October 16, 2009

Training for the train

It may be one man's opinion but college football is ten times the game of the NFL. It has nothing to do with the level of play or the international appeal or anything of the sort. The rabidness of the fans, the passion and most importantly the game day traditions trump anything than what the NFL can provide.

Of course when you are a road team some of those traditions can start to wear on you. The lion's growl at Penn State (and the Wildcat growl at Northwestern), the repetitive play of Boomer Sooner at Oklahoma, the War Chant at Florida State… all of those and plenty more around college stadiums are just part of the landscape and make the game that much more impressive.

Before Joe Tiller took the job at Purdue the Boilermakers didn't have much in the way of an audible tradition but that changed when Tiller left Wyoming to take over the job in West Lafayette (Ind.). And it wasn't Joe's idea to bring the tradition along with him.

While at Wyoming the cheer of Cowboy Up was always heard during the Cowboy games in Laramie (Wyo.) and Joe Tiller's wife thought it might make a nice transition to Purdue. But of course a chant of "Boiler Up" wouldn't be enough so the addition of a train whistle seemed to be a natural progression.

Now opponents are well aware of what they are walking into and even though Tiller is likely in the woods somewhere hunting and camping the tradition has been adopted and likely will go nowhere now with the Boilers in the hands of Tiller protégé Danny Hope.

"I know it is a Purdue thing but we haven't played there in two years so, Ohio State center Michael Brewster said. "So last time we played there I wasn't here for practice for the horn. I knew it existed because they brought it out last year for a couple of times just for fun I guess."

That's right, the Ohio State coaches have brought the train horn to practice during Purdue week and while the Boiler Up aspect might not be there it does sound like the 5:15 is ready to run right through the outdoor practice fields over at the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex.

"It is awesome," Ohio State safeties coach Paul Haynes joked. "It is really loud, but you start getting used to it which should help the players in the game. We have to try and talk in between the loud noises but that's what it is supposed to do. Having it there really serves its purpose."

Road trips for football players will always have memories… what does Ohio State captain Kurt Coleman remember about the visit to Purdue two years ago?

"The hotel wasn't that good (laugh)," Coleman said. "And the Boiler Up little train sound. That was always in my ear. But the crowd was loud for the first couple (drives) but toward the end of the game we kind of ran away with it. I think they know that so it is going to be a fight."

And that fight will be a tough one because of what the crowd is able to do. Ross-Ade stadium will never rank near the top of the list nationally, even in the Big Ten, for tough places to play but the piped in train sound will always have something to do with what is going on.

"The environment basically," Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward said. "It is a tough place to go into play, the fans are always for them and you have to get after it there."

Who is in charge of honking that horn though?

"There is a guy, (Video Coordinator Mark Quisenberry) that runs it and I wanted to strangle him all through it," Heyward joked.

Even though it is all in good fun the players hate seeing him during this week.

"It is terrible," Brewster said. "I will probably be deaf by Saturday so I don't know what I am going to do."

Were there any thoughts of physical violence?

"I almost (attacked him) but (offensive line coach Jim Bollman) stopped me, I am just kidding," Brewster said. "His ears are probably hurting still."

"(Players want to get him) daily," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel joked. "That has nothing to do with noise."

But there is a method to the madness.

"We constantly do that, even when we play at home it might be different noise things," Tressel said. "I think you have to make it as difficult to communicate because everything begins with communication."

And playing in one of the toughest stadiums in the nation (Ohio Stadium) the Buckeyes know just what crazed fans can do to an opposing team.

"If your communication is not right then you certainly are not going to execute," Tressel said. "So you definitely have to be able to communicate when there is noise and away from home and we do that a lot."

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