Posted Jan. 8, 2015

Sep 18, 2011

Thoughts From The Valley: Joe Must Go. And Other Stuff.



HOW I AM FEELING: As though an opportunity has been missed. No, I was not exactly rooting for Penn State to lose to Temple on Saturday; to have done so would have been, in a word, wrong. But in the latter stages of That Freaking Debacle, as the clock ticked toward zero and there seemed to be a legitimate possibility that the Nittany Lions would lose to Temple (!), a part of me started to realize that, all things considered, such a loss would not have been entirely a bad thing. I mean, at the very least, the wake-up call that would be delivered by the first Penn State loss to Temple since 1941 may have been precisely what was (and is) needed to wake the Penn State powers-that-be from their bizarre slumber, alert them to the utter ridiculousness of the current coaching situation and force their hands on a decision that absolutely needs to be made. This has to stop. It's beyond silly at this point, and to be frank, the people who pay their hard-earned money for Penn State football tickets deserve better. More on this in a bit. Oh, and by the way, Penn State won, 14-10. How awesome.

WHAT I AM DRINKING: Sly Fox Brewing Co. Route 113 IPA. This beer is brewed in a town called Phoenixville, which is allegedly located somewhere near TCFA Headquarters. And yet, I have to be honest, I have no idea where Phoenixville is. All I know is that somewhere in Phoenixville there is a brewery that makes outstanding beer.

WHAT I AM LISTENING TO: "1901," by the French band Phoenix, from the album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Not only because it's damn catchy. But also because it's the song that the good folks over at the BBC use as intro music for the eminently listenable "606 Football Phone-In," which is broadcast on both Saturday and Sunday nights all during the (English) football season. Absolutely fantastic. And a great way to learn about the myriad peculiarities that make the English football set-up so oddly fascinating.

VILLA UPDATE: The World's Most Beautifully Named Football Club had a home date against Newcastle on Saturday. You'll never guess what happened: It was another freaking draw. Villa 1, Magpies 1. But here's the good news: Villa has yet to lose all season. They currently sit 6th in the table. European qualification seems possible. Could be worse. Also: They are not coached by an 85-year-old.


It is probably unfair for me to use this space to write once more about Penn State. I mean, while I know that many of you are Penn State fans, I know that many more of you aren’t. And for those of you who aren’t, I am quite sure that one of your principle complaints about this site is the fact that I spend so much damned time talking about Penn State.

But after what I saw on Saturday—after that ridiculous display against Temple—I feel very much compelled to spend the next few hundred words or so writing, once more, about Penn State, even though I already wrote about Penn State, earlier today, over at the other site. I feel compelled to do this because what I am about to write simply needs to be said. And the more that it’s said, the better.

So here goes: Penn State needs to bring the Joe Paterno Era to an end.

Not “should” bring it to an end. We are well past that point. The powers-that-be up in State College need to bring it to an end. Because the program is suffering.

The reasons are numerous, of course. There is the fact that Joe doesn’t recruit, which is only the single most important part of a college football coach's job. There is the fact that Joe forgets the names of his players, gets confused during his radio show and can't offer coherent answers during press conferences. There is the fact that, in those instances in which he is forced to "coach from the press box," Joe is utterly and completely disconnected from his team, unable to do all of those things that coaches need to do.

There is the fact that he is head coach in name only.

There is the fact that he doesn’t actually do the work of a head coach.

There is the fact that, because of all of this—because of the fact that Penn State’s football program is currently being led by a  man who is not capable of leading Penn State's football program—Penn State’s football program is stuck in neutral, relegated to mediocrity, faced with uncertainty, drifting aimlessly toward nothingness.

This program is stuck.

And there’s only one way that it can be freed. It's plain for us all to see.

I have never said this, and never written this, and it gives me no pleasure to write this now. But we have come to this point, and it must be said.

Joe must go.


THREE: In Friday's column, I will more fully address the big off-the-field news of the weekend--that news being, of course, the ACC's decision to expand to 14 members with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse. There's a lot to say about this, and a lot to ponder as well, but in the meantime, I will just start with this: While I don't believe this move (or any of the recent conference expansion stuff, actually) is ultimately good for the game of college football as a whole, there is no question that this move is a good thing for the ACC (because, well, the move has does nothing less than secure the league's future), and there is also no question that this move is a good thing for both Pitt and Syracuse (because, well, they have done nothing less than ensure the very survival of their athletic departments). The league and those two schools had no choice but to look after themsevles. It's the way it is anymore. Sadly. Look, at the risk of sounding cynical, folks, the reality of modern-day American sports (and American politics, culture, life, etc.) is rather simple: It's about money, and pretty much nothing else. To enjoy the sport going forward, you must accept this. I wish that wasn't the case, but it is.

TWO: Up yonder, I wrote of the complete offensive ineptitude of My Beloved Penn State Nittany Lions. But in the interest of being fair, it should be pointed out that those Nittany Lions were not nearly as inept on Saturday as were their hated rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are now officially feeling the effects of The Pyror/Tressel Scandal (and general comic set-up of The Fickell Era). In their embarrassing 24-6 loss to an average-at-best Miami team, Ohio State's dual "quarterbacks" (Joe Bauserman, Braxton Miller) managed to complete a whopping 4 of 17 passes. For 36 yards. The entire night. I mean, they really suck, folks. Said Bauserman: "We shot ourselves in the foot. We didn't execute, plain and simple." Which is true. But this is also true: Neither Bauserman nor Miller are any good.

ONE: Sometimes, individual players make entire teams. And this year, the individual named Marcus Lattimore makes South Carolina; without him, they are a third-tier SEC team, an also-ran, an afterthought. With him, they are the best team in the SEC East. Against Navy on Saturday, Carolina found themselves pushed to the limit, facing disaster, staring down the barrell of what would have been an unforgivable loss to a Navy team that, let's be honest, should not have been within 20 points of this particular Carolina squad. But in the end, there was only one reason why Carolina escaped with a 24-21 win. That reason was Lattimore. His stat line for the day? 37 carries, 246 yards, 6.6 yards per carry, three touchdowns. There is no South Carolina offense, per se. There is just Marcus Lattimore.

TOUCHDOWN: Next weekend, as loyal readers know, Your Editor, TCFA Podcast Co-Host Mike Unger and other assorted individuals will be heading down to Oxford, Mississippi, for the Ole Miss-Georgia game. I have been excited about this for a while, but after watching this, I am more excited than ever. Also, if any of you out there happen to live in The Great American South, and if any of you have the desire, please feel free to look us up while we're in town. It shall be grand. You can reach me/us by emailing us at

OVERTIME: Reminder: The TCFA Podcast is accepting nominations for our new "official" sign-off line. We've got some great suggestions so far; we welcome many more. Also, please remember that you can now listen to our show on Stitcher Radio. It's a fantastic set-up they've got over there, and I encourage you to check it out. As always, we welcome comments, questions, criticisms and more. Write us at

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