As a lifelong Penn State fan, State College native, alumni of PSU, and someone who has been to every big game at Beaver Stadium since 1992, I have a few questions that I've been asking myself as I watch a proud program diminish into mediocrity...
How many games will we lose due to not having a coach on the sideline?
Have you ever seen a team use 3 timeouts on an opening drive in any football game at any level? I don't recall a time, but maybe you do. I'm honestly interested to see if it has happened before.
How many times do we have to be jobbed by officials before one of our coaches shows some emotion about it? I'm not asking for a Brian Kelly meltdown, but it's getting ridiculous.
Did the calls even matter? If Alabama doesn't convert the 4th down fake punt, do you really think our offense would have made them pay?
Had they wanted to, how many points could Alabama have scored?
Why do most of our fans keep talking about how our defense did a good job? Our corners played ten yards off Bama's receivers and let them run free all game long. Our line could not get pressure on a quarterback making his second career start, or force him into a mistake (this a week after Kent St. picked him off twice). We once again were run over when Bama really wanted to run, although not as badly as we were last year. Our defense did not create a turnover or make any major game-changing plays in the mold of LaVar, Courtney Brown, Posluzny & Hali, etc. Our defense used to be the difference in competing with and beating top teams. Now we are happy that they hold a mighty SEC team to 27 points after they have put the passing game away mid third quarter. Why?
Would you hire an 84-year old individual to run your business? Is an 84-year old Joe good enough to get this program back to the standard he set for it on the field almost 50 years ago? Is it realistic to expect him to? Is it realistic for an 84-year old to run a 70 million dollar business? Are you aware of other 84-year olds who are tasked with a similar monumental responsibility? I am not looking to fire up the "fire JoePa" crowd, as they are already fired up judging from my section of the stadium and from reading some posts this morning. Why do corporations put age restriction clauses in their CEO's contracts (must retire upon turning 70, etc.)?
Is the standard Joe set many years ago reasonable to expect? That standard was 1) winning the right way, following rules, going to class, etc. combined with 2) playing for a national title every 4 years. Is that expectation too high? If our motto is "success with honor", how do we define success on the field? Is losing 27-11 to Alabama success? If it is, what does that say about Penn State football?
Why do we throw to the sideline 4 out of 5 attempts, and avoid the middle of the field like it is a minefield? Teams know they only need to cover 20% of the field because we leave the other 80% unused.
Why can't we produce solid, dominating offensive lines like we had through much of the 1990's? We used to be able to run on any team we played, and especially against SEC teams, and now we're happy if we rush for 75 yards against a good team.
Why can't we produce quality quarterbacks, year after year? I was discussing this with my wife on our way back to Lancaster from the game last night. It seemed before they fired Carr that Michigan produced an NFL quarterback every 2 years (Harbaugh, Grbac, Collins, Mallett, Henne, etc.) Ohio State wins the Big Ten every year with guys that will never see an NFL field (Krenzel??). Then you have Penn State, who since 1990 has had Tony Sacca (very good), Kerry Collins (an all-time great), Michael Robinson (true leader and great athlete) and Darryl Clark (good but struggled against the best competition). Other than that, our QB's have ranged from awful (Morelli, Rashard Casey, McBolden, Seneca) to average D-I quality at best (Big Red, Thompson, Richardson). One has to ask why we can't recruit and develop quarterbacks consistently when we have done it in the past.
What do any of our offensive coaches bring to the table? Would any of them be hired for a similar position at a top-level D-I program? For example, would JayPa be hired as a QB coach at a Florida, or Texas, or Bama? Would Galen Hall be allowed to run another team's offense given his results since 2006?
Why can't we lock down Pennsylvania in recruiting like top programs do? Why is South Carolina on the way up under Spurrier? Because they have the state on lockdown. In 2011, Courtney Brown and Bobby Engram would never end up at Penn State.
Why can't we recruit a great class every year, rather than every other year? The staff has put together an impressive class so far for next year, but this is on the heels of a down year and that seems to be our recent pattern.
Why didn't the athletic department grandfather in longtime season ticket holders, and charge them the new fee structure when they either gave their tickets up or transferred them to one of their kids? It was evident from week 1 and from the Bama game that many diehard fans were priced out of tickets due to STEP, allowing too many Bammers to buy tickets and leading to a 2/3 full stadium week 1. Our program was already 4th among all programs in revenue before the STEP program. I feel like good fans got screwed so the wine and cheese crowd could sit closer to the field.
Why don't our running backs dominate games and wear down good defenses the way they used to?
How many games would we win in the SEC?
How bad is the Big Ten this season? There were some awful out of conference losses and close calls yesterday. Michigan salvaged a little bit of pride, but their defense will lead to their demise once again.
Why can't our receivers catch balls that hit them right in the f'ing hands? Simple catches, "easy" catches for a D-I caliber athlete. Watching other good teams' receivers go up and fight for balls in the air, come down with big catches, and then watching our guys drop ball after ball is maddening.
Can we end the Matt McFavre experiment? He had drizzle running down his leg yesterday, and almost every pass he threw was a bad decision or poor throw.*
Can we stick with Bolden for an entire game and let the kid play? Why don't we have more designed runs for Bolden? If he gets hurt running the ball, are we really that much worse off with McFavre?*
*Previous two questions are asked with the knowledge that: No quarterback currently on our roster is a legitimate D-I quarterback. They both suck enough for us to finish under .500, and I don't like either of them. McFavre is cocky without backing it up and throws Bolden under the bus. Bolden shows no leadership ability whatsoever. Neither can keep from making idiotic mistakes. Bolden has the better arm but he just isn't any good.
How far has Paul Jones' academic situation set this program back? I really believe they were counting on him being the QB of the future going into 2010 until they discovered that he didn't have what it took academically to handle all of that pressure as a true freshman.
How many games does Penn State win in 2010 if Pat Devlin hadn't transferred? I was never impressed with him, but still curious as to whether he would have made a difference in 2010. He would have been better than McBolden.
If our defensive line can't get pressure on the quarterback, why aren't we doing something else to bring pressure? A.J. McCarron had all day to throw. I know I am questioning the tactics of Scrap, who I like a lot, but we are looking at a second season of putting no pressure on QB's from quality teams, and I wonder how we fix that. Courtney Brown and Brad Scioli don't have any eligibility left...
Put yourself in Curley and Spanier's positions. What do you do?
Will the next HFC come from within or outside of the program? If it's from the outside, who are you hoping for?
Would you want to be the coach that follows Joe Paterno?
As for yesterday's game, I was impressed with the Alabama fans who attended the game. Some of the outfits were entertaining, the girls in their dresses was unique, their fans were respectful and really seemed to be connoisseurs of college football. Watching them take pictures with JoePa's statue was kind of cool. Even though they were kicking our tail, they weren't rubbing it in and rude like Buckeye fans. I would welcome them to the Big Ten any day.
Student section was great and the white-out is always cool. We were the first and are the best at the white-out. That being said, we need to win one of these games soon.
Enjoy your Sunday and the opening of the NFL season. Let's beat Temple.