Another door opens

Boiler Sports Report added long-time Purdue beat writer Jeff Washburn.

How many times in our lives have we heard someone say that when one door or window closes, another often opens?

I never had given that theory much thought until Sept. 30, when my 41-year career of passionately and proudly covering sports for the Gannett-owned Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier abruptly came to end as a casualty of the dreaded Reduction in Force mantra that unfortunately has claimed some extremely talented journalists in recent years in what has become a difficult era for newspapers.

For a month, I experienced every emotion you can imagine, knowing that at 59, I remain at the top of my sports writing game. That is why I am so grateful to Chris Emma, Joel Cox and all the good people at FOX Sports. for opening a new door in my career at a time when I needed it most.

I am not a bitter man, and while my final goodbye column to my Journal and Courier readers was squashed by Gannett management before finding its way into print or online, everyone must know that the staff of the Journal and Courier had nothing to do with my RIF. Editor Jim Stafford and the JC sports guys are terrific. It was an honor to work with them.

But now, I can not wait to begin working with Chris Emma, starting Wednesday with the Purdue men's basketball team's exhibition opener against the University of Indianapolis.

Having missed only four Boilermaker basketball games, home or away, in the past 19 seasons, I'm so eager to begin what will be season No. 20, a season which has the potential to be an exciting one for coach Matt Painter and all Purdue fans who struggled last year watching inconsistency and youth lead to a disappointing 16-18 record.

While this still will be a relatively young team, it will be a more mature team, aided by graduate school transfers Errick Peck from Cornell and Sterling Carter from the University of Seattle. Freshmen Bryson Scott, Kendall Stephens and Basil Smotherman are challenging for starting berths, and sophomores Ronnie Johnson, Rapheal Davis and A.J. Hammons have a wealth of talent, not to mention redshirt freshman Jay Simpson, who could be one of the Big Ten's surprise players now that his health issues have been solved.

Hammons will miss two exhibitions and the Nov. 8 regular-season opener while serving a three-game suspension for violation of team policy, but if the big man gets his act together, he has an opportunity to be special.

Led by leading returning scorer Terone Johnson, it's going to be fun watching Painter assemble this puzzle, mixing and matching youth with experience. It's a team that could climb into the Big Ten's first division if it plays with the necessary mature pulse.

I can't wait to begin providing FOX Sports. readers with the perspective, analysis and commentary that having watched Purdue play basketball for 51 seasons gives me. I saw the first game ever played in Purdue's Mackey Arena in 1967 as a 13-year-old, and now at 59, I will be on the scene as the Boilermakers begin another season in this hoops-crazy state.

Remember, in 49 states, it's only basketball. But this is Indiana. It's the way I was raised, and it's the way I have always approached each Purdue game I ever have covered.

My approach is simple. Enlighten, educate and entertain. And I always have kept in perspective that these student athletes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That journalistic philosophy has served me well for 41 years, and I am proud to have this opportunity that FOX Sports is providing this veteran sports writer who still has so much to give to readers.

Yes, one door or window was slammed in my face, but another is now wide open for this grateful writer whose professional life has been more rewarding than anyone ever can know.

Jeff Washburn will be providing commentary, perspective and analysis of Purdue sports, bringing 41 years of experience to FOX Sports.


To read all of Jeff's work, plus all the coverage on Boiler Sports Report, pick up your subscription -- for a limited time, free through January!

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