Hufflepuff squad, so we might not see results in the win column for a couple years yet.

How many games do the Gophers eventually have to be winning, with some regularity, for Fleck to ditch the snake oil salesman perception?


Townie: Never. You strip that guy of everything, you still get the snake oil. ROW ROW ROW ROW ROW

Speth: Nope. Not happening. You've all bought the enthusiasm, now you have to deal with the fact your coach is bargin bin Jim Harbaugh and everyone in the conference is calling it out.

BRT: I don’t think this is so much about his win number as it is about the fact that he acts like a medicine show peddler hawking “Dr. PJ’s Old Fashioned Feel-Good Tyme Miracle Elixir of Magic.” It’s a tough image to shake.

Dead Read: The symptoms may change, but the cure remains the same. Schlock-jocks peddling panaceas are funny that way.

Creighton: Yeah that’s who he is, unfortunately. We’re all stuck with him until his inevitable scandal.

Thumpasaurus: Open your heart to the divine truth of PJ Fleck. You don’t understand the meaning behind his mantras, and you never will. They are not for the comprehension of those still bearing this mortal coil. All shall be revealed when you enter into the Kingdom of Fleck.

If Purdue manages to win 6+ games, but loses Pandemonium in Piscataway, would you consider 2017 to be a successful season for Purdue?


Townie: Yep. In fact, they are close to a successful season right now. They are 2-1 with only a close loss to Louisville? That’s great, considering most folks thought they could go 0-3 in the non-con.

Speth: Purdue bowling? That absolutely has to be considered a successful season. Also if they don't beat Rutgers but still get to 6 wins they probably pulled off a pretty major upset and/or beat Indiana.

BRT: Yes. Have you seen Purdue in the past few years? Six wins, no matter where they do or don’t come from, is absolutely a success based on what they’ve had recently. Creighton: Yeah, but we’re putting a giant, bold asterisk in that record book because you should never be allowed to hide from that shame.

What truly terrible events would you have believed prior to this season more quickly than being three weeks into the season and thinking, "I’m really scared to play Purdue football?"


Candystripes: “Indiana totally has a chance to upset Ohio State this year.”

Townie: “Lovie Smith should improve this season…”

Speth: I'm not scared to play Purdue. Purdue is exactly the type of 7 win division opponent Wisconsin always beats. Our problems are 10+ win Iowa and Northwestern in Evanston. Purdue is neither of those things. For the sake of the exercise I'll say “Paul Chryst has left Wisconsin to coach… Hmm we haven’t lost a coach to a downward program in the Big Twelve yet… let's say Baylor”

BRT: “Donald Trump is still president of the United States.” Oh wait, that happened? Well, it seems we’re already living in a crazy, terrible world, so nothing really surprises me anymore. Purdue being a scary opponent is like #403 on the “previously unthinkable” list for 2017.

Creighton: Texas is back.

Dead Read: President Orrin Hatch.

On a scale of 1-10, how stupid is the rule about penalizing guys for celebrating tds before crossing the goal line?


Candystripes: Solidly 6 points.

Speth: 12. This is college. I celebrated a nice bathroom break mid class with some high stepping. Dumb rule is dumb.

Creighton: One billion. I assume whoever is responsible for the NCAA’s war on fun was also responsible for accepting the $5 Bits of Broken Chair from Minnesota.

I'm intrigued by this multi-pick six trend in the B1G.

In week one Wilton Speight throws two pick sixes and two TD passes.

In week three Tanner Lee throws two pick sixes and has two rushing TDs.

Question one: is Tanner Lee the dual-threat Wilton Speight?

Follow-up: do you have to have a country club first name like Wilton or Tanner to throw two pick sixes in a game? If so, who is the next one? (hint: his name is "Trace")


Speth: Tanner Lee is certainly a dual threat to the Nebraska offense, so sure. To answer the second part, Trace is pretty country club but I raise you JT. Nothing is more country club than going by your initials. Also JT Barrett seems pretty likely to throw multiple pick sixes in a game this season with how he's been throwing the ball.

BRT: Don’t forget Clayton. Lots of candidates in this conference, it turns out.

Dead Read: Tanner Lee is not a dual threat. To be a true dual threat, he would need to fumble more.

Creighton: Did you just imply that Wilton Speight actually has a single threat?

Thumpasaurus: One of our quarterbacks is a Chayce and the other is a Jeff. I think I know who needs to be starting on this basis.

I believe last week Thomas Speth indicated that he was working to acquire a bar. When the acquisition occurs, what should he name his new bar?


BRT: “Paul Ryan’s Healthcare Plan”

Candystripes: “/Wisconsin Drinks Again”

Townie: Liver’s End

Speth: I'm curious to see where this goes…

Dead Read: “Estate Sale, Inquire Within”

Creighton: “Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development”

Thumpasaurus: Chris Barland