TOM DAVIS: Go ahead Purdue fans, run Matt Painter out of town, you’ll regret it

Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter paces on the court during the second half of his team's game against Wisconsin on Thursday in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 57-53. (By The Associated Press)
Wisconsin's Ethan Happ (22) shoots against Purdue's Isaac Haas (44) during the first half of a game Thursday in Madison, Wis. (By The Associated Press)
Purdue's P.J. Thompson (11) fouls Wisconsin's Brad Davison (34) during the first half of a game Thursday in Madison, Wis. (By The Associated Press)
Wisconsin's Ethan Happ (22) drives on Purdue's Isaac Haas during the first half of a game Thursday in Madison, Wis. (By The Associated Press)
Purdue's Ryan Cline (14) shoots over Wisconsin's Brevin Pritzl (1) and Ethan Happ, left, during the first half of a game Thursday in Madison, Wis. (By The Associated Press)

“All I’m saying is there isn’t a guy in Union County who wouldn’t give his left nut to be married to Kate…”

That line was uttered by Arnie Bender to his friend, Jack Campbell, while the two were having a beer on bowling night in the movie “Family man.”

Campbell was contemplating cheating on his gorgeous wife, Kate (played by Te’a Leoni), with the town floozy, Evelyn; because he was in the midst of living in an alternate universe (it’s a long, complicated story).

I thought of that scene when I sat down to write a column on Purdue’s shocking 57-53 men’s basketball loss at Wisconsin Thursday.

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As I was scrolling through Twitter to retrieve my game notes (i.e. personal tweets) and collect my thoughts, I stumbled onto a handful of lunatics (some refer to them as Purdue basketball fans) that were actually broaching the subject of dismissing Boilermaker coach Matt Painter.

I suddenly morphed into Bender’s character in my astonishment and thought: ‘All I’m saying is there isn’t an athletic director in the NCAA who wouldn’t give his left nut to hire Painter…”

With all due respect to those who generate a revenue stream that pays my salary, this is exactly why I don’t interact with sports fans.

They’re ignorant.

The No. 6-ranked Boilermakers (23-5, 12-3 Big Ten) were abysmal in any number of ways against the worst Badger team in two decades and I’m certainly not denying that.

Painter’s team lost to a Wisconsin squad (12-16, 5-10) that shot 39 percent overall and missed 81 percent of its 3-pointers.

The Boilermakers lost to a Badger team that had to play the final possessions without its only good (actually he’s great) player, redshirt junior center Ethan Happ, who committed the most egregious foul ever (his fifth) when he fouled Purdue guard Carsen Edwards on a 3-pointer, while Purdue trailed by five and the clock ticking down.

Painter’s team lost to a Wisconsin team that missed seven free throws and had lost 9 of its previous 11 games.

Purdue lost, in part, because six of its nine players (Dakota Mathias, P.J. Thompson, Ryan Cline, Matt Haarms, Nojel Eastern, and Bishop Dwenger High alum Grady Eifert) made a combined 3 shots in 14 attempts, while playing a total of 99 minutes.

It was truly an awful and inexcusable performance by the Boilermakers and there is no sugar-coating that.


But, there is no reasonable thought in calling for the firing of a coach that has won 67.5 percent of his games over 14 seasons.

Painter has been nominated for, been named as a finalist for, or actually won 20 different Coach of the Year honors during his career.

I can give his critics that maybe three or four of those honors could have been a stretch, but 20 of them?

A guy can’t fumble-fart his way to 20 of those things.

I completely grasp that I am addressing the overwhelming minority in writing this column.

This is simply an immense and emotional overreaction by a fan base that is ready to burst with the inner-pressure of knowing that THIS team has the potential to achieve goals (a Final Four) that have eluded the program (and its fans) for nearly four decades. Three consecutive defeats – and a terrible one at that – are causing a fear-induced throbbing in the back of their skulls that this March will be yet another opportunity lost.

Painter isn’t leaving West Lafayette anytime soon, nor does he want to, and nor does the Boilermaker leadership desire for that to happen.

But for those that are complaining about his leadership, it is imperative that you heed Arnie Bender’s lesson.

Purdue is blessed to have Painter and if/when he ultimately does step aside, he’s going to leave a hole the size of Mackey Arena in the hearts of the Boiler Nation. So be incredibly cautious in what you wish for.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Tom Davis at Tdavis@news-sentinel.com.


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