View Full Version : Replacing a Nittany Lyin' Coach and a Weekend in Review

01-09-2012, 17:30
Weekend in Review

Let’s start by going back to the future with Penn State, because the future of this program will always be compared to, reflected by, and hopefully more competent than the past. On a day that should have been all about the future of the State University of Pennsylvania’s football program, it was overshadowed by King Nittany Lion’s son Jay, talking about how great his dad is doing and how he is itching to tell his story. As Mike Francesa said, “if that’s the case, let him tell it.”

Nonetheless, Penn State introduced a new Head Football Coach for the first time since 1966 (Roberto Clemente was the NL MVP, Lyndon B. Johnson was President, the first Kwanzaa is celebrated, and the Doors put out their first album). Bill O’Brien took the podium and simultaneously the reins to a program as deep with history as the dimple on his chin. You never want to be the guy to replace the legend, but why not here? It isn’t like Joe Pa rode off into the sunset on his loyal steed, holding his Big Ten ruling sword into the air. The man who coached one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, will soon be behind one of the most dynamic stories in college football.

Penn State says they want their coaches to focus on subjects both starting with the letter “A,” Athletics and Academics. I would argue that they should have addressed two others, Accountability and Action. The reasons are self-explanatory. A program and school of great tradition has had a black cloud cast upon its 106,000 seat stadium. Bill O’Brien’s job is not to fix the past, but simply to brighten to future. His coaching staff will be rid of all those who ever heard the voice of Jerry Sandusky over their game day headset, and filled with eager coaches, excited for an opportunity to play for one of the biggest programs in the nation. A revamped Big Ten with new found success from Brady Hoke in Michigan, and promise of a return to glory from Urban Meyer in Columbus, Bill O’Brien needs to focus on football and win some games in a very competitive conference. Coach O’Brien may not be a Penn State man, and some alums may feel they should have been consulted on the decision, but this school needs a fresh start. A school as classic as their uniforms has a new leader who is going to start a new tradition. He may never get a statue outside, but he probably won’t get any indictments either.

One more note: bush league move by ABC-6 Philadelphia showing a split screen of Coach O’Brien’s introduction and his sideline altercation with Tom Brady earlier in the year. Philadelphia is Penn State’s backyard and they embarrassed their new lead man by showing a less than stellar moment. I wonder if the producer in charge holds the same opinion as LavarArrington in this hiring.

Now some NFL thoughts from this weekend:

- Never has a young red-headed man had such a great supporting cast as Andy Dalton since Richie Cunningham teamed up withPotsie and Ralph Malph and gained the friendship of The Fonz. Make no mistake about it, Dalton, Green, Gresham and Company are going to make that city forget about the former Heisman Trophy winner from USC and the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson.

- The same can be said for the Lions. Unfortunately, thanks to the other guy who replaced the legend (#12), they might be a habitual wild-card team with the NFC North title looking like it’s going to be in Wisconsin for many years to come.

- The future of young NFL defensive ends is bright. Jason Pierre-Paul, Ryan Kerrigan, and JJ Watt have taken the trenches by storm and never looked back. An unusual mixture of size and speed and athletic ability will make these 3 (add in pass rushing linebackers Aldon Smith and Von Miller) forces to be reckoned with for years to come.

- Never has a city fallen in love with a man as much as New Orleans has with Brees. Make no doubt about it, the Super Dome is hallowed ground now. The residents of that city slept on that turf, used it for shelter, and watched their city fall apart from between the hash marks. Drew Brees helped build that city back up from those same hash marks. He represented hope and accomplishment when a city needed it most. Brees rose above the size of the gargantuan linemen from his diminutive stature and redelivered faith into that city one broken record at a time.

- Speaking of faith, is Tim Tebow the Seabiscuit of this generation’s depression? One stallion was an implausible fixture of possibility and hope given to people during the worst of economic times. Now it is not a stallion, but a Bronco, another implausible figure representing hope and a power to overcome during another time of economic crisis.

- Overtime in Denver should have been Touch-Overtime. There were only 3 things that happened in the coming out party of the new NFL Overtime rules, and they all involved touches. Touchback, touchdown, and fans of Steel Town’s team being out of touch with football this season. Pittsburgh fans were left wondering how a quarterback that can’t complete a pass and has more rushing attempts than passing could outplay and beat their hardnosed defense and 2x Super Bowl winning quarterback. Guess what black and yellow faithful – sometimes the ball sticks to a helmet, sometimes your star center doesn’t get the right roll off the rim, sometimes a routine grounder to first rolls between your legs, and sometimes you travel to high altitude and get beat by someone who most people think is playing out of position. Mile High was feeling two miles high Monday morning.

- Also, enough with the Tebow bashing? Is he covered too much? Yes. But ESPN is doing what they do best, printing money. Tebow is a walking, talking, kneeling, genuflecting, living argument. Arguments for, arguments against, and arguments in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Arguments attract different opinions and lots of them, that sells. Tebow is a young player, and most young players have to be molded. Tebow might take things a little over the top with his religion, but in order to create a great professional athlete, wouldn’t you rather take a little off the top than scrape a little off the bottom like we do with most players who make the news for negative reasons?

- The New York Football Giants and the dirty birds. I hope Dick Wolf is creating a Law and Order episode based on that game because the Giants imposed their will and abused the Falcons. The curse of Tony Gonzalez continues as his playoff draught ceased to come to an end. There is not much of a conversation to be had about that game because it was more of a complete game by this generation of Giants as I had ever seen them play. In fact, Eli even spotted Atlanta 2 points in the first half. I would rather look forward to next week’s divisional game at Lambeau.

- The oddities and comparisons have started already. The past 3 teams to beat Atlanta in the playoffs went onto the Super Bowl. Giants have been plagued with injuries all year, just like last year’s world champs were. The Giants and Eli are very hot and their defensive line cannot be blocked, just like in 2007. Giants head to Green Bay for a rematch of the NFC Championship game from that courageous Super Bowl run. The Giants lost to the undefeated 2007 Patriots by 3 points, then went on to beat them. The Giants lost by 3 to the then undefeated Green Bay Packers earlier in the season and now have a rematch. All of this may be true, but these are two different teams. We have two Super Bowl MVP Quarterbacks facing off with arguably the first and second best wide receiving corps in the NFL. Dynamic pass rushers in Clay Matthews and Jason Pierre-Paul. Confidence is riding high for both teams, and rightfully so. Is this a repeat of the 2007 World Champion road warrior, Giants? Or is this a different kind of repeat? A repeat from last year where an offense so in sync and a defense full of ball hawks will run through their division on the road to bringing back the trophy named after their famed coach? Only time will tell but this game will be the biggest test of the season for each team.

PS – Ike Taylor could not have covered me last night.