BT game day traditions: Purdue

Little known fact: the first Big Ten game I ever watched took place at Ross-Ade Stadium. I was just a college freshman in 1999 when we made the drive from Evanston to West Lafayette to see Purdue take on Northwestern. I came away from the game with two thoughts:

  • Drew Brees is really, really good

  • What was the deal with the "I am an American" speech?

Another of my favorite Purdue game day memories took place last year before the Oregon game, when I rode the elevator with Purdue alum Neil Armstrong.

The game day traditions series marches on with Purdue. Michigan is up next on Monday, so send in your thoughts.

Let's take a look:

  • Breakfast Club: Purdue students dress up in costumes and hit the bars early before heading to the game. It's like Halloween seven or eight times a year.

  • "I am an American" speech: You know you're in the heartland when the Purdue marching band announcer leads fans in reciting the "I am an American" speech before games. It started in 1966 at a time of political and social unrest as a way to inject some patriotism into games.

  • Boiler Up chant: After a touchdown or a big play by Purdue, fans chant "Boiler Up!" as a train whistle sounds.

  • Big bass drum: Known as the world's largest drum, the centerpiece of Purdue's band is wheeled around by four members in sliver helmets. Two drum beaters thump away during the band's performances.

  • Boilermaker Special/X-tra special: As the official mascot for Purdue University, this old-time locomotive can be spotted around Ross-Ade Stadium on game days. The X-tra special is a smaller version that leads the football team onto the field.

  • Block P: The All-American marching band was the first of its kind to break ranks and form a letter (P) on a football field back in 1907. The big bass drum is at the center of the block P during performances.


Andrew from West Lafayette, Ind.: Adam, Regarding game-day traditions: For Purdue, after every touchdown, any big play the train horn goes off and the "Boiler Up" chant begins. It's loud and it's fun. Another one would be the formation of the Block "P" during the bands pre-game show. Seeing as Purdue was was the first school to break formation to make the logo of the school, it's a great tradition; especially when The World Largest Drum is spinning in the middle and Hail Purdue is being sung. It's a great sight. The next one is less than a game-day tradition and more of a game-morning tradition. But "Breakfast Club" is without a doubt one of the biggest traditions at Purdue. Every football home game-7am-Bars-Costumes. It's a ridiculous good time.

Purdue alum who's deployed writes: Adam, this is in response to the question from Jasen asking you to rank the traditions of Big 10 teams. I've got a good Purdue tradition for you. It's the reading of I am an American by Al G. Wright before each home game. There's also Purdue's "World's Largest Bass Drum" and you can't forget about the pregame ritual known as Breakfast Club (for those over 21) where the bars open early and the Chauncy Hill area resembles more of a large Halloween party the morning of every home game rather than a strip of restaurants, bars, and shops.

Adam from Fresno, Calif.: Hey Adam, I'm and OSU grad, and though I already missed my chance to talk about my alma mater's traditions (which are many and great) I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents for my brother's school, Purdue. I ventured to the OSU-Purdue game in W. Lafeyette a few years ago with my roommates, and got to partake in one of the greatest traditions in the Big Ten, breakfast club. Nothing better than rolling out of bed on a gameday, throwing on a costume and going drinking. (Somehow we got the DJ at the bar to play Hang on Sloopy, but thats another story).