Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labor (Day) Pains

After enduring ten months of suffering, pain, humiliation and frustration, anxious and eager 197,186 Penn State fans descended on Happy Valley in the hopes of finally moving on.  But instead of kicking off the O'Brien Era in grand style, PSU fans suffered more pain, humiliation and frustration as they watched a 14-3 lead fade into a dismal 24-14 loss to the not-the-Ohio-State Ohio team.

As I slowly walked out of Beaver Stadium, my mind was filled with mixed emotions.  My first reaction:  I thought about closing down the blog.  Maybe I'd just never post again, leaving you to keep checking back and wondering if I were still alive.  Or I could construct some good bye post.  The very fact that you are now reading this is testimony to the fact that I discarded that idea.  Discarded.  But not quickly.

I am not a fair-weather fan.  I will be back to Beaver Stadium in two weeks to cheer this team on against the midshipmen.  I supported this team through the dark years.  And I have blogged ad nauseum about the injustice and rush to judgment against Penn State by the media and the NCAA.  And while blogging about games like this may not be fun, it is the price we pay for all the good times we rejoice in.

You are defined in this life by how you respond to defeat.  (Dick's Sporting Goods commercial.)

In blogging, and in football, as in life itself.

Let's face it.  No one truly believed that things would be easy for Penn State.  Not since the Grand Jury presentment through the infamous Consent Decree.  The search for a replacement coach was arduous.  And while Bill O'Brien just might be the best choice, he has some work to do as far as coaching to prove he is the right man for the job. 

Unfortunately for O'Brien, he has to face some monumental challenges.  A handful of key, experienced players jumped ship on him.  NCAA sanctions will handcuff him in the future in terms of depth and recruiting ability.  The cupboard was not left overstocked.  And all of this is on top of the usual challenges facing new coaches implementing new systems.

The transition from the Paterno Era to this new chapter is a process.  And there will be growing pains.  What we witnessed today was the birth of a new Penn State football program.  And like most natural births, there was pain.  It was bloody and messy, and the end result will keep us ardent fans awake for many nights as this baby cries.

What if Redd and Brown hadn't left?

What if Penn State made the INT instead of tipping the ball into the hands of Ohio for a touchdown that not only ignited the Bobcat team, but may have been the turning point in the game?

Why is it ONE TEAM, but we now put individual names on the jerseys?

I really wanted to see these players and coaches do well this season (and they still may, this loss not withstanding.)  I wanted them to rise above the adversity.  But part of me also wanted to shut up idiots like Mark May (by the way you damned fool, Pitt lost to Youngstown State,) and just about every other ESPN talking head.

Then there are douche bag fans like these: 
I am glad you guys lost. You deserve it.  Hopefully many more to follow. In all honesty they should have burned your program to the ground. Most disgusting scandal in the history of sport.

Seriously?  Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.  I just don't understand how these young men playing today had ANYTHING to do with this scandal, but then I still fail to see how any of this is Penn State's fault to begin with.  Either way, the trolls will be out in force.

Aside from the punt block, special teams still seem dismal.  Can we recruit a sprinter from the track and field team to return kick offs?  We muffed a punt which kind of negated the block, although Ohio settled for three while we cashed in for seven.

I was rather disappointed with our defense, which gave up almost 500 yards.    But that is somewhat deceptive as well, as Ohio won time of possession by 8 minutes, and Penn State had the ball for a mere 3:41 in the fourth quarter.  Couple that with a hurry up offense that prevents a defense from substituting on a hot, humid day, and you can easily see how most defenses would have problems with that.

And let us not overlook Frank Solich's team.  They played tough in a loud, hot environment.  They made plays and we did not.  They looked prepared and made halftime adjustments.  They had no turn-overs as the punt block was on a change of possession anyway.

Bill O'Brien certainly has his work cut out for him.  But I'm not ready to throw him or his staff under the team bus just yet.  I expect Ohio to be in the hunt for a MAC title and probably match or better their 10 win season of a year ago.

At least we didn't lose to Youngstown State.

And apparently, we still haven't won a game since 1998.

1 comment:

Carolyn Todd said...

Hmmm...I have a few scoreboard pictures since about 2002 when I bought my first digital camera to prove differently.