clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Now Hiring: Auto Mechanic Foreman, No Experience Required

New, 73 comments

If a person was unable to change the oil in your car, would you want them messing with your engine?

Penn State Hosts First Football Game Since Child Sex Abuse Scandal Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Old folks such as myself remember back when cars were easier to work on if there was a mechanical issue. Just a few decades ago the majority of people could pop open the hood of an ailing car and tend to minor problems. Now these newfangled cars, with their computers and tight space in the engine compartment, are so complicated that working on them should be left to a professional.

Back in the day, an option play in football may have been hard to stop, but it was easy to diagnose. Now these hybrids are out there on the roads for defenders to account for; the read-option has been combined with pass elements and now the entire field is in play after the snap. It’s too much, if you ask me. Run/pass option? Make up your daggum mind!

It’s amazing how fast things move on the football field today. The world went and got itself in a big darn hurry.

As the complexity of the game of football increases, in equal amounts it seems the availability of coverage for the fans grows alongside it. Outlets such as ours no longer require fossil fonts written on ink and paper; we are fully electric. For every member of the media, as well as people that follow their favorite team, there are many ways to instantly give an opinion.

As with electric cars, the electronic means of communicating has its advantages and its drawbacks. It can be dangerous to achieve maximum torque at 0 revolutions per minute. Other than going to all-caps, or using emojis which some of us never mastered, it is hard to inflect the tone of your words online as you could in person. Your body language, eyebrow movements and forehead wrinkles are powerless to convey meaning; it’s all words. Unless you know how to do emojis, in which case it’s words and emojis, still not quite like face to face communication. Since it all looks the same, it is hard to separate knowledge from noise.

Ten Thousand Microphones, Ten Experts

The move to a more impersonal format of communication has led some people to increase the torque in their rhetoric to the point where they should probably get a stroker kit or go back to traditional methods of discussion. They run the risk of blowing a gasket, and nobody wants to see that on twitter or on the message boards.

With what happens leading up to critical moments during a football game becoming so complicated, it is hard for anyone not intimately involved with the team to understand what went into the decisions that were made in the moment.

And yet that does not stop people from questioning play calls, personnel decisions, and other issues that they lack enough information to speak on intelligently. During the moment some critics get filled up with so much hot air that they probably have to use a bleeder valve to let it out in order to get to bed at night.

Most people fancy themselves to be a master cylinder and nobody wants to be considered a dipstick. In reality there are varying levels of football acumen in the stands and in the media, just as there are within the coaching ranks. No one was born knowing how to work on a car, or coach football, it is a talent that is developed over time.

No one in the stands, at home, or in the press box knows better what to do than the coaches on the field. Sure, at times mistakes are made. Nobody is perfect. The coaches are just much more adept at making personnel and play-calling decisions than people outside the program. They are the professionals, we are laymen for the most part. We do not have the skill set that they have or the information needed to second-guess them.

Difference Between Saying and Doing

Like a stubborn driver back in the days before GPS became readily available, some critics refuse to ask for directions; they would rather continue driving down the same dead-end road forever. When a person with knowledge of what goes on underneath the hood tries to teach them, they dismiss it as though it were an opinion; no more veracious than their own opinion.

The difference between making a play call from the stands, press box, or living room and doing it in real time from the sideline or booth is significant. So much so that one is not comparable to the other. Anyone that understands the process of coaching would say that it is far more important how well you coach between games than it is on game day. You have no chance at winning a game if you lose all week during practice.

Many people that can handle a stick would have trouble lubricating a driveshaft if they were granted permission to do so. It’s one thing to call a successful play during a game, another thing to get the team ready to execute that play. Without proper preparation, even the best game plan would shake and vibrate to the point where any driver would have trouble keeping it between the lines.

The media forgets sometimes that the players and coaches are the headliners and they are the passengers, there to describe the scenery from the safety of the rear-facing perch in the back seat, all nice and snug with the seat belt strapped secure, airbags all around and sippy cups full with complimentary beverages. Meanwhile the team is out there with no protection, no crumple zone, and will feel physical, emotional, and professional pain if the game slides off into the gutter.

The crying from the back seat after every negative play or disappointing loss certainly does not help the driver. Nothing is better than a nice long win streak to put that baby to rest for a while; it’s almost easy to forget that they are there until the ride comes to an abrupt stop. Then the wailing resumes.

Coaches Coach, Players Play, Supporters Support

Since the losses to Ohio State and Michigan State, there has been increased amounts of second-guessing in the media and among some fans. It got to the point where the negativity made it so that some needed to be consoled following a win, after a very physical game, on the road, in-conference, during wind conditions that were severe.

The feeling was as though Penn State had lost the game instead of collecting a valuable conference win under very difficult circumstances.

And yet most people that question the decisions made by the coaches lack the information needed to do so. They may be convinced that they have the information, but that does not make it so. It would be no different to presume that one knows how to replace a rear seal while lacking the knowledge required to change the spark plugs. Anyone that knows a little about cars would be able to see the folly in that, even if they themselves cannot replace a rear seal.

After a tough loss, many people will rant and rave about the driver, mechanic, and sometimes the parts of the vehicle. It is possible to lose a football game without there being a need to replace a player, fire a coach, or scrap the plan that got the team into a position to compete on a national level.

It may be a good idea for those feeling road rage following a loss to pull over to the curb and collect their wits; let traffic pass peacefully until the roads are clear. No one wants to be the angry face in another person’s rear-view mirror.

If that left a mark on anyone’s clear coat, it should buff right out.