Monday, October 4, 2010

Is the Sky Falling?

Devon at NittanyWhiteOut says no!  And you should read this. But if you haven't the time, here are the basic points he makes:
Remember, this is the best Iowa team in decades. They were ranked in the top 10 to start the year, they returned virtually every impact player from that Orange Bowl Champion team of a year ago, and their one loss, to Arizona, was about as fluky as a loss could be. Nobody predicted Penn State to win this game before the season started. So why, exactly, is this loss cause for panic?

Penn State wasn’t “outclassed” or “outcoached,” they lost to a better team. Give Iowa their due–this isn’t 2008 or 2002, or even 2009.

And did we really expect an offensive line that has one experienced player to hold at bay a defensive line that features at least 3 NFL-caliber players?

Look: things are only going to get better, folks. We chalked this one up as a loss in the preseason, and I’m more than willing to write it off. We didn’t lose to Kent State or Temple. We’re not going to lose to Illinois, or Minnesota. We all knew this would be a rebuilding year, that we’d be setting up for a Big Ten championship run in 2011 and 2012. Even despite the struggles of the early season, I’m still confident in that projection.

It’s a rhetorical question. I honestly don’t care. If you’re ignorant enough to demand Joe’s resignation, then I don’t want to hear what you have to say.
I have had time to calm down since watching this game.  I feel bad about going postal all over our punter, who did manage to uncork a 70 yarder that flipped field position at one point.  But I used the punter as an example of poor preparation by the staff--not having recruited a person to punt and not preparing a punter for pinning an opponent deep.

As for giving Iowa credit--they are a good team.  But not a great one.  I'm sorry, I just don't see that.  Maybe they'll prove me wrong and win out, but I doubt it.  And the exceptions Devon noted--2002, 2008 and 2009 unfortunately weaken his argument.  We arguably and probably had the better team each of those three years--AND LOST.  Coaching has to be part of the problem as the players in 2008 were not on the 2002 team.  It wasn't this ONE loss that angers fans--it's the string of losses that is becoming intolerable.

I still think the vast majority of fans are simply frustrated.  It is hard to watch teams like Ohio State and Alabama, and Oklahoma, etc. reload year after year.  (Granted, there are cycles and they have had their hard times too.  But after they right the ship, they are there for a good run.)  But then we seem capable of making the Top ten once every 4 years or so, if that.

We have never been in a BCS Championship Game.

We have three Big Ten Titles in 16 years.  That averages to one every FIVE years, despite the fact that two have come in the past four seasons.  (And those were SHARED!)

BUT I AM NOT CALLING FOR JOE'S RETIREMENT.  Never have.  I happen to be in the camp that believes he has earned the right to decide when to ride off into the sunset, even if he is no longer objective enough to make that call.

What I am saying--pleading--is that he make some changes to make PSU more competitive.  Among these:

1)  RECRUIT.  Get out there and wow the kids and parents.  Who cares if the whole school shuts down when you show up.  Do you think that stops Saban?  That kind of attention impresses these kids who are easily distratced by texting and Twitter and God awful uniforms at Oregon.  If you don't feel you have the right players to compete--DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT instead of making it an excuse.

2)  Get a Special Teams Coach.  Penn State nation is going to be ponying up some pretty pennies with the new STEP program.  Let's just admit that this is an area that has cost us some games and maybe we need to address it.  Better yet--don't admit anything.  Just do it.  Make it sound like it was your idea.  I'm okay with that.

3)  Be creative.  Use Newsome on some short yardage situations.  Better yet, bring him in making the other team think you're going to run the option then have him pass.  Catch them off guard.  Do things that will have people saying, 'Did Joe Call That Play?'  I'm not talking about gimmicks like faking a punt from your own 20 or putting Bolden out in the slot, or complicated plays that take too long to set up and are doomed by a poor offensive line.

4) Which brings me to the most important point.  The Offensive Line.  You need to do something about this, whether it's recruiting or development.  If you have to, find a nice administrative position with an office next to Fran Ganter's for Kenney and Anderson.  They aren't getting the job done.  Every school has to deal with attrition from graduation, early bolts to the NFL and loss of eligibility.  But not every school--especially elite programs like we aspire to be--has to wait three to four years to have a great line.

Finally, Lavar Arrington chimes in with an answer to the question, should Joe go?
College athletics isn't all about wins and loses for a team. I learned from Coach Paterno there's so much more. Coach Paterno has molded and shaped the lives of countless numbers of young adults. I visit with players every year at my alma mater, and the most interesting stories I hear sound exactly the same as the stories I've told myself and heard from greats like Jack Ham and Blair Thomas when I was in school.
When those stories change, then maybe we will have to accept the sad reality that the last living coach comparable to the late, great Vince Lombardi needs to retire. But that hasn't happened yet. Joe continues to have a very positive affect on these young guys.

Life lessons like responsibility, accountability, confidence, solid work ethic, compassion, respect. I could continue the list, but it would get too long. I think you get the point.

Paterno, has earned the right, assuming he is of a sound mind and body, to decide when to call it quits.

I am a Penn State Nittany Lion, and I played for the legendary Joe Paterno, and more importantly, I am a man because of it.
And remember, we fans complain because we care.

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