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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

COLUMN: Making the Old Oaken Bucket fun this year


Dear fellow basketball school (I assume we’re talking about the women’s teams),

We are overjoyed to accept your Thanksgiving invitation. It broke our hearts that we couldn’t play you last year. I mean, we would have much rather played Iowa or Northwestern or a school that wasn’t next to dead last in the division, but we were disappointed nonetheless. 

Obviously, this season has seen a reversal of fortunes. Head coach Tom Allen’s LEO mantra might as well stand for “lose every outing.” Meanwhile, it’s been a joy watching Purdue play lights-out football against top-three teams while barely playing football at all against teams four through 75. 

Come December, you’ll be watching a bowl game. We’ll be watching bowl games too, but mostly so we can salivate over other schools’ offensive coordinators in the desperate hopes that one of them comes to Bloomington. 

However, none of that matters Saturday. To honor one of the 37 most prestigious rivalries in college football, let’s make this the most exciting, most absurd, most fun Bucket game of all time.

The first quarter will consist entirely of stretching and rigorous hydration. Allen and Jeff Brohm will lead their athletes through a 15-minute vinyasa yoga flow to align their chakras, center their inner selves and prevent any more horrific ligament tears. Once everyone has finished their orange slices and Capri-Sun pouches, it’s time to play ball.

It’s the second quarter, and the name of the game is audience participation. Each play, referees will pull two spectators from the crowd at random to replace an athlete on their school’s team. Every guy thinks he can throw a tight spiral once he has enough liquid courage in him, but hopefully that inebriated undergrad remembers how to call a fair catch when he has a combined 700 pounds of man sprinting at him. 

Next, Purdue’s defense will vacate the field and Indiana’s offense will spend the third quarter trying to score a real-life touchdown. I know it seems like this doesn’t offer anything for Purdue fans, but the goal line battle between Indiana’s offensive line and its own inner demons will be a gladiatorial showdown for every spectator.

To cap off the afternoon, the officials will erect a ladder at midfield and place the old oaken bucket atop it. They will then exit the stadium, leaving the athletes to acquire the bucket by any means necessary. This is when Michael Penix Jr. will emerge from the sidelines, bust out of his nine knee braces and sprint for the trophy — but not if George Karlaftis drops him with the people’s elbow first. 

By the time the dust has settled and the bucket has found its home for the next 365 days, I think we’ll be better friends for it. Next season, maybe we’ll combine for more than 10 wins. 


The Indiana Daily Student Sports Desk

P.S. Yes, it has sadly been a while since Indiana men’s basketball defeated Purdue. Make no mistake, we at the Indiana Daily Student have spent each of those 2,103 days groveling, wallowing in self-pity and winning ICPA newspaper of the year six times, ICPA journalist of the year five times, first place in the Hearst national writing competition four times and a whole bunch of other awards of which we’ve lost track. 

But hey, congrats on all those victorious basketball recaps you’ve gotten to write. 

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