With the world in its current state and many of us (hopefully) self-quarantining — seriously, stay at home — people have gathered virtually to remember the good times on the website we all know and love, Twitter dot com.
There have been chains and threads and whatever else the kids are calling them these days with people sharing pictures and anecdotes and rankings of their favorite places and events from yesteryear.
Once I finished grieving what will seemingly be a lost year of baseball, my mind turned to The Good Stuff. That’s right everybody, Indiana Hoosiers Football.
As I thought about the season from beginning to end, something dawned on me — something that I may have thought about a time or two before, but never considered seriously. As I made my way through the ol’ memory bank toward the final weeks of IU’s eight-win regular season, I decided that the Old Oaken Bucket game being played in the last week of November sucks.
For the love of God, please move the game.
If you don’t recall, the latest edition of the IU-Purdue rivalry on the gridiron was a classic. The Hoosiers won 44-41 in double overtime and were led by Peyton Ramsey in what should be considered the signature performance of his IU career.
The evening prior I had to decide whether or not I was going to make the trip to West Lafayette with my dad. I’d been planning to go for months, but the two prior IU games made me re-evaluate the decision.
Beaver Stadium had been great two weeks earlier. It was a really great atmosphere and a good game, but it was freezing. The IU-Michigan game the next week sucked and so did the weather. I vaguely remember it pouring for basically the entire day, causing us to leave early.
Once again, the forecast called for a cold, rainy day for the Bucket game. I was out.
It’s not just the weather that makes the Week 13 setup undesirable, though it is the one that sticks with me the most.
Just look at what else is going on around that same time of the year, November 30 serving as the latest case. In 2019, you had Ohio State-Michigan, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Clemson-South Carolina all happening in the same time slot as the Bucket game, with the Iron Bowl, Notre Dame-Stanford and Florida-Florida State all on deck.
Maybe most importantly, the students are gone for Thanksgiving break that weekend and the collective attention of Hoosiers is elsewhere. Some people are starting to move on to basketball around that time of the year, while other Godless heathens have been listening to Christmas music for weeks. Late November is no time to be attending a football game in Indiana.
There’s also plenty of precedents for rivalry games being played earlier in the year. Oklahoma and Texas played the Red River Shootout on October 12 last year. It was the premier game of the day before that night’s matchup between Florida and LSU.
Speaking of the Gators, they play their biggest rival, Georgia, in late October or early November every year. No, it’s not Florida State, I promise. Florida also plays rival Tennessee on the third Saturday in September practically every year. In 2019, the Gators opened their season with rival Miami.
If you look to the Midwest you can find everybody’s favorite rivalry — El Assico — being played in the early weeks of the season as well.
By taking the Bucket game and moving it to, say, late September or early October you can accomplish a lot of things. The game would no longer have to be a Noon kick because nobody would freeze to death if you made it any later. A switch may also get more national exposure for the rivalry, which wouldn’t have to compete with The Game anymore. There’d also actually be students present at the game, giving the crowd a nice boost at either venue.
The day of the Bucket game shouldn’t include bundling up, having to take off a glove to open a beer, or leaving the stands to find some warmth in the stadium bathroom. It should be fun.
Save the cold, wet misery of Thanksgiving weekend in Indiana for, say Northwestern. Or rutger.