GOING LONG

Posted: November 18, 2011 in NCAA

College football is something that takes over college towns in the United States like no other sport can. You would like to think that the big basketball schools love their teams, but even a small division 1 school come Saturday morning is abuzz the second the sun begins to rise. I can’t really say why that is, maybe it’s because the school spirit is so high, maybe because most of these small college towns are built around the income streams created by the local post secondary institution and this is their closest thing to big time sports. Either way, a great college season is coming to its end and there is a ton of excitement to take in.

One of the first big debates starting to come about is who will face LSU in the national title game. That argument of course is accompanied by a huge assumption that the tigers will win out their last few games. Now looking at their schedule it is totally acceptable to assume that they will roll over Mississippi State, but Arkansas is currently ranked #6 in the BCS rankings. Not to mention they are no slouch, as any half-decent college football fan knows that any top half team in the SEC can bring a big game any day of the week.

I for one believe that LSU will definitely be in the championship game, not to jinx them but their defense is just out of control. They smother the ball and rush you with what seems like NFL veterans against under sized and under skilled offensive linemen. They are killers on the field, take the ball from whoever they feel like whenever they want it, and almost always seem to call the right plays.

However the favourite is never safe in college football. Let’s not forget how strong a team Oklahoma was in the pre-season rankings and for the first few weeks of the season. With Landry Jones behind the helm of another strong offense from the Sooners they were favoured by many analysts to go on and win Stoop’s second national championship in his Oklahoma tenure. A slip up at Texas Tech however crushed almost any hope the Sooner’s had and gave them almost no shot at raising the crystal football.

Oklahoma State is the favourite right now to play LSU for the championship and I think all college football fans need to support this. It was too long ago that the “I’m a man!” speech from Cowboys’ now famous coach Mike Gundy was made you remember OSU. I for one was extremely entertained by that speech; it showed that there are great men as coaches out there looking out for these kids. Now the talk of OSU is about their football team and the incredible success it is having and not just about their coaches ability to take over a room.

Brandon Weeden is tearing up defences like an NFL pro would be at a high school game. He threw for over 400 yards and five touchdowns this past weekend against Texas Tech in about three quarters of play. This guy isn’t even playing complete games all the time and is still dominating college football like it’s a play date. Having passed for 3600 yards this season, 31 TD passes and his team ranked #2 and undefeated, I would challenge anyone else to seriously contend another player getting the nod for the Heisman right now.

Andrew Luck has been the favourite amongst fans and voters so far this season, but I feel he is benefitting too much from pre season hype and name status. Sure, Luck will be the #1 pick in the draft the second that his college career ends and everyone knows it. However he is still playing college football and after his team lost a must win game this past Saturday at home to Oregon, tell me how he is better that Weeden who earned himself early bench rest because he was simply too good to leave out on the field?

Trent Richardson is another name that comes up for Heisman talk but I can’t see him getting the win this year. Granted his former teammate Mark Ingram held the hallowed trophy proudly two years ago, but he was an incredible player on an incredible team. Alabama is great but they are great on defense, I would argue at best only decent on offense. By needing Richardson to be that guy I think it increases his touches unfairly as they need him to produce. LaMichael James missed two games and yet still averages more yards per carry than Richardson and has more rushing yards for the season.

Case in point, Weeden spreads the ball around, makes it look too easy and his team is in better position to contend for a national championship. Not to mention he cannot hide behind an NFL talent laden defense. He needs to stay out there on the field and give them rest and also put points on the board to help them play with ease. Richardson knows his defense will take care of business so the pressure is not as high on him to perform.

As for the other bowl games, I really don’t see the point in getting into them. I watch these games absolutely. There is something enchanting about the Rose Bowl and all that encompasses it. There is the parade, the beautiful setting of Pasadena California to provide usually great playing conditions, and the 90,000+ fans in attendance. One of the great things to see in that stadium is the aerial shots outdoors with one half of the stadium completely one colour, the other half another colour. Last year when Wisconsin faced TCU it was a sea of Purple against a sea of Red, spectacular.

I’m a sucker for spirit and team support, it’s something I love to do and people call me lame but whatever, my life and I like to do it. If there is one thing US schools do well in my opinion, it’s school spirit. Students of all backgrounds and majors love their school and love supporting it. They’re always out there in colour, gear, costumes, whatever they feel they can do to give their team the support and edge it needs to get it done.

We couldn’t talk about college football without a brief mention of the Penn State debacle that has transpired in the news and media these past weeks. Let me make it clear, POS does not support the actions of Sandusky nor do we support any of those acts done by anyone. It is saddening that once again, someone in power to help people instead chose to take advantage of them. What I am going to plead for is your understanding of the situation for Mike McQueary, one the witnesses of the events. We were not there when he saw whatever it is he saw, no descriptions needed here. We were not in that environment, we were not friends or admirers of the coach. We did not have a coaching career starting to worry about, or grad school credentials or any of that stuff on the line. Mr. McQueary for all we know was shell shocked and didn’t know what else to do than go to his coach, Joe Paterno. Mr. McQueary is not a victim, but he is neither an accomplice nor a criminal.

We would all like to think that in that moment we would stop any acts we witnessed and be the hero, but we have absolutely no idea what we would actually do if we saw it first hand. Not to mention, does anyone honestly think if he did step in as a whistle blower that every big time college program wouldn’t black list him for life? This again is not to excuse him not following up with Paterno and the AD and President of the school. He should have made sure they were reporting this, but I no way can we judge his decision to report what he saw to a higher power given his position and age, I would have probably reported it to a higher power too, but he should have followed up with them.

I also ask that you think about this for a second if you were JoePa. What if you were informed that your long time friend and colleague had just been seen committing these crimes, you pick up the phone and call the cops? Would you want to believe it in the moment? What I hold JoePa responsible for is not following up on the situation and what was being done about it after he informed the athletic director. He should have followed up on his own report. However, the initial hearing of these incidents and not calling himself I understand. We as outsiders have no idea what we would do if we were told a friend was committing these heinous acts, we don’t. To sit there and judge “That was pathetic, he has no soul or conscience, how did he not call the police?” is insane. We were not in his shoes, feeling the feelings he felt. Put yourself in that situation and you would probably want someone else to make that phone call to the cops on your friend too.

Another thing when forming your judgements on McQueary is to understand just how big these programs are, not the school, the football programs. So many careers and lives are tied to the money that they generate. Towns, employees, players, schools, are in existence sometimes solely because of the revenue brought in by the program. McQueary new that if he called in and was the whistle blower that it would bring down a program and a school, that’s a big pill to swallow. Again, I cannot make it clear enough that I don’t believe he was 100% correct, he was not. He should have followed up a week later or less and asked what was being done. In no way however, is he a criminal or an accomplice, he acted how he felt fit and for anyone to judge his actions without having faced the same situation themselves in the same environment is judging unfairly.

That all being said, it is terrible unfortunate for any victims of these crimes as there is no true repair to any damage done. We can only hope that due process does its job and any guilty parties are held to their actions and pay whatever price deemed necessary by the courts.

What I hope now mostly for Penn State is to get this whole ugly mess behind them as quickly as possible and get back to normal life on campus. The school does not need this hanging around them nor do any of the innocent people involved. They all deserve to get back to their normal lives and continue on living them.

On that happy note, I look forward to seeing the rest of the games in the college football season playing out and all the standings finalized. Everyone wants to see if we will have 10 one loss teams in the top 10 rankings and how the national championship game will be decided. Even if it all seems fair there will still be tons of debate going on this year about who gets to play who, who should play who, etc. It will be a crazy mess of debates, yelling and outright blame game playing and I for one cannot wait.

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