this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
a few minor depth chart changes this week, don't know what to do with Cam Gordon...
as always, comments and questions are appreciated.
When Nikita Khrushchev addressed his fellow Soviets in 1953 following his succession to leadership of the USSR, he delivered what would become known as “the Secret Speech”. Its content sought to unveil his predecessor, Josef Stalin, the mass murderer and ruthless dictator that had maintained public opinion steadily in favor of him, whether by appeal or fear. These methods were captured in the phrase “cult of personality”. Despite Stalin’s horrendous acts (many of which Khrushchev still refused to condemn, as he would need the same actions to retain power) the Russian people continued to veritably worship their leader, something which Khrushchev needed to correct both to fall in line with Party ideology and lead effectively.
Joe Paterno has forged a similar cult at State College for over sixty years. This past week, the curtain has been pulled back. The king is dead.
While Paterno did not doctor photos, order assassinations of rivals, or produce propaganda to keep his job as head coach and de facto autocrat of the small Pennsylvania town, he used his aw-shucks demeanor and commitment to worthy ideals to centralize his authority and mold the football program, in an already tight-knit community, into a fortress. Football coaches across the country have long sought the personality cult that “Joe Pa” crafted for Penn State football. The Nittany Lions were embodied in him so completely that the surreal scenes of students rioting in State College ought come as no surprise.
Jerry Sandusky’s disgusting and unconscionable tale has already been recounted many times, and I have no desire to go into that again. What remains is the fallout.
Before late Wednesday night it appeared that while the university president and athletic director would be immediately removed, the coaching legend would be allowed to retire in a relative amount of style. Before late Wednesday night, he would coach his final home game Saturday and continue leading his team in oblivion towards winning the Leaders division, to the B1G championship game, and yet another bowl. Before late Wednesday, the person ultimately morally responsible for the actions of the football program at Penn State would retain (albeit for a time) at least titular, and as I suspect, quite tangible control of the program.
The board of trustees’ choice to depose Paterno is obviously the right one, and they should be commended for it. The backlash in State College from disgruntled students and bewildered players is amplified by the thousands of PSU alums voicing their support for Paterno on the internet. And it is absolutely despicable, yet absolutely understandable.
When a person of such lauded moral high ground as Paterno fails, it shocks the world, and too often appalls little. Regardless of your metaphysical and religious views, the fact is that any human can and often will fail. It’s cases where the failure shreds the work of a lifetime into scraps of what legacy had previously been taken for granted. The risk of embodiment of a football program in one person, from Paterno to Wooden to Krzyzewski to, dare I say, Schembechler, is inherently risky. Trusting the ruler to tread flawlessly always is what we expect is impossible. Everyone does make mistakes (insert Terrelle Pryor joke here). It’s the degree and management of these mistakes that separates the legends from the ordinary.
And of those names I just dropped, one clearly does not belong with the others any more. Its time to destroy Paterno’s cult of personality. The victims cry for justice and PSU students would rather “demonstrate” outside their leader’s home, rather than look the harsh realities in the face as Khrushchev did. It’s easier that way, but it’s also wrong.
P.S. I am not a Communist nor do I think Khrushchev is by any means a stellar person. Just wanted to illustrate the most prominent reference of the term. Nor are Stalin and Paterno equivalents. Their followers have acted in a similar manner.
Take a week to recuperate and all hell breaks loose. Although in the buzzed reality I lived in last week, I should have seen it in some sort of shaman vision. Let us begin from the Purdue game I barely remember and will never forget.
The anticipation of attending the Mecca of football for the first time this year was excruciating. My trusted confidant from Pennsylvania and his lady friend made their presence as well. The night started in Flint when we stocked up on a variety pack of the strongest liquids that would do the most damage to even an Irish elephant. We took a pit stop at the Greektown Casino and chased around the American Dream for a bit. All I caught was a headache from the goddamned noise of slots and the cheap rum they sold. The only winner in our traveling band of miscreants was my confidant. He walked away with $38 and a smirk I wanted to wipe off his face with a scythe, bleach, and salt.
The next morning we stopped for sustenance, ice, and rolled a Panamanian cigarette. As the last ashes blew in the wind of a crisp Michigan morning on Route 14, I began feeling giddy as a valley girl winning dairy princess in Wisconsin. We parked our vehicle across the street from the stadium at the lovely golf course. Many complain about the $40 charge for parking there, but if you get there early it is in a prime location and as the chemicals settle in, every strange character rolls in you know you have to keep an eye on later.
I timed the rum consumption perfectly. As my enlightened feeling from the devil’s lettuce wore off the Sailor Jerry’s kicked in. It was only 930 in the morning and I was almost out of my fifth. The phone calls then began to come in. Friends from Detroit looking for me to travel to their locale kept coming in every two minutes. I kindly explained that if I attempted to traverse to their locations around campus, I would most likely end up in prison, or worst yet, East Lansing. This must have been a warning for them to keep a wide berth since no one dared came to our little spot in Ann Arbor. Only one true brave soul had courage to experience my posse this lit up, Blue Dragon. After many minutes of playing drunk Where’s Waldo in a crowd of over 110,000 of the human race we met up. As I polished off my last sip of Sailor Jerry’s, he bared his timely gift of nature’s Prozac. As we huddled into the front of a SUV to initiate peace talks and revelry, my confidant looked more scared than the Lohan family at a law enforcement conference. He spotted two older men of a good looking upbringing in the front of their vehicle along side of us. Tensions were eased when my confidant saw the men pull out a baggie of something that resembled flour. Someone forgot to inform them that making bread does not involve the step of snorting the flour. The bread doesn’t rise as well when done so.
As I tapped into one of my last beers my usually trusted confidant pulled out a fungus substance. I was immediately stricken with panic as I was already on multiple substances and about to embark on a journey to loud noise and sitting among many suspicious looking people. As I argued this would be a terrible idea, Blue Dragon proved to be a true pioneer as he gulped his down within seconds. Faced with immense peer pressure and the assurance I would be ok on a smaller dose, I reluctantly took it expecting impending doom.
Ten of noon struck and our band of heathens took our shit show to the stadium. My confidant and his lady friend had to check into gate E due to her over sized satchel. All that was left was Blue Dragon and I in a sea of drunken irritable fans looking for blood after a bye week gave all time to stew about the first loss of the season to the Fighting (literally) Dantonio’s. As Blue Dragon and I neared the entrance, he heard an angry voice call out to us that we ruined his fucking day because we supposedly cut in front of him. Half in shock of a surreal experience, and half in awe due to the lack of line to cut in, I believe I uttered… “Ok.”
Blue Dragon split way to our seats hopefully to cross paths on another trip in Ann Arbor. I arrived at our seats alone. I noticed a truck driver and his son had two of the seats I purchased. Still in a dream state, I muttered something about them moving the fuck out of the way. Finally my confidant and his lady friend arrived to a surprising 7-0 Purdue lead. Not that I can manage to remember much of the details of the game except the ill timed RAWK music, sappy 80s pop songs, and the constant hypnotic HD screens, but Fitz Toussaint ran the distance of the Intercontinental Railroad and back against the Fighting Stache’s of West Lafayette. Michigan controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides all day and dominated the game 36-10. The rain at the end of the game, I actually enjoyed. It felt good to be rained on when the score board was tilted our way. It was like a Gatorade bath for those of us that continually support Michigan through thick and thin.
The night in Ann Arbor was even more of a hazy semi-unconscious trip. After losing complete composure in a camping store and downing more alcohol at Ashley’s, I vaguely remember ending the night drinking out of a boot, getting hit on by an architect major at U of M in a Robin’s costume, and arguing with a MSU student and her Australian boyfriend about the validity on their school being eligible to be accredited in anything but underwater basket weaving.
PART II: Corn Guzzled
As I slowly came out of the daze of sampling leftovers throughout the week, I wish I would have saved them for the Iowa game. The game first resembled a MANBALL marathon as both offenses looked sluggish and the defenses bent a little at the most. MANBALL advantage tilted in the favor of Iowa as the game went on. As I paced around my house in a furor I began swearing like a man with severe Tourettes. Denard made his fame on his legs. For Spaghetti Monster’s sake, his nick name is “shoelace”, not “glove Velcro.” I understand the wish to change the system to a semi-west coast offense that Gorgeous Borges is used to and wants to implement, but Denard is not made for that purpose. If a coach cannot tune the offense to the strengths of the star player’s advantage, you are neutralizing yourself. One of Rich Rodriguez’s many accusations and partly true was that he did not try to ease into a new system with players from an old system. I believe Gorgeous Borges is doing a better job of this, but has glaring deficiencies in some of the play calling. If a lane opens during a passing play and no one is immediately open, instead of bombing to a fly route, throwing to Tacopants, or trying to squeeze in a pass between three defenders, he should…..wait for it…RUN THE DAMN BALL! Yes this increases his risk of injury, but it also gives the most electrifying player in the NCAA a chance to make something happen in his own comfortable way. Did they tell Barry Sanders not to go lateral so much in his day? Probably, but lucky for us who got to witness him, he didn’t listen. Will Gorgeous Borges adjust for the last four games? I guess you could say there is a better chance of Gorgeous Borges adjusting than growing a mullet.
The day became late and the fate of Michigan looked grim early in the fourth quarter. Down by more than two scores it looked as if the Michigan 2010 team put up a better fight. I walked out to the backyard and contemplated whether to down two bottles of root killer but decided that if I wasted it on myself, the women of the house would dice my body into pieces and send them down the Detroit River if the water backed up into the house again. After returning to the man cave I was shocked to see Michigan’s anemic offense twisted its way back to the game with a fighting chance. Hoke must have done some serious pointing in my absence.
I am not one to pin blame on referees. Teams that effectively execute all game won’t be put in a position that comes down to a few bad calls. After that said, the referees need to be audited or whatever it’s called where they get an occupation proctology exam. Hemingway’s catch was a touchdown with a knee in and the mauling of Roundtree on the last play was so obvious that Helen Keller rose from the dead to boo the call.
Another Michigan loss to a mid-level B1G team triggers flashbacks of two previous deflating seasons. I still hold out HOKE…I mean hope that this won’t end like years past. The defense is better, adjustments after halftime (at least on defense) are apparent, and a larger chip is growing on the seniors that have experience possibly the worst years of Michigan football. In order for bloodthirsty players and fans to be happy this year, there needs to be at least two more wins. If not, next year is not going to be any easier and the offseason of Michigan infighting will seem all for naught.
PART III: Disgraced Valley at Pedophile State University
Much has been said on the Penn State/Sandusky matter. My only words are as follows. They won’t change a thing and some if not many won’t find any value in them. As a rabid college football fan and a recent citizen of the state, I must express them as I have yet to do so.
In 1998 accusations of inappropriate interactions between Sandusky and a young boy surfaced on the campus of Pennsylvania State University. In my opinion, this is what suddenly put the heir apparent of the football program into retirement. This was the first acknowledgement of wrong doing by the coaching staff and university. For four more years Sandusky was given unfettered access to the university facilities to continue his monstrous campaign of ruining the lives of future men.
Again in 2002 a graduate assistant (Mike McQueary) walked in on Sandusky naked having sexual intercourse with a ten year old boy. As the boy and Sandusky most likely turned to see the act was seen, the boy hoping that this nightmare may have been over was dashed when McQueary turned his back and rand home to his daddy. After his dad convinced McQueary to report the act to Joe Paterno and he did so, Joe Paterno then reported it to the now defunct AD. The authorities were never brought in for an investigation and no follow ups were had. An agreement between Joe Paterno, the AD, and the president of the University, Graham Spanier signed off on barring Sandusky from the campus. This would be the second acknowledgement of wrong doing. Again, no follow up and no outside investigation.
Sandusky moved his horror show to the town I then was going to college in. He became an assistant football coach for the high school team and still lured vulnerable boys in his Second Mile program. Finally getting caught again, the guillotine came down. Sandusky’s fate is sealed as I read it in the Grand Jury report. The man has a first class ticket to hell to have the offenses he exercised on youth done to him with Satan’s pitchfork.
Because his fate seems to be sealed, the attention has turned elsewhere on Joe Paterno, the school administration, and Mike McQueary. Attention deserved. For at least 13 years, Joe Paterno knew something was awry with his assistant coach. In 2002 Mike McQueary had a chance to save a ten year old child from the worst day of his young life. The administration was given notice. All chose to do nothing. If Joe Paterno is a man that holds those around him to a higher level of accountability, then a man that holds more power than the board of trustees and the president of the university should have made sure the matter was taken care of and no more young boys were hurt. Instead he either thought the matter would go away or wanted to maintain a squeaky clean image of the football program. Either way, it was wrong. Of course he did what he was technically supposed to do, but he chose a football program over the lives of children. No sport or program is worth more than an opportunity of a normal childhood. Many asked me if I would feel as strongly if this was in Michigan’s house because of my unvarnished hatred of PSU before this went down. The answer is yes. I could not continue to cheer on a program that was complicit in the molestation of young vulnerable boys.
Mike McQueary had a firsthand account to the sadistic acts Sandusky was capable of. He told Paterno and washed his hands of it. When he became a coach, he literally watched as Sandusky paraded more victims to PSU coaching functions and practices knowing damn well what that fucking swine could and would do. I believe there is a law in PA I came across in my occupation that said if any abuse to a child is witnessed or even plausibly true, it MUST be reported to state authorities. The fucking coward could have even anonymously called and told state authorities what had happened. Instead he received a coaching job and stayed mum.
The administration did more of the same. The top of the food chain chose to ignore and to minimally punish Sandusky. The “responsibility” lay with them and they did nothing. This is why the AD and VP of Finance resigned and the president who spoke ignorantly that he backed both unabashed is tonight getting axed as he well should be. All of them should be tarred and feathered and drug through broken glass and rusty nails.
The one item that is increasingly heinous is the victimization of the three parties above. As a recent citizen of PA I experience the cultish trust and invincibility of the PSU football program. Going to college a half an hour from PSU, I experienced this on an extreme level. This football program was so tight knit that it is another reason I cannot believe JoePa and others had no idea that Sandusky’s felonies were known and were suspected to probably to continue. The blind faith many in PA have of the football program is now at a disgusting level. Instead of lashing out to get to the bottom of this disgraceful episode in their history, they lash out at those accusing Paterno and those surrounding the case for unfair targeting. This is not all alumni and fans, but most. I believe it is this cult like following that allowed for this kind of horrific act to take place. PSU football became bigger than life. These children and their families were probably PSU football fans and bigger ones once this “trusted” program chose to include them into this James Johnson hypnotic organization. Families entrusted their young to the care and support of Paterno and his football family. Now instead of talking about victims and whose ass should burn for this, many in the cult of PSU football have had their reality challenged. This is something that has never happened in the age of Paterno. The grasping at straws to defend this program’s wide cover-up of the most atrocious crimes is a desperate attempt to hold onto a reality that really never was. Sandusky was a monster predator and Paterno, McQueary, and the PSU administration were complicit in his actions. Yesterday another 20 plausible victims came forward that could have been prevented if corrective actions were taken at first notice. Instead Paterno and the administration allowed a serial child rapist full access to their facilities for four years after knowing something was not right. The headlines today said Paterno has chosen to retire at the end of the season? The president of the university is getting fired and he gets to stay?! Fuck no! No longer does he get to decide PSU football. He has already shown grave mistakes and has admitted doing so with this simple quote said today:
“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
This man and those around this scandal will be taking the field Saturday with the privilege of doing something they love when men and boys around PA were betrayed by that same blind and dangerous love of moving on and forgetting the past in the name of PSU football.*
Nebraska, you better fucking annihilate these cowards and mutant freaks into further humiliation and disgrace.**
*As posting this, The PSU Board of Trustees have fired Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno. What about Mike McQueary?
**Nebraska- Green light to humiliate these freaks is still a go.
It's amazing how fast life can change. What's happened in State College is an amazing reminder of how unstable even the most bedrock things in life really are.
That might sound ridiculous when we're talking about a mere football coach. But keep in mind that Bo coached for twenty years. Paterno's been a part of that program for almost fifty.
Watching all of this play out has been nothing short of a nightmare, even from someone like myself who is not a fan but has always respected and admired the football program if not directly supported it. These stories have not showed up as random links in college football tabs on my desktop, but rather on the front page of the paper that lies in my driveway every morning. What has seemed like an untouchable truth has crumbled around us in the blink of an eye.
Reading the SI articles today, it was amazing to see how they provided such a stark contrast of how Sandusky, Paterno, and ultimately Penn State football, was perceived for what seemed like eternity. For me, I grew up in the reality that grass was green, the sky is blue, and Joe Paterno is the respected football coach. I remember a wrestling coach who openly emulated him in every way. I remember entire towns cleaning up because Paterno may or may not be coming to visit a potential recruit. I was raised in a Penn State family. I have an uncle who is probably right now clearing signed footballs from his mantle. I have an aunt who used to babysit for the Paternos in the very house I watched on SportsCenter last night-- I've driven past it myself, and been amazed at how humble the little home is for a man of such legendary stature. And while I was never forced to be a PSU fan, I was always aware of how much the program was about values, and what those values meant to my dad and uncle and grandfather. Honesty. Integrity. Hard work. These things meant everything to my role models, and maybe that's why Penn State meant so much to them as well.
This morning I was in the car when Greenberg literally had the news about JoePa dropped in his lap and he read it aloud. We in Pennsylvania all knew this day would one day come, but like this?
Learning that the ethical standards that went hand in hand with Joe Paterno were not only inaccurate, but has also cost him his immortal job status? Well, it's like waking up one day and finding that the United States is secretly run by a Communist dictator. It just doesn't make sense, and certainly doesn't seem real.
Penn State football will not suspend its games for the season. That's unfair to Nebraska and certainly unfair to the current players. Penn State football will certainly not fold like the Post suggested in its editorial. It will move on, and it will one day be free of this grip of shame and unspeakable horror. Not even this will shut down the program.
But what it will cost Penn State is its tradition.
When I think of Penn State football, it's always had a timeless feel. Regardless of whatever composite materials or Revolution designs the helmet evolved into, it would still remain plain. Boring. Penn State.
What I never could have imagined is that in the decade to come, the school might knowingly sink that tradition, just to move away from all this. In 2020 you might very well see Penn State in some ridiculous ProCombat jersey with leaping mountain lions across the shoulders. You might see gray trim on the numbers. You might see the athletic logo, known affectionately in these parts as the 'Beaver head,' finally on both sides of the helmet. And that helmet might be gray, or blue, or both. And not because Paterno is no longer there to refuse the idea... but rather to distance the program from what is now and will forever be remembered as a marred past.
There was once talk in the early 2000's that not simply the stadium would be renamed in Paterno's honor, but rather the entire campus or town itself. Paterno Park. Paternoville. He was as timeless and as frozen in goodwill as Santa Claus. Until now.
Penn State tradition was forever altered this week. The men that will soon be put to task to pick up the pieces of this Hiroshima-esque landscape might very well choose to bury that tradition once and for all. And for many, dreams, memories and entire ways of life will die with it.
There's a friend of mine down the street, an alum, who along with his dad, my neighbor, cherish their season tickets like family heirlooms. That will not change. They will continue to go, continue to tailgate and even continue to fly the flag outside their homes. But this week, I have thought about him much, and specifically about what he will do on Saturday morning when he packs up the car and prepares to take the family up to State College. He's got a son, about the same age as mine, who is always wearing blue and white on a Saturday morning. And how on earth does he put his son in a Penn State jersey this week? And if he doesn't, how does he tell his son that he can't wear his Moye jersey? How do you tell him to stop loving JoePa, or explain why he won't be there next year?
Yes, I know, small fries compared to the lives of those poor kids whose trust was betrayed by that monster. But life as we all know it has changed this week in Pennsylvania, and the ripple effects of this mess will continue to affect normal everyday people in my life and beyond for years to come. It's just a really sad, improbable day... and we can only hope that lessons are learned and that lives can be changed for the better with the serving of justice.
I know I'm not the only PA native here on the blog, and I'm curious to hear Steve in PA's take, and others. But it's a strange, surreal blur of a bad dream in our community and thought it might be worth sharing and describing for the rest of you, if you're so inclined. This is my last mention of the subject.
Prayers for the victims, and Go Blue.
This idea was a lot more fun last week, when nobody was projecting Michigan into the TicketCity bowl. At least CBS still loves us!
Last week, I looked at 6 sources (ESPN Blogs, ESPN Schlabach, ESPN Edwards, CBS, BTN, and CFN/Scout). Four had Michigan going to the Cap1, CBS said Fiesta, and Rittenberg said Insight. For reference, here is my google doc with Week 9 projections for the other Big Ten teams, as well as for BCS games. (ignore the fact that Week 11 is already filled out - just a copy/paste so I wouldn't have to rewrite a lot of the matchups/opponents if I didn't have to).
Now, on to week 10 (which covers games through this past weekend). And yes, chart.
|Post Week 10||
|Ok State||Ok State||Stanford||Oklahoma|
|Boise St||Stanford||Boise St||Boise St|
|Capital One||Penn St||Wisconsin||Michigan||Nebraska||msu||msu|
|S Carolina||S Carolina||Georgia||S Carolina||S Carolina|
|Insight||Michigan||Penn St||Nebraska||Penn St||Nebraska||osu|
|Texas A&M||Kansas St||Texas||
|Care Care||Iowa||osu||Penn St||Illinois||Iowa||Nebraska|
Ok, I haIn summary, Rittenberg kept Michigan in the Insight; CBS kept Michigan in the Fiesta (!); Brad Edwards kept Michigan in the Cap1; CFN and Schlabach dropped Michigan from Cap1 to Outback; and BTN dropped Michigan all the way from the Cap1 to the TicketCity bowl (screw you, Dienhart!). And not that you can average this sort of thing, but seems like the Outback is a likely destination for our Wolverines. And yeah, I'd be happy with that
And last week, 4/6 had Wisco in the Rose, with the other 2 having msu and Nebraska. This week, it's 3 Wisco and 3 msu.
Anyway, if this seems interesting, I'll do it again the next few weeks until bowl selection. Also, let me know if there are other bowl projections out there worth adding. I'm not doing Joe Schmo's blog or anything, but a local or national media outlet's projections might be interesting.
EDIT: source links: