Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Click to Sign Free Agent zlionsfan

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 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.


BoilerPaulie said...

Welcome aboard! Always enjoy reading your comments.

PS - Can we PLEASE get another form of captcha? I am a human and it still takes me like 5 tries to read the grainy images they put up.

ems said...


You're going to be so awesome. Can't wait to read more.

strawmy57 said...

Well my parents were on campus during the chair game, and they somehow knew Steve Reid. Anyway congrats, have fun with. I lived in Jackson for 2.5 years, and that town was 90% big blue so i get the osu hate. i also saw the best of detroit sports. first time seeing the tigers play was opening day of the worst season ever.

ATL_Boilers said...


You've had some pretty great, well thought out (and researched) comments so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what else you have to say.

Great decision J and B-dowd!

KevinB said...

Great Addition J and Bdowd. I have always enjoyed zlionsfan as a commenter and in his guest post. Congrats on the new gig zlionsfan. I am looking forward to some more articles dealing with the money side of hiring a new coach.

Rob said...

Welcome! I have also enjoyed the comments, looking forward to seeing a lot more from you.

Unknown said...

Glad to see another Purdue writer added to the site. I hope J and Bdowd give you the freedom to pick your own topics. As an Indianapolis native (and obviously a Purdue alum) I can't agree more that obnoxious IU fans drown out the rest.

J & Bdowd, great addition!

Plang said...

Good God! You lived through the worst Purdue football years at West LaLa that a student could stomach. And you are still a fan. You deserve a spot on this site.
I was living in town at the time, but was a little too young to fathom the implications.

Glad you are on board. Looking forward to your posts.

Beenken said...

"I chose... poorly." Loved the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade reference... Its a good sign of things to come!

PU03 said...

I echo the sentiments of others about your comments over the years and look forward to your posts.

Also, growing up in an IU household (both parents and an older brother graduated from there) I had a similar experience becoming disillusioned with that university's athletics. While attending and after graduating from Purdue I became so annoyed with casual and reversible jacket fans that I went from rooting for them when they didn't play us to not caring to actively rooting against.

zlionsfan said...

Thanks, everyone. Yeah, I'll touch on some different things, and from time to time we'll probably look at things differently, but it'll mostly be the usual toddler-robbing and that sort of thing.

And I'll readily admit that as bad as Detroit sports were in the '70s, an advantage of being an all-sports fan is that I no longer have anything to complain about. Sure, the Lions haven't won a title, but the other teams have done more than enough ... and other cities are much worse off. One of my Purdue friends is from Cleveland.

zlionsfan said...

oh! And the captcha thing is mostly out of our hands. Google doesn't exactly make it easy to change, nor do they provide a bunch of options to choose from. It sucks - I hate the images too - but we've got to keep the spam down somehow.

If there's a way we can improve the captcha stuff, you'll see it.

J Money said...

I've turned off the captcha word verification for now. We'll see how it goes, but if you guys invite all your robot friends over, I'll turn this car around.

BoilerRick said...

Welcome aboard, I hope your first column is introducing our new football coach

BoilerPaulie said...

Thanks, J! Didn't know you could actually do that, but I'm glad I said something :)

BoilerBloodline said...

Great post! Hey, I was at the 2000 Outback Bowl. We made up a sign that was in half Purdue Colors and half Tampa Bay Bucs colors that read "REmember AlStott Purdue's TraiN?? with the ESPN lined up. Obviously hoping to get some air time and give the new local favorite some hometown props. I also remember some dips*#t Purdue fan chasing down a Georgia fan after the game, he was simply holding up a Bulldog sign and the Purdue fan ripped it out of his hands (out of post loss frustration) ...a fight followed...I hope that wasn't you zlionsfan?? LOL...anyway, I look forward to reading your future insights.

zlionsfan said...

haha ... as I'm sure you recall, they sold beer at that game, so my memory of the last half or so is ... fuzzy. (Other than pain and bitter disappointment, that is. And I remember breaking at least two foam fingers on the railing in front of us.)