Athletic Director Morgan Burke and the Purdue athletic department is beginning to understand the importance of national exposure in college football.
Last week, the Boilermakers secured a neutral-site contest with the recently relocated Louisville Cardinals from the ACC. The game is set to take place in 2017 and will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The future date with the Cardinals is the latest scheduling accomplishment for Purdue, which has been able to lock down contractual deals with Missouri, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest recently, as well.
All of these contests have been scheduled within the last 18 months.
The recent initiative to get more Power Five opponents on future slates can be attributed to the break in Purdue’s annual game with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish and the Boilermakers will not meet again until the 2020 season.
It’s a major change for Purdue’s football program.
Five seasons have passed since the Boilermakers have battled a Power Five conference opponent, typically using the in-state battle with Notre Dame as its non-conference attempt at reaching a broader market. The last major opponent on Purdue’s schedule came in 2008 and 2009 when it played a home-and-home series against Oregon.
On September 19th, the black and gold will snap that streak when it hosts Virginia Tech.
Despite Purdue’s recent struggles on the gridiron, the athletic department’s ability to reach agreements with teams from the ACC, SEC and maintain a somewhat regular schedule with Notre Dame is imperative for the growth of the program and relevance in college football.
Over the past five seasons, Purdue’s schedule has been relatively light in terms of non-conference scheduling. Not only have the Boilermakers failed to get any Power Five teams on the agenda, they have played five FCS opponents and six times have played a school representing the MAC.
Purdue has also not traveled much in that time frame, playing in just five away or neutral site games, three of those coming against Notre Dame. It also traveled to Rice in 2011 and Cincinnati in 2013.
With contests scheduled against opponents from the ACC and SEC, it allows the Boilers to gain exposure on the east coast and in the southern area of the country. It allows Purdue to stretch out of its comfort zone in an annual game with the Fighting Irish while beefing up its non-conference schedule.
In addition to the opponents from major conferences, the Boilermakers also have games scheduled against solid squads from the Group of Five, Marshall, Cincinnati and Nevada.
Had Burke sat idly by with the Purdue-Notre Dame series taking a brief hiatus, it’s likely that Purdue would’ve been stuck lining up with more Group of Five programs and struggling to further its recruiting reach across the country.
2017 presents the largest opportunities for the Boilermakers, as they will host Missouri inside Ross-Ade Stadium in addition to the meeting with Louisville in Indianapolis.
That will also be the second year of the nine-game conference schedule. The other non-conference game on the slate for that year is Ohio.
Purdue’s inability to keep Notre Dame on its annual schedule could’ve hindered its ability to gain exposure on a national stage competing against major college football teams in the non-conference portion of the season.
Over the next four seasons, Purdue is set to do battle with four Power Five conference foes that don’t sport the name Notre Dame. It’s a major accomplishment for a program that went five years without battling anyone from a comparable conference in football.