Redemption Song

I asked the semi-rhetorical question earlier this fall, What’s a Penn State Football Fan to Do?

The answer is cheer their asses off for the young men who decided to stay and represent Penn State football in the Post Joe Paterno, Post Jerry Sandusky, Post NCAA Wrecking Ball era.

In week one of the college football season, one of the lead stories on every redundant ESPN show was “How will Penn State respond?” They responded by losing to Ohio University. Not THE (god that is annoying) Ohio State University, but Ohio University. Since that day, all the Nittany Lions have done is go out and win football games. The most recent being an absolute drubbing of Illinois on the road Saturday afternoon.

This win was particularly satisfying after what went down with the Illinois coaching staff following the NCAA Wrecking ball earlier this year. Following the NCAA’s decision to punish the players at Penn State (who did absolutely nothing wrong… actually, I don’t even want to talk about this because I am so upset about it.) The Illinois coaching staff (and they were not alone) camped out in the parking lot outside of the football complex in State College hoping to snag themselves some players who might be considering transferring following the Wrecking Ball.

This led to this statement from the Penn State Players:

The two players who do the majority of the talking in this video are Michael Zordich and Michael Mauti (the Michaels also happen to both be my favorite players, which I will come back to). Mauti in particular was upset by what happened and had this to say about coaches trying to pilfer players:

Penn State went out and made a statement Saturday and no one spoke louder than Mauti, who finished the game with six tackles and two interceptions, including one on the goal-line that he returned 99 yards before running out of gas. Mauti was the most vocal about the Illinois coaching staff this off-season. I would be lying if I said this year I had been fully invested in the Penn State games (really, until Saturday they were non-conference games anyway). But the one player who routinely jumped off the screen has been Mauti. So much so that Danielle has even taken notice, nicknaming him Dowdy-Mauti (I personally like Rowdy Mauti).

I read an article a few weeks ago about how, quietly two former Penn State linebackers has become two of the NFL’s best (49ers ILB Navarro Bowman and Dallas’ Sean Lee). Linebacker U continues to churn out legit NFL linebackers (where have you gone Poz?) and Mauti and Gerald Hodges will most likely be joining their ranks soon. Because I had detached myself from PSU this fall (no longer) I hadn’t truly bonded with any players in particular. Michael Mauti is now officially “My Guy”. Injuries have kept him from reaching his potential sooner, but now that he is healthy, the dude is killing it.

Bill O’Brien has done a really nice job with this team. I was afraid after the loss to Ohio that the wheels would fall of and things would spiral out of control. I mean, let’s be honest, when Matt McGloin is your QB, how much does it really take for things to fall apart? That simply has not been the case. I think the move to add the players names to the backs of their jerseys was the right one. O’Brien explained that he wanted the players who chose to stay to be recognized for that decision. I am not mad a the guys who left (except maybe the kicker, because he left us with Ficken). I understand why they did what they did. That being said, I have a world of respect for Mauti, Zordich and the rest of those who stayed.

Saturday, the Lions take on undefeated Northwestern in a game that will be a good barometer of what this team really is. It is a freaking shame that the NCAA did what they did. Penn State would be loaded with talent, and they seem to finally have the coaching staff to make good use of it. Joe is gone. Sandusky is behind bars, and now it is the fans and the players that are being punished, not the people who perpetrated those awful crimes, or the people who helped to cover them up. As a Penn State fan, and a football fan in general, I am saddened by this.

The SEC, and college football writ large are swamped by programs rife with recruiting violations, “student”-athletes who never go to class or have rap sheets longer than my arm, and coaches for whom there is no lower limit to what they will do in the name of a win. Yet it was this program, and these players for which the NCAA chose to make an example of. The NCAA has ZERO credibility in my eyes, and I say this not only as a Penn State fan, but a fan of college football in general. The entire system is screwed up.

There, I got that out. Penn State, and Michael Mauti specifically, you have won me back. Thank you. Sorry Danielle. Stop planning things for Saturdays.

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What’s a Penn State Football Fan To Do?

I have no idea what I am supposed to do.

Joe Paterno is dead. Jerry Sandusky will spend the rest of his worthless life fighting off the sexual advances of Pennsylvania’s prison population. Silas Redd is a USC Trojan, Rob Bolden is an LSU Tiger (good luck LSU… HAHAHA), Penn State hired an Irish coach, and they added names to the backs of the most classic jerseys in all of sports.

I feel a little like I am reconnecting with a high school friend. We bump into each other at the mall and make plans to catch up later. When I arrive at the predetermined destination, I find my old friend has spent the last 10 years selling cell phones in the mall, blowing coke and dating girls that still have a curfew. He still looks like the guy I used to know. Except he has chest hair sticking out of his shirt, he missed the memo that blowouts went out of style and there is a ring of white powder around his nose.

Despite all these changes, I still find I cannot help but laugh at my old friend’s jokes and at the end of the night, after I have intervened to keep him from starting three fights, we make plans to meet out again.

This is me with Penn State Football. I was and am sickened by what took place at that school under Joe Paterno. I am ashamed that I defended him and all that he supposedly stood for. But to me, that has very little, if nothing to do with the players on the field. Although the next few years are going to be tough to swallow (thanks to the NCAA taking an absolute wrecking ball to the program), I am sure I will still at least check the scores. At least I should have more free time on Saturdays for the next few years.

I don’t think I have the capacity to change teams at this point. I am not sure I would be able to look at myself in the mirror if I did.

We Are, Penn State

 Although I am disappointed by the results from the season, It would have been crazy of me to expect much more. Penn State started the first true freshman quarterback in Joe Paterno’s tenure.

If you read this you already know how I feel about the B.C.S., I don’t want to hear about how the system worked. Once again I have been forced to enjoy a college football season through partially closed eyes, so as not to look too closely and realize that in reality, very little of what I was watching mattered at all.

What I have chosen to do instead, is just try to enjoy a game, whatever game, for what it is, a single entity to occupy my mind for three hours. Unlike the NFL, where I watched Sunday’s Buccaneers/Falcons game knowing that the Buc’s entire season was potentially on the line, I watch Penn State games simply to enjoy that one game.

This will again be the case on New Years Day, when Penn State takes on Florida in the Outback Bowl. Nothing will really be on the line (I do think Penn State can win this game, Joe has done surprisingly well against SEC teams in bowls in recent years) but I will still enjoy it. I will actually love watching it. I mentioned this on Facebook, but it bears repeating here, I believe this will be Joe’s last game on a Penn State sideline. The last time those Coke bottle glasses, high water Khakis and black shoes run out of the tunnel. Joe seems to have aged very quickly over the last year. He has lost much of the energy that just a year ago seemed to defy age and time. It is actually heartbreaking to listen to his press conferences and interviews.

A few years ago I promised myself that I would support Joe as long as he wanted to stay. For my money, Joe is college football, Joe is everything that I love about the team I cheer for. It is not hyperbole to say that there will never again be one like him. No coach will ever win the number of games at one school that Joe has. Period. That is saying nothing about the graduation rates, the donations to the school, the fact that Penn State has never had a violation of NCAA rules, the man who literally coached generations of the same family. I believe January 1st will be Joe’s last game. It would be fitting, I cannot see Joe wanting any part of a year-long celebration of his career. Which is exactly what next year will turn into.

So I will enjoy the game, I will watch, cheer, and probably cry. But, I know it will mean nothing.

We Are…

I think Penn State is going to win on Saturday. I think they are going to win and I am not the only one who thinks so.

I realize I could be completely wrong about this. I realize The Tide my roll right over us and our true freshman QB and inexperienced D.

But, you know what, I don’t think they are going to. Honestly, I am not overly impressed with Alabama (or any SEC team this year). I think we have the ability to stretch the field with our experienced receivers. If Evan Royster can get any type of running game going, we are going to be in this thing.

The hard part for me, and lets get this out of the way early this year, is if Penn State loses, season over. With the ridiculous system we have, one loss (Hi Virginia Tech) or one big win (Boise State is not the third best team in the country) you make or break your season. The system sucks, and takes an ostrich like ability to place one’s head in the sand to be able to enjoy the sport that I love so much.

I could take a few minutes and link back to all my old posts about the need for a playoff and the B.S. that is the B.C.S, but I just don’t feel like it right now.

All I know is, at 7:00 pm on Saturday, I know where you can find me.

His Name is Robert Bolden

His name is Robert Bolden, and he is an athlete.

One of the hardest parts of being a College Football fan is getting to know the new faces every year. Another difficult part, is once you are stuck with a guy, chances are you are stuck with them for 2, 3 or 4 years. This was the case with interception machine Daryll Clark. I was never a fan, he was never Michael Robinson.

I am immediately impressed with Bolden (20-29 for 240, 2 TDs and 1 Int in his first every college action doesn’t hurt).

Yes I realize that Youngstown State is not Ohio State. But having said that, Evan Royster is supposed to be a Heisman Trophy contender, and could not get anything going Saturday, while Bolden was making plays all over the place with his arm. He looked polished and confident. He did not have to use his legs at all, which I am interested in seeing.

I am reasonable enough to realize that we are not going 12-0 and winning a BCS championship, I am also aware that Alabama will most likely roll us Saturday night. But, they might not. They too have an inexperienced QB and a great running game/defense. Maybe we can hang with them, maybe we have a QB who steps up in big games, unlike Mr. Clark, and the guy who proceded him, whose name I have already wiped from my memory.

All in all, great first weekend in College Football. How long can I keep the delusion going that I won’t just be disappointed at the end of the year?

NFL Draft!!

There was a time in my life when Draft Day was literally a holiday for me.

Some things have changed in my life, priorities and what not, thankfully, the NFL has complied with my needs and adjusted the schedule.

Instead of having to Waste spend an entire Saturday following every pick, I can now get my parenting and home owning responsibilities out of the way during the day and watch the draft at night. Thank you NFL.

Now, as far as the picks go, is there any way that Suh falls to the Bucs at pick #3? Probably not, but I can hope can’t I?

The Bucs can really do no wrong with this pick, short of picking Jimmy Freaking Clausen. If they land Suh, I am thrilled, if they draft Gerald McCoy, I am happy, if they pick Eric Berry, I am still happy.

Although I have grown up a bit and don’t quite follow all of this as closely as I might have once upon a time, I will be watching tonight, and tomorrow night, and Saturday.

Lets Go Bucs

It looks like there could be a few Penn State guys going in the first round or two, which is awesome. Jered Odrick is an awesome, solid player who will make an awesome 3-4 D end. Or a 4-3 1 technique.

Call me a Tim Tebow hater, but there is absolutely no reason for this young man’s name to be called at any point either tonight or tomorrow night. He is going to be a marginal NFL player, at any position. I don’t want to hear about how much he has won at the College level, the guy has been surrounded by the best college talent in the country for four years. Remember that Percy Harvin guy?

If anyone falls through the first round, god I hope it is Jimmy Clausen. I have never hated a player the way I hate this kid.

Paris Hilton has paid more dues than Lane Kiffin.


Laughed out loud reading this…

If you, like me, thought Pete Carroll leaving in the fashion that he did, and what it will mean for the program he left behind was low class.

Wait until you hear what Lane effing Kiffin has done to Tennessee

Once again, man am I glad I cheer for This Guy…


Adding…

You know how I feel about ESPN. Surprisingly, they have come down pretty hard on this. You can read Pat Forde linked above as well as This, This and This

Good for you, ESPN for not pulling any punches on this one. I read that the scene in the UT locker room when Kiffin announced to his former players that he was leaving for greener pastures was borderline violent. So UT players have been arrested for armed robbery this year, they have acted like idiots under Kiffin, and when they have the chance to actually exhibit violent behavior in a way that I would condone, cooler heads prevailed. I would have loved it if Lane had to show up for his USC press conference with a black eye from one of his players.

Face it Lane, you had it coming.

Adding More…

If the above interestes you at all…check This out

Adding More, More…

My student teaching hand book tells me to review my personal website and edit the content to make it professional. Most of the content on here is nothing I wouldn’t say at work or to co-workers. And NONE of it is any worse than what is uttered by my students on a daily basis. That being said, I was mostly kidding when I said the students would have been justified in punching Lane Kiffin in the face.

I will try to be more conscious of this going forward. I would hate to stop writing here completely for the duration of my student teaching, and if I am hired to teach in the future. And I don’t want to go back and edit what I have said in the past.

This is going to require some deep thinking on my part.