November 9, 2012
Kickin' It With Kitch: Dreaming big
"So you're telling me there's a chance."
I am not so blinded by loyalty and rose-colored glasses to not know that it is a long shot, but until it is mathematically impossible to keep this team out of Indy, I am going to believe. Listen: I believed in Santa until I was 18, because I knew as soon as I stopped believing, then the gifts would stop. Call me crazy - I am sure some of you will - but I believe in blind faith and I am not going to give up on this Purdue Boilermaker football team. A lot of things have to happen to make this all work, but if you look at it closely it's not out of the realm of possibility for us to play for a Big Ten Championship. The first step is that Purdue has to win a Big Ten game. These dreams can be dashed this weekend at Iowa or they can be one step closer to a reality with a road victory.
I know that you all have read the scenario: IU has to beat Wisconsin and Wisconsin would have to lose out, then IU will have to lose its last two, and the Boilers would need to win out. See, it's as simple as that. How much fun would the Bucket Game be if the winner punched its ticket to Indy? Would people show up to watch that or have we all checked out? I really hope we get to find out. It's not a pretty way to get there, but does it really matter as long as we do get there? I am not sure.
(Editor's Note: In the above scenario, it's possible that the Leaders Division representative in Indianapolis would come down to a random draw between Purdue and Wisconsin).
As I have been the crazy person this week talking about this to friends and fans, I am disturbed by the responses of some. Instead of having a little glimpse of hope and belief, some fans say that we would not deserve it. I understand that this team has vastly underperformed to this point, but the same fans who are telling me it is all about wins are the ones telling me that they would rather us not play for a championship because that would cool down Danny Hope's hot seat. What can I gleam from this?
For some fans, it's not about the school or the players, it's about a personal feeling for our head coach. I find that very interesting because I hear from the same people who say it's only about the wins and the losses. I call bull on those talking out of both sides of their mouth.
Danny has done everything right at Purdue, except for win enough games to get the masses to Ross-Ade. Danny has raised the GPA of the football team so that it is well above the student average. Danny has been a tireless recruiter and brought in talent from talent-rich states and filled in the gaps for depth. Danny has been a model citizen through his efforts with the Purdue Cancer Challenge 5K and the many events that he attends and supports. Danny has run a clean program and held himself and his staff to a high ethical standard, opposite of the problems that have riddled the Big Ten and college football as a whole. Danny has fought for his players through scrutiny. Danny has engaged former players and that is evident by the spring games: before he came, they were attended by less than 100 former players, and this past year over 350 football alumni came to West Lafayette. And maybe most importantly, Danny has bled Gold and Black from his very being and has not wavered in his LOVE for Purdue University.
Someone came up to me before the game Saturday and told me I have to give it up. He said I have to give up on this coach and this team and the only thing I said to him is "NOT GOING TO HAPPEN."
If I am going to go down then I am going down swinging, and when I get knocked out you better make sure I am completely out because I will get off the mat and start swinging again. I learned in my time coaching at Wabash College that there is a saying there and it's a simple statement that can be summed up in three letters: WAF. It stands for Wabash Always Fights. I really identified with Wabash College and I identified with the mentality. No one can take away my fight and no one can take away this team's and the coaches' fight.
Follow me on Twitter as I will give you what I see from the sideline @kelly_kitchel
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