So, while most people have been dodging campaign commercials and preparing for the onset of turkeys (Thanksgiving, people - what did you think I meant?), boilerdowd and J have been hatching a master plan. After secret negotiations that involved the exchange of Jim Rowinski trading cards, they've extended an offer to me to contribute to Boiled Sports, and I have accepted. We thought it might be best to start with a "who is this guy?" post, because ... who is this guy? What's a zlionsfan doing on a Purdue blog anyway?
Before I explain, I'd like to give a quick thanks to those two for this opportunity - I'm looking forward to writing for a larger audience, and on a blog I've been following for years - and to those of you who brought up the idea and supported it ... and of course to everyone who comes here and reads, comments, and supports the site.
I was born in Ann Arbor just before the beginning of the Big Two-Little Eight era, in a family full of Michigan fans (my parents were graduates; my grandmother is nearly 100, has lived in Ann Arbor for at least 70 years and still follows Michigan football), so I started to follow sports at an early age. While other kids were learning how to tie their shoes, I was learning important lessons that would serve me well later in life ... things like "Ohio State sucks" ... and because I'd learned to read at an early age, and the easiest thing for a kid to read in the newspaper (besides comics) is the sports section, I'd already become a big sports fan, and I'd begun to follow Detroit teams in all sports. (I didn't know that you can actually choose the teams you root for: I thought everyone rooted for local teams. If you know anything about Detroit sports in the '70s, you know this was a cruel joke that someone played on me.)
My dad was an electrical engineer, and he worked at the cyclotron at Michigan. When the university had to shut down the cyclotron in the '70s, we moved to Bloomington, and he got a similar job at Indiana.
Yes, it's true. I've lived in that town. I graduated from Bloomington North. At one time, I even rooted for ... those teams. (I was even at the chair game. Sadly, I almost completely missed the event itself. Of course in those days, the camera hadn't been invented yet, so I don't have any pictures.) But during my senior year at North - the one where the Cougars snapped a 31-game losing streak that had them in the old section in Sports Illustrated where they had little bits of trivia from around the country - all that was going to change.
I was already developing a pretty good party circle of friends, and my dad correctly assumed that if I went to IU, I'd be lucky to get halfway through my degree before dropping out, so he gave me the option to attend any in-state public school with a high-caliber CS program. (Back then, out-of-state tuition wasn't nearly as expensive, but I wasn't paying for it, and besides, have you ever been to Evanston in the winter?) So in 1985, my transition from ... one of those fans to Boilermaker began.
During my six years at Purdue (I took the scenic route), I learned two things: Purdue sports will break your heart, and Purdue ADs don't know football. I suffered through the bad half of the Burtnett years, the failed Akers project, and the transition from free to half-price student tickets. (Marketing 101: George King failed it.) I watched the NCAA put higher-seeded Purdue basketball teams on the road at lower-seeded teams again and again and again ... and when they finally got a real chance, I watched Steve Henson take apart the best Purdue team in almost 20 years before they even got a shot at Cheatin' Larry Brown and the Jayhawks.
While I was in school, my allegiance was split three ways: Michigan from my childhood, Indiana from my teen years, and Purdue from my school. Plus, this was the Bill Mallory era at Indiana, and my dad suddenly was making an effort to get to know his kids better, so we made trips to Atlanta and Memphis to watch bowl games. (I drove down to Birmingham with a friend to watch the All-American Bowl on New Year's Eve, too. Did you know that in late December in the South, it gets cold? I do now.) Interestingly, I've only been to one Purdue bowl game: the 2000 Outback Bowl. I chose ... poorly.
But after I graduated, got a job in Indianapolis, and moved here to shorten my drive, I learned two more things: Indianapolis is not a neutral city, and obnoxious IU fans drown out all reasonable ones. The way it's told to you is that Indiana is split in half: Purdue gets the north half, IU gets the south half, and Indianapolis is split down the middle. In reality, Purdue gets some parts of the north that Notre Dame doesn't get, IU gets all the rest, and, well, let's just say the Star reflects its readership fairly well. So it didn't take long for jerk after jerk after cream-and-crimson jerk to wear away what I had left of those days. (You didn't think BS would feature IU writers, did you?)
So that's me today: strong Purdue ties from my nearly-thirty years as a Boilermaker, strong Michigan ties from my childhood and my family (I guarantee they wouldn't have been as strong if Michigan's athletics, particularly football, hadn't also been strong - a lesson Mr. Burke could stand to learn) ... and that's it. Don't worry - what I write here will be about Purdue sports from a Purdue perspective. There are plenty of links in the sidebar if you want Michigan articles.
The zlionsfan part? It's from my old AOL days. I'd been using Lions and Fan in my old QB1 days, back when you signed in a different name to play for each team, and surprisingly, back then, someone else wanted to be lionsfan at aol.com. Rather than take their stupid numeric suggestion, I went with letters. ALionsFan was also taken, so instead of continuing down the alphabet, I figured I'd go to the bottom and work my way up ... and the rest is internet history.
So that's me, and that's why I'm here. Thanks again for having me.