If there’s anyone with bigger problems in the world of college sports than Penn State’s Joe Paterno, then we’d like him or her to put their hand up. Paterno harks back to a day when the players weren’t trying to be Mr Jerry Rice, Mr Endorsement, or Mr No.1 Pick in the NFL Draft. The kids came to play the sports, they behaved, and that was it. Sure, the kids made the mistakes, but those were forgiveable.
But now, Paterno’s biggest problem is trying to get his 2008 team from self-imploding.
I feel sorry for Joe Paterno. The man is one of humanity’s sporting greats, helping to turn Penn State University from a small farming school into the 50,000 student monster in the middle of rural Pennsylvania. Sure, he’s had a library named after him – but the 110,000 size Beaver Stadium is really ‘The House That JoePa Built’. 30,000 students dressed in white losing their voices at several home games in the last few years would agree.
His Big Ten Championship – his only one in recent years – got him ESPN’s “Coach of The Year” status, but recent incidents over the last few years – which have seen over 60 of his players arrested for off-the-field incidents – has seen as reputation tarnished. While the 2007 offseason wasn’t great, the 2008 offseason has been a nightmare.
Chris Bell – recruited in 2006 as one of the best wide receivers coming out of that year’s – was thrown off the team for allegedly threatening one of his teammates with an eight inch blade. Andrew Quarless, one of Penn State’s star tight ends last year, was arrested for his second bout of underage drinking. Starting defensive tackle Chris Baker? Suspended for fighting in the PSU equivalent of the student union. Linebacker Knowledge Timmons? Suspended for the same thing.
And if you add to that a mass brawl during the summer of 2007 that seemed to involve every part of PSU football bar the coaching staff and running back Austin Scott’s arrest for alleged rape during the 2007 football season, it hasn’t been a great year for Penn State football. Hey, forget about the fact that Penn State lost to Illinois and Michigan State this year! Next year they’ll be happy if they beat Coastal Carolina!
Joe Paterno – himself the subject of much newspaper ridicule after a car prang last year – must have told his team 400 times about their off-the-field behaviour. Yet nothing has happened.
Something has to change, and it has to change fast. Paterno needs to gain the control of his team again, because it seems to be vanishing into thin air. Sure, you don’t do your own behavioural CV any good when you’re involved in a car prang that ends up with you yelling at a woman and her husband, but Joe Paterno IS the coach of Penn State football and needs to be respected that way.
Otherwise, Penn State Nation will once again feel angry, annoyed, and failed.
One reply on “From Penn State to State Penn”
there’s a lot of problems in happy valley whether they are small things or big things.. things just don’t seem right. but here’s what i think the big problem is…
today penn state had it’s blue-white game. as is the case with most years, it’s a weekend all penn staters live for. this year was no different, and a lot of young and potential stars without any off field problems showed some promise. over the years penn state has had the reputation of being a very “clean” school. now lets not go over the top and say they are thugs, because really things like this have been going on consistently the past decade or so. it happens at all schools its just the way things are, sad as it is to say that.
i think people get upset with the way paterno handles things and try to blame it on his age. his age has nothing to do with this. but the bigger problem and this is starting to get back to my point now is penn state fans like to forgive and forget quickly. so today, we have a nice blue-white game, and no one is anymore thinking about all the offfield problems. doesn’t mean they still don’t exist, but they lose their flair.. then when something happens, all of a sudden there is all that stupid talk with joepa and his age.
so who is to blame here. i’d say its not joe. i’d say its the fans and the media. the best part about professionals is that they can block all that out, and i’m sure they are doing their best, cause if coaches and organizations listened to fans, sports would suck.. simple as that. too many people can just say whatever they want to these days, doesn’t mean its the right thing to do or the right thing that should happen.
all that said, nice column.