I’ve been told that I’m too hard on Morelli, because he can only do what his coaches tell him to do. Furthermore, I’ve been told that those coaches have “ruined” him. However, in order to ruin something, there has to be something to ruin. Get what I mean? A rifle arm and a cadre of vaunted receivers is going to waste here, and the guy with the arm has to bear a fair share of the responsibility for his own conduct and level of play.
If we would have beaten Michigan, it would have shut a lot of grousing mouths about the coaching, but Morelli’s performance on the field would have spoken for itself. He doesn’t shine as an individual performer, but moreover, he is not providing leadership appropriate to his being elected a captain. One has to wonder whether Paterno manipulated the selection of this year’s captains, as Phil Grosz suggested.
Morelli has had his share of maturity problems at PSU from the start. I guess that goes with the territory when you’re a young guy who has been told how great he was all the way through high school. His freshman year was the time for him to get that out of his system but as you’ll see below, apparently he hasn’t. I suppose it can be argued that coaches function in loco parentis, and share some of the responsibility for Morelli’s retarded emotional development. In that regard, the coaches should be blamed for Quarless’ and Harriot’s off-campus underage drinking and Scirrotto’s Midnight Melee at the Meridian II, too. Not likely. These kids are in college now and they are old enough to know better. They must be held directly responsible for their nefarious conduct and not shielded by placing the blame on incompetent coaching.
Morelli seemed to not have his head in the game at Michigan Stadium. He didn’t take care of the ball deep in his own territory, and handed Michigan a touchdown. He missed Deon Butler who was wide open, denying us a score. Any of the McCabe Sisters could have made that throw. He seemed uncomfortable and flustered at times in the pocket. What is troubling this guy? Is it the coaching? Is he just a schmuck? Is his poor performance a rebellion against the coaching schemata? Yeah, that would be a very mature approach, now wouldn’t it?
I suppose you’re wondering what got me going here. Well, I’ll tell you. Stewart Mandel’s mailbag on Si.com yesterday bore the following comments from a Michigan fan:
“I was at the game right behind the PSU bench cheering for Michigan with my brother in law who is a PSU fan. We could not believe it when the PSU starting QB was yelling at fans during the game. The more the fans got on him the more he taunted us back. At one point he was on the phone with a coach and he was trying to listen but was gesturing to us rather than really focusing. The sad time was when he told one fan who was riding him hard to come on the field and say that. Joe Pa was in the game. His coaches were in the game. I am a UofM fan and football fan. WHen your QB is more concerned with the fans rather than the game maybe he should look elsewhere for leadership. Coaches had to tell him and another starter to ignore the fans and play ball. Not a coaches fault his kids do not understand that games are won on the field. Play calling was ok but his players just didn’t execute. One player was wide open and the QB just did not look his way. The last drive had one Michigan reception that the PSU coaches told the corner to watch and that play he ‘forgot’ because that was the route they ran. The sacks were just blown assignments. One thing that got me though and i will leave on this note is how can the PSU QB be laughing while walking the sidelines when he played that badly. His WR were open. Thank god he was too busy yelling at us in the stands to see them. If you do not believe me watch the tape LOL. All the fans commented after the game that they have never seen a player become so obsessed with the fans he would have conversations with them!!!”
Can you believe that? OK, so the comment was made by a Michigan fan, so it is undoubtedly and understandably biased. On the other hand, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If any part of this is true about Morelli, he should be sitting for the Illinois game. (Yeah, like that will happen.)
Obviously, a college football team cannot go undefeated every year. (Even Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma teams in the 1950s eventually lost one.) So, there will be losses. Losses always hurt us fans—we who live vicariously through our teams and are validated by their successes. So, if we have to lose a game, the blow is softened if we know that each player gave his best effort; any suggestion that someone is out there screwing off tends to piss me off royally. I wouldn’t condone that taunting crap if it took place in the Temple game with Penn State up 79-0 in the fourth quarter, let alone in the biggest game of the year whose outcome was in doubt up to the final minute or two.
Is this senior leadership?