Monday, June 6, 2011

BIg Ten Memories - Purdue

My summer series starts in West Lafayette, Indiana and Purdue University. We haven't visited the Boilermakers since I've started this blog, so I had to borrow a picture from "" Heading into the 2011 season, the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers will be separated into two different division of the Big Ten, but will now be treated as a natural rivalry and will play every year.

When thinking back to the times the Hawkeyes have played in Ross-Ade Stadium since my first game there in 1989 the weather comes to mind. That first trip was late in the season and the Hawkeyes were playing their way towards a winning season and maintaining the consecutive streak of bowl games. It was also the second game I travelled with the football team. Waking up that Saturday morning the sun was bright in the sky with hardly a cloud around. But walking out of the hotel off the interstate, the winds were brisk, and perhaps one of the colder days I've attended a football game up to that point.

Two years later the Hawkeyes returned and it wasn't the cold that was the story, but it was the rain. A steady drizzle fell in the morning which lasted into part of the first half. But after the intermission the rain had stopped and the Hawkeyes began to play up to their caliber. Mike Saunders was the offensive highlight for the day with a touchdown run of over 40 yards that ended with a slide out of the end zone, and Cedar Rapids Ron Gaeter was the defensive star of the game leading the team in tackles.

Ross-Ade Stadium is situated on campus. The airport, ran by the University, is less than ten minutes away, while many academic buildings and dorms are just across the street. Ross-Ade is also a cornerstone of the athletic facilities. It is also across the street from basketball's Mackey Arena. And in 1991, to escape the rainy weather, a few of us found shelter there and watched a Gene Keady practice. And in that practice it was clear who was in charge as well as the assistant allowed to shout instructions. Gene Keady was definitely in charge and the one coach allowed to give instruction was Bruce Weber, the same Bruce Weber that is currently the head coach at Illinois.

The Purdue campus area that attracts students is State Street. There there are a few establishments that cater to students, alums and fans. The most popular place is Harry's Chocolate Shop.  I can't believe there has been many other business running as long as Harry's. Although the drink of choice may have changed since 1919, the popularity hasn't.

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