With Purdue announcing that they have extended head football coach Danny Hope’s contract two additional years, keeping Hope at the school until 2016, the outcome of the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl becomes a little bit more interesting for Boilermaker fans.
If Purdue were to lose to Western Michigan on Tuesday afternoon in Detroit, the school will have extended the contract of a coach who has yet to have a winning season in three years at West Lafayette.
This has some fans already wondering, “Has my school settled for mediocrity?”
It is one thing for a school to give its coach a contract extension on the heels of a bowl invitation if that school is a member of a smaller conference, such as the MAC. It is something else completely when that team is a member of the Big Ten conference.
Purdue hasn’t been starved entirely of success since Hope took over the reins in 2009. The Boilermakers have beaten conference power Ohio State twice in that time span and finished a respectable third in the Big Ten Leaders division this season, ahead of the Buckeyes.
However, a trip to the Little Caesar’s Bowl doesn’t usually equate to satisfaction from the fan bases of most Big Ten schools, save Indiana or more recently Minnesota.
Additionally, losing to an upstart MAC school in such a bowl game doesn’t make an explanation for a contract extension any easier.
The Boilermakers are going up against a Western Michigan team that has a lot of unknown talent on the offensive side of the ball. The quarterback-wide receiver combination of Alex Carder and Jordan White is one of the more underrated in the nation, and there is reason to believe that the pair will have their fair share of success in Detroit on Tuesday.
Purdue has struggled at times this year against teams with quarterbacks who can use both their arm and legs, and Carder is one of those quarterbacks.
In addition, offenses tend to let it fly a little more in bowl games, and Western Michigan has more experience with offensive shootouts this season. They nearly knocked off Toledo in a 66-63 loss and scored 68 points on Akron in their season finale.
On top of all this, the bowl game could be pointed to as a sign of consistency if Purdue were to win. If they were to lose, it would continue a trend the Boilermakers have been unable to end all season.
Purdue has yet to win back-to-back games this season. A win over Indiana in their final regular-season game gives them one last chance to do so on Tuesday.
A win over the Broncos could lessen the heat that seems to have arisen from the decision to give Hope a contract extension. Many teams have carried momentum from a bowl win the season before into considerable amounts of success the next season.
However, a loss could be devastating. Western Michigan is considered an underdog in Tuesday’s bowl game, and as mentioned earlier, a loss would give Hope three straight losing seasons as head coach of the Boilermakers.
With the hiring of Urban Meyer at Ohio State, the resurgence of Michigan and the possibility of a fresh young face at Penn State that could stop the bleeding for that program, the Big Ten Conference is only getting better in coming years.
The administration at Purdue has made it clear that Danny Hope is their man to continue building what they believe is an improving program.
While fans may disagree, the outcome of the Little Caesar’s Bowl could cause them to think differently.
By the same token, it could lead them to believe that they are in for a long, difficult next five seasons.