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CFN Final Thoughts Before Week 11
Posted Nov 11, 2011

CFN Final Thoughts Before Week 11 ... The forgotten part of the Penn State story: the other angry fans

Final Thoughts 

Before The Week 11 Games

- Final Thoughts  2010 | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
- Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

- 2011 Fearless Predictions

- Final Thoughts, Week 11, Part 2

E-mail Pete Fiutak
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- I promise I’ll get to the fun and games of college football again, but there's only one thing that matters this week and these are extraordinary circumstances.

- “This is a horrible, horrible story that has deeply saddened me, my family, and the entire Penn State community. Considering the understandable anger, and to not be a further distraction from what’s truly important, I’m voluntarily stepping aside for this week’s game against Nebraska until it can be decided how to best move forward in the most appropriate and respectful manner for the victims, their families, the seniors on Senior Day, and for Penn State University.”

- If Joe Paterno had said that on Tuesday he’d still be the head football coach at Penn State University.

- Instead ... “Beat Nebraska!” He left the Board of Trustees no choice.

- No, the grand jury report wasn’t about Paterno, and no, he hasn’t been charged with anything, but this was his program and his university, and to not grasp that or to underestimate his influence and power in any way is to not understand Penn State football, Penn State University, or this story.

- When it comes to anyone directly involved in creating the Penn State nightmare, there’s no “but,” as in, “All the attention and all our prayers go out to the victims, but ….” No. All the attention should be on making things right for the victims. Period.

- BUT, some of the attention and some of the prayers must go out to the heroes who take care of our children, especially the difficult cases, on a daily basis. Their thankless jobs were just made that much harder.

- Unfortunately, there's one key part of the equation that’s been muzzled so far, and it's the one side that can save Penn State University: the other angry Penn State alumni, students and fans.

Please remember that the people involved in the scandal and alleged cover-up, the protestors, and the angry mob that formed after the firing don’t represent the entire Penn State family.

Please remember that there are so many fans, so many students, so many professors, and so many graduates who are (clap, clap) Penn State, and they’re more deeply saddened and far more sickened than the rest of us.

It was my saving grace this week to hear from venting alumni, fans, and students who wanted to protest the way the situation was being handled, wanted to show their anger, and wanted to voice their opinions, but were shouted down, drowned out, or were afraid of being beaten up. They wanted to show the world a different side of their school, but they couldn't get above the noise.

Even those who made reasonable, rational arguments for why Paterno deserved to stay - including by some in the media - were blown away by the firepower from both ends of the spectrum, including me. I apologized several times for missing a well-conceived stance from the other side after blasting away with my own response.

This is a tough time to be associated with Penn State. The feds are about to get deeply involved; the investigations are about to ramp up from the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office; and Sports Illustrated, among others, are supposedly going to take this scandal to a whole other level in a few days. More and more victims are going to come forward, and this is going to get a lot worse before it gets a little better.

And if you don’t know what the Clery Act is, it’ll be a part of your vernacular very soon.

Please, listen to the students, alumni, and fans who live, breathe, and love Penn State football, but don’t give a damn about beating Nebraska this Saturday because they're worried about Penn State University even more.

- Joe Paterno was a hero of mine, too.

- By far, the best angry line of the week: “Stop making Joe Paterno an escape goat.”

- I got twice as many angry Penn State e-mails in 2003 and 2004 for arguing that Paterno deserved to keep his job despite going 7-16. Most of the protesting students were too young to remember the "Joe Must Go" debate.

- Believe me, the story would be much, much different this week if Paterno was 7-16 in his last 23 games. 

- Go ahead and play the game, but Penn State, you need to properly grasp the enormity of the moment, the gravity of the charges, and the grand jury report images irrevocably stuck in the minds of millions of people. This JUST came out and there’s been no time to let it all breathe, so while nerves are so raw, you need to understand that to go on like it was any normal big game Saturday, or worse yet, to act defiant, will ramp up the outside anger level that much more.

- Call me naïve, but no, I don’t believe for a single, solitary second that there will be any incidents this Saturday.

- At least none without alcohol involved.

- However, considering the threats against Mike McQueary this week – at home - security needs to be figured out now for the road trips to Columbus and Madison. Those could be three-plus hours of full-throated anger and venom like no team – other than any that tried to break the color barrier - has ever faced in the history of sports.

- There are over six billion people on the planet who have no idea who Joe Paterno is.

- You’ve got to hand it to the NCAA; fantastic timing nailing Ohio State with the failure to monitor tag. When it comes to the news of the week, that’s like being told your car needs new tires four days after your house burned down.

- Also in the In Any Other Week category, the rest of my Fresca to the first person who knows who Keith Tribble is.

- Will Boise State ever catch any semblance of a break when it comes to exposure? There aren’t a ton of huge games this week, and along with Oregon-Stanford, TCU-Boise State should be center stage, but it’ll be story No. 11 in the rotation with the first nine having something to do with Penn State.

- South Carolina is a major disappointment this year, right? If the Gamecocks beat Florida, with Citadel up next, the regular season finale against Clemson will be for the program’s second ten-win season. Ever. 1984 was the one and only double-digit win campaign.

- If you were my close, personal friend and you were going off to Vegas to legally “invest” what little money you might have left before Italy melts down, I’d suggest taking a look-see at NC State -2 over Boston College, San Jose State +10.5 at Utah State, Texas Tech +17.5 over Oklahoma State, Western Kentucky +41.5 over LSU, and my Five-Star, Master Lock Pick of the Millennium For This Week, Auburn +13 over Georgia.

- HA! I went .500 last week. I’ve now gone 19-37 against the spread with these picks over the first ten weeks. You know what to do.

- I miss arguing about the BCS.

- Next week. I promise.

By Richard Cirminiello 

Raise your hand if you saw South Florida being 4-4 and clawing for a middling postseason bowl berth. To get to the next level, Skip Holtz needs a quarterback besides B.J. Daniels behind center.

With a win over Clemson this week, Wake Forest takes control of the ACC Atlantic. Won’t happen. Well-rested and motivated from their pre-bye week loss to Georgia Tech, the Tigers will execute crisply on offense this weekend.

How will the Penn State players react on Saturday following a tumultuous week for which there is no blueprint? Whatever the outcome, the visit from Nebraska promises to be one of the most emotional and unique settings for any sport in recent memory.

All of a sudden, the races in the Leaders and Legends Divisions of the Big Ten just seem so trivial. Even discussing the Penn State-Nebraska game from an Xs and Os perspective just doesn’t feel right at this time.

The student-athlete game of the week pits Rice against Northwestern. Or Harvard-Penn for those keeping an eye on the Football Championship Subdivision.

It looks as if the Texas ground game is going to be in good shape for a long, long time. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, who’ve each rushed for more than 100 yards in the last two games, are first-year freshmen.

Mark Dantonio might need to fool his kids into believing they’re still in East Lansing this weekend. Michigan State, which averages 35 points a game at home, has managed a grand total of 26 points in three games at Notre Dame, Ohio State and Nebraska. The Spartans travel to Iowa Saturday, trying to protect their slim lead in the Legends Division.

Cincinnati has another huge game upcoming, hosting West Virginia, with a chance to send another Big East contender packing. If the Bearcats get to a third BCS bowl game in four years, does that mean Brian Kelly was a little overrated, or current head coach Butch Jones is an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks?

Texas Tech’s shocking upset of Oklahoma on Oct. 22 helped Oklahoma State for more than just the obvious impact in the standings. That game ensured that there’s absolutely no way the Cowboys will be overlooking the Red Raiders in Lubbock.

Yeah, I get the emotional and historical impact of Florida State-Miami each year, but the game barely registers on the national radar when neither team is in the mix for at least a conference title.

Stanford has not been back home since its Oct. 22 blowout of Washington. With speedy Oregon in town for Saturday night’s Pac-12 showdown, who wants to bet that the groundskeepers haven’t cut the stadium grass since the last time the Cardinal played?

Has anyone been noticing how well the Oregon defense has been playing lately? Guys like Josh Kaddu, John Boyett and Dion Jordan have been operating as if they’re eager to carry the D outside of the offense’s shadow this weekend.

- Final Thoughts, Week 11, Part 2