Grief? Anguish? Distress? How can one put into words the emotions of seeing the Le Den Shelves being carried off by the Spartans? After finding a comfortable home in Happy Valley for eight of the last ten years, the Land Grant Trophy is now in the cold, harsh, windswept cauldron of despair that is Michigan State University. As we look foward to the schedules in 2011 and 2012 we see no Michigan State, meaning the LGT will be sequestered and taunted for years by those in East Lansing who thought Abu Ghraib was a pretty good idea, that Jimmy Baio is the best Baio, and that Vichy France reminded them of home.
So long, Land Grant Trophy. May your time in East Lansing be as painless and unpleasant as can be wished.
Play us out, Bone Thugs...
Just carry over the hate from last Saturday to this one and you’ll do fine.
Indiano, as in “no” wins all time against the Nittany Lions. As in “no” consecutive games in which they’ve held their opponent under eighty points. As in “no” self-respecting team would sell a home conference game away to a venue only 70 miles away from the Pennsylvania border. As in “no” respect from me.
If Indiana football was a lady, it would be a nice and well-meaning lass with overly large and meaty hands. Not overly bright, but good in the fields and fond of rabbits. You don’t honestly spend much time thinking about her. As long as she doesn’t bother you too much, you don’t mind seeing her attempt to be somewhat successful in her life. Alas, her insecurities always catch up with her, and she ends up being knocked up by a meathead in a Badgers track suit and ruining her life.
Had fun with shore leave? A few extra days of drunken cavorting with the lovely ladies at the happy corner of Michigan & Northwestern? It's time to sober up, sailor. It’s Hate Week: Ohio $tate. Although all hate is equal, some hate is more equal than others. The ship has sounded its horn, and we are about to sail.
Who: Ohio $tate.
Ugh. Say no more. A university in a state so uninspiring they shaped it to look like a deflated tire. Helpful tip: if you’re driving through Ohio make sure you stop and get gas and food in Sharon or Washington, PA. If you wait until you get into Ohio you will only empower people there to spend your money on rusted machine tools, discount zubaz pants, and Buckeye recruits. Avoid it at all costs.
What: Our playcalling against Ohio $tate.
This is the first time since 2005 that we don’t match up well with Ohio $tate on paper. Even so, you wouldn't know we were equals with O$U if you looked at the game results. The 2006 game was the catalyst for some of the most uninspiring games against the Buckeyes. Penn State was in the game in '06 until there was a late-game disaster largely the result of two pick-six interceptions. PSU, no stranger to turtling up on offense, responded by putting forth arguably the worst game plan in Paterno history against Ohio $tate in 2007. This crap effort would be eclipsed two years later at home.
We as fans have left games against the Buckeyes with the same feeling of, “we didn’t go down swinging.” Sure, it’s tough to be dominated on the offensive line in 2009, but should we not have seen that coming? What on Earth did the coaches do to adjust? We had the talent to at least put forth a competitive effort against Ohio $tate, only to see our coaches lay eggs.
Now we have a notable disparity in terms of experience and, to an extent, talent. No matter how you look at it, they are statistically as good or better than Penn State in every way.
I still like our chances.
I don’t know what’s happened, but I think the coaches have finally learned from their mistakes. Maybe they won’t put together four quarters of great game planning, but the past three weeks have me believing that if PSU goes down in Columbus, they will go down swinging. If you need evidence, rewatch our walk-on quarterback throw a TD pass to our offensive tackle when down fourteen points against the 6-2 Northwestern Wildcats. Something’s in the water, and it does taste like kool-aid.
Where: Ohio Stadium (they love that O-word)
Ohio Stadium is the physical embodiment of every Buckeye fan’s arrogance. The stadium is on the National Historic Register, designed with a damned rotunda like it’s the state capitol or something, and now erroneously referred as the “Horseshoe” even though it looks remarkably like a deflated tire. Get over yourself and realize that it's just another stadium with just another band. Just because you construct something that looks prestigious and preserve it doesn't mean it deflects other Big Ten fans from seeing your true desperate selves. Specifically, d-bag fans who—in spite of all of their success—cannot grasp fundamental concepts about college football such as what constitutes holding, head-to-head tiebreakers, why referees can throw flags against the team in scarlet, and that their quarterback is average.
Everyone knows that the best stadium in the land looks awful—like a glorified erector set surrounded by cow pastures. It's not pretty, but if you want to know what makes Beaver Stadium great, to paraphrase Joe Paterno, "look around."
It’s Nordwestlich week. In other words, the week in which we have to expend effort to review the least interesting, least athletically prestigious, and least passionate fanbase in the Big Ten. Yes, it's tiresome dealing with Northwestern, but when we yawn, we yawn with utmost HATE! Here we go.
Who: The 400 Club.
For once, let’s not focus on the other coach and instead look at our own. This week marks the first time that Joe Paterno can enter the 400 Club along with Eddie Robinson.
Let’s put 400 wins into some perspective. It’s more than Michigan’s Fielding Yost and Bo Schembechler’s combined career records (399 wins). It’s more than Bob Devaney, Ara Parseghian, and John McKay combined (393 wins). It’s more than Woody Hayes, Jim Tressel, and Earle Bruce’s combined records at Ohio State (386 wins). It’s more than Northwestern’s combined record since 1904—that’s not an exaggeration. It’s more than 24 NCAA FBS programs since they started playing football. I could go on.
We almost take Paterno for granted, but it’s moments like this where we can reflect on the scarcely believable legacy Joe Paterno has had at this college football program, let alone this University. When I entered PSU as a freshman in 1997, I absolutely believed he would retire before I graduated. Didn’t happen. When he got his 324th win, I didn’t even consider he would get to 400 because it was impossible. Yet he endures. The Grand Experiment continues. The PSU faithful continue to get pumped at pep rallies by this man. Whatever our frustrations with the coaching staff and talent, we know we are in the last days of a special, direct link with the core of what it is to be a Penn State fan.
His mark is indelible. The efforts to name the stadium after him almost seems like a trivialization of his legacy—why not “Paterno Valley” or “Mount Paterno”? It sounds like hyperbole, and I’m a bit taken aback by my own reverence for the man and my desire to name landforms after him, but for once this accolade seems befitting a human being.
And if you want some hate? Sorry, John Gagliardi, but I refuse to equate you with Paterno and Robinson. Division III football is dominated by the few select schools that have decided to become football factories among a couple liberal arts colleges who want to focus on academics. Also, since you have been a head coach at a football factory since 1949 your record is a triumph of entropy rather than a testament to greatness. It’s not as though you never had a chance to prove yourself at the I-AA level, you just chose not to.
All teams are hated, but some hate is stronger than others. It’s Michigan week.
WHO: Jagoff United The University of Michigan comes to town!
Michigan, the once and forever darlings of the Big Ten, is an actual credible threat for the first time in three years. Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, who's so slippery the U.S. Ski Team is considering using his face as a training facility, boasts arguably the most potent offense in NCAA football. Michigan also features a Greg Robinson defense, an equalizer if there ever was one. Think we have troubles in our secondary? At least we didn't have open try-outs earlier this season like Michigan, or allow 37 points to our FCS opposition this year.
This will always be about the fans. Their "Michigan-ness" will be on display at James Addams Beaver's Stadium. Their fanbase is best expressed through moving pictures, which I've helpfully attached here: (warning: naughty words, so NSFW!)
Oh, maker of silly youtube videos, you deserve an Oscar. An Oscar for Truth.
WHAT: QB CONTROVERSY! WHOOO!
Bear me out: Bolden is the man and he should be the starter against Michigan. I was intrigued by Matt McGloin's unique QB play last week. Specifically, before Saturday I have never seen the following:
- QB leaves the pocket by sprinting right with blazing 5.0 speed.
- With defensive players baring down on him, the QB stares down his receiver downfield, who is buried in triple coverage.
- QB points out the receiver he’s throwing to, like he’s Babe Ruth calling his own shot for a kid in a hospital or something. To suggest he was pointing out which defenders his teammates should block on the play is laughable.
- QB chucks the ball to the receiver, but badly over/underthrows it for an incompletion.
...and it happened TWICE last week with McGloin.
It’s the kind of QB progression that should have defensive backs salivating. This play does provide an equally tempting opportunity for Penn State in that it’s hard not to commit to that spot on the field if you’re a defender. The first time he pump fakes and throws across field it will be to a PSU player twenty yards clear of any defenders--but he'd probably overthrow the receiver by ten yards.
At this point, there are concerns that Bolden may not be ready to go this weekend. If this is the case, McGloin’s the ideal player to have when the opposing secondary is comprised of young players struggling to understand their Defensive Coordinator’s incomprehensible schemes. This accurately describes the Michigan Wolverines.
Who needs balance? Just fling bombs all day and watch McGloin smile. 10/20 for 10 TDs, and 10 INTs will still be a winning formula.
Enough sitting around and watching the NCAA football world defending their ground against another Nittany Lion onslaught--it's time to play some ball, and we've got some fresh meat on the grill. Hate Week Minnesota status: ACTIVE!
Let's be honest. We're in for the worst week of self-immolation, naval gazing, and disoriented manic depression in recent memory as a Penn State fan. This game could not have sucked any worse, but we do have to take something from this game and learn how to cope as fans.
1) This game was an alpaca out of nowhere. It's what happens when you're a die-hard fan: you focus on the past, you look for the intangibles and statistics that prove that your team isn't as bad as it seems, and then a team coached by Ron Zook throws your team around like a bag of bad garbage. Think we're the only ones? Try looking at the Wolverines some time. Sometimes we have to take the smirk off our face and realize that some of the other guys might be right about our team--perhaps we can learn from them.
2) There are no untouchables anymore. The good graces that were brought on by back-to-back Top 10 seasons and two Big Ten conference co-championships in four years has evaporated. There will be calls for everyone in the program to be thrown out. Don't get mad if your sacred cow is now on someone's hit list. On the flip side, don't get angry if everyone doesn't agree with your assertions that two months ago would have sounded foolish. The plain fact is that it's an ugly time to be a Penn State fan, and we won't all be singing from the same songbook. Deal with it.
3) Rumors are flying all over the place. I would wait for some credible evidence before you wander down a path of speculation that is unfounded. It's harder to "unbelieve" something that's untrue than it is to do some fact-checking. If nothing's concrete, don't believe it. There's no OJ prize for being the first person to be pissed at something that's true.
4) Remember what a game like this can do for ramifications in the off-season. You may get all you want and more, only AFTER January. Remember what I said about the Temple 2010 game possibly being one of the most important games of the decade? This could also be one of those games as well.
5) One thing that is beneficial to the bye week: there are approximately 3,498 injuries on the starting roster at Penn State, particularly at defense. In the third quarter there were ten defensive starters that were injured or otherwise unable to play. I take some comfort in knowing that we'll at least have a physically improved team in two weeks against the Gophers.
6) This is the hardest one: hold on, take a deep breath, and realize it's a game. I'm just as bad as most at getting overly worked up about this, but if you were at State College and you couldn't enjoy the incredible homecoming weather at least a bit, then you should really stop and look around. Coping is another way of saying, "get on with life even when sh*t falls on your face."
But never, ever let your guard down, and keep on with the HATE!
Uncle Rico hair? Check.
Cheap suit? Check.
American Flag tie? Check.
Thumb in the “total quality” position? Total check.
Striking a pose? Only like a man coated in Drakkar Noir cologne should be posed.
Ms. Pac-man? Yes.
Pedobear finalist? Yes.
Iowa? Oh hell yes.
Hate Week Iowa. It’s on like Big Ten Donkey Kong.
It's amazing that one can be so close to the Silicon Valley and yet have the same wireless access as the Bolivian rainforest All apologies, but blogging at the remote cabin in the woods was near impossible. Regardless, Hate can be delayed but never denied. MAC Hate Week, volume 2010, issue 2 is hot off the presses!
Who: Our in-state rivals
Let's face it: Temple is now our traditional in-state rival. Forget looking westward to Pittsburgh. The series with the Panthers is done. Over. Wannstachted'ed. The Owls are our team now.
The numbers back it up: Penn State has played Temple five times since 2003, and are scheduled to play five times in upcoming seasons. Since 1972 Penn State has played Temple more times than Pitt. It's the new Battle for Pennsylvania, complete with a sizeable paycheck to the loser and full stadium for the winner. Soon the athletic department will sift through the rubble of this series and manufacture a historic rivalry montage. They'll need to find the Temple version of Dan Marino, of Tony Dorsett, and of Hugh Green. I offer that they can start with 1986 Heisman runner-up Paul Palmer. Then they can go to with... um...
If their coach was a comedy routine about Bill Cosby. (Warning: naughty words!)