11/6/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Wolverine Whipping Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.

According to National Geographic, a Wolverine looks like a small bear, but is actually the largest of the weasel family. Who would have thought that a Wolverine is a weasel? Not me! We all learned something today!

Anyways, the Wolverine is the mascot for the University of Michigan football team, which is a very storied program, one of the premier in all of college football. They claim 11 National Titles, most recently in 1997.

I remember 1997 vividly. It was right in my wheelhouse of formative years. Friday nights, I would be wrapped up in the local high school game, Saturdays I would go to the Purdue football game. If for some reason, Purdue had the weekend off, I would would occasionally have one of those epic weekends that are painfully cliche.

I would beg my parents to go to Blockbuster Video, and I would use my chore money to pay for renting a video game or movie. For the younger crowd who more than likely doesn’t read this article, Blockbuster was a tremendous place. They had the newest video games and the biggest movies. For a few bucks you could rent whatever you wanted, and return it within the next day or so. You could rent VCRs and DVD players. You could buy some popcorn and candy. If you were lucky, you could walk across the parking lot and pick up a Little Cesar’s Pizza. Maybe your friend could stay over, and you could stay up all night failing to beat Mortal Combat without a cheat code.

In 1997, the most recent year that Michigan won the NCAA Championship in football, I remember renting Golden Eye 007 for Nintendo 64, and being so awful at it, that it was a complete waste of money. The Cesar’s pizza was great though!

Anyways, since 1997, I grew out of video games. I got a degree from Purdue. I met my wife some time later, and got married. I have a mortgage, multiple kids, a dog, a radio show, and lower back pain. Lots has changed in 26 years.

For Michigan, there have been ups, and there have been downs. A juggernaut at times, a weakling at others, Michigan has continued to be one of the most entertaining programs in the Big 10. For a big portion of the past 26 years, Michigan has lost against their arch rival Ohio State, but have had their number the past few. Hell, Michigan denied our Purdue Boilermakers a Big Ten Championship as recently as last season. Whatever the case, Michigan struggled to get over the hump until the last couple years, but they have been impressive lately appearing in the college football playoff.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago, and some very strange news has appeared. Perfectly coinciding with Michigan’s resurgence the past few seasons, there are allegations that the suddenly all-powerful Michigan Wolverines were illegally spying on their opponents (plural). These alleged transgressions have covered nearly all Big Ten foes, in which a football staffer Connor Stalions has purchased tickets to football games, has video taped offensive signals, and deciphered them for the Michigan Wolverine staff. This is giving the team in Ann Arbor a huge advantage defensively.

For those of us keeping score at home, this is highly illegal, and is an incredibly severe accusation on the Michigan University program. While the investigation into these alleged transgressions is till ongoing Connor Stalions has been disconnected from the Michigan program, and there is an aura of corruption hanging over the once well respected football program. Evidence continues to mount, showing that, perhaps the best team in the nation, has had a pattern of alleged cheating over quite a few years.

I am not a lawyer. I do not know the ins and outs of how these investigations go. I will say this, it appears that the repercussions for these alleged transgressions could be significant. Some are suggesting a post season ban. Others are suggesting that the Michigan season should be cancelled outright. That is, if the NCAA actually did anything about corruption anymore.

To the surprise of nobody, Michigan fans are shrugging, saying nothing bad happened.

Meanwhile, Michigan continues to play games. They continue to win emphatically. After all, Michigan is one of, if not THE best team in the nation. Strikingly, though, the lowly Purdue offense scored the most points against Michigan all season, conveniently in the post Connor Stalions era. Strange.

What has caught my eye, however, is the strange parallel to 1997 that this season has shown. Absolutely nothing to do with on the field prowess. Rather, this Michigan issue parallels Blockbuster Video, a place where you pay a few bucks, and temporarily own a movie or video game.

In 1997, I rented video games. I eventually returned them.

In 2023, if the allegations are true, Michigan may have rented victories. Eventually they could be vacated returned.

The Game:

Michigan jumped out to an insurmountable lead, and only looked back when stymied by occasional surges of Purdue defense, eventually winning 41-13.

Hudson Card threw for 144 yards, 1 TD and 1 Interception. Boilers ran for 125 yards, including 61 from Tyrone Tracy Jr.

Defensively, Purdue showed promise, although out skilled by an offense led by Heisman caliber QB. Bostros Alisandro, Sanoussi Kane, Markevious Brown, Nic Scourton, and Dillon Thieneman all tallied over 5 tackles for the game. Purdue recorded 3 sacks, 2 from Scourton, and often times frustrated this powerful Michigan Offense.

Lets Talk Defense:

I had a back n fourth with a friend on twitter about this game. He implored that Purdue’s defense was playing great. I figured, that Purdue’s defense was playing better than we presumed, but not great.

I was wrong. My buddy highlighted that this defense was stymieing this powerful Michigan offense, on very little rest. He is right. Purdue’s defense, time in and time out, had to go out there and stop an ultra high powered offense following a Boilermaker 3 & Out, continuously. Frequently.

Ok, is this defense the ’85 bears? Oh God, no. This defense, however, is actually taking care of their half of business, at least in the context that they are given.

The offense, yikes. Not pulling their weight. I have said this all season, and will continue to. This offense is going nowhere with the patchwork offensive line due to injuries. Could Harrell switch up some play calls, and find more creativity? Maybe? You can’t exactly ask this patchwork offense to be creative, when they can’t execute the basics. This not not a slight on the effort or pride of these players either. They are fighting. They are trying. The reason they can’t execute the basics is due to injury attrition, Purdue started the second half of Saturday, with Gus Hartwig (the starting center) playing tackle. Purdue is starting deep bench players. NAIA level players. Nothing against these folks, but it is incredibly difficult to win games when you’re this thin on the depth chart.

Not a recipe for success.

Break It Down:

Folks, Michigan is really good. Michigan did not need to illegally scout Purdue in order to win this game. The allegations, however, show plenty of evidence that they went beyond the rule of law when it comes to scouting.

Why? Why did they do this?

Michigan, with their combination of tremendous All-American level talent, a good coaching staff, an easy schedule season to date, and a high ranking, what is there to gain by allegedly bending the rules to defeat Purdue? They didn’t need this. They won relatively easily, but could end up losing this in the future record books.

As for the Boilermakers, this loss guarantees that Purdue will not go bowling this season. With the 7th loss, Purdue is mathematically eliminated from bowl eligibility.

Going forward, Purdue will be looking to see improvement from younger players, and see where they need to expand upon in the off season. Whether it be player improvement or the transfer portal, Purdue has some soul searching to do.

One Final Thing:

In the post Connor Stalions era of Michigan Football, there is evidence that Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh could be trying to distance himself from his old identity.

Known for his eccentric, cheeseburger buying, and generally strange behavior, Harbaugh was more well known for one more thing. His wardrobe.

Known in some circles as Coach Khaki, Harbaugh was known as wearing the steadfast, business casual pants regularly. Every game. Every appearance. Every thanksgiving with Tom Crean, one thing was assured. Jim Harbaugh was going to wear khakis.

On Saturday, Harbaugh didn’t don his signature look. He wore BLUE pants. Could he be trying to distance himself from his past, post Connor Stalions? Stay tuned.

Either that, or he wanted to match the football uniforms? More plausible, less fun. Did he just want to be fashionable, switch it up a bit? Probably not. Most plausible? None of this matters. Which is the least fun.

Football is supposed to be fun, people.

Photo: Mark Elsner

Game Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/PurdueFootball/2023/Michigan/

A Look Ahead:

The Purdue Football Boilermakers will host Minnesota on Saturday, 11/11. The 3:30 kick sees the Golden Gophers as a slight favorite.

The Purdue Basketball Boilermakers start their regular season on Monday 11/6 for a 6:30 tip. The #3 ranked Boilers take on Samford. Following that game, Purdue will take on Morehead State on Friday, 11/10. Purdue should start the season as prohibitive favorites in the first two contests.

Its the most wonderful time of the year, foks! Purdue football AND basketball! Lets go!

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About Benjamin Kolodzinski 105 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. As of 2022, Kolodzinski hosts Lakeshore Gamenight, a prep football radio show and cohosts Lakeshore PBS Scoreboard, a prep football TV highlight show. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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