Alright y'all, sit down. Ole Grandpappy Bill is gonna tell y'all a story 'bout them Penn State Nittany Lions and their football team.
Ya see, some bad, bad things happened in State College, PA, courtesy of a gentleman named Gerald Arthur "Jerry" Sandusky. Well, the American legal system took care of Jerry. He's behind bars, or "in the slammer," as all the movers and shakers like to call it nowadays. It's curtains for Jerry. We're never seeing him again.
Now, why am I telling you this? Well, because of Jerry, some bad things happened to the football team at dear old Penn State. You see, this power hungry, myopic dickhead named Mark Emmert decided he was gonna do things to the Penn State football program, one of them was say the team didn't win any games dating all the way back to 1998.
Now kids, cover your ears, because Grandpappy Bill is about to use some mean language: that penalty, along with all the other ones, was bullshit. What Marky Mark and his not so Funky Bunch decided to do was say Penn State didn't win any football games. The funny part is, they did. We saw it. But whatever.
But 112 wins under coach Joe Paterno were vacated. He still has approximately 4,294 more, but still.
So because of the sanctions, technically, for years and years and years, Penn State never won a football game, something not everyone was too fond of.
NCAA says games didn't exist..I got the metal plate in my neck to prove it did..I almost died playing 4 PSU..punishment or healing?!? #WeAre— Adam Taliaferro (@Tali43) July 23, 2012
That was, until 2012, when a man named Bill O'Brien came to coach the team from under Dark Overlord Bill Belichick. In Coach O'Brien's first head coaching job, he faced EXTRAORDINARY circumstances, and it showed. But he and his cleft chin met head on with the help of a man named Michael. In fact, two men named Michael.
In their first game, they lost to Ohio University. Not THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY DERP DERP DERP but the Ohio Bobcats, a nice little team of fuc---fighters from, you guessed it, Ohio!
Penn State looked good, leading 14-3 at the half, but lost 24-14. It sucked. I was there.
In their second game, they went to Virginia and beat up on a horr.....oh, they lost that one, too. 17-16. Their kicker went 1-5 on FG's and missed a PAT. We don't talk about that game. But it did give us this joke:
Person 1: Party tonight at Ficken's!
Person 2: Yeah! And if he gets pissed, he won't be able to kick us out.
But yeah. The team was 0-2. They looked bad. The defense was in full-blown "bend but don't break" mode. The offense didn't have enough Moxie. Basically, the Penn State community did what they do better than anyone: completely freak out.
And then they beat Navy like they stole something.
A little history on Navy football: they've been either 6-6, 7-5 or 8-4 every year since 1193. They run the triple option. They have an awesome rivalry against Army (YOU GUYS ARE ON THE SAME TEAM: AMERICA; STOP HATING EACH OTHER IN FOOTBALL) and a "rivalry" against the D'ohmers (I say "rivalry" because Notre Dame once beat Navy 43 years in a row). And they were the team that Penn State decided they were going to nuke.
Penn State won the game, 34-7. Much maligned quarterback Matt McGloin threw 4 TD's. Three of them were to wide receiver Allen Robinson, who laughs at mere mortals, especially if they play defensive back. A fullback played running back. A third guy named Mike returned a fumble 74 yards for a touchdown. I was in the crowd. It was amazing.
To Ole Grandpappy Bill, the game felt like a blur. I had never been in the crowd for this dominant of a performance against a team that wasn't an FCS school or Eastern Michigan. But on the whole the team looked amazing. The offense clicked in a way that it never did under Joe Pa while I was a student. The defense bended a lot (Navy ran for 255 yards, which was actually one of their lowest rushing outputs of the year, if you can believe that) but only broke once. At the end of the game. When they were up 34-0. Again, it was amazing.
But more importantly, this was, according to the NCAA, Penn State's first win in 14 years. Think about that. Michael Jordan had just ended his NBA career for the second time. Titanic won the Best Picture Award. "I Want It That Way" wasn't a song yet. Only two of the Will Smith Demon Spawn Children had been born (the annoying one hadn't been born yet). I was seven.
For Penn State, this was monumental. It was a landmark win for a program that needed to rebuild: their first win since
unfair unprecedented sanctions attempted to cripple the school historically and in the present. When we look in Penn State record books, there will be a lot of wins. And then a gap. And then this.
In a normal sense, this game didn't look too big. Penn State had a very respectable 8-4 season. Some crazy people (myself included) have argued they could have been 11-1 if
THOSE STUPID FUCKING NEBRASKA REFS DIDN'T FUCK US OVER, I HATE THEM a few things had bounced in Penn State's favor. They had a monster win on Senior Night against Wisconsin. They went into Iowa and made me send out this tweet (I'm proud of it, just let me have this moment of glory). They had a win against Northwestern in which they scored 22 points in the 4th quarter to bitch slap an annoying Northwestern team (NOTE: If you were a fan who sat behind Northwestern's bench and did this, tell me, I want to hug you).
And then there's the Navy game. Compared to those, it's nothing. It's a beatdown of a bad team for the first win of the season.
But compared to those, it meant Penn State was back. It looked like another win, but it was something much, much bigger. Sounds like a hidden gem to me.
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