Last night, Bobby Bowden’s two touchdown underdog Florida State Seminoles (8–4) pulled a 27–22 upset over #5 Virginia Tech (10–2) in the inaugural ACC championship game, earning the Seminoles an automatic Orange Bowl selection. Their opponent: the Penn State Nittany Lions.
This portends some effusively maudlin sports journalism centered on the aging coaches of the two squads, Bowden and JoePa. This is Sunday supplement material: great human interest angles.
The old boys have much in common. At various times of late, fans and pundits had been speculating that time had passed them by, that they had each lost their coaching edge. Both men have now made their statements to the contrary, Paterno with a Cinderella season, and Bowden with last night’s impressive upset against topnotch opposition after a three-game losing streak. Two old coaches, who both have sons in the booth coaching offenses, with both men having long suffered criticism for the implicit nepotism and family dynasty building inherent in hiring their sons as assistant coaches, will be analyzed, lionized, and vilified by the hypercritical sports press. Some stories will be sweet; others will be sour. The age angle certainly will be brought to the fore.
In fact, it has begun already. Last night, toward the conclusion of the ACC Championship game, ABC announcer Brent Musburger, a man with a word for any occasion, called the potential Orange Bowl match-up “the AARP Bowl.”
But the sentiment on ABC and ESPN today is pure euphoria, claiming that this year’s collection of BCS matchups is the best ever.
The two coaches are neck-and-neck for the lead in all-time games won, with Bowden slightly in the lead 359–353. Paterno has had 20 bowl wins and Bowden, 19. They both have earned two mythical national championships. These similarities will be much ballyhooed over the next month.
And, of course, the two geezers are bound to utter many eminently quotable, curmudgeonly bon mots.
For example, during the post-game TV interview after the ACC Championship game last night, the ABC field reporter, prodding for a reaction, mentioned to Bobby Bowden that the likely Orange Bowl opposition would be Paterno’s Nittany Lions. Bowden seemed genuinely surprised. “Is that what it looks like?” he asked. Then, he added jokingly, “I might not show up!”
It didn’t take Joe long to go one up. Today, during the ABC BCS Bowl Selection Anything-for-Money Extravaganza, John Saunders said to Paterno that the true stars would be Bobby and Joe. The Paterno response was, “I hope it doesn’t come down to where it’s Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno because he can’t run and I run slower.” However, later, on an ESPN show, Joe must have forgotten his earlier stance on that subject. “But I think I’m faster than he is,” he said.
This Turkey decided that he wouldn’t be going to the Orange Bowl, because he cannot bear to listen to that damn Seminole war chant for a whole evening.
Don’t be so damn smug!
So, it will be #3 Penn State (10–1) vs. #22 Florida State (8–4) in the 2006 Orange Bowl.
I’m already hearing some whining about the supposed low level of bowl opposition for Penn State. Let us not be so damn jaded! Florida State will be a tough opponent. The moaning reminds me of a similar circumstance when the tables were turned.
It was our first year in the Big Ten, and Penn State (9–2) wound up in second place, having lost to only Ohio State and Michigan. We were selected for the CompUSA Citrus Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl) here in Orlando. The opponent was Tennessee (10–1). The Turkey attended that game. In the parking garage elevator before the game, the Great Gobbler was surrounded by orange clad Tennessee Volunteer fans. They were grumbling, “It’s a shame we couldn’t be matched up with some better opposition!” I just smiled. There was no way Penn State was going to lose that game. In the end, it was Penn State 31, Tennessee 13, but it wasn’t nearly that close. Those Tennessee fans never knew what hit them. They surely went home with their orange tails between their legs.
So, don’t be so damn smug. The Turkey detests this kind of grousing.
It will be a good game. Against the Big Ten, Florida State has an 8–1–1 record. Against Penn State in bowl games, they’re 1–0–1. The Seminoles were last #1 in 1999 and they haven’t finished out of the Top 25 since 1986. So, I repeat, don’t be so damn smug!
Also, please remember that there are a helluva lot of people out there who believe that Penn State is overrated at #3. We still have something to prove.
I’m going to enjoy this game.
Oh, and by the way, please shut the hell up about the officiating in the Michigan game. Enough, already! We lost to Michigan and that’s that. By a similar quirk of fate, absent a fourth and 15 miracle completion, we could have easily lost to Northwestern and then who knows which way the season would have gone? So, be grateful for being where we are. Do not be a Barry Walters. (He’s a guy in Allentown, Pennsylvania who is still whining about the loss to Miami in 1991.) The Orange Bowl will be hard fought and the winner will be deserving.
Eddie Pockets says
This Sucks! Please don’t tell us not to be smug. We earned a better opponent regardless of the outcome. I also will not be attending this game because on Saturday afternoon FSU wasn’t even ranked in the top 25. They ruined my weekend in South Beach and I will never forgive them.
I am with you Turkey. I attended the Blockbuster Bowl 16 years ago with our friend Eddie Pockets. The Seminole chant is totally annoying and constant. However, It does blow that PSU is in no win situation, beating FSU is expected. Also having the game fall on Tues night sucks too. I like inbibe in many a mead cup during Lions games, and weeknights are tough.
The Nittany Turkey says
Eddie, I can only remind you that the Lions went into the Moo U. game rather smug about who they thought they were and they didn’t perform particularly well. It is my opinion–and I hope I’m wrong–that Penn State will have to bring its “A game” to the Orange Bowl in order to beat FSU. I continue to caution everybody to not be overconfident or dismissive going into this game. I hope that our coaching staff gets that same message across to the team.
The Nittany Turkey says
Parkeyboy, I hear you. I was at that Blockbuster Bowl, too. There was a PSU fan in my row–looked like a military guy–who came up with words to the chant: “yooooooooou’re an asshole………asshollllllllle, suchanasshole……yooooooooooo’re an asshole……….asshole….” He chanted right along with the rest of them. It cracked me up. But after listening to the whole damn Joe Robbie Stadium humming that shit for three hours, even his humor couldn’t keep me from getting totally pissed off. And, yeah, I know what you mean about the mead. I usually need a Sunday to recover—Wednesdays don’t work for detox.
Sorry Penn State. The turkey is right about not needing to be smug. Even if you were undefeated you still wouldn’t share a national championship because UT and USC would win. Plus when FSU wins you won’t be able to cry, well yes cause you lost. But in no means am I bashing Penn State, I have much respect for Joe Pa and what he’s done for ya’ll this year. But Bobby’s going to get the Noles ready and keep them focused all 4 quarters, plus you’ll have the Marching Chiefs blasting the greatest chant in all of sports- the WAR CHANT!
The Nittany Turkey says
Butbutbut Peter…if Chief Osceola can no longer plant his flaming spear, thanks to the politically correct NCAA, can the Seminoles actually win? Seriously, though, your point about the rankings is well taken and our fans are jaded. After going 7-15 for the past two seasons, we did extremely well this year. Being ranked #3 after what we’ve been through is great. But fans being fans, it ain’t good enough. This Turkey thinks that if the Rose Bowl is a close game, the two teams playing there should finish 1-2. Let’s assume that PSU beats FSU. Are the Nittany Lions better than either a one-loss Texas or a one-loss USC? Draw your own conclusions, but I think not. The rankings are still subjective as hell, the national championship is still mythical, and I don’t give a rat’s furry ass about rankings, period. What I want is a good football game and I think the Orange Bowl will be one. The FSU defense has shown that it is capable of putting the clamps on some pretty damn good offenses when it decides to show up. And the offense seems to have found itself, too, putting a lot of points on the best scoring defense in the country last Saturday night. I think it will be a battle, but the war chant won’t help the FSU cause IF Joe and staff can motivate the Lions not to think they can mail it in.
Did you see the ESPN award show last night? It was nice to see Paws get the nod over AJ Hawk for the Bednarik Award. I was loving it, Hawk looked pretty pissed when his name was not called and Joe was beaming like a proud grandfather when Paws accepted.
Paterno also got his due with the coach of the year. However, based on his acceptance speech, my prediction is that he will call it quits after the Orange Bowl or soon after. Five or six years ago I went to the Blue/White game breakfast and was completely blown away with Joe’s speech. He was funny and articulate and very sharp. Last night he came off so old. He seemed to slur a bit, and could’nt remember Vince Young’s name. Also Lee Corso appeard to coddle him like he was visiting him in an old folks home. I believe that, if not after the bowl game, it will be announced that next season will be his last. A proper send off is a must.
The Nittany Turkey says
It’s Poz 1, Hawk 1 right now, with the Bednarik going to Poz and the Lombardi going to Hawk. The rubber match will be the Butkus Award tomorrow night. (Or course, DeMeco Ryans of Alabama has a chance to maintain the award count deadlock if he wins the Butkus.)
I believe that Joe deserves to be Coach of the Year in everyone’s book. Pete Carroll is old news and Gary Barnett is Loser of the Year, but that’s another story.
Your conjecture about Joe’s remaining time as head coach is, in my opinion, valid. He’s had some lucid moments this year, but his actions have been reflecting his age more and more. He seems to be doing some crotchety, irrational things. He wouldn’t let the players come to the scheduled Orange Bowl press conference last Sunday; then he pulled the players once again at the last minute from a scheduled Orange Bowl press conference on Wednesday. He grumbled at reporters, “I’m not even sure why we are even having a press conference now this far away from it.” These reporters traveled all the way to State College to talk with the players. If Joe wanted to change the rules, he could have given them the courtesy of a day’s notice.
I think everybody would like Joe to win another national championship, but the odds are stacked against that. An Orange Bowl win and a #3 or #2 finish will probably have to suffice. But more importantly, Joe needs to be recognized for his major contributions to college football and to Penn State University. Bowden, for example, can’t hold a candle to Joe’s accomplishments, particularly in the players’ graduation rates and on the ethics of the program. Yes, Joe deserves a proper send-off.