Notre Dame nixes 100-year-old Purdue tradition as schools renew football rivalry

·2 min read

Bring on the petty.

After a six-year hiatus, Notre Dame and Purdue are slated to renew their longstanding football rivalry in South Bend on Saturday. The Indiana schools have played 84 games against each other since 1896, but none since 2014.

One literally large part of that rivalry will be notably absent — the Purdue Big Bass Drum. Notre Dame won't allow it. 

So why exactly can't Purdue bang its drum?

The Fighting Irish didn't explicitly ban the drum that Purdue touts as the "world's largest" from Notre Dame Stadium premises. But a new policy put in place since the schools last played in South Bend in 2012 physically prohibits the drum from making its way to the sideline, per the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel.

In 2017, Notre Dame built a new tunnel for visitors to access the field. This tunnel is exclusively for visiting teams and is apparently the only access they're allowed to field level. Here is said tunnel:

That seems a precarious fit for a defensive tackle, much less a drum touted as "the world's largest." If you're not up on your Big Ten lore and Purdue's bass drum, take a look below at the instrument in action in 1986. 

The Purdue Big Bass Drum of the All-American Marching Band of Purdue University, identified as the World's Largest Drum, is pushed onto the field before a college football game between the University of Pittsburgh Panthers and Purdue University Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 20, 1986 in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Pitt Panthers defeated the Boilermakers 41-26.  (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
The Purdue Big Bass Drum in action in 1986. (George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

That is, indeed, a large drum. It's 7-feet tall and 3-feet wide, per The Athletic, and requires a dedicated team of handlers to manage it. It's certainly not making its way down those narrow stairs.

But the drum's been at Notre Dame Stadium before ...

The Purdue band along with other visitors to Notre Dame Stadium previously shared the same access to field level as the home team. That included the bass drum, which, according to The Athletic, has been present at every Purdue football game since 1979.

But it won't be on Saturday. To add salt to the wound, Purdue is celebrating the drum's 100th anniversary this year. The school's music department is taking this all as a personal slight.

Make no mistake, the drum is a significant source of Boilermakers pride. Purdue's official podcast just dedicated 27 minutes to it. And while it may not actually be the world's largest, it's a big part of Purdue's identity. 

And Notre Dame's not having it. 

Welcome back, Purdue-Notre Dame — and all the petty that comes with it. 

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