Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Decision

Silas Redd has made his decision. And for PSU fans, its not the decision that we wanted to hear. Silas Redd will be a Trojan in the 2012 college football season. Is this what PSU fans wanted? no. But should PSU fans be mad at Silas Redd? NO!

Redd committed to Penn State to play for Joe Paterno, and to play for bowl games and national championships. And despite the obvious irony of transferring from one school facing sanctions to another, I can't blame Redd for switching schools.

let's looka t facts. at PSU, Redd has 2 seasons of eligibility left. But after a stellar sophmore season, with over 1200 yards and 7 touchdowns, he faces no bowls or postseason for the rest of his career. At USC, despite sanctions, its a different case. He faces one year of postseason sanctions, then the trojans are free to compete for postseason glory. So after what will essentially be a warmup year, Redd will be able to lead the Trojans to glory in the weakest conference iin college football. In terms of a post college career, Redd probably made the right choice.

But it's not the choice PSU fans wanted to see. We wanted to see Redd stick by his word, and play for PSU despite sanctions. we wanted to see Redd lead this team to a winning record, and fight against what many view as unjust NCAA sanctions. But alas, it's not to be.

Instead, Redd joins Lane Kiffin at USC. A school that most PSU fans, myself included, detest. But we can't hate Redd for his decision. And we can't blame him for leaving. he made the decision that was the best for him and his future. Instead, PSU fans need to face this season with the team we have. And with the commits we have. and we have a strong team left, and strong commitments from high school players. The future of PSU players did not depend on Silas Redd. But he sure would have helped.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Will They Stay or Will They Go?

Today is the day of reckoning for Penn State fans. Penn State has had sanctions levied on them. But most of the players have reaffirmed their commitment to stay. Most of the recruits have also committed to Penn State. But there are still a few players who haven't made a commitment. And the most important of those players is Silas Redd.

Redd is expected to make an announcement concerning his decision to stay or go. And the school he's considering is USC. And can you blame Redd? He's a star and a stud running back. With a couple more seasons of good football, Redd has a solid chance to be high draft pick. The problem he faces is a matter of publicity. where will he get more? Succeeding at USC, and succeeding in bowl games? Or leading a Penn State team facing crippling sanctions?

It's a tough choice. USC not only means press and bowl games, it also means a probable chance at a national championship. The PAC-12 has been a playground for USC over the last 10 years. And with Matt Barkley leading the charge, and Silas Redd in the backfield, the Trojans would a force in the PAC-10. And for a young college athlete, this has to be an alluring offer.

But to stay at Penn State? That would take guts. leading a team for two seasons with no shot at a bowl. No shot at a Big 10 championship. And a virtual guarantee that each season will be worse than the last. But the respect and admiration that he would gain by staying? Unmeasurable. He would be a hero to the Penn State nation. And he would also be an example for his fellow players who are looking at other teams.

So Penn Staters are holding their collective breath. And praying that Redd chooses to stay. It's not that the season hangs on Redd one way or the other. But he will be a huge help to an offense that hasn't exactly lit up the scoreboard in recent seasos. So Redd would be a big help.

So all Penn State fans can do now is wait. And hope that the good qualities o Penn State, and the culture of the University can help convince Redd to stay. Because it wouldn't just be a big statement for the season, it would be a big statement for the University. It would show that despite the crippling NCAA sanctions, Penn State is going to fight hard on and off te field.

Friday, July 27, 2012

MLS All Stars vs. Chelsea FC

The MLS All Stars won the match 3-2. A fantastic result for MLS, especially considering their opponents were the Champions Leaague winners. So what does this victory mean for the league, and more importantly your Philadelphia Union?

Well, short term, it means nothing. But in the eyes of the world, I think it shows a of of growth for the league. let's face it, the MLS is often maligned as a league of weak players, and semi retired European players looking for some easy money. I think this year's friendlies, and the match between the AllStars and Chelsea, are starting to show the world what the MLS is made of.

Granted, the MLS is not up to par with European sides yet. premier League teams they are not. But they are  getting better. And the world would do well to recognize it. Not only do stars like Landon Donovan and David Beckham play in the MLS. But stars like Freddy Montero and Michael Farfan make their home here too. And as the talent level continues to rise, respect for league should grow as well.

But one All Star game does not mean instant respect. other MLS clubs need to step up to the plate. An All Star win is nice. But the MLS clubs in the Conacaf Champions League need to start winning too. International wins are what bring respect, and the MLS needs to step up to the plate and win some matches in international play.

But until that happens, I'll take a win over Chelsea any day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moving On

The next era of Penn State football is beginning. And while it appears to be a foregone conclusion the team will be mediocre at best, thanks to incredibly strong NCAA sanctions. But Bill O'Brien isn't going to let that stop him. As he made the rounds today, he outlined the reasons Penn State will continue to be a successful institution.

And what he mentioned are strong reasons for new recruits to come to Penn State.  Where else can you play 6 or 7 home games a season in front of 108,000 screaming fans? Despite the sanctions, Penn State will still be a nationally broadcasted team. And Bill O'Brien has coached teams in the Super Bowl. So there are still reasons to come to Penn State. Good reasons.

Unfortunately, that won't be enough. The current players have expressed their commitment to Penn State. Maybe they'll all stay. Some players will leave. Who will leave remains to be seen. And certain players can't be blamed for leaving. Silas Redd for example. He's a fantastic player, with a real chance to get drafted and play in the NFL. And on a Penn State team that could recruit normally and play in Bowl games, Redd may have had a chance to do something wonderful. But rumors have him talking to USC.

So all that's left now is to play some football, and let the chips fall where they may. The NCAA has seen to it that Penn State will be a sub par program for the foreseeable future. Once the current crop of players leave, Penn State will be a broken and battered program. Instead of scheduling small weak programs for us to beat up on in the opening weeks of the season, we will be that team. And that's not what PSU fans are used to.

But it will end. The sanctions will end, and when O'Brien gets a chance to recruit with the promise of bowl games and scholarships, the ship will right itself.

In the meantime, only 38 days until we play Ohio. And I can't wait.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sanctions and Their Repercussions

Well, there you go. Joe Pa's wins are gone. 4 year bowl ban. And Penn State football is now being run by the NCAA. And what for? For a man who committed horrible atrocities and was not an employee of the University? Because criminal courts can't adequately punish those who committed the crimes? No, they are punishing a program because they feel they need to act.

And my problem with the punishments is just that. Sandusky is a monster. Who committed awful crimes. But he was not an employee. I can't stress that enough. He was not an employee. Did Sandusky's actions give Penn State a competitive advantage? Were their players committing crimes? Their coaches giving an advantage? No. None of the above.

So my question is, where does the NCAA get this power? It's an organization that was founded to promote fairness among athletic programs. And that is an admirable thing. Fairness is important. But this is so far outside of the NCAA's jurisdiction it's scary. There was no question of fairness, no question of on the field problems or infractions.

So now Penn State faces a 4 year bowl ban. And loses their win records. And all of these things may have been warranted. But the circumstances just seem a little off. Yes it was a horrible thing that occurred. But the NCAA didn't commission an investigation. They gave their president dictatorial power to lord his will over the Penn State football program. So where do we go from here?

Bill O'Brien had a nearly impossible job. Now it's even harder. His program has literally no incentive to bring players into the program now. you won't see a powerful Penn State football team for a decade or maybe more now. And that will have repercussions beyond just the football field. A bad football team will lead to a lack of fans attending the game. A lack of fans will hurt central Pennsylvania in a way the NCAA can't quite see. Central PA depends quite a bit on PSU football for economic prosperity. That will go away.

So was this the right thing to do? No. The people who committed these crimes are being punished criminally. Or they are dead. Vacating the wins? That I have no problems with. But the bowl ban? And the financial penalties? These are leveled by an organization far overstepping their bounds.  Penalties for a crime that had nothing to do with the football program.

And people will say hero worship. People will say it's a cult. And they can. But that's not what it is on my end. I'm completely fine with the loss of the wins. Take JoePa's wins. if he did everything they claim in the Freeh Report, that is a viable punishment. But to punish a program, when in reality it as the action s of a select few, all of whom are dead or being punished criminally, I think these are inappropriate punishments.

In Anticipation of Penalties...

The one thing I find strange is how excited people are for the Penn State penalties to be handed down. Penalties that will not just effect the football program, but the town, and the economy of the region beyond.  Penalties that will are being handed down for actions committed by a man who was not an employee of Penn State, and for the actions taken by members not a part of the football team.

But regardless of why, the thing that scares me is the fervor of people waiting for the penalties. ESPN couldn't be more excited about these penalties. People can't wait to see just how much the pound of flesh will weigh. Will it be multiple bowl games? Will it be financial penalties? Will it be loss of scholarships?

They really don't care. All they care about is the show. And being able to villify and destroy a man and a program who had been held for so long as the gold standard of college football, this is what they wanted. The media is thriving off of this scandal, and loving every minute of it. Because if there is one thing the media loves more than success, it's watching a fall from grace.

And this is the biggest fall from grace sports media has had in a long time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Legacy of Joe Paterno

I've been debating what to write on the legacy of Joe Paterno.  What he means to the community of Penn State, and what he means to the world are two wholly different things. To an outsider, he's the coach of a crippled and rotten institution. To many he is just as guilty as Sandusky, if not more so. And one can debate the question of what he should have done and what he did. You can debate media bias. You can debate the fanatical defense you see from Penn State students and alumni.

But you can't debate that what Joe attempted to portray his whole life is not all that he was. Viewed through the rose colored glasses of Happy Valley, Joe Paterno was a hero. he was a man who stood above the greed and corruption of college football. he cared about his players, and not just their stats. he wanted to see them graduate, and graduate they did. And he wanted to win. and win they did. And in doing so, Joe became a legend almost as big as Penn State itself.

And in doing so, he became unassailable. How many comparisons of coaches involved good old JoePa? When you looked at scandals in big football programs like USC, Ohio State, Miami, and others, invariably Paterno's name would come up. because Paterno was the proof that you could do it the right way. you could work hard, and be rewarded for it. And it seemed paterno would coach to the bitter end, just trying to make sure that the program he came to represent would always be known for the morals he showed to the world.

And then November of 2011 happened. The scandal that rocked a man who seemed so untouchable, that scandal would never reach him. Remember all those scandals that he was compared to in the past? Those all paled in comparison to what they were accusing Joe of. Add them together and they weren't 1/100th of what Joe had been a part of. So they took his team away. And he lost what he had worked so hard for. And he died.

And the Penn State family mourned his passing. And we all hoped that what we feared wasn't true. That he did the right thing. That others covered it up. That it wasn't Joe. then the Freeh report came out. And every Penn Stater's worst fear was confirmed.

He knew.

He could have stopped it.

He didn't.

So what are we left with now? How do you reconcile the image of a man who meant so much to so many, with the image of a man who now represents the face of a monster. The man who covered for Jerry Sandusky?

Will supporters of JoePa attempt to explain away the wrong he did? Of course. And will people vilify him to an extent he doesn't deserve? Of course. And far be it from me to determine the proper way to remember JoePa. All I can tell you is what i feel.

JoePa was a legend in my family. he was a hero to me. i listened and watched to Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions for as long as I can remember. I've bled blue and white my whole life. And when everything broke, I was in denial at first. But then, as I watched how Joe handled the situation, my view began to change. Joe was not the face I saw on TV. He was an old, tired man who had made a mistake. And he refused to admit to it.

Then he died.

Then the Freeh report came out. And I founf out Joe knew more than anyone could have imagined. How could Joe Paterno, the man who always did the right thing, not call the cops, or the governor, or the President? he was Joe freaking Paterno!! Someone, anyone would have listened. And it hurt. Even though I never met Joe Paterno, to imagine someone I had looked up to my whole life could act in such a disgusting manner, it hurt me.

So take down the statue. I think it should come down. What did Joe always say? it isn't the name on the back of the jersey that matters, its the name on the front. So bring down the statue.

And lets do what Joe would have wanted. The Joe we all knew and loved. The Joe who cared about Penn State, and doing the right thing. Let's move past this horrible tragedy as a family. And let's make it about Penn State. No tributes to Joe Paterno. No statues. No names. Just Penn State. The Nittany Lions. And if they suspend football for a year or two, and give us the death penalty, no complaining. And when the Lions come back on the field, we'll be right back where we should be, in Happy Valley, supporting them.

And as for Joe Paterno? Who can say what we'll think of him in the future. 10 or 15 years from now, we might look at him differently. But for right now, Joe has to go.

In every way.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Philadelphia Union vs. L.A. Galaxy Postgame

What a game. What else to say? What a game. The Union played out of their minds. The L.A. Galaxy should be going out of theirs. The Galaxy had so many unfinished chances it hurt. But they couldn't finish. Despite the star power. Despite Keane and Donovan, and all the dives Donovan could bring to the table.

Now I won't say this was a match the refs controlled. Because the Union won. But Landon Donovan did get the benefit of the doubt a few times when the call could have gone either way. Or one time when Donovan should have gotten a card(ask Gabe Farfan) but he didn't. But in the end, it doesn't really matter. The Union show their grit and score 2 goals, both in stoppage time, to win the match.

So the Union win. And it's thanks to a full team effort. Hooray to the strikers and midfield for scoring. And hooray to the defense and MacMath for not allowing more goals. But in the end, what really won this match? Any guesses? If you said the following, you're right!!!


Hackworth let the Union play their own game. And when they needed firepower, in came Hoppenot, Gomez, and Pajoy. Exactly what they needed to score. And exactly what Nowak would not have done.

So enjoy your July 4th aftermath. Because the Union sure will!!!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Philadelphia Union vs. L.A. Galaxy at the Half

Wow. What a game. And the Union manage to bring a 1-0 lead into the locker rooms at halftime. Who saw that coming? Certainly not me, especially after the 1st half the Union played. The 1st half hinged on 3 players, and we'll take a look at how each player performed this half. We'll start things off with a man who knows how to get things done.

1. Robbie Keane
Unfortunately for L.A., Keane can't seem to close the deal tonight. He should have a hat trick, and the Union should be sitting dejected in the locker room, ruing another West Coast loss. But Keane has had the uncanny ability tonight to completely miss the net. His chances have been golden, and any other night this game would have been out of reach. But how can a Mick be the hero on July 4th when you have a player on the field named...

Jack McInerney
That's right! Union Jack scores the goal that puts the Union ahead. Was it a pretty goal? No. Was it a typical Jack goal? Yes. Be in the right place, at the right time, and reap the benefits. Jack collects another goal since Nowak left, and yet more proof as to why he deserves to start every game. It's plays like Jack's goal that will help the Union pull themselves out of the hole that Nowak put them in. But the real hero tonight? I think we all know who that is.

Zack MacMath
It's hard to judge how important he's been in this match. The most important player on the field? Or the player the game hinges on? To take a page out of a hockey game, the 1st star? All of the above is the answer. MacMath has stopped Keane more than once, and punched out, grabbed, or backpedaled to save multiple shots. It's nights like tonight that make a Union fan say Mondragon who?

So what does the 2nd half have in score? Who knows. But my heart can't take too many more Robbie Keane chances. He's been all over the field, and has sliced through the Union defense like butter. Another goal from the Union would certainly make this game easier to watch. I see more scoring this half.

Final Score Union :3 Galaxy:2

Philadelphia Union vs. L.A. Galaxy Preview.

Tonight, on July 4th, the city where the United States was founded will face off against the L.A. Galaxy in a battle for Independence Day supremacy. And I can't wait. This is a battle between the the MLS Cup winners from last season, and a team that appears to be on the rebound since a managerial change. So who will win?

It's going to be a tough match, there is no question about that. The L.A. Galaxy have found their stride. They've put together a good run the last couple of games, and have been scoring goals at a pace that even the Union over the past couple of games have had a tough time keeping up with. But the Union do have a few advantages going into tonight's game.


One would be the loss of David Beckham for tonight's match. Due to yellow card accumulation the popular midfielder is out of tonight's match. But that doesn't mean that the Galaxy are without dangerous pieces. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane still lead a potent L.A. attack.

But it's precisely those players that give the Union their advantage. No one can deny their skill. But no can deny their age either. The Union have youth on their side. And in a midweek game, youth is something you need. The Union legs should stay fresher than the Galaxy, a factor which will be important in the second half especially.

But unfortunately, I think legs will be a factor for both teams, so don't look for MacMath to post another shutout. Both defenses will be tired, and I think both will let in bad goals. Look for a high scoring game, and look for the team that scores first to win.

So now here's my prediction. Short and sweet and nothing else. 4-3 Union.