Welcome to Purdue Week!
You’ve seen babaoreally admit he has little to no idea of what to expect out of Purdue Boilermakers football in 2021...but we’ll soldier on anyway.
Campus Culture: C’est Le Grand Prix!
Inspired by the fact that I’m writing this as I watch the Monaco Grand Prix—don’t tell me how it ends, I want to be surprised—we’ll start with a West Lafayette tradition: the Purdue Grand Prix!
This 50-mile, 160-lap go-kart race is “The Greatest Spectacle in College Racing” and wraps up Gala Week each year. All 33 participating karts are made from scratch by student teams. The event has been raising money for student scholarships since it began in 1958. (Purdue)
This year, frosh Jacob Peddycord took the whole thing in 1:13. I’m not sure how driving go-karts around a track works, but I learned that apparently this is part of how you practice:
“The team nailed the pitstop,” he said. “We spent a lot of time in the hallway just pushing it down the hall. We kept practicing, practicing and practicing until we got it where we wanted it.”
The image of a bunch of pimpled, pasty, masked engineers pushing a go-kart down a dorm hallway is more than enough to get me through Monday.
So tell me writers:
1. Go-karting and/or Purdue Grand Prix. Experiences? Thoughts? Stories?
2. Tell me a race or similar competition at your school that maybe only your alums will find remotely interesting but that’s a big deal anyway.
babaoreally: I never went and watched the Grand Prix when I was at Purdue. I was riding in a car with a friend and the gate to the track was open one night. So he drove in a took a lap in his “Mazdalac”, which was an old mazda with a Cadillac hood ornament.
When I was a kid I didn’t quite understand how to drive and my friend had a go-kart. I guess I was expecting it to stop if I just lay off the gas instead of actively stopping it with the brakes. So I slowly drove into a rose bush and got a few thorns in me. Pretty fun time.
Candystripes: So, while Purdue has their Grand Prix, Indiana hosts a different race around the end of the school year called Little 500. If you’ve ever watched the movie Breaking Away, this is what it’s based on. If you haven’t watched Breaking Away, neither have I, so I can’t tell you if you’re missing anything or not.
Rather than go karts, Little 5 involves bicycle racing, with teams of 4 representing a whole bunch of different groups on campus (mostly Greek life, but also other dedicated groups of riders, certain housing complexes, and at least for the men’s race, a tribute team to the aforementioned Breaking Away riders called the Cutters). It may not be the “Greatest Spectacle in College Racing”, but it has been called “The World’s Greatest College Weekend” by many, many people (some of whom aren’t employed by the university or Visit Bloomington).
Unsurprisingly, this being a college campus and all, the actual race is the least exciting part of the whole weekend, and I say that as someone who actually watched the race one year and skipped out on all the other “festivities.”
RU in VA: There’s a manager adjacent to me whose kids cart. He’s got a whole maintenance van, a trailer, gear - it sounds as expensive as ice hockey. I knew - but now have a real life example - of why F1 has the complexion that it does.
I don’t remember any specific racing-type events at Rutgers. But I do remember coming home at 2 AM from College Avenue on the bus system and playing “bus surfing” on the accordion bus every weekend. Super basic - just stand up in the middle of the bus and try not to fall over. I’ve tried doing it since then, sober, in my mid-30s. It’s still really hard.
WSR: Growing up in central Minnesota, I had a go-kart. Pipe frame death trap powered by a Briggs & Stratton motor.
Did it go insanely fast? No.
Did I get to talk to a police officer because I was using it to take shortcuts through neighbors lawns? Yes.
Did it get sold after I mowed down one of my Mom’s rosebushes while accidentally taking a corner a bit too tightly trying to take faster laps around the yard on our “circuit?” Absolutely.
Thumpasaurus: My fraternity was exploring the idea of a POW POW POWER WHEELS GRAND PRIX as a charity event, but it fell through the cracks.
I didn’t watch Monaco, but I assume the polesitter won. I think this is a safe assumption, since to my knowledge sports media isn’t on fire with BREAKING NEWS: HOLY FUCK, MONACO POLESITTER DOES NOT LEAD RACE WIRE TO WIRE.
You’ve practically invited me on a racing stream-of-consciousness, so I want to state my regret that I’ve never gotten a team together to do 24 Hours of Lemons, the endurance race where your car’s unmodified value cannot exceed $500. It’s probably too late now that I’m in my 30’s and I don’t have many if any friends that would be inclined to do this, but...damn. How about taking the shit-kickingest base model 80’s Camaro, ripping out the Iron Puke 4 cylinder and replacing it with a 4.6L Ford Coyote from a Crown Vic, then gutting the interior. stenciling “EYE ROCK Z” in huge letters on each side and whipping that abomination around a makeshift track for 24 hours straight?
But I digress. I don’t know that there’s anything like that in Chambana, though I’ve not lived there for oh my god it’s almost ten years. While there, however, I did enter a race of sorts. Think of those green fuel challenges that Shell sponsors to distract you from all the money they’ve spent funding global warming denial, only with a way smaller budget and with fluid power...and with fluid power only being a means of transmitting human power to drive wheels. Kind of a convoluted set-up, isn’t it? In any case, my team placed 4th in the Parker-Hannifin Chainless Challenge despite a critical failure on lap 2 of the 4-lap endurance race. In the middle of an unrelated all-nighter, I put this video together before our final presentation for the class. Had I put it together before our competition presentation, we would almost certainly have won first place.
Northwestern’s shit fell apart literally 30 yards into the first event, by the way.
Football: Benoit. BALLS.
Think back with me, if you will, to the year 2018. Purdue opened the season hosting Northwestern, a game in which the ‘Cats took a 31-17 lead into the break. Fourteen of those 17 Boiler points, though, came from a breakout star frosh named Rondale Moore, who had a 32-yard touchdown catch and an electric 76-yard run.
Of Moore’s 109 receiving and 79 rushing yards, 91 receiving and all 79 rushing came in the first half. Keep this point in mind.
Of course, the story of the Boilers’ 2018 season is not that they lost to Northwestern in the season opener or that they lost their bowl game in a rout at the hands of Auburn that defied human decency.
Since then, Jeff Brohm is 8-18 (7-13 B1G), with just one win over a ranked team (2018, #19 Iowa). Rondale Moore won the 2018 Big Ten Freshman and Receiver of the Year awards, followed in the former by David Bell in 2019 and joined by Tight End of the Year Brycen Hopkins in 2019. But outside of Moore’s First Team All-B1G status in 2018 (also as a return specialist), here are Purdue’s All-B1G players as voted by the coaches under Jeff Brohm:
- Markus Bailey (2nd-team LB, 2018)
- Joe Schopper (3rd-team P, 2018)
- Bell (3rd-team WR, 2019)
- Bell (2nd-team WR, 2020)
- George Karlaftis (2nd-team DE, 2020)
- Derrick Barnes (2nd-team LB, 2020)
- Zander Horvath (somehow 3rd-team RB, 2020)
That...uh...that quite doing it for you in the ol’ Purdue department? Despite the successful respective frosh seasons for Brohm, Moore, and Bell, the Boilermakers haven’t really put it all together, particularly in the last two years. Now Moore and Hopkins are gone via the NFL Draft, and while Bell returns for another season of draft hype, you’d be excused if you had questions about the Boilermakers’ 2021 prospects.
So, writers, your questions:
1. Is Brohm all sizzle, no steak, or has there been enough in the “bad luck, bad bounce” department that you’re not worried...yet? Grade his tenure in West Lafayette to date.
2. Who’s a freshman from your school we should watch for in 2021?
3. Ever commit to a contract you regretted? Just asking for a friend.
babaoreally: 1. He’s certainly not all sizzle, no steak. The first two years prove there was some sizzle in there. I am worried, but I’m glad he was hired and not someone else. We got a couple of good years at least if this program continues on its current trajectory. I mean we were coming off of the Hazell years, which was as bad as it gets. I give him a B so far, it would have been an A after the first two years. Another bad year and he drops to C.
2. Well, we got Yannis Karlaftis, brother of George coming in this year. He’s listed as a linebacker instead of a defensive end like his brother.
3. Tell your friend I have not.
RU in VA: The Purdue/Rutgers game last year was sneaky good. Safeties, picks, long returns - an exciting game for sure. Even a Sitkowski sighting!
But I despise how much coaching makes a difference in the college ranks. Watching that game you can see how much it can change a team. Brohm is doing a lot with a little. His talent extraction is really high, which leads into #2.
Purdue’s top two signed recruits for next year are Karlaftis and Grigsby. Karlaftis has an offer from nearly the entire B1G + Notre Dame and Oregon. Grigsby has less B1G, but also has Lousiville, the U, and Auburn chasing him. As college football continues to narrow down into “Only 6 teams matter” mode, I wonder how many more of these recruiting battles Brohm can actually win at a school with a train mascot.
WSR: 1) Am I worried about Jeff Brohm? No, and I never have been. All hat, no cattle. You’re missing your beef, boy. Get it? Cattle? Beef? I’m talking here, boy.
Anyway, Brohm continues to appear to have no clue how to develop an OL or a defense that doesn’t revolve around an elite talent that walked onto campus from his house down the street from campus. He’s like another coach we’ll be discussing in the very near future, but he actually has a win over a ranked team. And he appears to be slightly less of a jackass. But anyway, no. He’s exactly what I thought he’d be.
2) The Gophers have an opportunity for a WR to step up right away and get some catches following the departure of Rashod Bateman, and I know the perfect guys for the job: RS FR Douglas Emilien and true FR Brady Boyd. Emilien’s HS film (which is always accurate) was ridiculous, and Boyd had an incredible spring game (which is also a guaranteed way of predicting future success). Both have a great chance to get out there and make plays and take snaps away from guys like Clay Geary. Plus if it’s Boyd I’ll finally have a WSR on the Gophers to replace the dearly departed Drew Wolitarsky.
3) Look, you’re going to have to accept that you lost your liver to me in that card game fair and square.
Thumpasaurus: The place where Brohm has failed to hold his footing is in the trenches. Those all-conference honors went to one pass rusher one time. No offensive linemen, no defensive tackles. You don’t need to run the ball to succeed in the Big Ten, but you need to be able to run the ball to have success. The ultimate referendum on Jeff Brohm In The Trenches was the bowl game against notoriously lineman-rich Gus Malzahn Auburn. What a bloodbath.
It’s surprising to me that Brohm has yet to land a high-caliber quarterback prospect as well, though it’s not like the quarterback play has been lacking. I just would have figured he’d be pretty successful in getting the attention of good QB prospects.
Ultimately, Jeff Brohm’s fate will rest on two things: the success of this new defensive coordinator, and the ability to develop a competitive offensive line. He has an offense that can usually put up points, but as Kevin Wilson showed at Indiana, that will only get you so far.
MNW: None of you are actually grading Jeff Brohm. I don’t really have a horse in this race or a dog in this fight or a pigeon in this drunken bus stop orgy—I just wanted to stop by and complain about that.
Grade the Jeff Brohm Experience to date:
This poll is closed