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B1G 2022 // Investigative Reporting: The recent years of Purdue Pete

The story of why Purdue Pete took a years long break from capturing the souls of top 10 teams before returning to his favorite past time

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 23 Wisconsin at Purdue Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Content warning: Due to the nature of Purdue Pete, readers may be disturbed by the following piece of investigative journalism. For maintaining a peaceful and tranquil mind it is strongly suggested that readers believe this article is all a tall tale and not a 100% factual documentation of what Purdue Pete was up to in the years 2003-2021.

Purdue v Northwestern
Purdue Pete shows off his hammer
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Way back in 2008 when I was young, stupid, and good looking (now I’m merely good looking), I was a freshman at Purdue and got to experience my first Purdue football season. Purdue lost a bunch of games to clown colleges nobody has ever heard of but they crushed Indiana University 62-10 and I began to think that I understood Purdue’s place in college football. A mediocre but much better than Indiana squad. Which was fine, like most Purdue students I was more interested in basketball anyway.

It wouldn’t be until year 2 at Purdue that I would begin to gain a full understanding of Purdue’s place in college football when I was initiated into the greatest of Purdue football traditions: the sacrificing of top 10 football teams to Purdue Pete’s bloodlust.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Milwaukee
Don’t look into his eyes
Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

For those of you who don’t remember, the 2009 Purdue football season was the first of the legendary Danny Hope’s head coaching career. Your favorite college football team started off the season with a win against Toledo. I was suffering from bird flu or swine flu or whatever flu was sweeping thru campus at the time so I was unable to attend in person and had to watch on TV and listen out the window at Hilltop Apartments while the Trains beat the Rockets. Purdue would then proceed to lose the next five games in a row. A road loss to Oregon occurred when Purdue failed a two-point conversion. That was followed up by three straight losses in Ross-Ade to unranked teams: Northern Illinois, Notre Dame in an extremely painful snatch the loss from the jaws of victory game, and a turnover filled last two minutes of the 1st half that allowed Northwestern to grab a win. The loss at Minnesota the following week merely set the stage for the best 1-5 team in the land to face off against 5-1 and #7 ranked an Ohio State.

Ohio State v Purdue
Kerrigan was fantastic. I probably should have supported his Heisman campaign instead of the one for Carson Wiggs.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

As an Ohio native that wasn’t raised in the unnatural Ohio State worship that pervades my home state, I have despised Ohio State for a long time. I was excited to see my Boilermakers take on the poison nuts in person. What I didn’t know was that Purdue Pete was hungry. It had been six years since he had fed on the tears of a top 10 team. Although the last feeding had led to him overeating and entering hibernation for the final few years of the Joe Tiller era, the rumble of coaching change had finally awakened him. A meal of #7 Ohio State would serve to sate his appetite. Pete played with his food for 3 hours and 18 minutes before taking his victory. Ryan Kerrigan, Aaron Valentin, and Joey Elliott were the lead cooks in preparing his meal.

Pete wouldn’t get another opportunity to steal the soul of a top 10 team until 2010 against wisconsin. Luckily for wisconsin, Pete’s lactose intolerance means that he won’t consume dairy. Late in 2010, Pete became depressed when he learned that his younger brother Rowdy hadn’t moved to Hawaii and disappeared from public life like they had discussed prior to Pete’s hibernation in 2003. In fact, Rowdy had decided to stay in West Lafayette instead and was later assassinated in Hovde Hall during July 2007.

Fast forward to April 2011: the same group of shadowy villains that had taken out Rowdy attempted to remove Purdue Pete and act like nothing had happened by replacing him with a “look alike”.

The coup attempt was planned for April 11, 2011 at the Purdue football spring game. Luckily Pete was warned ahead of time by allies within the university and was able to escape his demise.

Pete’s anger and rage at the attempted murder of himself and the death of his younger brother Rowdy set him on warpath. Pete viewed the attempt on his own life as a betrayal beyond the pale and sought vengeance for his beloved brother. For the next 6 years, Pete would undergo a massive campaign of reprisals against those who had plotted against him. He dedicated himself to avenging both himself and his brother Rowdy and recreating the Purdue athletic department in his own image. In order to ensure that he had time to secure the future of Purdue athletics, Pete put aside his hobby of ending the hopes of top 10 ranked teams.

Just one day after escaping his own murder and the resulting coup attempt, Pete drove his toy train over new “Pete” and them repeatedly smashed the imposter’s body with his hammer rendering the replacement option unrecognizable. Even the knuckleheads within the Purdue marketing department recognized that the managed remains of new Pete would scare even more kids than Pete’s younger brother Rowdy had. They were stuck working with the real Pete while Pete got to work cleaning the department from the inside.

Syndication: LafayetteIN
This was the view “new Pete” faced on April 12, 2011.
Nikos Frazier | Journal & Courier, Lafayette Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Next to fall was then President of Purdue University: France Cordova. Cordova had taken over Purdue in 2007 and been intimately involved in both the assassination of Rowdy and the coup d’état attempt against Pete. After a year of Purdue Pete pulling strings within the state government and securing the commitment of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to not ever cross him, Pete discontinued Cordova’s presidency and replaced her with Daniels.

Head football coach Danny Hope had to go as well. Despite not being heavily involved in the coup d’état, Pete did not trust Danny. After all, the “new Pete” made his debut at a Purdue football spring game and Danny hadn’t been among the friends that warned Pete ahead of time. So despite back to back bowl bids, Hope was out. Unfortunately, Pete made his move on Hope too early and he did not yet have full control over the athletic department or the university. Athletic director Morgan Burke was able to make the replacement hire and Darrell Hazell was selected over the mustachioed Brock Spack.

NCAA Football: Illinois State at Colorado State
When is Brohm going to grow a mustache?
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The next few years would see Pete clear the Purdue marketing department of the people who brought us such slogans as “Makers All” and “Hazell Your Hat”. Pete would also replace Darrell Hazell with a football coach who understood what passing was at the end of 2016. Finally, Pete had just one person on his list left to replace: athletic director Morgan Burke. At the end of his long, winding mission, Pete forced Burke into retirement in 2017. His goal complete, Pete went on a hard earned sabbatical during the 2017 season.

When he returned in 2018, Pete’s handpicked replacements brought him a sacrifice in the form of #2 Ohio State. We all remember what happened next. Pete murdered the hopes of Ohio State football fans and helped end the college coaching career of Urban Meyer. Afterwards Meyer couldn’t quite put his finger on what had happened.

2019 and 2020 would see zero top 10 teams on Purdue’s schedule. In their absence Pete refused the meager offerings brought to him and the Boilermakers’ record suffered. Wising up, Purdue football scheduled several solid teams in 2021. Unfortunately, their first attempt to feed Pete was thwarted when Notre Dame merely scrapped by Toledo and Florida State to avoid top 10 status. The Irish also banned Pete’s drum from the stadium and kicked his toy train off campus on game day to avoid a Spoilermaker appearance. Pete would instead be treated to #2 Iowa and #3 Michigan State and ruin their seasons. Having over consumed on Greek poultry for his 2021 meal, Pete did not have the appetite for poisonous nuts in November.

Ball State v Purdue
Hail, hail to old purdue
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Pete enters 2022 eager to continue his favorite tradition but the schedule is rather low on top 10 opportunities. Penn State is unlikely to begin the season in the top 10 and wisconsin’s heavy cheese based diet makes them unpalatable. That leaves either Iowa or Minnesota as possibilities among teams currently scheduled. Minnesota plays only Sparty and some bad non-conference opponents prior to Purdue - an unlikely slate to put them in the top 10. Purdue doesn’t play Iowa until November giving them plenty of time to climb into the top 10, but unlike last season Iowa plays actual teams this year prior to their outing with Purdue. It’s unlikely that Iowa escapes the powerhouse trio of Michigan, Ohio State, and Rutgers with less than 2 losses.

So that leaves Purdue with just one option for a sacrifice to Pete in 2022. Purdue needs to make the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Losses to Penn State, Syracuse, and wisconsin would help ensure Purdue is unranked (a key ingredient to any upset) after the regular season and with just a little luck it’s easy to envision a wisconsin team with losses to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Minnesota helping send Purdue to Indy. There Pete will be treated to the most giant feast he has ever seen: a helping of 12-0 and #1 ranked Rutgers.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa
To your call once more we rally
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Prepare yourselves now