It was not all that long ago that the Fire Paterno bandwagon was figuratively rolling down College Avenue with scads of us doubters clamoring to hop on board. You do remember that, don’t you?
“Where is that bandwagon now?” you ask.
I think I have the answer to that burning question. While the Fire Paterno bandwagon has not been seen around State College recently, I have it on good information that the pathetic, riderless wagon has been spotted somewhere around Johnstown, where it was last seen searching for an anonymous, out of the way garage in which to park itself. You see, at this point most of the mutineers, including one very large Turkey, have hopped off that decrepit bandwagon.
One telltale sign of the death of the Fire Paterno movement is that its self-appointed flagship, the FIRE JOE PATERNO Web site, has languished since the Minnesota game on October 1. Subsequent to the Minnesota game score being posted, there have been no further updates to the section entitled “2005 Record (notice the ‘tough’ schedule).” It seems that when the Ohio State game became a signature victory for this season, it sent a torpedo toward that stinking garbage scow and hit it broadside. Talk about rats leaving a sinking ship! I wonder how much the site is making from all the commercial ads it contains now. (For those who aren’t familiar with the Web advertising referral game, it works like this: pick a controversial topic that will produce a lot of search engine “hits,” put some advertisements for products or services on the page, and then get paid when people click on those ads to go buy something from the advertisers.) The site maintainers have evidently lost interest in the site, due to its dwindling revenues. Hell, those anonymous putzes never had much interest in developing the site in the first place, as is seen when you note that the FIREJOEPA.COM blog has a total of six entries, all posted by “psufootballalum” on August 3, 2004. I looked at psufootballalum’s profile. It was blank and it had been viewed only 16 times. I guess nobody cares. I think I’ll post a comment on that thread pointing at this article.
Lots of people who were calling for JoePa’s head are now talking out of the other side of their mouths. This, I admit, includes me. People are talking about lots of things, but not about firing Joe. Some of the same people who were hanging Joe in effigy last year at this time are talking about a BCS bowl this year. That’s unlikely, as this Turkey has stated elsewhere, but a January 2 bowl, such as the Capital One or the Outback, is certainly within reach. Given the record of the past five years, a New Year’s bowl should be quite satisfying. (Penn State DOES have an outside chance of getting a BCS slot, which would require winning its final three games, never assured in the Big Ten.) In any case, we Paterno bashers have pretty much shut our mouths. Yes, there is still an undercurrent of grumbling about conservative play calling in some situations, but by and large, it is hard to fault the coaching staff this year. They’ve done their job well so far.
Paterno is grumpy and curmudgeonly with the press. So what? Those leeches, along with the rest of us, have been nailing him to a cross for the past four or five years. Why shouldn’t he be unhappy answering the same questions over and over again, generally thinly veiled references to when he’s going to retire. “Do you think your age hurts the recruiting effort?”; “Would one more national championship allow you to go out on a good note?”; etc., etc., ad nauseam. How does one answer questions like that? Is it any wonder that Paterno tells the press that it’s no longer fun to socialize with them?
Wellington Mara, long time owner of the New York Giants, just died at the age of 89. Starting as a ball boy for his father at the age of nine, Mara became co-owner of the team at 14. In the 75 years since then, Mara became a revered figure in New York, a notably tough sports town with a hardball media corps, and he remained revered through good times and bad. He was involved with the Giants right up to his dying breath. Similarly, I would expect that Joe Paterno, who has been associated with Penn State football for a long, long time, will be involved with the program as long as he is physically able to chase referees into the locker room at halftime.
Win or lose, Paterno has always done a lot of good for the men on the team, for the university, and for the community. He might be a stubborn old fart, but then, so am I, so who am I to talk? If I could accomplish one hundredth of what JoePa has accomplished in his life, I would be considered an outrageous success. I doubt that I ever will. Let’s enjoy Joe and his antics while they last, because when he’s gone, he’ll be gone a long, long time.