With most of us well into the acceptance phase of dealing with the reality that Penn State’s 2013 football team is mediocre, I thought I would revive Sudden Impact to take a look around the Internet for some decent articles on the Nittany Lions’ current status and future prospects. I have selected a couple of pretty rational assessments, with which you might or might not agree. You’ll also find some very good material in the comments to my previous post, where my six astute readers have posted some very keen observations and opinions.
The first point I want to hit upon is the idiotic undercurrent being bandied about by the less-than-cognoscenti, the St. Joe loyalists with blinders on: Bring Back Bradley. BBB is the stupidest, most misguided pie in the sky notion I’ve ever caught wind of in the sports world, even eclipsing the desire by desperate, misguided fans exhorting the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars to sign Tim Tebow at QB. They’re thinking with their hearts or other body parts, brains excepted. I enumerated reasons for my assessment that this is insanity in my comments to the previous post, but I’ll reproduce them here. Please curtail this lunacy!
- Why the hell would he ever want to return?
- Why the hell would O’Brien ever want him to return?
- People are, as usual, seeking a quick fix, a panacea — like going to Mexico in desperation for a non-FDA approved snake oil remedy for their terminal cancer. Scrap ain’t going to walk in, wave his staff, and make an awful defense anything better than the pile of offal it is.
- He wasn’t all that great a DC, IMHO. Never did produce a decent secondary. Was loaded with talent in the front seven, though, and we can’t say that about this team.
- Why bring back pieces of the contentious past? It won’t reincarnate St. Joe.
- The Sandusky/Bradley defensive schemes are antiquated in today’s game.
- Aside from all that, Scrap is a nice guy, the players love him, the alumni love him, and he deserves a warm spot in all of our hearts — but not on the sidelines.
The people who are seeking this nonsense are probably all conducting séances where they channel St. Joe and receive guidance from Him. “Hire Scrap. He’s a good kid. Good football player, too. Listen to me. You guys don’t know what you’re talking about, fer cryin’ out loud!” These are people who waste many hours fretting over how to get the Paterno statue restored to its former place of glory and his wins restored in the record book, people who would rather live in the past than to accept the penuriously personnelled present and the promise of the future, people who also think the Penn State Board of Trustees should be replaced by single-minded St. Joe loyalists who somehow know how to run a major university but whose major function will be the statue and the record.
My vitriol over the what Jethro Tull aptly titled Living in the Past notwithstanding (and not abating), I’ll move on.
I’ve selected two articles from the veritable plethora of post-mortems following the Indiana game. I’m avoiding the obvious jokers, Flounder and Jones, because I wanted some fresh thoughts that truly reflect the state of the 2013 Nittany Lions and the import of this past weekend.
“O’Brien will never say it, but this also leads into how he must make do with questionable skill at center, right tackle, fullback, defensive end, linebacker and cornerback.” —Frank Bodani, York Daily Record
The first is a relatively brief piece entitled “Reality has arrived for undermanned Nittany Lions” by long-time Penn State football beat reporter Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record. Bodani succinctly addresses leadership problems, lack of depth, and an overall shortage of decent talent.
If Bodani’s calm rationality doesn’t bring the Sanguinarians back down to Earth, perhaps they need to change their prescriptions for happy pills. On the other hand, our next author hits us between the eyes with a two-by-four.
Frequent contributor Joe Z. (who represents himself as just Joe in the comments, but I didn’t want you to think that I was holding séances where I sat around with a crystal ball channeling St. Joe) pointed me to a cogent piece in BSD by Cari Greene called “It’s Not the End of the World.” She offers not only a dose of reality, but also an admonishment to behave like Penn Staters, not assholes. Well, she doesn’t couch it in my profane style, so it is all the more effective. Apparently she sat next to some pro-PSU idiots in Bloomington who were hurling insults at our players and anyone else they could blame for their sorrows.
Green started out wanting to write about her experience at the game but changed her mind, writing a piece that puts the Indiana loss in perspective.
“This loss definitely sucks. But it’s nowhere near the end of the world; nor is it the worst loss in PSU history, of the 2013 season, or even, in my opinion, the worst loss in the still-fledgling Bill O’Brien era at Penn State (all arguments I’ve seen be made, whether hyperbolic or with true intentions).”
She doesn’t sugar coat anything, recognizing that there are lots of problems, but she attempts to reel in those of us at the extremes.
“I’ve heard calls for BOB to step down, for Butler to be fired for perceived ineptitude in defensive play. Two names I haven’t seen on the “FIUR HIM!” list, though, are Larry Johnson Sr and Ron Vanderlinden—and I’d argue that their units on defense have been the most underperforming and surprising (in a bad way) squads on the field—but apparently, they’ve gotten more of a benefit of the doubt. It’s highly unlikely that they’ve forgotten all of a sudden how to coach, after all—but apparently it’s easy for us to say that everyone else has.”
Wow! She said a mouthful and the LJ/Vanderlinden part of it is something I’ve harped on. These guys aren’t necessarily as good as many think they are. Yeah, LJ is loved by the players, and Vanderlinden coached some pretty damn good LBs, but let’s face it — they’re there to appease alumni, to provide a bridge to the past. They have to be a compromise for a DC, even a bad DC, who is stuck with them. It can’t be easy for Butler to be told that two key assistants are untouchables, even if their ideas are not compatible with his. Know what I mean?
Too many St. Joe loyalists do exactly what Greene states — think all the new coaches are idiots but these two vestiges of the good old days (or bad old days) are geniuses. I stated at the beginning of the season that it was time to retire LJ, Sr. Although I didn’t say anything about Vanderlinden, he has served his function and it is probably time for him to get the résumés out there.
Greene exhorts us to face the reality that Hackenberg is a freshman, so he still plays like one, but his future potential is bright.
“I choose to look forward. To see that Christian Hackenberg is learning, to expect the team (and coaching staff) to learn from their mistakes, move past these growing pains and get better, even minutely, week by week and, more importantly, year by year.”
Now, look, guys. Don’t just write this off because Cari Greene is a babe. She happens to be right about much of this stuff. I know that many Sanguinarians are also male Chauvinist pigs. C’mon, guys, make me proud. I want your comments, except those that discredit Greene’s thoughts because she never wore a jockstrap.
While some of this stuff she writes about is pretty obvious, given a couple of days to shake off the humiliation of a blowout loss, it’s still worth reading. I hope that you’re all getting back to normal out there.
Potpourri: Colin Kaepernick has the top-selling jersey on NFLShop.com. Peyton Manning’s is second.
Also, in the NFL world, the Oakland Raiders have released demoted quarterback Matt Flynn. This solidifies former Nittany Lions Matt McGloin’s position as backup to almost Penn Stater Terrelle Pryor, who had a helluva good night last night against San Diego. Flynn started and bombed out in Week 3, after which he was demoted to third-string and McGloin moved up. I’m thinking that Buffalo, who have lost their starting and backup quarterbacks to injuries, might be a viable destination for Flynn.
I’ll be back later in the week with my preview and prediction for the big Homecoming game with the Wolverines.