Unsolicited Advice For Penn State Fans

Submitted by Brian on January 6th, 2012 at 2:29 PM


LEFT: Nittany the Lion drinks hemlock. RIGHT: why Tom Bradley is not an option.



I am a fan of Michigan, a team that used to be in your conference. I have just been informed that due to unapproved activities involving… well, nevermind what the activities involve. That's not really the issue here.

The issue is that longtime coach Joe Paterno was ignominiously forced out after at least six years as the head coach at Penn State, and that many people who remember this halycon half decade or so are peevish that unapproved activities have led to the firing of the hallowed JoePa. You probably know this bit.

The activities are so unapproved that they have irradiated the rest of the coaching staff with fatal doses of public relations. Coaches at other schools not currently suffering fatal doses of PR are so leery about getting irradiated themselves that they refuse to take millions of dollars to coach a football program that's still in a pretty damn good spot long term.

So the Penn State administration hired one of the more tenuous branches off the sickly Belichick coaching tree in the full expectation he'll fail massively, and soon. They would have hired Charlie Weis but—and you're probably not going to believe this—someone beat them to it. I know. Funny ol' world. They would have hired Ron Zook but Ron Zook is a chronic disease. So they hired some guy unreassuringly named Bill O'Brien who sponsors a bowl in St. Petersburg.

This caused the world to implode. So here's some advice.

Do not look on Bill O'Brien as a head coach. Bill O'Brien is pickled ginger. Like the snake at the base of the tree that holds up the world, you have just finished consuming the largest piece of nigiri ever made. It was made of yourself. There's more, but for the full experience you must spend the next three to five years cleansing and preparing your palate.

Do not regard Bill O'Brien as a person who can succeed or fail. He is doomed. You will put him in your mouth and gnaw on him and once you swallow him and dissolve him in your stomach acids you can get on with things. Bill O'Brien is football pickled Jesus ginger. He will die for your sins… someone's, anyway.

Prepare thine heart for a messy one-way divorce. You may think Penn State is a school. You may have attended it, and loved it, and thought of the football program as the bit of the iceberg above the water: the most accessible part of your much greater love for the institution as a whole.

This must be true. I have been to State College in the summer, when no one is around. It is pretty. There are bars there with good microbrews in which weird cover bands play as you try to determine whether the sax guy is literally a muppet or just impossibly muppet-like. It is an outcrop of something in the middle of nowhere, easy to fall in love with.

Unfortunately, you're about to find out that a lot of your favorite people on the iceberg think Penn State is literally one dude. Lavar Arrington:

"I will put my Butkus (Award) in storage. I will put my Alamo Bowl MVP trophy in storage," Arrington said. "Jerseys, anything Penn State, in storage. Wherever Tom Bradley goes, that's the school I will start to put memorabilia up in my home. I'm done. I'm done with Penn State. If they're done with us, I'm done with them."

Brandon Short [ibid]:

"I don't want to be affiliated with the university if they don't choose a Penn State guy because of our standards, our graduation, all the things that have been important... it's no longer Penn State, so we might as well be in the SEC. They are intent on turning it into a booster culture. Ira Lubert went out and purchased a national title with wrestling and he's under the illusion that he can do that in football. Well, ask (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder about that."

"Penn State is a family and it is real and if they choose to get rid of Bradley and not hire a Penn State coach, then they've turned their backs on our entire family."

More Short:

“I feel badly for him (because) he is clueless and will not have the support of the majority of the Lettermen. This is a hornet’s nest (for him).”

There is no one in the world who did not play for members of the Penn State coaching staff who believes anyone on staff during the time in which the unapproved activities occurred can stay at PSU. Instead of acknowledging this reality, certain players you loved are going to firebomb the program until Football Pickled Jesus Ginger is gone and someone with a tangential relationship to Paterno is found, whereupon they will say they knew it all along. They will not acknowledge their contributions to the situation.

This is going to piss you off and sour some of your fond memories. Nothing can change this, but you can be prepared. Latch on to the current players, who have done nothing other than not leave when they maybe should.

Look… just… don't. You may be inclined to say something about the enormous hissy fit being thrown by certain players as indicative of the problems with the culture that got you in this spot in the first place. This is probably not a good idea even if you secretly think it's true.

Don't extrapolate your problems across the whole of college football since your worldview has been so jaundiced that hope and joy experienced by others only serves to reinforce the existentialist dread that overwhelms your existence. Looking at you, Weinreb.

In lieu of on-field substance prepare for cheesy pro-style stadium exper— oh, right, I see you've got this one covered. Let's form a support group. I need help coping with these things.

MANTRAS FOR HOPE. It is not going to be fun. By saying these things over and over again you might find some modicum of serenity:

  • Our offensive coordinator is not Jay Paterno. Our offensive coordinator is not Jay Paterno. Our offensive coordinator is not Jay Paterno.
  • How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten. How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten. How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten.
  • At least we're not Notre Dame. At least we're not Notre Dame. At least we're not Notre Dame.

Good luck, and godspeed.

Brian Cook



January 6th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

It would have been nice to see anything resembling this level of outrage from former players when they found out children were being raped and their heroes were looking the other way.  Allegedly.


January 8th, 2012 at 12:54 AM ^

It's an old story- putting a person, or letting a person morph into a position of absolute power. They become absolutley corrupt or in the case of Paterno- absolutely insane. 

And even after he acts in a way only a monster could- the ex players still view him as all that they loved and all they they felt proud of at PSU. They can't seperate JoPa and the coaches who touched his toga from the principals and morallity they love.








January 6th, 2012 at 2:49 PM ^

As one of the posts in the MGoBoard noted, PSU would have been wise to look at our coaching transition from LC to RR and taken a few lessons.  Obviously, totally different situations, but there are some real similarities:  (a) a fanbase OBSESSED with traditions, and (b) a departing coach who has been an institution for decades (while LC was not there for decades, the Bo, Mo, LC tree goes back 50 years).

Whether the "we need an insider" mentality is right or wrong is not the point of my post.  What matters is that this mentality exists, and PSU should have looked to a former player, or even a former coach who was there pre-Sandusky.  Are there any former PSU players who are currently OC, DC of HC either in the NFL, Div. 1 or even FBS?  If so, I would have grabbed one of those guys, even if they were not highly regarded.


January 6th, 2012 at 3:02 PM ^

I think you are missing Brian's point.  While Michigan did not have to go through the purgatory it did, Penn State now does.  The circumstances of the unfortunate events mandate it.  They HAVE to clean house and, with that, they have to endure the organ rejection that will result from an outsider trying to lead an insular football program.


January 6th, 2012 at 3:06 PM ^

Sandusky was there since the late '70s. A coach who was there before that?! How old are we talking here?

Your mentality is truly scary. Apparently, when an Old Boy Network is established it is there for life and nothing (not even scandal of the most HORRENDOUS nature) should shake its foundation. Everyone should just accept it and embrace it, you say.

Are you teaching a course in Defeatist Studies anywhere?

Hardware Sushi

January 6th, 2012 at 3:17 PM ^

That (along with nobody name-brand not associated with the university wanting the job) was the crux of the first half of Brian's post:

Hiring a former player, whether associated with Sandusky or not, is not a reality.

Former players were not an option. Not an option. This 'acknowledgement' by fans and former players, as Brian put it, would have helped them prepare for a hire like this.


January 6th, 2012 at 2:51 PM ^

How I wish I could have read this same letter 4 years ago.  After the RR years, not much about the University of Michigan football program seems magical any more.  Perhaps it's just the issue of me coming of age (and matriculating in 2008) during these worst years that has somewhat ruined my love for the program, but I don't think I'm the only one.  Maybe part of the reason that we (the former-RR supporters) threw ourselves behind RR wasn't just the fact that we thought we was getting a raw deal, that the spread could work, or that the defense really would get better; maybe it was that he represented, in some small way, our collective innocence and faith in Michigan Football.  I guess I'll never feel quite the same about the magic of the program as I used to, after all of the fighting and bitterness from former players, coaches, and the administration, and that's what I'm most disappointed in.  I wish all the PSU fans good luck, and that maybe their infatuation won't be ruined as much as mine was.


January 6th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

No question about it. RR definitely represented a lot more than himself as a man or his scheme for many. His presence was a test for love of Michigan in its purest form and many fans, coaches and former players failed miserably. I will never, ever, ever forgive the Carr-tel for their behavior and I know many others won't either.

To watch a game from our national championship year is now to endure having to see images of bad apples like Lloyd, Eric Mayes, others. It sucks but that's reality for all those brave enough to face it.


The FannMan

January 6th, 2012 at 9:01 PM ^

Hold on there one minute - 

Do you really mean that watching Woodson, Griese and Company win a national title is plainful for you because you think Carr screwed over Rich Rod?  Wow.

I won't tell you how you should feel.  And I will agree that Carr failed to help Rich Rod when he could have.  Mostly, Carr wasn't Bo.  Few people are.  But consider that Carr spent a lot of years working his ass off to make Michigan football what it was and is.  He had a Heisman winner and a NT as a HC.  He was on the staff for Desmond and a hell of a lot of good years.  He still remains invovled in the program and raises money for Mott like a madman.  Just because he let Boran and Mallet transfer and didn't do more for Rich Rod doesn't mean he is an unforgivable "bab apple." 

I supported Rich Rod when he was here.  I wish him better luck at Arizona.  However, that doesn't mean I will turn my back on what came before 2008, or love what comes after 2010 just as much as I always have.  Your feelings are your own.  I just think that you might be losing some perspective.

steve sharik

January 7th, 2012 at 10:24 AM ^

...but also some of the lost mystique is simply getting older and wiser and involved in more important things.

Even when M won the '97 NC, it had less mystique for me than the 1980 team that Bo rightfully claims was the best in the nation.  Why?  Because I was 10 in '80 and 27 in '97.  When you're 10, your favorite team occupies a larger part of your life.  The only other things you have is easy elementary school, playing with friends, and watching TV.  When you're 27 you have a career and/or grad school and/or wife and/or kids, plus many more obligations that you realize are way more important than football.  When you're 10, what responsibilities do you have that are more important?  Not many.

SirJack II

January 6th, 2012 at 4:11 PM ^

Hah, so the magic's gone for you because one coach got fired for going 15-22 (what did you think would happen?), and in spite of the fact that Hoke-magic has prevailed this season and led us to a highly improbable, unpredictably successful year (in addition to some monster recruiting and an unprecedented defensive turnaround).

The magic is just now coming back.


January 7th, 2012 at 4:15 PM ^

It's probably yours. No one was criticizing Brian. They were reacting to a reaction opposite of what Brian was saying. Brian was telling PSU fans NOT to do what he did, and assume because everything looks bleak that there was no joy left in college sports, home or away. Which Brian himself had done, but team 132 showed him he was wrong.
<br>If anything the post you're knocking understood Brian's post better than you did. As did the people who upvoted it.


January 6th, 2012 at 2:53 PM ^

Also hope for Penn State's sake they get a little homerism in their local media instead of the cretens around here who talked to seemingly every Michigan player in the NFL, asked them "So what do you think of this new coach?" and gleefully printed any answer that was less than glowing.


January 6th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

I'm not sure which part of Weinrab's non-sensical rant is the most entertaining (or maybe pathetic?)

Was it his weird suggestion that God wants Michigan to win? He seems to want us to believe he is insincere but gives the opposite impression.

Was it his paragraph explaining how much he loves Denard filled with backhanded compliments and the contention that Denard's passing is... "irritating?"

Was it his assertion that in a just and good world rather than being forced to endure VT and Michigan humiliating themselves we would instead be entertained by a rematch of TCU and Boise State? A rematch betwixt two midmajors that included nearly 1000 yards of offense the first time. If you want defense look to the other rematch. Rematches make for such awesome bowls.

Or maybe it was the surprise at the end when he prophesized DOOM for Michigan now that Sheriff Urban Meyer is in town? That one is particularly bizarre coming from a PSU alum.


January 6th, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

I'm so happy Weinreb is a PSU alum. That fact completely undermines whatever non-sensical points he was trying to make in that garbage article. I can picture him writing it, alone, surrounded by an altar to JoePa, crying, screaming profanities and possibly even cutting himself.


January 6th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

would arrive in State College, meet with his team and then hold a press conference to tell all disgruntled alumni, disappointed former players to just step off!

"I run my unit how I run my unit!".

Unless they have remaining eligibility , can strap on a helmet and play football, or support the team like there's no tomorrow, then they should sit down and STFU. Just let him do his job. 

O'Brien should not have been anyone's first choice or even fifth choice.   John Hufnagel would have been perfect for PSU, but oh well.  

Here's to O'Brien forging ahead with something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

I anticipate in 2 years PSU fans will be reading Brian's warning letter here, fall into panic mode and shout out:









Six Zero

January 6th, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

You, Nick Horvath?  You, Bob Flounders?

No, we in PA already know that honor will go to the Altoona Mirror's Neil Rudel.  He's the most deserving of the Weasel Sports Reporter award here in the Keystone State, and I'm sure he'll turn on O'Brien without giving him a fighting chance.

Gonna be a REALLY weird offseason in State College.  Unprecedented isn't even the word.


January 6th, 2012 at 3:13 PM ^

If I was Joyner, I would gladly tell Lavarr, Short and all those others that are ready to burn down Penn State that if they want to throw their temper tantrum, they will never be allowed back into the PSU community.  If they want to burn their bridges, it'll never be rebuilt.  

I would even go public with it, that if you don't support PSU, we won't support you.   You can't let them act like bratty children trying to sow seeds of division.   No alumni events, no golf events, etc.  Tell the current players that they are throwing an egotistical hissy fit and don't care about the currently players, and if they really cared, they wouldn't act like this.

Anyone with half a brain should know that there is no way PSU can hire anyone associated with Paterno's regime.   Not to mention, O'Brien certainly seems like a patsy...  he is exactly what they need.. someone to tread water for a few years and hope the stain of this disgusting series of events starts fading away for the program

El Jeffe

January 6th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

So, so co-signed. Is it nauseating or just ironic that in light of the atrocities committed and enabled by PSU representatives, grown-ass men like LaVar Arrington would now not be thinking of the young men who will have to play for the coach he is currently hurling under the bus?

That was always my problem with the Braylons and Desmonds of the world. Not that they objected to either the methods or results of RR--the latter at least was relatively low-hanging fruit, after all. Rather, it was that in burning down the House of Rod, they were singeing dozens of current Michigan men in the process.

So on behalf of RVB et al. and Stephfon Green et al., Fuck you Braylon and Fuck you LaVar, respectively.


January 6th, 2012 at 3:29 PM ^

How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten. How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten. How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten.

I think you're about 19 years late with this one. PSU fans expected a lot more than 3 conference titles in almost two decades.


January 6th, 2012 at 3:31 PM ^

hiring a sacrificial lamb. they really should have just hired a lamb and paid it grass and ivy (or whatever the hell lambs eat) and saved the money to overpay future "restore the roar" schiano/golden guy and his staff.


January 6th, 2012 at 3:31 PM ^

John Hufnagel was QB at PSU between 1970-1972 playing for HC Joe Paterno with players like Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris. At that time Jerry Sandusky was on the PSU coaching staff and had the position of the Nittany Lions' linebackers coach. With my errant thinking about John Hufnagel, PSU might as well have hired Mike McQueary as HC.

I'm slow, but I finally got it. The organ translant analogy helped. Thanks.

FWIW, Hufnagel has been a hell of a football coach. That was the initial reason for my proposal.