The Big Ten media days are supposed to be a celebration. It is a chance for coaches and players to come together with the media to break bread in anticipation of the coming of another glorious season of the game we love. It's supposed to be a time when the media provides the casual fan who doesn't follow the team from January through August on who the new faces are and what challenges their team should expect to face.
But as a Nittany Lion fan, the Big Ten media days were a huge disappointment. Instead of updates on the quarterback or linebacker competitions, we were treated to questions about Joe Paterno's intestines, what medication he is on, and if he plans to coach until he dies. Mark Poorman of StateCollege.com provides and explanation why Paterno was the focus of attention.
Part of the reason for the onslaught of octogenarian queries was that much of the media corps in attendance – beat writers of Big Ten teams plus national media – do not have much exposure to Paterno, justifiably a legend to them and almost everyone else. A smaller reason is that other than Evan Royster, the team does not have an identifiable star (and even Evan lacks national panache). And, to be honest, the team does not have a shot at contending for the Big Ten title.
That leaves us – and the media – with Paterno.
Poorman hits the nail on the head. This Penn State teams lacks a face. There is no Daryll Clark. There is no Sean Lee or Paul Posluszny. Evan Royster is the closest thing they have to a nationally recognizeable name, but he is very soft spoken and has not drawn a lot of attention to himself.
I can sympathize with the writers. When I was putting together We Are Penn State 2010 the publisher asked me who should go on the cover. The two options I gave them were Royster or Paterno. You can thank me for not including an article about Paterno's age. I didn't want to do one this year, but only because we did one last year.
But really, the level of attention Joe is getting is ridiculous. As the analyst for the Big Ten Network pointed out, Paterno did not face one question about a single player on his team during his day one press conference. The media should be ashamed of its laziness. It's so bad, in fact, that people are already writing goodbye letters to Joe.
I understand that. But there comes a time when the demands of the job start pulling the curtain closed, whether you’re ready for it or not. And that time seems to have come.
Penn State’s final home game is Nov. 27 against Michigan State. I hope Joe Paterno is still in good enough health to be with his team on the sideline, khaki pants billowing in the autumn wind. I hope he raises his hand and waves goodbye to a huge crowd that will always adore him.
I hope there’s not a dry eye in the house.
Honestly, I could link a dozen articles just like this one for you this morning, but I'm not going to do that to you. I'm sick of it. You all know how to google.
At least one reporter out there admits he doesn't want JoePa to go away. Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel just wants Paterno to shut up with his praise of Bobby Bowden and the way Florida State treated him.
With all due respect to JoePa, why shouldn’t (Florida State) fans and boosters be able to voice their displeasure with how their program is being run? FSU fans invest thousands of dollars per year on season tickets and hotel rooms and they regularly make the eight-hour round trip from places like Orlando and Tampa to attend games.
When you’re investing that type of time and money in your program, it’s unacceptable for a school like Florida State to have a string of mediocrity that has lasted nearly a decade.
Lay off Florida State, JoePa.
With all due respect to Mr. Bianchi, he doesn't get it. Paterno was asked directly about his friend, Bobby Bowden. Exactly how was Paterno supposed to answer that question? Should Joe have said he really wanted the record and he wished FSU had fired him years ago? I have heard Joe asked this question at least six times since Bowden "retired". Blame the lazy media who can't come up with an original question or do research to get Paterno's thoughts on the situation. All it takes is a five second google search. Don't blame Joe for simply answering the question he keeps being asked.
Enough about Paterno already. I'll have a more informative Nitt Picks later. I just had to get this media rant off my chest.