Cavalcade: The Penn State Nightmare
Posted Nov 8, 2011

Cavacade of Whimsy: Penn State's big problem, crying in football, and more

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 8, 2011

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season | 2010 Season 
2011 Sept. 6 | Sept. 13 | Sept. 20 | Sept. 27 | Oct. 4 | Oct. 11 | Oct. 18 
- Oct. 25  

- Part 1. 10 reasons why there can't be a Bama-LSU rematch

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222 days since Stanley McClover's claims against Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan State, and LSU with no repercussions.

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … I read the grand jury report in the Penn State scandal. Don't. Seriously, unless you want to argue in any way that this isn't a big deal, don't even start. It's 23 pages of stomach-churning horror that will ruin the rest of your week and lessen your faith in mankind. This is one bell you don't want rung.
Hosted by Jim Perry along with Summer Bartholomew … 37 seconds. That's how long it took the Game of the Century to be put on the backburner by the College Football Scandal of the Century.

"There are no clear pictures of the sexual abuse we endured. I buried it as deep as it can possibly go." … From an article I wrote yesterday and from a few radio appearances, I've already received plenty of comments from various Nittany Lion fans – along with the sadly expected hate mail - saying that all of this isn't fair to the players on Senior Day, it's not fair to the team when it's 8-1, and it's not fair to Joe Paterno, since he's not a target in the investigation.

Try telling that to the rest of the world that doesn't give a damn right now about the Nebraska game.

Oh we'll cover it, and I'll do the game preview because it's still going to happen, but a mere football game takes a back seat with such serious allegations swirling around the program, and it's sad that I actually have to point that out to some.

Penn State fans, please, PLEASE, I'm begging you – a small minority of you - don't feed into the stereotype of the Neanderthal college football fan and blindly follow your program and coach just because your team is 8-1 and leads the Leaders, and don't assume that any past good deeds matter when it comes to this specific story.

This isn't the NCAA sniffing around a $100 handshake; the Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania, and other top cops, are thundering away at the school and the football program for covering up as sick a story as college athletics has ever seen. AND SOME DARE TO ARGUE THAT THIS ISN'T FAIR TO THE 2011 PENN STATE SEASON?!

The Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania, along with the Grand Jury statement, are outlining in detail some of the most horrific allegations imaginable, and a possible sinister cover up behind it, and there are some people out there actually wondering whether or not the luster will be taken off of Senior Day – with Paterno apparently being one of them.

Paterno has suspended players before for a variety of reasons in a variety of circumstances no matter how big the game, and now he's not holding himself to his same standards, holding a press conference – which is probably over by the time you read this – demanding that he won't answer any questions that aren't about Nebraska or Senior Day?! (Media, do your job and only ask about the scandal. Ask again. And ask again. DO … YOUR … JOB.) Paterno suspended Curtis Enis for a bowl game for taking a suit from an agent. This is a wee bit worse.

How do you play Nebraska on Saturday? None of this is the players' fault, and of course the fans are blameless, but how do you put on a Penn State football uniform on Saturday morning? How do you read the grand jury report and possibly wear the blue and white t-shirt, tailgate, and have a good time watching a college football program with this hanging over Beaver Stadium?

How do you recruit? How does a coaching staff possibly call a prospect at any point over the next few weeks and sell the merits of playing football at Penn State University, even from the most basic and practical sides of the limbo the program is in? How does a Penn State coach look a mother in the eye and say the program will take care of her son?

How does the Big Ten not step in at some point? This can't be ignored by the BTN, and this can only become more and more of an uncomfortable embarrassment if Penn State stays on top of the Leaders and goes on to play for the inaugural Big Ten championship. And you probably haven't noticed, but there's no promotion whatsoever anywhere on the Family of Networks for the possible Big Ten championship preview on ESPN at noon on Saturday.

No, this doesn't have anything to do with the NCAA or its rules, but fans and programs have become so conditioned to deny, deny, deny, deny, deny until the storm passes – now knowing that there aren't any real repercussions at the end of a scandal - that there's a chance Penn State might be thinking its apples are the same thing as other schools' oranges. But this can't be swept away.

There are so many good people and players around the Penn State football program, university, and athletic department who are unfairly going to be lumped into this mess – and yes, I've heard from plenty of Nittany Lion fans who are just as sickened by this story as the rest of the world is – and now it's time step back and let the authorities do their jobs.

Penn State, don't spin this; don't "stand behind" anyone; don't try to do damage control; and don't make any excuses whatsoever. And for the love of God, and for all that is decent and right, make sure your lawyers never bring up any sort of statute of limitations technicality. Let the legal process work and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

This isn't an NCAA violation being alleged; these are pedophilia and perjury indictments, and there's nothing that can be said that can make this look better until it all plays out. If the allegations are false and the people involved are innocent, then the parties involved will have their day, but if this is true, this is as sad as it gets.

With a nod and a tribute to the late Randy Walker … Barry Alvarez. That's the one megalomaniac superstar head coach who left the sidelines on perfect terms, and Lloyd Carr came close. Almost every other college football head coach has a "yeah, but" when it comes to how things end; from the controversy surrounding Nebraska at the end of the Tom Osborne era; to the somewhat impolite shove given to Bobby Bowden; to the fiasco around the end of the Jim Tressel regime; to the Reggie Bush asterisk and the end of Pete Carroll's time at USC. Bill Snyder came close to a clean break the first time around, but Kansas State was struggling. After this season, the next time he leaves it'll be on a higher note. Frank Beamer appears to be the next in line to retire on great terms, but he's a rare breed. Any coach who gets a job knows he'll either be fired, or if all goes perfectly, will end up leaving for another gig.

Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Jarrett Lee … LSU proved one thing on Saturday night. It absolutely doesn't matter who its quarterback is as long as he doesn't screw things up. Jarrett Lee played like the game was going in hyperdrive, while Jordan Jefferson looked good simply by being not miserable. 6-of-10 for 67 yards, and 11 carries for 43 yards, isn't necessarily great quarterback play; it's not Jarrett Lee.

"I don't know. The shanks are like a virus. They just show up. Nobody can figure them out." … NFL kickers aren't automatic from 50 yards out. You can't blame the Alabama kicking game for losing to LSU when the misses, and a block, came from 44, 50, 49, and 52 yards away. It's not like these were chip shot shanks, and it's not like Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley choked in any way, with Shelley hitting a 34-yarder and Foster nailing a 46-yarder. Asking college kickers to hit field goals from 44 yards and out is like asking a quarterback to complete a 3rd-and-10 throw. It's never a given.

But there might be an issue if Brad Wing continues to be the MVP … Much of the post-game analysis had some thought or line about how LSU has to be better on offense. No, it doesn't. The Tigers can blow through the rest of its schedule, and the national title, with this defense, special teams, and running game.

"Hunnicutt, if there is a God, there will be a time in your life when you are in dire straits and in desperate need of a wealthy, influential friend. When that time comes, I pray you will turn to me so I can laugh in your face." … Maybe it's possible that the biggest trick Les Miles played was by not going with any tricks at all. It seemed like Alabama spent the entire game waiting for Les to be Les, and he didn't oblige. As it turned out, he didn't need to.

"Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue." … In the Lost In the Shuffle Department, publicity-wise, Missouri picked the wrong time publicity-wise to go to the SEC. That would've been the be-all-end-all story in July, but it had a shelf life of ten minutes this week.

"It's okay to cry, Beavis, it takes the sad out of you … wuss." … It's my favorite reaction shot: the crying fan in the stands at the end of a really, really big game. It's especially fantastic if the fan has his face painted or is holding a pom-pom or trinket of some sort. But no, Alabama fans, you don't get to cry after losing to LSU because 1) your team still might get a chance to play for the national title, and 2) you JUST won a championship two years ago.

Oklahoma State fans are allowed to cry if their national title dreams are dashed against Oklahoma, and Stanford fans are allowed to get moist if the Cardinal loses to Oregon. Alabama will win another title under Nick Saban, so no, you're not allowed to cry after that loss, especially if your hot girlfriend is trying to console you, as CBS showed in one terrific shot.

With that in mind, I present the official ground rules for male crying and college athletics.

- Your team has just won the national title – Acceptable, but without streaming tears. You're supposed a chuckle as you wipe your moist eyes, as in "I don't know where this is coming from."
- You're under 13 years old and your team lost a huge game and is out of the national title hunt – Acceptable.
- You're over 75 years old and your team is out of the national title hunt – Acceptable, but blame it on the medication.
- You're in-between 13-and-75-years-old and your team lost a huge game – Acceptable, but blame it on the economy.
- Your team has just lost the national title – Acceptable as long as you go in the men's room and get it back together before coming out. We've all been there, and if any man mocks you in your moment of deepest, darkest pain, you're allowed to point down and mock him at the trough.
- Your team just lost a rivalry game – Unacceptable. It's a rivalry game. Your team will get its shot again in 365 days.
- Your team just lost a big regular season game – Never. It's college football. Your team is going to lose.
- Your team just lost a big regular season game and you lost a monster investment – Always. Get it together and go chase at the tables.
- Your team just lost in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, even if you're a player with a towel over your head – Never. It's the NCAA Tournament. Your team is going to lose.
- Your team just lost a bowl game – Never, but you're allowed to be alone with your thoughts for 25 minutes now that the season is over.
- You're the legendary quarterback of a team that just got obliterated by Alabama in the 2009 SEC championship – Absolutely not, especially if you through a football like it weighs 17 pounds.
- Your team just lost on a defensive breakdown in the secondary a week after losing on a Hail Mary – Unacceptable, but you're allowed to break something tasteful.
- You're a senior and you just blew out your knee to end an all-timer of a college career – Let it fly. Enjoy the Vicodin and get better fast, Ryan Broyles.

But Houston, you've got to give me something more than UCLA to work with … Along with my day job as Boise State Boy – Defender of That In Which I Do Not Believe – I'm also helping out my trusty sidekick, Houstonman.

What if UCLA actually wins the Pac-12 South? Then, considering how miserable the SEC East is, isn't Houston's win over the Bruins almost as strong as Boise State's win over Georgia? TCU, the Mountain West's second best team, lost to SMU, currently Conference USA's fourth best team, and Houston is playing in a tougher, better league than Boise State is in.

No, Houston hasn't played a tough enough schedule to get into the BCS Championship discussion, but it's doing enough to get an automatic BCS invite by finishing in the top 12 if Boise State loses to TCU.

"You want to know what it takes to sell real estate? It takes brass balls to sell real estate" … This week's Alex Neutz tracker will respectfully go on hiatus. The University of Buffalo sophomore is in the midst of a terrific season, grabbing 43 balls for 641 yards and four scores after coming up with four catches for 110 yards and a score against Miami, but he suffered a broken wrist. It's a simple cure: at least one Ted's footlong with chilly and cheese per day, mixed in with plenty of Vinchet donuts with the white frosting cream filling.

And I'm pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook, but my kids will run around without any shirts on like Herbstreit's son did during the BCS Countdown show… To fill the empty void in the column and in my life, each week I'll unearth a wacky fun-stat worthy of being used on the GameDay broadcast. On passing yards alone – 4,114 – Houston would be 20th in the nation in total offense. Houston is the only team averaging eight yards per play. Only Wisconsin, Baylor, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Georgia Tech average more than seven, and no one averages more than 7.5. Let that sink in; the Cougars gain a half yard more on every play than Wisconsin.

- Part 1. 10 reasons why there can't be a Bama-LSU rematch