November 30, 2005

Penn State Football

Someone has to say it, so it's going to be me. I know a lot of Penn State fans as a result of going to college in Pennsylvania, not too far from State College. Here goes: Penn State's successful season and #3 BCS position is bad for the team in the long term. There. I said it. It's great for this season, no doubt, as they will play in one of the big bowls and Joe Paterno gets that one last great year. However, JoePa has clearly lost it, if you look at more than just this year. His teams have underachieved and been outrecruited for their in state talent. High school sports is a big big deal in Pennsylvania, and it's most definitely football country. Many were clamoring for the soon to be 79 year old Paterno to retire after each of the past few seasons, but he stubbornly hung on. I fear for my Nittany Lion fan friends that this year of success will keep him around until he's physically unable to go to work every day. I'm not saying it's bad that Penn State had a good year, and I have nothing bad to say about Paterno, as his athletes tend to graduate at a good rate, he has had a lot of success in his career, and his teams have mostly held their own in one of the toughest conferences in the country. However, it is time for him to pass the reins along to someone younger who can commit to keeping the team at a high level in the long term. There is no reason for Penn State to ever underachieve the way they have been for the past few years. Of course, I will say that if Paterno uses this season as the capstone of a spectacular career and rides off into the sunset after a BCS win, I can't imagine a better scenario than that.

The Sports Prof wrote a blog post in September of 2004 looking at possible replacements for Paterno, and that post is worth looking at again. He eventually ranks his favorites, and I like his choices based on what I know. Some are probably unavailable, since it's been over a year since he made the list. The two choices I would narrow it to if it were me are Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who gets mentioned for most big jobs, and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress. Tedford is likely unavailable thanks to his five year contract extension he received last December (in response to several high profile open jobs like Notre Dame and Florida), but you never know. Barring Tedford, I say bring Childress in for a talk and see what could pry him away from the Eagles. He has the advantage of being well known in Pennsylvania and has run a successful Philadelphia offense on a team that has been at the top of the NFC for some time. The main issue with him is that he may want to try for a NFL head job instead of going back to college.

It's obvious that Penn State will never fire Paterno, no matter what he does, unless they catch him running stadiums at 3am with no pants. This is why I hope this seaosn is the last hurrah he'd been waiting for so Penn State can get out there and find the next great Nittany Lion coach.

1 comment:

SportsProf said...

Good post, Andy.

I agree with your sentiments.

Blogging is interesting, as I wrote some pieces last year that examined Joe Paterno's tenure, showed up the utmost respect, but also suggested that he retire. I didn't get any posts on the topic last year, but after Penn State's success this year (and even after a subsequent post this year that indicated that I was wrong about the game having passed Paterno by), I got several profane e-mails regarding my commentary. Just goes to show you that one can be well-mannered in challenging a legend and classless in supporting one. Those responses were, needless to say, disappointing.