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‘Boiling’ over just not the solution

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OK, I understand. You are bummed if you are a Purdue sports fan.

The football team hit a historic low with a 1-11 season and has posted losing seasons in five of the past six years.

Then there’s men’s basketball, which usually can be counted to make a run when it comes NCAA Tournament time. The Boilermakers were 5-12 in the Big Ten last season.

It could be hard to muster the enthusiasm necessary to make the trip to the Celebrations Banquet Hall on Tuesday, April 29, to attend the Purdue Coaches Caravan that is making a stop in Seymour. The Pines will cater a VIP backyard barbeque. Men’s basketball coach Matt Painter will be there. So will football coach Darrell Hazell and Athletics Director Morgan Burke.

Actually, this is exactly the time you want to go.

Waving the pom-poms is easy when a team is winning championships. It’s pretty tough when you are angry or, worse yet, apathetic.

Certainly, these guys could use a pat on the back, to let them know you care. Better you tell them how you feel and ask questions.

Strong alumni and fan base reactions can move mountains. When people don’t care, you get a decade of losing.

Perhaps that’s a simplistic approach, but it’s generally true in college athletes. Those who put a high priority on winning usually do.

Sure, there will be missteps and falls from grace. When the pressure is turned up, though, quality personnel usually will respond.

Think of your own employees if you own a business or are a supervisor. If you set low standards, won’t they live down to your expectations?

The Purdue football team is on the edge of the abyss. When you make a coaching change, you often lose a recruiting year because the new coach gets off to such a late start. When you have a rotten season, you tend to lose a recruiting year because quality high school players often worry about signing up on a sinking ship. The Boilermakers have experienced both.

In a rich get richer sport, the opposite also is true. When negatives pile up, it often takes some drastic measures to pull out of the tailspin. That might involve hiring a coach with such a dynamic personality that his name alone encourages trust among the recruits. You might be the best strategic coach in the world, but if you can’t sign the players, it’s going to be tough to dig out of a hole.

Is Hazell the guy with the dynamic personality? We will find out.

Basketball certainly isn’t a worry, although it doesn’t take many poor recruiting seasons to get buried in the ultra-competitive Big Ten. I’m sure a bounce-back season would calm the nerves.

So if you have Boiler in your blood, go talk to the big cheeses. Be encouraging, and yet firm. It’s OK to let those in charge know you don’t want to drive 90 minutes to see your favorite team get slapped around.

But do take advantage of the opportunity. These coaches, along with women’s volleyball coach Dave Shondell and women’s basketball coach Sharon Versyp, are taking the time to come to our area. Show them that you have something to say, that you want to support them, and that you want them to come back on future tours.

Mary Lou Siefker, the president of the Jackson County Purdue Club, was hoping to land one Purdue coach for an event in Seymour. Instead, Purdue is going to load up a bus and make a stop.

The event costs $20 and includes lunch. You don’t have to be a Purdue alum to attend or a member of the club, just someone who wants to support the university.

At noon, the coaches will talk for an hour or so followed by a question-and-answer period.

The Jackson County Purdue Club, which dissolved in 1996, has been back up and running since 2007. Siefker, Class of 1968, said that improved ties with the Purdue Alumni Association has the club healthy and growing.

If you would like to join, or get more information about the Purdue Coaches Caravan, you can contact Siefker at 812-343-4242. The club has given out $35,000 in scholarship money since it reorganized in 2007.

In Bartholomew County, Lisa McHone is president of the Purdue Club of Bartholomew County. That group awards three $2,000 scholarships a year and conducts an annual golf outing and scholarship banquet. This year’s golf outing will be June 5 at Harrison Lake Country Club. The marquee guest from Purdue who will attend the golf event has yet to be announced.

For more information about joining the Purdue Club of Bartholomew County, contact McHone at 812-526-5226.

Siefker said she hopes to work closely with the Bartholomew County club in the future to bring more Purdue events, such as the coaches’ caravan, to the area.

You can make such events happen just by showing up.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at or 379-5632.

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