James and Christine Fisher birthed their first son, Connor James Fisher on December 22, 1997. This child came out of the womb a Boilermaker and became approximately the 20th member of his family to attend Purdue University beginning in the fall of 2016. Not only did this child come out of the womb a Boilermaker, he came out of the womb a sports fanatic and enthusiast.
Yes, this is me. In this same year of 1997, Joe Tiller had just led Purdue to a Bowl Game in his first year as Head Football Coach of the Purdue Boilermakers. Little did I know how in love and attached I would be to Purdue sports and Purdue football. Although I was too young to recall the spirit and energy around the football program at the time, I have seen evidence of passion and high energy around the program at this time through videos of a sold out Ross-Ade Stadium and by asking students who attended the University at the time. This season of winning football set a standard for Purdue football. This standard included many details, but was centered around three words: Passion, Energy, and WINNING.
At the same time, Coach Tiller and the Boilermakers were able to continue the tradition of attaining some of the best quarterbacks in college football, allowing the University to maintain the nickname of “the cradle of quarterbacks.” Things continued to go well for the Boilers between the years of 1997 and 2007. The Boilermakers kept up with the expectation of winning by making 8 straight bowl games from 1997 – 2004. The highlight of the Joe Tiller era occurred in the year 2000, when the Boilermakers made an appearance in the Rose Bowl, led by NFL Hall of Famer, Drew Brees. All was good until fans began hearing rumors near the end of the 2008 season about a potential retirement of Head Coach and Purdue legend, Joe Tiller. The rumors stood true as he sadly departed the program to move onto the next chapter of his life, retirement. Little did avid Boiler fans like myself realize the dreaded drought and disappointing stretch of football that Purdue was about to begin following the departure of Coach Tiller.
The Boilermakers hired Danny Hope to be its next head coach later that spring. Although fans were depressed about Joe Tiller leaving the program to retire, there was still a sense of optimism for fans, especially the die-heart fans like myself who have not missed a Purdue football game on TV or in person since they can remember. That optimism quickly turned to doubt as the next four years of Boilermaker football was not only hard to watch, frustrating to support, and difficult to remain loyal to, but quite frankly was a failure in terms of the standard that Coach Tiller set in his 11 years as Head Coach. These four years went by incredibly slow and depressingly as the Boilermakers combined record over this time period included 22 wins and 27 losses. After the firing of Danny Hope and hiring of Darrell Hazell, we thought we had hope as fans, but once again our dreams were crushed, just even further this time. Coach Hazell led the Boilers to an abysmal 9 win, 39 loss stretch over the years of 2013 – 2016. Petitions to fire the coach were spiraling around the community for a few years as anger built up, until finally the new Athletic Director, Mike Bobinsky, finally got rid of in my opinion, the worst Purdue coach of all time. It seems embarrassing to say this, but the day that Hazell was fired may be one of the happiest days of my life because I had a gut feeling that this was the time that Purdue football got back to its standard of PASSION, ENERGY, and most importantly WINNING. Rumors began to spiral about hiring some of the hottest names in college football and the excitement level of fans began to build. Then, Athletic Director, Mike Bobinsky, announced the highly praised hiring of current Head Football Coach, Jeff Brohm.
“Let’s Play Football!” That is the motto that Jeff Brohm has carried with him into Purdue. Fans were optimistic, but nervous. Although the record right now is 4-6, the Boilers have competed in every single game, with its biggest loss by 18 points to highly-ranked Michigan. Jeff Brohm made it clear to Boilermaker fans that this is finally the year that the tide is turning and that no matter how talented the opponent, the Boilers would come out and fight until there is not a single drop of sweat, blood, or tear left inside of each and every one of those players.
I feel that Boilermaker Football is back on the railroad going in the right direction. According to ESPN, Purdue’s Fan Happiness Index has increased 99 points since last season. This proves that I am not alone through the numbers. Also, Ross-Ade Stadium has increased average attendance by nearly 15,000 people in just one season. PASSION, ENERGY, and WINNING. It is back. The expectation is being met and the future is bright.
BOILER UP! HAMMER DOWN!