One of the great things about being a long-time Big Ten football fan is that you learn about, and ultimately come to enjoy, not only your own institution’s traditions but also those of other members of the conference. True Big Ten followers appreciate the annual contest for Paul Bunyan’s axe between Wisconsin and Minnesota, or the story about the pink visitor’s locker room at Iowa’s Nile Kinnick stadium. Such traditions lend a richness and color to college football that you simply do not find in professional sports or, for that matter, in other college sports.
Purdue, Ohio State’s opponent tomorrow, has some great traditions. Purdue athletic teams are known as the Boilermakers, and its official mascot is a locomotive known as the Boilermaker Special. Its on-the-field mascot is a burly, lantern-jawed, mallet-wielding titan with a hard hat named Purdue Pete. If I recall correctly, a very loud locomotive sound is made whenever Purdue scores. The band features the baton-twirling Purdue Golden Girl and a mobile Big Bass Drum manned by a team of helmet-wearing bandies.
Of course, I want Ohio State to stomp Purdue all over the field tomorrow — but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate Purdue’s pride in its lore and unique traditions. So, go ahead, Boilermakers! Boiler Up, beat that drum, and let the train whistle roar!