Our first look at a Big Ten school that shouldn't ever threaten our football team should we join the conference, but will likely hand us our rear-ends on a yearly basis on the hardwood. Purdue University.
Adding to the list of midwestern states with a landscape full of corn (In the early years, the school was referred to as the "Cornfield Sailors" rather than the Boilermakers" , Indiana is more than a jog from anywhere near the Husker state. Travelling from Lincoln to West Lafayette will take you through the visually stunning lands of Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Make sure you get that DVD package installed...
Without actually having been there, I will try to relay some of the more interesting things to note for Husker fans who may travel deep into Big Ten country for a game:
Football: Known as the original "Quarterback U" by sportswriters and coaches across the land, Purdue has just a scant few bragging points with regards to their football program. Purdue QB's have registered more NFL starts, and accounted for more NFL touchdowns than any other school. 15 Boilermaker quarterbacks have been sent to the NFL, with the most recent and notable being Super Bowl champ Drew Brees. PU has turned 3 of these (Len Dawson, and Bob Griese) into Super Bowl MVP's...also the most from any other school.
Should be interesting to see what the Blackshirts do to a football program with such a good history of drop back passers. Naturally, I anticipate that any strong season or Heisman run by a Purdue quarterback will be set back a bit on the date they play the Cornhuskers.
Other sports: The basketball tradition seems to be what holds up the rafters in the sports world at Purdue, although very unassuming. Consider these facts: The Boilermakers own more Big Ten Conference championships than any other school. (More than Indiana, OSU, and Michigan?..impressive). They are also the only Big Ten program to boast an all-time winning record over every other conference program. Funny, because I can't think of any real notable players that came out of this school. Glenn Robinson is the only one I even recognize. Gene Keady led the school to over 500 wins in his career, and although they have reached the final four on a few occasions...the PU won it's only national title clear back in 1932.
Nebraska will have it's hands full with regards to almost allof the Big ten schools when it comes to basketball, especially if Doc can't figure out how to right his ship in Lincoln. The women's b-ball team also see success on a regular basis, winning it's only national title in 1999.
Location: West Lafayette will be a haul. 612 miles from Lincoln, which equates to about 10 hours of driving. Plenty of time to catch up on drinking, sleeping, or just cursing this new conference alignment and it's affect on Husker fans' gas consumption. My plan will be to drive to Chicago and stay overnight while doing some sightseeing...and then making the 2 hour trip directly south into W. Lafayette on gameday. About 22k residents(2000 census), tightly packed in to the small community. Not sure where Purdue would end up if we see an East and West division setup. My guess would be the West, so we'd be seeing them on a yearly basis. Which is a good thing... I'll explain later.
Football Games are played at Ross-Ade (like Gatorade?) Stadium. Recent renovations have reduced it's former seating capacity from 70k down to around 62k seats. So, basically only about 30k will be seeing Purdue black and gold on Husker gamedays. Natural Bermuda grass playing surface.
Basketball games are held at the more recognized Mackey Arena. The place seats about 14k fans, and is regarded as one of the loudest arenas in the country due to it's domed aluminum roof. I love it loud!
History and Traditions: As I mentioned earlier, Nebraska needs a yearly contest with the PU. Why? Nebrska has never beaten Purdue. What?! Can you believe it? Well, okay...we've only playd them once, but that still burns my buscuits. We will need just two years to turn that table, but still...I'd like to see more games between the schools. Just seems odd that they've only squared off once since 1891. (The lone win coming at Purdue in 1958, prior to Nebraska emerging as a national power).
Purdue has only earned to a handful of bowl wins in the modern era, but have had two this decade. The '02 Sun Bowl, and the '07 Motor City Bowl.
The only trophy tradition I could dig up for Purdue was the Old Oaken Bucket. Found on a farm in southern Indiana, this trophy is possibly the oldest in the nation. No ideas on a Nebraska-PU trophy...
Fans: Smart people. Nerds. (77% of residents hold a bachelors degree or higher). Really, I have no idea on this one. I know just one hardcore PU fan/alum, and rarely do we talk about gameday in West Lafayette. Do they tailgate by using the latest in super-conductive metals and expirementing with genetically engineered "super-meat" while discussing the next best time to study for finals? Maybe I'm being too nice..
I'd imagine that the lack of dominance by any college football program has ingrained a good sense of sports-humility in the population of this state. With PU's location being so hemmed in by schools like Illinios, Northwestern, and Indiana..most of the fan base is probably made up of current or former students. But if any of these geeks look like this, I'm game for a road trip!
That's what I have. Any PU fans out there that would like to share some interesting facts, places to eat, or whatever...comment please!