Lots of fancy rumors are crackling through the crystalline Central Pennsylvania winter air, kimosabe! What are the drums saying and who flung poo?
Forgive me for my facetiousness — or don’t — but there are lots of versions of this stuff floating around and it might all turn out to be the pure, unmitigated, bullshitistic ministrations of some hysterical rumor mongers bent on selling newspapers, which in the end are good for nothing more than lining the bottom of the birdcage and wrapping fish.
Given that preface, let’s see whether this bowl of pasta is al dente. Characterizing the rumors as linguini gives me a little better feeling about the purported morass.
Here are the primary bullets of the crap that’s floating around, as best I can gather.
- Rod Erickson, who just received an $85,000 performance based compensation increase, is opposed to accepting the $1.3 million special gift committed to Penn State athletics by Terry Pegula, who committed the money (on top of over $100 million he donated to build the hockey arena) with the intent of keeping Bill O’Brien in the head coaching position. The money would be (or would have been) added to O’Brien’s salary for 2013, bringing his pay package to $3.6 million.
- Erickson is also fighting to keep Dave Joyner as athletic director. O’Brien had apparently (and, of course, this is subject to the veracity or lack of same of reports by — who else? — David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News) asked for certain “structural and personnel changes in the Penn State athletic department.” Presumably, Joyner not continuing as AD was part of the deal.
- O’Brien will hold a press conference Monday morning — or not, because OMG OMG they’re going to cancel it, say some of the hysterical crowd — with the intent of drawing the line indelibly in the sand about whether he will consider bolting or not.
So, let’s discuss, already!
I won’t discredit any of this completely. Consider that Penn State accepting booster money specifically directed at paying a football coach’s salary corroborates the Freeh Report and the NCAA characterization of a corrupt football-centric culture — and folks, ferchrissakes, we’re talking millions here. Message board geniuses are calling Erickson “ballsless” for what they perceive as cowardice, but methinks it requires fortitude to take a stand, if this is in fact what is happening.
Furthermore, if other reports are accurate, my perception is that whereas O’Brien has paid lip service to not being “a one-and-done” guy, why the hell would he interview with NFL teams if he had no intention of leaving? It doesn’t add up. Well, in my mind, it actually does add up to a well-played ploy to put the screws to Penn State, given that he had achieved great popularity among the alumni, players, and fans, and as icing on the cake, was Maxwell Coach of the Year. He and his agent had to think they had everything going for them, and could make pie-in-the-sky demands under the threat of bolting to the NFL. Again, I can only look at continuing reports with so much of a jaundiced eye before admitting the possibility that some truth exists there.
Yeah, I know. The not-so-gentle art of negotiation, you say. However, look at it from another angle. If Penn State succumbs to O’Brien’s demands, assuming that they are as represented, does it not demonstrate that the institution is placing an excessive emphasis on the football program? Think about it — I mean really think about it — with your brain, not your heart.
About Dave Joyner, it is not for me to say that he is competent as an athletic director or not. Let the “experts” on the message boards debate that. What I will say is that if Erickson wants to fight to keep Joyner as AD, that is his prerogative, and it requires more so-called balls than to roll over in the face of a football coach’s demands. The damn inmates cannot run the asylum. Last I heard, there was to be a national search run by a real search committee for the AD job. Has that changed?
And, you know, everybody’s been talking about O’Brien’s “deal.” Doesn’t it take two parties to agree to a deal? Terry Pegula is not a party to the deal. Did Penn State actually ever agree to any of this?
Boy, am I reading some serious whining! “Erickson and Joyner will ruin the University!” LOL. Right. If O’Brien isn’t the coach next year, all of a sudden, who knows what will happen? Penn State will necessarily fade into obscurity. Research funding will dry up, Old Main will crumble, and the elms will die. (OK, never mind the elms.)
Is any of this shit really happening? I have a good bullshit filter and so do most of you, but some impressionable people might actually believe all of this unsubstantiated garbage.
Of course, there are those denizens of the message boards who love to pass around wild-ass rumors because they crave attention. If in the p = .00001 chance that some of the gossip turns out to have any essence of truth, they immediately start rubbing in how well connected they are and how everybody should listen to them. If the rumors don’t pan out, we never hear from these yokels.
But I digress.
What the hell is going through simple minds that view Penn State only in terms of its football program? Shit, man, it’s just a couple of million, man. The University can afford it. Just pay the man so I can have fun watching football. Like, I don’t want to be associated with a university that can’t give its football coach what he wants! Waaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!
So, none of tonight’s rumors are necessarily even close to being founded, but in the case that they are, I wanted to say what I want to say. Go ahead and hate me for it. If I didn’t make my points clear enough above, let me shove them at you more succinctly:
- It is probably not a good idea to give in to O’Brien’s demands, if indeed they are being accurately represented. I think you all agree that Joe Paterno wound up with too much power, amassed during his 60-year tenure at Penn State. To add insult to injury, ceding that level of control to a second-year coach would be absolutely ridiculous, especially given the criticism by the Freeh Report and the NCAA of the dominant football culture at Penn State. O’Brien did not endow the library, create scholarship and academic assistance programs, raise literally billions of dollars for the university, or do anything other than coach a football team to a 8-4 record in a single year of tenure. O’Brien is not Joe Paterno. Think about it. Repeating the same thing over and over again while expecting different results is the definition of insanity, according to the musings of Albert Einstein. Why is O’Brien worth a big bump in salary for which the university sells out to a booster, and why should the University cotton to his demands about whom his superiors should be and how they should run the athletic department? Isn’t that yielding “just a little too much” control to the man? (Irony intended.)
- Why should we support O’Brien’s heavy-handed negotiation (again, if the stories are accurate) while condemning the steamroller job Emmert did on Erickson? Because we “like” O’Brien, but we don’t like Emmert and Erickson? Puerile, to say the least. Those who have the upper hand tend to come out ahead in these situations. Sometimes, the old maxim holds, that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In this case, the “power” is in O’Brien’s threatening to leave Penn State football high and dry. When you view that on the scale of zero to all we’ve been through over the past 14 months, it isn’t much of a threat, now, is it?
- Corbett’s lawsuit attempts to pooh-pooh the whole “corrupt football culture” notion. If the University gives in to O’Brien, how can anyone in his or her right mind deny the existence of such a culture?
So, let me hear from you on this one. I’ve been struggling with the O’Brien “negotiations” all week. I enjoyed his successes with the team as well as the rest of you; however, I’m not willing to hand him the keys to the castle. Neither do I believe everything I read about it. In my heart of hearts, I must say that I don’t believe that O’Brien ever made those demands. Media “wonks” being what they are, lots of embellishment and vagueness has fanned some serious flames. It’ll all come out eventually.
Given all the flailing going on via tweets on Twitter as well as a plethora of inflammatory posts on various message boards, this all could change hourly. Stay tuned for more fun!
The O’Brien press conference will (or won’t! — LMFAO!!) take place at 9 am ET and it will be carried on BTN/BTN2Go.