Matt Painter Right to Rail Against Recruiting Rankings, “IU Sucks” Chant


matt painter

Purdue basketball coach Matt Painter has said a couple things in the past week that we should all really pay attention to. Take heed of the Boilermakers boss’ words, you might learn something and become a better person because of it.

In general, there has been a belief in recent years that Big Ten basketball coaches, as a whole, have better media skills than Big Ten football coaches. Since Bo Ryan left, and P.J. Fleck came aboard, the dynamic changed somewhat. However, it appears that Matt Painter, and also Minnesota’s Richard Pitino, are really stepping up and filling the void left by Ryan in the press conference game.

(Side note: Should you bet on Purdue this March Madness? Check out this link before you make your decision)

Within the last week, Painter has given a couple strong takes that many won’t care for.

Well, too bad, because he’s right and you’re wrong. The Ft. Wayne, Indiana native has showcased some basic Midwestern wholesome values in 1.) ripping recruiting rankings as “one of the dumbest things ever” and

2.) calling for an end to the “IU Sucks” chant.

We’ll start with point one. In being asked to assess the current state of Illini basketball and how they got there (you know what Illinois is right now, we won’t spend any time on that), the leader of the #11 ranked Boilers included the following statements:

“I never look at how good a class is, in terms of how it gets ranked- I think it’s one of the dumbest things ever!”

“You guys always pay attention to Illinois and beat that drum, and say you got to get a kid from this area, go to be ranked here- that stuff doesn’t lead to wins, doesn’t lead to wins, doesn’t lead to production, doesn’t lead to championships.”

purdue hoops

“Getting your guys, two or three classes in a row, and them sticking together, and caring for each other and playing hard- that’s what wins.”

Matt Painter made the remarks (which you can hear around the 11:54 mark in the Sound Cloud file above) after his Boilermakers beat the Illini by a very healthy margin last Wednesday night.

If you work for a Scout or Rivals or 247/Sports site, or ESPNU, you probably strongly disagree with what he just said. Well, too bad. Not sorry. Painter is kind of echoing the sentiments of my essay, penned last summer “Beware the Nefarious Influence of the Recruiting-Industry Complex.”

If you work for one of those companies, I suggest you read it too. Yes, we all know that the Painter motif is supposedly overachieving through hard work with allegedly less talented players.

Yes, the Painter era brand of Boiler ball evokes winning despite recruiting rankings, sure.


But he’s still spot on- caring that much about where some high school kid goes to college is not healthy for you or anybody. Declaring some kid the program savior before he’s played even a minute of college ball is unhealthy for him and everyone around him. This making recruiting rankings the end all, be all, yes that is the dumbest thing ever.

He’s right about the overrated emphasis on getting players from Illinois too.

There is no staler, beating a dead horse bit in local Chicago basketball coverage then “such a talented recruiting ground, how come the blue chips (a movie Painter appeared in by the way) don’t stay home? Why are the local teams are so bad?”

It’s the hoops media equivalent of rhyming “love” with “sent from above” in a pop song.

matt painter

Full steam ahead with the next topic, the “IU Sucks” chant. Here’s what the leading candidate to win the Big Ten Coach of the Year (and a 24th league title) had to say on Saturday, after a blowout win over Ohio State.

“What happened to Matt Haarms in Bloomington wasn’t right,” Painter said in reference to all the profanity-laced abuse his center took when the Boilers won at Indiana on Feb. 19.

“But we’ve got to clean up our own backyard and give up the ‘IU sucks’ chant. Because today, IU didn’t suck and they beat Michigan State. We have a really classy place at Purdue,” Painter said during his postgame news conference. “We have great people. (Students) think that’s cute.”

“There’s nothing cute about it.”

Again, he’s on the ball. This chant is starting to get a little bit like the one that keeps getting Mexican national soccer team fans in hot water- it’s time to let it go and move on. 

The atmosphere at Mackey Arena is among the best in the entire nation, it will be just fine without the IU Sucks chant.

You know how you ensure defeat in a rivalry? When you’re on the side that is more dysfunctionally obsessed than the other. Purdue, you have the upper hand on Indiana, in both sports and by a very distinct advantage.

Congratulations, enjoy it, and let this one specific aspect of the rivalry be put to rest for good. Take the higher road, and revel in the fact that you are looking down at IU from higher ground.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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