With a 14–7 loss to the mighty Wildcats of Northwestern, coupled with a narrow Illinois victory over Indiana, the Penn State Nittany Lions have sunk to the sub-basement of the Big Ten. That’s right, folks! Rock bottom! We’re indisputedly in possession of 11th place in the Big Ten. The remainder of this article is devoted to discussing the significance of this unique achievement, along with a few suggestions for preventing its recurrence in future seasons.
Ahhhh, how wondrous it is to be the dregs of the conference! With our dubious accomplishment, we now join the likes of Illinois, Indiana, and Northwestern, who more often than not finish in the bottom third of the Big Ten.
Yes, folks, we are “the new Northwestern.” Like Northwestern, we have an excellent academic reputation. At Northwestern, academics come first. Those few times Northwestern has managed to field a competitive football team have been a pleasant surprise to their boosters. The Wildcats have even gone to the Rose Bowl a couple of times. Back in Happy Valley, with our library recently having been enhanced by virtue of a major contributions by Joe and Sue Paterno, we might even be competitive with Northwestern both in academics and in football. All right, stop it—I might be giving Penn State too much credit in football. This garrulous gobbler can almost remember our last Rose Bowl visit.
The new Northwestern??? Say it ain’t so, Joe!
Instead of accepting this most ignominious fate, we could petition Tim Curley and the administration to take some aggressive steps to resolve our football inadequacy. Academics are sound—so we need not be distracted from our overriding goal of producing a winning football team once again. As for the football program, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Accordingly, risking the ultimate Thanksgiving penalty, this turkey will stick his neck out in proposing the following three-step program, guaranteed to produce quick—albeit controversial—results!
- Broker a deal with the University of Florida to take Joe Paterno and his staff off our hands. In case you hadn’t heard, the Gators’ athletic brain trust has fired head coach Ron Zook in mid-season in the wake of heavy pressure by boosters because Zook committed the cardinal sin of leading the Gators to a couple of 8–5 seasons. The nerve of those insatiable, demanding Gator boosters! What would we give to put ourselves in their place right now! After a couple of nine loss seasons, an 8–5 record would be curiously refreshing. Even better than putting us in their place, my plan gives us a chance to put them in ours! So, how do we make this happen? Using our best, Penn State educated negotiating skills, we can convince those hard-luck Gators that not only would they be hiring a veritable legend of college football, but also they would be enhancing their academic reputation. (You do need a new library, don’t you UF?) Furthermore, the Gators would have a coach whose stature is the equal of the reviled Bobby Bowden of the cross-state rival Florida State Seminoles! (Bobby just turned 75—a virtual spring chicken compared with Joe. ) The Gators can’t go wrong with this synergistic acquisition for several reasons. First, Joe and Sue need only modest living accommodations. Second, Florida can even afford the extravagant JoePa salary (soon to be JoeFla), because its voters recently repealed the Bullet Train Amendment, which would have cost the state billions of dollars. A few tens of millions to Joe is like donating to a library annuity. Finally, best of all, Florida will be such a wonderful place for Joe and Sue to retire!
- Hire Steve Spurrier as the new head coach of the Nittany Lions. Sure, folks, I know—we hate Spurrier! Does the prospect of the Fun ‘n’ Gun being implemented at Penn State make you want to puke? It did that to me, too, until I started thinking about it. A little background for the queasy of stomach. Spurrier has been playing golf since he parted ways with the Washington Redskins after a crappy season. The Steve Superior offense just plain didn’t cut it in the NFL. On the other hand, before his failed NFL venture, he sure had Division I-A coaching down pat! Now, he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the soon-to-be vacated coaching position of his former national championship team, the University of Florida. So, Nittany Lions fans, the Ol’ Ballcoach is available. If you’re still becoming ill thinking of the Fun ‘n’ Gun smoking up Beaver Stadium, just wait! You’ll be singing a different tune when Steverino has Anthony Morelli throwing two or three 60-yard touchdown strikes per game. I will guarantee you that there won’t be 8,000+ empty seats in Beaver Stadium for a November game, as was the case for this weekend’s Northwestern game. Think of the possibilities! Think of winning again! Oh, the humanity!
- Join the MAC. This is the easiest fix of all! The indications are clear. Since 2000, the Nittany Lions have been 4–1 in competition with Mid-America Athletic Conference teams, whereas we’re 24–33 overall. In that same period, we’re 14–25 in the Big Ten. Since joining the Big Ten, Penn State is 3–7 versus Michigan and 4–8 versus Ohio State. Now, clearly, we’re not competitive in the Big Ten, but we would prosper footballistically in the MAC! Oh, sure, we’d be blown out occasionally by Toledo, and we might have a problem with Marshall here and there. But we could schedule Kent State for our homecoming game. Scoring four points against the Golden Flash might be enough for a big win. And we could most assuredly dominate our big rivalry series-to-be with the University of Central Florida. Much as Minnesota and Michigan compete annually for the “Little Brown Jug,” the Nittany Lions and the Golden Knights could play for the “Big Brown Crock.” Draw your own conclusions as to what is in that big brown crock.
So, do you like the turkey’s suggestions? Are they too far fetched? Hey, look—aren’t they worth a shot? I bet you a naked picture of Fox News’ Kiran Chetry that my proposed changeswould create a better product almost immediately. After all, how many times do you have to hear “we can’t get much worse” in connection with wacko proposals like mine before you stage a fan’s insurrection? Let’s do it!
Let’s look at the rest of the season. Two more losses should seal JoePa’s fate, if the administration were to be acting rationally. I think the losses are all but guaranteed. The team is playing without any fire at all. They travel to Bloomington next weekend to face the Hoosiers, who will be fighting mad after their defeat by Illinois. Having beaten Minnesota, the Hoosiers seem to be capable of beating the Nittany Lions, particularly at home. They don’t want to wind up in a three-way tie for last place in the Big Ten. They want to leave us in sole possession of the last place distinction! Then, there is Michigan State, who last week battled Big Ten leader Michigan for three overtimes before falling just short. So, I don’t think we have to worry about a win over the Spartans. There you have it. a 2–9 season, which is consistent with this turkey’s worst-case pre-season prediction.
Let’s get this fixed! Now!
(I’m the Nittany Turkey and I approved this message.)