Way to ring in the new year. But seriously, I'm not all that upset about the Rose Bowl because as Mike put it in his latest post "It is what it is," something like this was a very possible outcome. We were the best team in a weak conference and we needed to play mistake-free football to beat the next best team (OSU) and that same consistency was needed tonight. It was never there.
I think back to the post game presser for the Coastal Carolina game, their (hilariously hickish, but nice guy) coach mentioned that a lot of his players were sort of in awe of the atmosphere in SC and maybe taken off their game a bit. He also said that it was a good gauge from themselves personally, because the cake-walk Penn State had that day was due to the difference in talent level. The loss, while most likely a scrimmage for PSU, gave the CC players something to think about.
I kind of feel the same way about the Rose Bowl. In order to be the best you gotta beat the best. It sucks that this was the way the seniors had to go out, but most of them played with a lot of heart and didn't give up until the final whistle. For the younger players, this was their chance to see how much more they need to study film/technique, and push themselves on the practice field and in the weight room. Hopefully the coaches learned a lot as well too. For example, keeping the team focused when their shooting themselves in the foot and developing a defense that doesn't involve huge band-aids in the secondary. I feel that these were the main differences tonight since PSU marched down the field on SC before the second quarter collapse. Hey how bout the staff/administration ponying up and scheduling higher visibility OOC games?
Given that the Dark Years were only 4 years ago, what's been accomplished since then is tremendous. Like it or not, success in sports in cyclical and I still believe Penn State is striving for its apex. Recruiting has been improving, and many other lingering problems (road wins, offensive production) have turned around for the better.
In close, despite the bitter taste of defeat, I'll think about how much fun 2008 was and I'll look forward to continued success in 2009.