Last December, all was right in the world.
The Big 10 had 12 teams, the Big 12 had 10 teams, The Big East didn't stretch to the West Coast and Purdue was preparing to go to a crappy bowl to play a MAC team, as Danny Hope was secure with his new contract.
Now, the B1G is about to become a 14 team conference, the Big East is about to become no conference at all and Purdue's head football coach seems to be scratching and clawing for another day in God's country.
Things change quickly in the college football world.
Around a year ago, Western Michigan boasted of a few NFL-level players and an offense that looked like it could hang with about anyone. This season, Western Michigan's team was 4-8...so their AD decided it was time to move forward.
WMU's coach, Cubit, had been there 8 seasons and had a record over .500...he was coming off of a bowl season to boot. But all that wasn't enough to save his job...at Western Michigan. Does anyone catch my drift here?
In this era of college football, winning about half of your games and going to crappy bowls isn't good enough. It's not good enough for a MAC program, and it surely isn't good enough for Purdue.
The problem with winning around half of your games, to me at least, is it saps all emotion and intensity from the fan base...especially if that's the case season, after season, after season. Purdue has been stuck in this quagmire for a while...and we've written about it a time or two, I believe.
Even if your sister's a really good kisser, it's not a good practice to lock lips with her time and again, but with a 6-6 record (at best) on the horizon, Purdue's football program's sister has her lip gloss on and is ready to go.
The end of Tiller's time at Purdue wasn't too fun. Saturday's at Ross-Ade had become shells of what they'd used to be. If Purdue was playing a crappy defense, the first down chant would be the anthem, but when good defenses came calling, the first down chant became the equivalent of the fight song after a TD- something to savor and enjoy. The same is the case now.
Purdue's offense is a shell of what it's been over Hope's time at Purdue. When "The Duke" was at QB and Keith Smith was in the game, Purdue might chuck it around or might have had Smith pass it. When Ralph Bolden was health and Purdue's o-line was consistent, Bolden and Shavers would gash defenses with regularity. Now, it takes really bad defenses to allow Bolden and Shavers to get loose, not inventive play-calling...and Purdue QBs don't regularly pass for over 200 yards versus anyone.
Please understand, this is no indictment of the guys on the field. Saturday is a great illustration of that- Marve complete's nearly 3/4 of his passes and his numbers weren't anything to write home about. He was doing what he could, taking what was given to him...and sticking to the gameplan. Isn't that what Hope and Nord have always wanted of him? Good for Marve for being a good soldier. Very bad for Hope and Nord for not giving Marve a chance to showcase what he can really do.
On defense, things have looked pretty good the last few weeks...but Iowa and Illinois' offenses are offensive. This week that'll change as IU's offense will surely test Purdue's DBs and front. Wilson will remind us what innovation on the offensive side of the ball looks like...but his defense is atrocious, so it might not matter.
But IU on Saturday has become a pretty fun place to be- IU fans saw some things they didn't expect this season and have a reason to believe things are getting better. Our Boilers, conversely, were sadly predictable this season...and they'll lose huge chunks of their firepower, on both sides of the ball, to graduation this offseason. Like Coach Hope told us, this was a team like none other he'd had at Purdue and the potential was there for a good season. That potential has now been watered down to a mediocre bowl play-in game with IU.
So a few weeks ago when Hope started blaming injuries for the state of things on campus, I couldn't stop my blood from reaching the Boiling point. This wasn't '10...Purdue wasn't playing a third or fourth string QB and second and third string RBs. Purdue had the nicks and cuts that the B1G grinder gives you...but in spite of ridiculous rotations in multiple positions, his coaching staff wasn't ready for the adversity.
On top of that, Hope has now badmouthed his coaching mentor on two different occasions to the media...he's also called Purdue fans and ticket holders losers and people of low character. Now, we always have liked Hope as a person. Better yet, we've always liked what he's let us see. In person, he's been gracious and conversational and to the media he always seemed happy to be the head coach. That's not the same any more. The problems seem to now outweigh the advantages of coaching the B1G for Hope...so, soon, he'll have to lie in the bed he's made.
Coach Nord has always been a bristly guy...but this season, he's coached a stale offense and continued to defend the methodology while telling us that we didn't see what we thought we saw. I don't wish the man ill...in fact, I hope his back is healthy enough to coach someplace else next season.
Danny Hope saw last season's Little Caesars' Bowl as a stepping stone for his Boilers on the way to greater things. Turns out, that bowl game might have been a transition for both coaching staffs in the game as they prepared to exit.