What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Does a former drill instructor make a terrible therapist? Of course he does, you jackwagon! Obviously Joe Paterno is old. But he hasn’t always been old. In fact, JoePa just recently became old again. Allow me to explain; Paterno is a time-chameleon. As recently as January, JoePa wasn’t old.
See, that was because Penn State had just completed a successful 11-2 campaign that ended with a New Year’s Day bowl win over LSU. But somehow, he aged thirty years in the six months since then. To understand this, you have to go back to the last time Paterno was old.
Go back to those dismal 4-7 years in the middle of the last decade, when the Nittany Lions offense had been so declawed that Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz voluntarily took a safety in a game he led 6-2. He knew then, as did anybody watching Paterno’s alleged offense, there was no way that team could score and giving away two points and the ball was worth a reset on field position. That game ended as a 6-4 slog-fest, and Penn State’s offense continued to resemble a blue sloth breaking open a coconut with a rock. Things got so bad that the Nittany Lions posted losing records in four out of five seasons. This was the ebb tide of the fountain of youth; Joe Paterno was old as dirt then.
But Paterno got young again in 2005. Behind uber-QB Michael Robinson, Penn State reeled off an 11-1 season capped with an Orange Bowl win over Florida State. Oh, and don’t forget Penn State would have been undefeated had it not been for Michigan, Chad Henne, Mario Fucking Manningham and their “magic second.”
As time has passed, the Nittany Lions have racked up a 51-13 record since 2005 and JoePa got a bit younger with each win. In fact, everybody spent so much time reveling in the miracle of the time-defying Paterno that nobody, including JoePa himself, noticed Penn State successfully moved him out to pasture. Anybody watching the Nittany regime knows that defensive coordinator Mark Bradley has eased into the role of de facto head coach; Jay Paterno exists only for some to speculate that Penn State may keep things in the family.
Let’s be honest, this model is working; the last five years being the proof. That being said, why is Paterno suddenly old again? It seems that having some troubles in the recruiting department can also energize the flux capacitor in the time-travel machine.
It also seems as Paterno ages, his ability to glad-hand the locals diminishes, and the less pressing of the flesh JoePa does, the older he gets. Sadly, right now, JoePa is old. Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries has the best view of the situation:
Joe Paterno has been ill for a while. We all know this. His unavailability has resulted in many consequences — cancelling the “Evening With Joe” events across the state, renewed speculation about his health and ability to lead the program, and so on. One drastically underreported problem is the effect his health could be having on recruiting. Not because he doesn’t leave Happy Valley to visit recruits (nothing new there), but because he’s having difficulty meeting the local demands of the job. Months ago, recruits were complaining that they were told written offers were forthcoming, but Penn State was lazy in actually following through on their promises.
Now, with “Evening With Joe” events being cancelled and newspapers asking Graham Spanier for quotes on Joe’s health, those recruiters who have been trying in vain for decades to use Paterno’s age and health against him finally have some factual support for their assertions. We all know that he’s been pining for a championship run in 2011 like the rest of us (though we’ll see how the soon-to-be scrambled Big Ten schedule shakes out), but it’s time to face the distinct possibility that this really could be Joe Paterno’s last season (yes, just like every season).
While it’s ridiculously nearsighted to throw a fit after every single recruiting update on Scout or Rivals, it’s important stuff even if it’s a bit icky. All of this said, you may have noticed that Penn State hasn’t exactly been doing…well, anything with respect to recruiting. It’s July, and Penn State’s lone commit is a two-star tight end from Delaware.
That’s extremely unusual for a program that, along with Texas, was a pioneer when it came to wrapping up a recruiting class a couple of months after the seniors signed on the line which is dotted. Worse yet, Ohio State and Notre Dame are pushing into the mid-teens when it comes to commits. Michigan just picked up numbers six and seven last week, and fans in Ann Arbor were grumbling about how slowly the commits have been trickling in. Even Pitt, which Penn State fans regard as insignificant, has bagged nine.
Even if you are one of the diehards that doesn’t want to admit JoePa’s figurehead status, there is no denying Penn State has been so successful largely due to his presence. His status as the dean of college football and the press that fawns over his every word more than atones for one of their coaches not recruiting on the road or another who doesn’t really do much coaching. As we’ve already noted, Penn State has effectively made the transition to another head coach; so now when Paterno gets old again, it is really Mark Bradley that is being criticized.