History: Like many of its Big Ten brethren Purdue University was founded as a land grant college. Purdue was founded on May 6, 1869 as a land-grant university when the Indiana General Assembly, taking advantage of the Morrill Act, accepted a $150K donation and 100 acres of land from Lafayette businessman John Purdue to establish a college of science, technology, and agriculture in his name. Purdue had built his wealth during the Civil War by selling dry goods to the Union Army. An interesting side note, in order to protect his assets during the war against southern sympathizers he established the "Purdue Rifles" a volunteer protective force of about 100 trained, uniformed and armed men in and around Lafayette that guarded Confederate prisoners, rounded up deserters and maintained order. John Purdue’s grave is on campus near the Union Building.
Classes first began at Purdue on September 16, 1874 with 39 students. Purdue issued its first degree a year later. They used to have their own railroad station and today have their own airport. Today there are nearly 40,000 students on campus.
Location: Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana. It is the flagship of the six campuses within the Purdue University System, one of the largest university systems in the United States. It is situated in Tippecanoe County about 65 miles northwest of Indianapolis. The place is named in honor of General Lafayette, a French military hero who fought with the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
I have known some nice looking Purdue grads, but this in no place to go looking for chicks. According to the 2000 US Census: for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 137.2 males in West Lafayette. This unusual distribution can be explained by Purdue's presence; the school has large programs in several male-dominated academic fields such as engineering.
Nickname: They call themselves The Boilermakers. For years I thought it was interesting the drink my Uncle Andy liked was the same as the local college team near his house. It wasn’t until I got a little older did I realize it had nothing to do with beer and whiskey.
Before becoming the Boilermakers, Purdue’s sports teams had a bunch of silly industrial/farming names, including the surreal “Clod Mashers and Lunch Punishers from the wilds of Tippecanoe County”. Other names were the Corn Huskers, Rail Splitters, Haymakers, LogHaulers, Blacksmiths, Sluggers, Hayseeds, Pumpkin-shuckers and my personal favorite: Cornfield Sailors.
The Boilermaker nickname dates back to 1891 when a local reporter referred to the football team as “Boiler Makers” following a 44-0 whitewash of Wabash College. The title of the story was called “Slaughter of Innocents” -- which is a decent description of the 2008 Michigan Football. The next year the student newspaper (still called the Exponent) began using the name and it stuck. As far as nicknames go, this one is a true original. Purdue is the only college known as the Boilermakers, and I would rank at or near the top of all college nicknames. The Boilermaker name is a marketers dream and has come to symbolize all things Purdue, from their sports teams to their individual alumni.
Mascot: The Boilermaker Special has been the official mascot of Purdue University since 1940. It essentially is a Victorian-era railroad locomotive built on a truck chassis. The Special was originally designed to demonstrate Purdue's engineering programs. It is "street legal" and can be driven on expressways at a top speed of 65mph and it attends all of Purdue’s football games home & away. Hats bearing the logos of defeated opponents are attached to the Boilermaker Special's cow-catcher. There is a smaller version (called the X-Tra) for indoor events. The Special is operated, maintained, and funded by the unfortunately named Purdue Reamer Club.
Not to be confused, the official mascot of Purdue athletics since 1940 has been Purdue Pete. He began as a logo for the campus bookstore. He made his first physical appearance as the athletics mascot at a pep rally in 1956. Pete has lost his head a several times, literally. They lost his original paper-mache head in 1962 on the way back from Iowa City. The head was in the back of the Boilermaker Special when a strong gust of wind blew it out into the road. The crew stopped the Special and searched for hours for the head without any luck. The only thing they found was little piece of the shoulder pad.
Obviously on the recommendation by some marketing firm the university introduced an inflatable 10 foot mascot thing named Rowdy in 1997. The 10-foot-tall alter ego of Pete was kept inflated by a battery-powered blower strapped on the student who portrays him. He was made of parachute material and was supposed to represent a young boy who hopes to become a Purdue Boilermaker. Frankly, he was pretty lame and retired at the end of the 2007 season.
Colors/Logo/Helmet: In 1887 Purdue University adopted its school colors, Old Gold and Black. These distinctive colors were inspired by the brass and iron found on the steam engine Lafayette that passed through the state. Unlike Big Ten teams Iowa and Minnesota, the Purdue gold is actually gold, not yellow.
They use a “forward moving P,” as their primary logo. This logo is nice clean and basic. They have also used various versions of a train engine as an alternative logo. Again, it is a uniquely Purdue symbol and there is no confusing it with any other college logo. Plus, my nephews love trains and these logos make them happy.
Considering they have not had a ton of success as a football program, they have a pretty stable helmet history. In the early 1950’s Purdue’s helmets looked a little bit like the Michigan helmets without the wings. They went to a “numbers on the side” period in the 1960’s until they went with the current gold with a black P in the early 1970’s. However, for some reason during the last two years of the Fred Akers era they had a two-year fling with black helmets (1989 and 1990).When Drew Brees led Purdue to 2001 Rose Bowl they wore a special “Rose Bowl” version of the helmet. I think it looked great because it combined the classic Purdue style with the very special (and rare) occasion of the Rose Bowl visit. Not many teams could pull that off -- Purdue did. Unfortunately they lost to the Washington Huskies.
Fight Song: Hail Purdue! is the official fight song of Purdue University. The lyrics were written by James Morrison, to the tune set by Edward Wotawa in 1913. The song was initially titled "Purdue War Song" and was dedicated to the Varsity Glee Club, of whom Wotawa was a member. If you have ever played EA Sports NCAA Football you have heard this song, the menu system programmer has to be Purdue grad because it plays all the time.
To your call once more we rally,
Alma Mater, hear our praise;
Where the Wabash spreads its valley,
Filled with joy our voices raise.
From the skies in swelling echoes
Come the cheers that tell the tale,
Of your vic'tries and your heroes,
Hail Purdue! We sing all hail!
Hail, hail to old Purdue!
All hail to our old gold and black!
Hail, hail to old Purdue!
Our friendship may she never lack,
Ever grateful ever true,
Thus we raise our song anew,†
Of the days we've spent with you,
All hail our own Purdue.
When in after years we're turning,
Alma Mater, back to you,
May our hearts with love be yearning,
For the scenes of old Purdue.
Back among your pathways winding
Let us seek what lies before,
Fondest hopes and aims e'er finding,
While we sing of days of yore.
Alternate second verse (often sung by the Purdue All American Marching Band)
In the band we march and swagger
As we play for old Purdue.
At the halftime we do shows
No other band on Earth could do.
When we cheer the Earth will tremble
For we're known throughout the land
As the best in marching music,
We're the Boilermaker Band.
Academics: The reputation of Purdue as a top engineering school is well known. It was the first university in America to award an aviation engineering degree under the direction of the Wright brothers. Purdue was the first university in the country to offer college credit for flight training, and the first to offer a degree in aviation. Over the last ten years, Purdue has awarded more aerospace engineering degree than any other school, and awards more engineering degrees to women than any college in the country. It’s known as the cradle of astronauts, and has one of the largest international student populations of any public university in the U.S.
I find it interesting that even with it’s engineering reputation Purdue only ranks 66th in the most recent US News rankings. While not as lowly ranked as Michigan State and Indiana, they are still pretty low in the Big Ten and tied with Miami (Ohio), SMU, UConn, and Iowa. Go Figure?
Athletics: Purdue was a charter member of the Big Ten and played a central role in its creation. They have an intense rivalry with Indiana in all sports. The Boilermakers battle the Hoosiers on the football field each year to win the Old Oaken Bucket. Purdue leads the series, first played in 1925, 68-36-6. Found on a farm in southern Indiana, the oaken bucket is one of the oldest football trophies in the nation. The winner of game gets to add a bronze "P" or "I" chain link and keep the trophy until the next face-off. Ironically, the first competition in 1925 led to a 0-0 tie, resulting in the first link on the chain being an "IP."
It is good that they battle so hard with Indiana, because in over 100 years of Big Ten football the Boilermakers haven’t really battled anyone else. They have won only one non-shared conference championship (1929) and have only shared of seven others. Only two of those co-championships have taken place in the last 55 years.
But in basketball it is a different story -- Boilermaker Basketball teams have won more Big Ten Championships than any other conference school, with 27 (Men 21 and Women 6). The guys have been to two Final Fours and the ladies three. The Purdue Women won the NCAA title 1999 while the Men were voted NCAA Champs in 1932 (before the NCAA tourney). The rest of the Boilermakers teams are just plain weak. In this century, they’ve only won three Big Ten titles (two in women’s golf and one in women’s indoor track). They show no historical conference dominance in any sport. Their only other national championship in history is a 1961 title in men’s golf.
Famous alums: Purdue alumni have headed corporations, held federal offices, founded television networks, and flown through space. Purdue’s distinguished faculty have won Nobel prizes, solved long-standing riddles in science, headed government agencies, and received countless awards. Famous Purdue people include: Russell Games Slayter, inventor of fiberglass; Harold Gray, creator of Little Orphan Annie; George Peppard, movie actor; Orville Redenbacher, popcorn king; and Ruth Siems, inventor of stove top stuffing. They have a nice list of famous athletes including John Wooden, Basketball legend; Hank Stram, NFL Hall of Fame coach; Ryan Newman, NASCAR driver, and Drew Brees, Len Dawson, and Bob (you can call me Brian's Dad) Griese, NFL pro bowl quarterbacks. I would be remiss without mentioning that former Lions QB and current SEC lobbyist Gary Danielson went to Purdue. It is sad to see that a guy that went to high school in Michigan and attended a Big Ten School can be such a blow-hard against his midwestern football roots.
As I mentioned above, Purdue is known as the "Cradle of Astronauts". They have graduated 22 NASA astronauts, including the first and last men to walk on the moon. Pretty impressive. The most recognizable Purdue Space Man is Neil Armstrong. So yes, Purdue beats Michigan in the race to space -- but they have no US Presidents... White House Bitches...
The Game: Purdue is terrible, so is Michigan. Purdue's QB is pathetic, so is Michigan's. Purdue can't score, either can Michigan. Sounds like a great time, huh ? I can't wait to sit down and watch this game, if only to see Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko. He will be the best player on the field. He leads the Big Ten and is 10th nationally in punting with a career-best 44.6 yard average. Michigan is the only team in the country to have a top 10 yardage punter and sit in the top 10 in net punting (1st) and punt return yardage defense (5th). So we've got that going for us....WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO !!!