The most telling thing in Joe Paterno’s press conference today was not what he said, but what he did not say on the subject of the players who were held back in State College while the team traveled to Iowa, to wit:
Q. Could you update us on the status of (Sean) Stanley and (Derrick) Thomas, two of the kids who didn’t play last week, didn’t make the trip?
COACH PATERNO: I’m not allowed to talk about that. We’ve been I’m telling you, we were told that we’re breaking the law if we talk about it.
If any kid is in any way not allowed to play for one reason or another, we have a long letter from the university administration not to discuss it.
But Joe is pretty open about players who have grade issues and the like. He wasn’t being completely truthful when he said “if a kid is in any way not allowed to play for one reason or another” [emphasis mine] he is not allowed to discuss it. For example, Brandon Ware was grounded in the doghouse last weekend as well, but Joe gave a specific reason:
Q. Is (Brandon) Ware in the same boat?
COACH PATERNO: Ware is in the same boat except I can say that Ware has had academic problems.
Q. Are you at the point where you’re about ready to give up on Ware?
COACH PATERNO: Well, until he does a better job academically. He’s here to get an education.
So, Ware is in the same boat, but with academic problems. This Turkey can conceive of only two reasons players would be remanded to that floating doghouse, the S. S. Shitouttaluck: grades and legal issues. Thus, it is reasonable to deduce that Thomas and Stanley are in deep legal doodoo.
Said doodoo can run the gamut of law-breaking, I suppose. I would have to believe that if they were arrested for any reason, it would be a matter of public record and word would have already gotten out through the local rags. You can’t keep that stuff quiet in State College. Even the Nittany Lion being arrested for public drunkenness was splashed all over the place the next day.
This one is really tight-assed, stone cold slammed shut. It must be something big. The decision to sit these guys didn’t come from Paterno, as it does when the matter is just bad grades. No arrest records have been unearthed. What the hell could it be?
In another obvious press conference omission, nobody asked Paterno about “the punt”. (For those who were getting laid during the Iowa game, I mean the decision to punt from the PSU 46 on 4th and 6 trailing 17-3 with less than five minutes remaining.) Come on! This represents a serious abrogation of responsibility by the media. Did no one in the room or on the phone have the balls to ask Joe about the controversial call? Surely, it was one of the two dumbass sideline issues that stuck out in the Iowa game, the other being the timeout vs. spike at the end of the first half. He did address that latter issue.
Q. I know you said after the game about the spike, taking three seconds, that seemed like it was a fast three seconds. But it looked like you initially wanted a timeout first. Could you review that?
COACH PATERNO: I wanted a timeout and the guy didn’t give it to me. He said because it was a penalty involved he said he didn’t think he wanted a timeout. I said, “what are you talking about, I told you I wanted a timeout.” I tried to call the timeout as soon as the ball was located. And they started the clock, the wrong guy started the clock. The guy that places the ball should start the clock.
You know, we’ll get the blame. But that’s fine. We handled it all right. We knew what we were doing. We got some other people that didn’t know what they were doing. And they’re not on our team.
Paterno also talked about the red zone issues without mentioning any specific names. He (kinda) explains why coaches favor the run over the pass in the red zone.
Q. Joe, the problem in the red zone, couple of players said there’s problems, confusion getting plays down there. Have there been problems with your team getting plays down on the field or letting the clock run down?
COACH PATERNO: The clock ran down on Saturday. That was not I won’t get into whose fault that was. That certainly wasn’t one of the coach’s faults or our players. Again, I hate to point the finger to anybody, so we’ll leave that go.
But I don’t know whether that’s accurate. It may be. I don’t think so. I think part of our problem, again, is making some plays and we have to make them. And when you’re not running (the ball) as well as we’d like to run, the closer you get to the goal line, the tougher it is to throw.
They start…they don’t have to back up 30 yards. They squeeze you up and back on you. They play short stuff better. So it’s a combination of things. And I don’t mean to make excuses, because I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job in a lot of different ways.
But I think down on the goal line and in the red zone, we know what the problem is. The problem is we can’t just take it and knock people back, particularly against a couple of teams that particularly Iowa is you guys may not recognize it, Iowa, that was one tough football game, physically. It was a tough football game physically.
Iowa is one heck of a defensive football team, particularly against the run.
On to Illinois. Let’s put Iowa behind us.