Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meeting Joe Paterno

Because this site is not in any way connected officially to the Pennsylvania State University, I am still able to say the name of he who should not be mentioned.

Figment of our imaginations?

There.  I said it.  Believe it or not, the man did exist.  He did great things at Penn State.  He even reported a possible child abuse suspect to his administrators.  And after a 60 year career that set an NCAA record, the man--and the record--no longer exist.  And while the man himself is indeed dead, his legacy does exist, despite the University's overzealous intent to suggest otherwise.

Enter The Guy From Erie.  If you have a few minutes, please check out his blog and read about the recruiting trip he made to Penn State two years ago with his son.  He talks about meeting Joe Paterno--and he has a picture to PROVE IT.  Take that Trustees!  I knew the man existed!
There he was: this little, hunched-over Italian guy wearing a coat that looked two sizes too large, wandering through the middle of the field staring at some notes he was holding. At first, I felt bad because he looked like he was reading those notes like he needed directions to his office or something. I would find out later that Joe always carried his hand-written notes around with him to keep himself on task. He made his way over to us, introduced himself – like THAT was needed – and made a little joke about us bringing the cold weather with us from Erie. I soiled my pants right there.

Later on, we had dinner in the team dining room with the players and the coaches, and the evening ended with a trip on one of the blue buses to Beaver Stadium. The entire ride was narrated wonderfully by a former player, who stood on the steps by the driver:
“When you turn this corner, you’re going to look out of the window and see thousands of people tailgating in the fields around the stadium.”

“When you turn THIS corner, you’re going to see this 85 year-old alum who hasn’t missed a home game in 50 years…he came to see YOU play today.”

“When you turn THIS corner, the crowd is starting to swell…you’ll start hearing the sirens from the police escort in front of you.”

“When you turn THIS corner, you’re going to feel the bus start to shake from the fans that are running next to it and pounding on it.”

“And finally…you’ve arrived at Beaver Stadium, where 3,000 fans are waiting to see you get off the bus. The quarterback is the first one off, which is the symbol that on game day, it’s his team now. Joe exits the bus second, followed by the starting offensive team.”
How cool would that have been?  I have Erie Envy!  The Guy From Erie goes on . . .
If I took one single thing away from that weekend, it was this: When Joe Paterno stood up to speak, the room went quiet. Not “any” quiet…Catholic church quiet. Dead silence.

Respect. That’s just the way it was.

Joe thanked all of us for traveling to State College, made a few remarks, and said he was looking forward to seeing us later at his home for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres…he spoke so softly, but was as sharp as a tack. He finished with stating, “That was a pretty good speech…I usually get paid a buck for that. Of course, a buck used to be worth a lot more a few years ago.” Cute.

At that point – I will never forget this – Jay Paterno shouted out something about Bush being a moron. It was like the most inappropriate thing I ever saw in my life, and may ever see. I watched all of the assistant coaches nervously look at each other and roll their eyes as in…w-o-w. C’mon, Jay…REALLY? In fairness, Jay DID handle the aftermath of the Sandusky mess with dignity, so maybe his dad kicked his arse so hard that night that he learned his lesson.

Insider information: when you looked around the room, you could have been at Harvard. ALL of the coaches wore navy-blue blazers, striped ties, and shined shoes. Short haircuts, and no facial hair. The wives were decked out in silk dresses, lots of very nice jewelry, very high heels, and had professionally styled hair. It was quite a scene.

Okay, into the white van driven by our chaperon for the weekend: Mr. Mike McQueary. I am NOT kidding. But, we’re on our way to “Joe and Sue’s.”
Wow.  The part about Jay is kind of out of whack, but the whole experience plays out like a dream sequence.  And there's more facts--video and pictures-- in this blog than you will ever find in the Freeh Report!

And in case you are wondering, The Guy in Erie's son--Jordan Kerner--is on the Nittany Lion's roster as a DE Sophomore with Freshman eligibility last season.  From this, I conclude that his dad's impressions of Coach Joe were real.  And that is a better conclusion than you will find in the Freeh Fiasco.  Freeh didn't even bother to interview Joe Paterno, but what do I know?

I actually had the opportunity to meet and shake hands with Joe at a Hershey Medical Center fundraiser held at the Mt. Nittany Club at Beaver Stadium.  Alas, my wife didn't have her camera and this was in the days before cell phones took pictures as well as made calls.  Like The Guy From Erie, I sent Joe a Thank You letter, and he sent a handwritten reply on my original letter.  That reply now sits in a bank vault and a framed copy is displayed in my office.
I believe the murals/posters of Joe in the football building are gone now, like he never existed. What a shame.

I love Penn State, and I love Joe Paterno. His name will be cleared. Justice will run it’s course. He was a good man – not without flaws – but a good man.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Next Man Up

It has been the mantra of Coach O'Brien since he took over the job as head coach of the Nittany Lions.

And when top-rated JUCO QB Jake Waters opted for Kansas State, O'Brien went with the next man up.  Welcome Tyler Ferguson.
Ferguson verbally committed to Penn State early Friday evening, becoming the team's 18th recruit in its 2013 class. Ferguson, though, will enroll in January and count against the Nittany Lions' 2012 scholarship numbers.

Ferguson is rated second only to Iowa Western's Kansas State recruit Jake Waters among national JUCO quarterback prospects by 247Sports.com.

We Are . . . Penn State!

Friday, December 7, 2012

We Got Spirit Yes We Do

We Got Spirit, How 'bout you?

Penn State's senior class has been honored by the Maxwell Football Club, winning the Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award as a collective unit.
Maxwell Football Club President Ron Jaworski has announced that the 2012 senior members of the Penn State football team will be honored as winners of the Club’s Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award in recognition of their commitment, leadership and outstanding effort during this season.
Penn State completed the 2012 season, its first under Coach Bill O’Brien, with an 8-4 record, winning eight of its final 10 games. The Nittany Lions were 6-2 in Big Ten Conference play, with the only setbacks coming to division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. Under O’Brien, the Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year, Penn State finished the season by defeating eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin, 24-21 in overtime, on Senior Day.

“The senior leaders at Penn State demonstrated incredible commitment, character and effort during the past year, and what they accomplished on the field this fall is just astonishing”, said Jaworski.

“With the difficult circumstances surrounding the program it would have been easy for many of these players to look for a different situation to finish their college careers. But they chose to stay and support their teammates, coaches and university. The spirit and courage demonstrated in their actions is worthy of recognition with the Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award. They are a very special group of young men.”
The actual award will be presented in Atlantic City on March 1, 2013.

With O'Brien winning the Big Ten Coach of the Year, and McGloin capturing the Burlsworth Award, there's a lot of hardware coming to Happy Valley despite no bowl game.

Congratulations Seniors!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Awarding Matt McGloin

Matt McGloin may not be leading his team into a bowl game this season, but he will be holding a trophy nonetheless.

McGloin has won the Burlsworth Award, named for former Arkansas lineman Brandon Burlsworth.  The award is given to the top college football player who started his career as a walk-on.

From the AP:
McGloin helped the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record this season, setting school records for yards passing (3,266) and touchdowns (24) in a season. The senior also holds the school mark for career passing touchdowns (46).

The West Scranton (Pa.) native's only scholarship offer out of high school was from Lehigh. He helped Penn State win eight of its final 10 games this season, throwing for at least 200 yards and a touchdown in all 12 games.

The other finalists were Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs and San Jose State offensive tackle David Quessenberry.

Blue Christmas