Profiling each of our picks in the SB Nation Conference Re-Draft ...
School: Purdue University
Colors: Old Gold and Black
Mascot: Boilermaker Special and Purdue Pete
Location: West Lafayette, In.
Varsity Sports: 18
Football Stadium: Ross-Ade Stadium (cap. 62,500)
Basketball Arena: Mackey Arena (cap. 14,123)
SBN Blog: Hammer & Rails
On to the vitals:
TV Revenue Potential. Purdue gives the Twelve Pack a presence in a new state -- Indiana -- and strengthens our foothold in the Chicago area. In addition to the 20,000 Wisconsin alumni living in Chicagoland, Purdue adds another 21,000 alumni living in the greater Chicago area. Nearby Indianapolis is the 26th largest TV market in the country.
With an enrollment of 39,697, Purdue is one of the largest universities in the country and recently ranked in the top 10 in undergrad enrollment just a few years ago. Captive audience.
Academics. According to U.S. News and World Report, Purdue is ranked 18th among U.S. public universities, and 56th among all U.S. universities (tied with fellow Twelve Pack conference member The University of Georgia).
Co-eds. Not too shabby.
Weather/Desirability of Destination. Eagles fans are fairly well versed in all there is to do in Northwest Indiana ... ... so we'll move the Twelve Pack game day parties to nearby Chicago or Indianapolis.
Historic Success. Purdue's 579 wins rank them just 42nd on the all-time Division I wins list. The football has been just OK, but it's on the hardwood that the Boilermakers have excelled. Purdue's men and women's basketball teams have won more Big Ten Championships than any other program in the Big Ten and despite those five dusty banners down the road in Bloomington, the Boilers have been the best hoops program in the state for quite some time (with apologies to Butler).
Commissioner: Tell us more about your football and basketball program, in 300 words or less (grad school essay style).
Hammer & Rails: Our football program is in a downturn right now. After going to 10 bowls in 12 years under Joe Tiller we haven't made a postseason game in the last three years. The biggest thing you need to know about our program is that only Alabama and us have three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (Len Dawson, Bob Griese, and Drew Brees for us) and we're the only school with four quarterbacks that have at least 100 NFL starts (Dawson, Griese, Brees, and Jim Everett).
In basketball we have a massive in-state inferiority complex with IU. We own the all-time series with them, but all we hear about is their five titles when they haven't won in 25 years. It does not help that our last Final Four was in 1980 and we have had probably four national title teams derailed due to injuries. The most recent is, of course, Robbie Hummel, who went down with a torn ACL at the moment we looked poised to take the 2010 title.
We despise Indiana in basketball and despise Notre Dame in football. It is that hatred of notre Dame in football that will cause us to get along well.
Commish: What is your school's best non-revenue sport? What is that program's defining moment / crowning achievement?
Hammer & Rails: Women's golf. We won the 2010 National Championship in ladies golf and have to national runners-up finishes in the last six years in the sport. Maria Hernandez was also an individual NCAA title winner in that time. We're the only "cold weather" school to win an NCAA women's golf title. Much of this is due to the Pete Dye designed golf course on campus.
Commish: What excites you most about joining this conference?
Hammer & Rails: The fact we got picked. A lot of people forget about Purdue. Our football program hasn't done a lot to make us memorable since Drew Brees was on campus. For the record, Brees is a saint that can get away with anything in West Lafayette. I am just glad we're not the last team picked.
Commish: If you are in West Lafayette for a football game, what's the #1 local spot -- bar, restaurant, attraction -- you have to visit before you leave?
Hammer & Rails: Harry's Chocolate Shop. Without a doubt it is the best college bar (at least to me) in the country. Every time I walk in I feel like I am home. They make any Purdue alum from 22 to 92 feels that way.
Commish: Which conference road trip are you most looking forward to and why?
Hammer & Rails: Well, I have been to Wisconsin and Minnesota, so those are out. I'd have to visit Texas just because they have a huge case of little man's syndrome. Their expectations are to win the title every year, and except for 2006 they have fallen woefully short. I want to see their hope in person.
Commish: Last one. If you could pick one rap song that captures what this conference is all about, what is it?
Hammer & Rails: California Love by Tupac. Every Big Ten teams dreams of California Love by playing in Pasadena on New Year's Day.