Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Agony or Ecstasy?

The Alamo bowl is less than two weeks away. The coaching carousel is in full blast in the Big Ten/Big East regions of the country which leaves me wondering: Should PSU fans be happy about the state of the program and where it is headed?

Clearly, there is no set answer to this question as it has been up on message boards and is frequent blog fodder (even for this particle article!), and leaves us only to chase opinions. What is more clear than the turbid crystal ball into which i'm currently gazing is that this season can be interpreted in more than one way. Obviously, PSU's 8-4 season was a disappointment to us all. I was really hoping that PSU could go 11-1 or 10-2 but the meltdown at Michigan, Illinois, and Michigan State exposed Penn State as a non-elite but competitive football team. However, was this a good season of excellent coaching which salvaged a potentially disastrous season (think 5-7) filled with fights, allegations, charges, and indictments? Or, was this an indication that Joe has lost control of the program, can't coach anymore, blah, blah, blah?

This was a good coaching job which helped a troubled team reach a bowl game. The Apartment Fight happened back in April which means that the team has been dragging around this albatross for 8 months. The team was cleaning the stadium after games (that won't wear on you 6 weeks into the season without a bye week?). Austin Scott was charged with a sexual assault and dismissed from the team. How many programs recover so easily from the dismissal of their #1 RB to start the season? Kinlaw did a wonderful job filling in and Royster looks like he could be the next great back at PSU, provided he stays healthy. Then there was the Hub Fight which has lead to yet more charges. Nobody sees how all of this can be a distraction to the program? A distraction to the team?

People who disagree with this assessment will simply point to the same incidents mentioned above and say: "Look. Joe has clearly lost control! We were poised to contend for a National Title and then went nowhere!" Certainly, these facts could be construed that way. However, this isn't a continuing pattern at PSU instead it is merely a single season of off-field incidents. If this sort of garbage is still going on this spring and into the fall then I'll join in the chorus of people saying that a change is needed. But for now, Joe has done a great job dealing with tons of off the field problems and got the team to a bowl game.

What gives myself (and i'm sure any other Penn State fan) a more queasy feelings is the question of where the program is headed. Rodriguez has gone to Michigan, he was certainly named as a possible Paterno replacement. Because of that vacancy the rumor is that WVU is talking to Bradley! Bradley's departure would also eliminate the most viable in-house replacement for Paterno. Leaving a lot of other coaches who don't really fit the criteria PSU should be looking for: relatively young, fired up, not Jay Paterno, ready to lead PSU to glory! Which would leave who, Schiano? Sounds good but is he as set on PSU as everyone speculates? The future is certainly murky and a cause for concern. But lets face it, Joe will continue to coach until he dies on the field at age 179. So take heart!



Andy said...

My Dad made, what I thought, was an interesting observation about Joe Pa.

Back in the day when I watched PSU football religiously during jr. high and high school with pops, Joe used to carry around a bundle of papers in his back pocket. He would carry it around, make notes, refer to it, etc.

Where has it gone? Why doesn't he do this anymore?

It seems like the players don't pay him much heed even when he yells, almost like he is just some wiley old man who somehow snuck his way on the field.

Now, don't get me wrong, I really like Joe Pa, I just wonder if he isn't coaching now just to be stubborn. Where are the papers JB?! THE PAPERS!

JB said...

That is an interesting observation. I'm afraid I have no idea what happened to the papers.

He certainly is wiley. Wiley like a fox!