Bumped from the diaries...
This morning the Wife left me with the kid all day. I didn't want her to go, in fact, I very much wanted her to stay. But she was going and that much was for sure. What sucked the most was the ten minutes before she left. Everything was disrupted, the kid was cranky, I was cranky, the Wife was cranky. It got to the point where I just wanted her to get the hell out already so I could get on with my day. She wouldn't be there, that's a pain in the ass for me, but at least I would be in charge and doing things the way I wanted to do them. I could get on with my day, which was at least something.
There is a plan for life after JoePa. We don't know what the hell it is, but there is a plan. He is leaving, now or later, that much is certain. I wish he didn't have to go, but he does. Where does that leave us? Everything is disrupted, I'm cranky, the kids are cranky, JoePa's cranky. I'm getting to the point where I almost wish he'd get out already so we could get on with what we are going to do, whatever that is.
Everything has a beginning middle and an end. I can't help but thinking that the end was the Orange Bowl. It was a good end. Now it seems like we're in the midst of some middling encore, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle one more time. Not that it isn't fun, but it seems that we're a caricature of ourselves. It reminds me of Phish. If they played again I'd still go see them, it might even be fun, but it will never be the same as it used to be. There is no future anymore, just a really great past and some interesting stories. Doing the same thing I did in college is fun for a day, but it winds up being unfulfilling. Living in the past always is. In a lot of ways Penn State football is the same as it ever was, but something is missing, and whether we want to admit it or not, I think everybody knows it. I think what's missing is not having a wide open future in front of us, but rather staring head long at the end of an era.
I really thought the Michigan State game in 2004 was going to be the end of the Paterno era. I tried to prepare myself for it mentally, and when the game ended I honestly thought Paterno was going to call it a career. I will always remember how bad I wanted him to stay, not because I saw the 2005 season coming, but because I wasn't ready to let go of the past. For whatever it's worth, I think I am now.
The ongoing Pitt debate really tuned me in to considering the past of Penn State football versus it's future. I can't help but think were stuck right in between the great past and an admittedly uncertain future. But just like my Wife this morning, more and more I find myself wishing that we could just get on with it.
I feel bad for those of you who missed out on Joe. Not the guy on TV today (who still has his moments). The Joe I grew up with(or that my Father grew up with);
The Joe that told the President of the United States in 1969 that it would be a waste of his time to recognize the accomplishments of his football team, since his recognition wasn't all that important to us.
The Joe that beat Miami, and at the watershed moment of his career, and of college football generally, with every reason to gloat and preen, after being told by the sideline reporter that Penn State is number one, merely said, "I think so".
The guy that handed Ronald Reagan a Penn State jersey with no name on the back "because that's the way we do it at Penn State". Indeed, nobody is bigger than the team even if you're the President.
The Joe Paterno that after the 1994 Rose Bowl ended was asked what he had to say to the Penn State fans who thought that we had the best team in the country, made his case to the country by saying, "Well, I'd have to agree with them". Begging for recognition a la Urban Meyer was beneath him, and by extension, it was beneath all of us. If it cost us a few votes in a popularity contest, so be it, we could live with that.
That guy kicked ass.
I feel bad for my kid, who will never quite get why I have an oil painting of the Joe Paterno in our living room. It will always be abstract for him, a story I tell him to put a loss in prospective, or to connect him to the three generations of Nittany Lions that came before him. But I fear that the Paterno era is already over, and we're all just waiting for the perfectly understated, "We had a great time tonight, come see us again, thanks".
I previously wrote that for Joe Paterno's past to mean anything, Penn State has to be more than a collection of Joe Paterno's accomplishments. I guess if I could ask Coach Paterno about this, my question would be, If nobody is bigger than the program, explain why we should keep living in this limbo?