Thursday, November 15, 2007

Going Down Fighting

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic Magazine

Penn State football, especially in the half century since head coach Joe Paterno stepped foot on campus, has been a model program with victories piled high and graduation rates stacked to the steps of Old Main.

It has done so much right. And for that, a book of statistical greatness gives the program its just due. I'm thinking -- in the journalistic service of full disclosure -- that a damning sequel may need to follow.

A pat on the back followed by a swift kick in the ass. At Penn State, such vulgar representation used to be frowned upon, yet in a day where Nittany Lion football players are practicing pigskin technique against non-scholarship students in places far removed from Beaver Stadium, a second book is needed to tell the whole story.

Accolades are wonderful promotional tools. Recruiting directors and SIDs can take copies of the paperback praise and shove them in the faces of high school football stars throughout the country.

Afterward, maybe they should invest in the whole story. A 180-page dissertation on Penn State's accomplishments followed by an equally long, riveting tale of an agitated old man and the asylum he can no longer adequately run.

At least as well as he used to. The numbers and stories that molded a college football powerhouse wouldn't have been possible unless Paterno had control of his football team. And while it can be argued that he no longer even has such power for its play on the field, it can't be refuted that he has lost complete control of each individual member's actions off it.

Chris Baker and Navorro Bowman are now in trouble, stemming from an assault at the on-campus HUB on October 7. Baker was charged for other offenses, along with safety Anthony Scirotto, for their roles in an off-campus brawl at Gateway Apartments back in early April.

Both face trial on those charges. But when will Paterno? When will he -- despite the millions of dollars he has generated for Pennsylvania's landmark institution -- have to sit in front of President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and the Broad of Trustees and explain why his players are in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Penn State's pub circa 2007 is more related to aggression in public places than the controlled variety between the white lines. The latter is what the Sports By The Numbers novel hopefully will represent, the former is a story presently missing the inevitable conclusion.

Whenever Paterno walks away, one has to wonder if he did so several years too late. If his legacy -- well represented in many novels written throughout the years -- will be tarnished by his grumpy and sometimes combative demeanor in front of the press and his players' likewise demeanor in public.

Perhaps, the power of words has idolized Joe and his legion of Nittany Lions to the point of untouchable status. Whatever the case, a title for the sequel has already been formed.

Paterno won't leave without "Going Down Fighting".
Jared Trexler is the author of the upcoming novel "Penn State Football: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports", a book in the Sports By The Number Series. It will be published by Savas Beatie and released in August 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.