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BSD Mailbag 10.6.18

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Well, that’s been quite a mourning period. But...why?

NCAA Football: Penn State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

In my weekly mailbag posts, I rarely discuss anything beyond the questions asked of me on this forum. Today, almost one week (12 hours shy) after this year’s loss to Ohio State and having been one of many BSDers who couldn’t bear to hop onto the site and read the plethora of doom and gloom comments about the state of the program, and the hump that Penn State will never get over as long as James Franklin is our coach.

I know, I know, those comments may very well have been in the minority here, sometimes known as the last bastion of positivity in the Penn State fandom. But they’re here, and they’re in real life, as sure as I’m sitting here on a BYE week Saturday morning on my couch eating bacon and wearing my Fiesta Bowl champions t-shirt, wondering what I want to do on a blissfully stress-free Saturday.

But what kind of fan base are we? The culty, entitled kind who would deign to fire a coach that consistently wins 8-9 games and goes on to pay a new coach $5 million to be winless in October? Sure, we absolutely have shades of that. Any blue blood program (merely “great” or even the elite) will have those aspects to the fan base, but luckily it seems so far that the Athletic Department seems immune to these ridiculous calls.

After all, it was less than three years ago that I felt the need to write this piece about the state of Penn State football, and only two short years since I posted this on facebook:

The posting of this, after the beatdown at Michigan, seems even more hilarious to me in retrospect; we all know how that special season turned out after a 2-2 start.

Am I still heartbroken over last week’s game? Absolutely; I don’t think any of us would be true Penn State fans if we weren’t at least a modicum of devastated. But I take James Franklin as his word - he hasn’t done much to make me doubt him long-term. We’ll be amongst the elite, not merely great, sooner rather than later.

Now, let’s get on to the questions.

What games should I watch Saturday? I only care about Penn State football. Sure, I’ll root for an o$u, and Notre Dumb, and Michigan, and Michigan State to lose. But my heart just won’t be in it without a Penn State game this weekend. I hate bye week. —Paebr332

There are surprisingly a lot of good games this week (though none a season-definer like last week’s night games may have been, in this blogger’s humble opinion). If the Indiana-OSU game was in Bloomington, that may top my list, but I think Ohio State will build off of last week and win convincingly.

I’m more looking forward to Virginia Tech surprising everyone against Notre Dame, putting that ODU loss in the rearview mirror and impeding the Domers’ path to the playoff.

What would you have called on that 4th down play?vern05

Anything but what was called?

Seriously, no matter what anyone thinks they saw pre-snap, you don’t take the ball out of your record-setting quarterback’s hands. You simply don’t.

When was the last game OSU pushed us around? While we haven’t won the last two, I would say we have competed the last three years (which is as far as my memory goes). I agree with JF that we aren’t there yet, but I no longer feel that we don’t belong on the field with them.—Dbridi

It is pretty obvious that the answer is 2015. That’s the only game under James Franklin which, in my opinion, the better team in the matchup clearly won (yes, including 2016; my unbiased opinion is that Ohio State looked better for much of the night, while Penn State was able to capitalize on the Buckeyes’ mistakes).

How would Tom Ryan have handled the post game press conference Saturday night? Also, should tanning beds be considered PEDs?—Succss With Honor Always

He would have blamed the refs, or the crowd, or some other tangential thing that realistically had no real bearing on the outcome (yes, the refs were horrible - but our team put them in a position to be a deciding factor - unlike 2014, when O’Neil’s crew’s ineptitude if not outright bias led directly to 10 points for the Buckeyes).

But we always have wrestling...

How do you stop screen plays?—Dbridi

I’ve never pretended to be an Xs and Os kinda gal, but scheming for this is what we pay defensive coaches for. You’d think they would have some idea.

How do you deal with the ”Hey what happened?” comments at work on Monday morning?—skarocksoi

See above tweet, in response to the fourth down play call. I lost count of the number of times I said something similar in variation; I’m not upset about the loss, but I am upset about the fourth down play call.

What was your take on Franklin’s Press Conference?—jiminore

I take Franklin as a man of his word; and he’s done nothing as a coach if he hasn’t shown he learns from his mistakes. We’ll be markedly better, the rest of this year and in years to come. And the White Out was a resounding recruiting win, even if it wasn’t one on the field.

Is “I love you to death” going to become a JF internetwebs meme?—Dbridi

I’m not so sure it will - though it’s remarkable to me that a number of Ohio State (and other schools) fans are taking his comments on going to class at face value.

Literally no one thinks that missing a class or two is what led to Penn State losing to Ohio State by one point the second year in a row (and let’s be clear - we lost. We looked the better team in both instances, and we lost both fourth quarters; OSU didn’t resoundingly win). Not going to class is symptomatic of bigger issues; it’s the little things that count in a game that comes down to the wire, and going to class is absolutely a little thing.

Assuming PSU wins out, what craziness needs to happen for one of the four playoff spots to be theirs?@tighe_renner

The entire BSD staff has discussed this ad nauseum in our slack channel, and the consensus seems to be that there are three options for Penn State to make the playoff. In ascending Penn State fan happiness order:

  1. Ohio State loses two more games (including to Michigan would be great, but that’s not mandatory) before the end of the regular season. This would send Penn State to the Big Ten Championship, where if they win, they’re in.
  2. Ohio State loses one more regular season game, then loses the Big Ten Championship game. This would put them at 11-2, with an impressive win to be sure, but only one one-point loss would trump anything else, since Penn State has overall a stronger schedule (getting the cream of the Big Ten West crop helps the Lions this year).
  3. Ohio State wins out, and all teams not named Alabama in the SEC have at least two losses (or one really bad loss), and no other team goes undefeated. An undefeated Ohio State is unarguably in the Playoff, and so is Bama—but if Penn State is one of a number of one loss teams, they’ll have the most impressive resume of them all. And that goes a long way, as last year’s inclusion of UGA alongside the Tide has shown.

Should clear targeting penalties that result in injuries result in more than ejection? I.e., perhaps suspension?—jcross9

Absolutely. If the league wants to actually take player safety into account, not just play lip service to it, they need to penalize poor tackling technique.

Saturday’s game is a microcosm of this; Antonio Shelton deserved to be ejected, based on sheer stupidity and the fact that his target was going out of bounds. But Isaiah Pryor’s targeting of KJ Hamler was on a whole ‘nother level, and was clearly malicious - he didn’t even try to conceal it. And I’d argue that Hamler being out directly led to the lack of offense in the last two possessions of the PSU offense.

Who is your second least favorite team in the B1G, behind OSU? Or put differently, if you could guarantee a blowout in one game this season, who would you choose to embarrass and why? For me, the choice is easy: let’s lay one too Dantonio and Sparty.—jcross9

Ohio State isn’t first or second to me (and Iowa isn’t either, unlike a lot of PSU fans). I tend to be shaped a lot by the people I know that are fans and/or alumni of other teams; if they’re good people (like most of my Hawkeye and Spartan friends are), I can’t hate their teams.

Northwestern is definitely up there (under Pat Fitzgerald, I finally understand why some people hated Joe Paterno’s Penn State squads for appearing so sanctimonious for so long; unlike Paterno, though, Fitz has done nothing as the coach of the Wildcats to deserve his rep as a good coach, or his arrogance).

And Lovie Smith being the coach of Illinois has devolved my hatred of them (to this day, I still think of the stories Stephon Morris told me the first time we met). So I guess maybe Michigan? I have a friend who’s awesome and a Michigan fan, but nobody’s perfect...and Jim Harbaugh is literally the most overpaid and overhyped coach in college football (Scott Frost notwithstanding, but let’s give him more time). Harbaugh has literally never won a division, let alone a conference, in college football, yet he’s been touted as the second coming. I guess continuously fighting for third in the East is a feat? And no, delusional Michigan fans, Franklin isn’t on Harbaugh’s level...James Franklin actually has beaten Ohio State, and outcoached Meyer in almost every instance they’ve aced each other.

Was that the worst idea for a halftime show ever? Or just poorly executed? Did they ever soundcheck the volume on the mics for the singers?—bearwithscarf

I think the idea was great - aside from the final song selection (Hair? Really?? How many times have they done that, albeit without a choral accompaniment). I think they didn’t test the acoustics enough; we could barely heard the band, and the theatre students (who were not bad, just over-miked) were too much a focus.

If they ever try this again (and the reception was so poor for the show, I doubt they will), they need to mic up the band as well, and turn down the audio on the vocals. I saw what they were going for; the execution was seriously lacking.

And if my mom, a class of ‘69 alum who’s had season tickets nearly since she graduated, says it’s the worst halftime show she’s seen in Beaver, that’s saying something.

I picked up a contraband “Urban Liar” t-shirt this weekend. It it written in the Oscar Meyer logo (hot dogs=sandwiches) and was banned by the University after Urbs’ wife complained about it on Twitter (since deleted). What should I do with it?

  1. Wear it loud and proud?
  2. Display it in a man cave?
  3. Sell on eBay?
  4. Donate to the Smithsonian? —LarzLion

This “controversy” is so ridiculous to me. This Smack Talk company has been selling “Urban Liar” shirts for years, if I recall back to when he got hired at Ohio State (retirement my butt). It just bumped back up to the top of the page this year because he got caught very publicly lying to everyone at Big Ten Media days, so the shirt seems even more relevant.

I still think it’s dumb, and even dumber when I saw kids wearing the shirts outside the stadium on Saturday. I would donate the shirt (not to the Smithsonian, just to Goodwill or the like) - how funny would it be to see a picture of an underprivileged community in Africa all wearing Urban Liar shirts?

I’m a horrible person, I know.

Is it just me, or would fans of certain programs (Notre Dame, Michigan come to mind) rather see Penn State lose than have their own team win?—EnisEnvy

There are absolutely those who would like to see this - but they aren’t of the Notre Dame or Michigan fan persuasion. Those two programs are ranked, and have greater aspirations, so focus on their own team’s wins enough.

No, it’s the Pitts and Rutgeras of the world who absolutely relish in Penn State losing - because they have nothing else to root for this year. The chanting of “Eff You Penn State” at non-PSU events epitomizes this.

What is your prediction for the number of games that Rutgers and Nebraska will combine to win this season? It has got to be an embarrassingly small number at this point.—Paebr332

I say four. Rutger currently has two wins so that’s the floor; Nebraska has Bethune-Cookman on their schedule to replaced the cancelled Akron game, and I highly doubt they lose that one (so it’s close). I think one of the two squads (the Huskers, more like) eke out a win they had no business earning; so both end the season 2-10.

I convinced my future wife to get married this weekend instead of last best fiance ever?—Sperbro

Bro, you’re still getting married during football season. As a football fan, anniversaries are going to suck for the rest of your life.

When you played duck, duck, goose did you pick the slowest kid so you knew you’d win or did you pick somebody you thought was cute?—Gerry Dincher

I always picked my friends. But your logic in this question is quite sound, and now I am questioning all of my life choices and whether the negative ones started because of poor decision making in duck, duck, goose as a child.

Do you think Presidents of the United States ever “Beat the Meat” while in office? Or is the job simply too time-intensive for recreational activities like that?—PSU Mudder

I mean, do you remember Bill Clinton? There’s a less than zero chance he wasn’t taking time out of his day to “relieve pressure”.

Is this the best time of year to sleep in? We’ve had the windows open the last couple weeks and that cold fall morning air just makes me want to stay in bed forever. Sleep so well.—GSAPS

I actually love sleeping in in the winter more. When it’s cold and dark outside, and your bed is snuggly warm while you breathe in the chilly air in your house, there’s little better than that.

Second question, How often do you call in sick for work even though you aren’t actually sick, and what is the silliest reason for playing hookey? I do it every so often, usually just because I’m up late the night before and need a day off. Once I called off because my drunken date convinced me we should go to Busch Gardens the next day. Now she’s my wife.—skarocksoi

I think I’ve done this maybe once since I started working at 16. I just don’t do it; not that I’ve enjoyed all of the jobs I’ve had, but I always feel an obligation to go to work.

I understand that all of my employers have the better end of the stick in our employer-employee relationship; that doesn’t stop me. I’ve always been in positions where if I don’t get the job done, it adversely affects my staff, customers, or coworkers, and I vehemently don’t like putting others in positions like that.

I think I get my work ethic for my mother, who had banked thousands of paid time off hours when she retired, because she never used them. That’s my model as a child, for better or worse.

Question... How do you deal with the guilt feeling after taking a mental health day? Not that I didn’t take 1 or 2 over a career, just never knew how to rationalize the guilt feeling. Now that I work for myself from home there doesn’t seem to be any guilt since I only get paid if I work (which I guess turns the guilt to regret)—SuperJeff

I can’t, that’s probably why I don’t take them (even when I undoubtedly should).

What type of beer should I brew next?—kavija66

I love fall and winter beer season; I’m the one that will drink porters and stouts even in the depth of summer. So I say something dark and toasty.

Going to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival with the wife for our annual Bye Week trip. We love Disney World, but with that being said, how hard do you judge people like us (adults, no kids) that take trips there? Also, by being a Penn State alumnus, a baptized Catholic, and a kidless WDW Annual Pass holder, have I just checked the boxes for being considered an “enabler”?—IronCityLion

Absolutely not. I am planning my Disney World trip for when the new Star Wars theme park arrives; there’s nothing wrong with loving Disney.

I don’t judge; you do you, and what makes you happy (essential caveat that it doesn’t infringe on the rights to life and liberty of others, natch).

Favorite root beer and why?—Dbridi

I love fresh A&W, from their tap. I’d take a good birch beer over root beer if given the chance, though.

Conspiracy Theory....Franklin called the 4th and 5 run so we would have something to bitch about during the bye week.

Discuss….—SuperJeff

I have nothing to add on this, but I love it. Let’s pretend this is the case.