FINAL SCORE - 30.5
The 2nd installment in our countdown of college stadium experiences. Click here for #11.
Let me first say that I've enjoyed some great trips to West Lafayette over the years, despite its peculiar odor (understandable for a college town whose letters spell PU). But the only game weekend spent at Purdue came in '99. We drove in Friday night in three cars, one of which featured a custom-made karaoke component with a mic attached to a megaphone on the roof. As soon as we hit the edge of town, we blared the Victory March and chanted into campus, leaving many bewildered passerbys wondering where the racket was coming from. Quite the memorable entrance. We crashed at a friend's older sister's apartment which became home base for some excellent Friday night partying. All in all, a great lead up to what turned out to be a forgettable game, where we bore witness to the 2nd straight week of the Bob Davie Clock Management for Idiots lecture series. That ending was a swift kick in the junk that certainly soured the afternoon for us and made for a bittersweet drive home.
More specific to Purdue's gameday experience, Ross-Ade Stadium felt like an oversized high school atmosphere, despite a decent stadium capacity of 62,500. The crowd is non-descript, cheering when they absolutely should, but otherwise just there. The student's main chant (do they have others?) is "Boiler Up!" which gets repeated ad nauseum. This decade has seen a number of stadium renovations and improvements, including a large Daktronics replay video board, so perhaps the experience and entertainment value has been enhanced for the fans. But we're purists here at We Is ND. The game itself should be the only entertainment necessary. Well, and the band.
Speaking of bands, Purdue lays claim to having the world's largest drum. That's all well and good, but as one We Is contributor wrote, "Someone needs to tell them that it's only the biggest because no one cares enough to make one bigger." For visitors, the novelty of the drum wears off pretty quickly.
The same contributor summed up West Lafayette with "Their bars are in strip malls and the stadium is right next to Mackey Arena, the center of hell." While the first statement is factual and a knock against the surrounding area, the second allegation reveals his Bloomington roots and the hardwood rivalry that simmers between IU and PU.
The tailgate scene is dominated by off-campus houses and fraternities. There are a few parking lots sprinkled around, but there's no dedicated area where all fans convene to get ready for a day of football. But a perk that's unique to Purdue is the policy that allows fans to exit and re-enter the stadium at halftime. Nothing like running back to the house to slam a couple brewskies before the 2nd half. With the run to and fro, it can even be construed as a workout.
Purdue boasts a decent tradition of football and has a decent NFL pedigree among its alums. Rod Woodson, Drew Brees, Mike Alstott, Jim (Chris) Everett, and Bob Griese all suited up for the gold and black. Another nice tradition that seems unique to Big Ten schools is the establishment of traveling trophies to commemorate every game in a rivalry. Purdue's Old Oaken Bucket game with Indiana is one of the more famous in all of college football.
While the trip to West Lafayette is nice, that's about all it is. A day trip for a football game, exactly what it sells itself as. Nothing stands out as unforgettable, remarkable or memorable about the overall experience of a game at Ross-Ade Stadium.