It’s not easy being a Purdue fan.
We don’t experience the bandwagon fans as much as other state schools. We don’t get the joy of having one uber great team that creates a bunch of Reversible Jacket fans. Basically, there’s only two ways the majority of us got in.
- You went to Purdue for academics and became a fan whilst a student, or
- You have a relative that went to school and you caught on by association (some would call it abuse).
Sure, we have our modest successes. The Joe Tiller years were pretty sweet, there was some guy named Keady who won a ton of games in Mackey Arena.
But there’s one thing that lingers, one thing that gets stuck in our brain, we can’t seem to get over the hump. Purdue hasn’t done much since Tiller left (yes, Jeff Brohm is great) and even then, after Wisconsin 2004, things started to slip. After the Fumble Game (be still my heart), came the epic collapse that saw Purdue struggle into a bowl game. After Joe left, injuries, bad coaching, awkwardly bent hatbrims, and poor recruiting saw the Boilers slip into a period of darkness, one which then AD Morgan Burke seemed all too happy to accept.
When Brohm and (questionably psychotic) DC Nick Holt, there were cheers of optimism and football became fun again. Then, during a work trip to Germany after the season, word surfaced that Brohm was being courted by Tennessee. My reaction on the writer’s Slack channel contained no less than 5 words starting with the letter ‘F’. Fortunately, it appeared to be smoke and mirrors and Brohm has received an extension and an increase to his buyout to try and fend off other offers. But still, for that moment, the fear came screaming back into our minds.
When it comes to that other game which borders on religion in Indiana, Purdue’s struggles in the tournament are well documented. And this season, once again, the injury bug bit at the worst possible time. During the first round game, Purdue was cruising to an easy win, when Isaac Haas got tangled up with a smaller player. The end result was Purdue’s frontcourt being reduced from two towering centers to only one. Purdue once again bowed out of the tournament too early and the Purdue faithful were left to ponder what could have been.
To be a Purdue fan is to be a diehard. There is not much in between. We’re in it for the long haul.
But one wonders, how much abuse does a fanbase have to take before it can see the sun every now and then?