Blog Entry CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno

Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:56 am

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Business as usual, business as usual. That approach, that adherence to process is what anybody needs to persevere in a competitive field for 45 years--the amount of time Joe Paterno has spent at the helm of Penn State. Now, the concept of "usual" is pretty loose in college football on a year-to-year basis, but at the end of the day, it's pretty much the same: recruit at a high level, get your defense playing hard, and make sure your playmakers are on the field on offense. Sure, that's overly simplified, but it's a formula Paterno has followed en route to 401 wins at the helm of the Nittany Lions.

But what happens when that formula is no longer applicable? What happens when Paterno can't lean on a veteran QB, a considerable talent differential, or even a psychological edge on his opponents? What if this is the year it all comes tumbling down?

People have been speculating on what year would be Paterno's last since he turned 70. That was 15 years ago. Paterno has always laughed off the speculation and has never set a date of departure, and that's been fine because far more often than not, his teams have backed him up. Even after a rough five-year stretch at the start of last decade, the Nittany Lions returned to form and went 11-1, their only loss coming at the last second at Michigan. Three years later, PSU went 11-1 in the regular season, and again, their only loss came at the last second--this time at Iowa. There have been a slew of nine-win seasons as well. Business as usual.

But this offseason, things looked to be on the precipice of unraveling. Paterno wouldn't let quarterbacks Rob Bolden or Kevin Newsome transfer, much to their chagrin. Both men are now entrenched in a quarterback battle with putative starter Matt McGloin, a former walk-on who struggled with consistency last season. That battle ought to continue as close to the beginning of the season as possible, which hardly does any favors to a quarterback who'll probably want to transfer if he's not given the starting job. That's JoePa's M.O., though. Business as usual.

The offseason was also marked by the potential for serious turmoil. Longtime Paterno assistant Tom Bradley was thisclose to accepting the Pittsburgh head coaching spot, only to have the deal break down over details. If he had taken the spot, there's no telling how many PSU assistants he'd have been able to bring with him. Probably more than one. It's one thing to keep Joe Paterno around as long as he wants. It'd be quite another to keep him around andtask him with rebuilding a coaching staff that he has increasingly come to rely on now that he's in his 80s. The Penn State brass has always been patient with JoePa, and that's a good thing, but that patience is largely due to his ability to maintain stability and high standards of performance. Take those away, and he's just a very old coach in charge of a program in flux, and that's far less appetizing to any athletic director.

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That performance, though, may be on the wane once again. Penn State barely eked out a winning record last season, going 7-6 and losing its bowl appearance against a similarly underachieving Florida squad. The quarterback situation is uninspiring. So is the defense, which allowed more points than it has in 27 years and returns no first-team or second-team All-Big Ten performers (to be fair, DBs Drew Astorino and D'Anton Lynn were honorable mention, as was DT Devon Still; they're all back). Linebacker U's linebackers anchored a rush defense that was 74th nationally against the run -- and two of the top four tacklers in that unit have graduated. Nate Stupar is back, and while he's good, he's not Linebacker U good yet. Michael Mauti might be . PSU had better hope he is.

The recruiting suffered this year, too. The normally dynamic Larry Johnson Sr. didn't have a lot of roster spots to fill, but the recruits he did get weren't terribly impressive. DE signee Anthony Zettel was No. 82 in Tom Lemming's Top 100 list, but that was basically it for incoming future stars. If Johnson can't get top talent to get excited about Penn State anymore, that levels the playing field against the rest of college football -- and widens the growing gap between Penn State and the powerhouses.

All that, and JoePa got one year older. He can't coach forever, and whenever the time is that he physically can't coach anymore might be, he's one year closer to it now than he was a year ago. Time may seem immaterial to him, but make no mistake: his career is in its twilight.

Yes, yes, this is all old hat to Paterno and Penn State now: the growing doubts in the spring, the concerns over his age, the notion of the program being on the precipice of collapse. They've dealt with this for decades, and they've usually dealt with it by going out and whipping their opponents up and down the field anyway. But what if they don't in 2011? What if this is the last chapter in the JoePa Saga? And if that's not a hard enough problem to consider... what comes after that?


Since: Sep 23, 2006
Posted on: June 1, 2011 10:52 am CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno

who is Adam Jacobi? is he a writer for Dave Lettermans top ten?
number 79..can wait till we see how his top ten is..

Since: Jul 28, 2008
Posted on: June 1, 2011 10:17 am CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno

Apparently the morons are out in force. Thanks for proving how little you know about college football.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:38 pm CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno

Best conference in the country!!!?  You have got to be kidding me.  You mean the conference that went 3-5 in bowl games (soon to be 2-6 when Ohio State vacates all their wins from last year).  Your banner bowl game (Sugar Bowl will not be considered since ineligible players were involved) was Iowa beating Missouri by 3 points.  New Years day was a massacre for the Big Ten!  What a juggernaut conference….

And seriously… closer to 9-3 than 6-7.  By my math they were one game away from 6-7 while they were 2 from being 9-3.  In my math book, 1 is a smaller number than 2… meaning they were closer to a losing record than 9-3.  And seriously… which of the losses other than to Michigan State (loss at home by 6) are you chalking up to being close.  By my math, the second closest loss was to Florida which was by 13 (yes, it was close at the end but it was still a 13 point loss).  Heck.. Temple lost their game to you guys by only 9… why don’t those balance each other out?

And don’t you think you are being a little melodramatic about the injuries.  Every team deals with them.  Why don’t you read up about Oklahoma’s 2009 season… and how about the 2004 Alabama team… and I quote , “By the time of the Iron Bowl, the Crimson Tide had a third-string quarterback, with a fourth-string tailback, two true freshman wide receivers, and a true freshman tight end.”  Would you like some wine with your cheese?  Maybe your recent memory is a little limited. 

And 12<sup>th</sup> best class in the country.   That is laughable.  The problem is I don’t see Penn State even in the top 25 of a single one of the recruiting services of note.  They are just not there.  Sorry but taking out class size to rank a recruiting class is like taking out batting average as a way to judge a baseball player.

Sorry but there was just way too much wrong with your post.

Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:57 am CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno

Newsome should switch positions.  He is athletic enough to play somewhere else on the field and he isn't even in the conversation as a starting quarterback for this team.  In my opinion the race should be between Paul Jones and Rob Bolden.  McGloin is a nice back up to have around but he is just Zack Mills all over again.  I think this Penn State team will be much improved and will see a few year boost in recruiting due to what is going on at Ohio State right now.  Not that Penn State hasn't had their share of problems but Joe Paterno is a class act and a legend unlike any we will ever see again in college football.  I would love to see him go out on a high note.

Since: Jul 28, 2008
Posted on: May 30, 2011 11:18 pm CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno

I think Adam just spent a lot of time talking about of his fourth point of contact. Yes they were a tough 7 and 6 but they were a lost closer to 9 and 3 than a losing record. And they did it in the best conference in the country. As for the defense, no team in recent memory took an injury hit comparable to the one Penn State took last season where they were without ALL of their key perimeter defenders (the playmakers in Bradley's defense) for long stretches during the season. And lastly, the line about recruiting is an outright lie. When you take out the class size bit, Penn State had the 12th best class in the country when you look at the quality of recruits. Adam is just another know nothing hack who is basically stealing his employes add dollars.

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: May 28, 2011 9:27 pm CFB 100, No. 79: Joe Paterno

There was no discussion of Kevin Newsome being denied a transfer request anywhere but in this article.  He very well may transfer being 3rd or 4th on the depth chart, but never requested a transfer to date.

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