10 Things You Didn’t Know about Purdue Football

The Purdue Boilermakers are the football team that represents Purdue University in college football. It is one of the better-known teams that can be found out there, both because of its long, proud history and because of its remarkable successes over the course of its existence. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Purdue football program:

1. Is the Reason for the Boilermakers Name

The football program is the reason that Purdue’s sports teams are called Boilermakers. In short, the Purdue team beat its counterparts from Wabash College in 1889, which resulted in its players being called various names such as “blacksmiths” and “foundry hands.” A repeat in 1891 resulted in the Purdue team being called “boiler makers” in a local newspaper, which it promptly adopted for their own use.

2. Rumored to Have Been Hiring Railroad Yard Workers

Other local colleges contributed to the name by suggesting that Purdue had been hiring workers from a local railroad yard to play on its football team, thus explaining its members’ great size and strength. With that said, the rumors reflect a bias against Purdue students as well, seeing as how their education involved a hands-on component that was unusual in those times.

3. First Team Formed in 1887

Technically, the first football team at Purdue University was formed in 1887. Unfortunately, that first team didn’t last very long because it stopped playing after its first game, which perhaps unsurprisingly, it lost in a crushing manner.

4. First Coach Was Deaf

It is interesting to note that the first coach of the first football team at Purdue University was Albert Berg, who winded up with the position in spite of the fact that he was a 23 year old deaf man at the time because he was the only one who had experience. Even worse, Berg had a single week in which to prepare the football players for their first game, which explains much about their poor performance.

5. Deafness Posed a Serious Challenge to Coaching

Berg’s condition posed a serious challenge to his coaching efforts. According to Berg, his condition meant that he wasn’t able to do much more than encourage the football players to imitate his own playing. However, there is another account that claims that his coaching consisted of sign language as well as uninterpretable sounds from his throat that the football players interpreted as profanity.

6. Another Team Formed in 1889

For some time, Purdue’s less than impressive performance halted further football playing for some time. However, another team formed in 1889, which met with a better fate.

7. Has a Rivalry with University of Illinois

The Purdue Boilermakers have a rivalry with the University of Illinois, which started up in 1905 when a group of Purdue students brought a cannon to Champaign for the purpose of firing it to celebrate a Purdue victory. Illinois supporters managed to steal it, with the result that it eventually winded up as a trophy to be awarded to the winners of such match-ups.

8. Has a Rivalry with Indiana University Bloomington

Another rivalry is the one between Purdue and Indiana University Bloomington. This was inevitable because the two are the flagship schools of the same state, both of which have student bodies that are very passionate about sports.

9. Has a Rivalry with Notre Dame

On top of this, the Purdue Boilermakers have a rivalry with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Curiously, this is a rivalry in which Notre Dame has won a lot more games than it has lost, which is a stark contrast to how Purdue is more or less tied with Illinois while dominating Indiana.

10. Has Two Mascots

The Purdue Boilermakers have two mascots. Technically, the locomotive called the Boilermaker Special is the official mascot of Purdue’s sports teams. However, a locomotive can’t exactly perform the tasks that are expected of sports mascots. As a result, for those tasks, the Purdue Boilermakers have Purdue Pete. The character has seen a number of changes over the course of its existence, but it is interesting to note that the last attempt in 2011 failed because of fan outrage.


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