In Defense of the Master Defender
Now, mind you that when we do this, we need to take into account the completely terrible scope that’s been created by the national media. In the eyes of “them”, the next permanent head coach of Penn State cannot have any ties to the Joe Paterno regime because it would signal that such a man was complicit in the ongoing allegations surrounding Jerry Sandusky.
If you’ve never met Tom Bradley, here’s a very brief primer. This man lives Penn State Football. It consumes his life. As a lifelong bachelor and without children, “Scrap” literally eats, sleeps and breathes this university’s football team. Make no mistake – this man literally sleeps in his office more often than he’ll ever publicly admit. To know Bradley is to know devotion. His heart is enveloped with and inside of this program. And you’ll never meet a nicer man in your life.
As mentioned in this space during weeks prior, it would be a crying shame if any other coach were to assume this post. Not only does he deserve it, he’s earned it; and those two descriptions are in fact mutually exclusive, by the way.
A group of former PSU stars including LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short started a petition – aimed at those in charge of making this decision – to choose Bradley as the replacement for Paterno. Arrington was quoted years ago as saying that, “Penn State would win at least one national title every decade if Scrap were the head coach”, and he’s not the only one holds such sentiment. If you understand the inner-workings of college football then you surely know that recruiting is the lifeblood of any successful program. Bradley is one of the best recruiters in the game. Period.
In the truest form of any antonym of the word “tepid”, a screaming match should take place if anybody would dare raise an eyebrow as to Bradley’s pure coaching talent. Even in the darkest of Penn State’s “Dark Years” (although any reference to an off-the-field period of the same name certainly began when Sandusky – allegedly – committed that first of many heinous crimes), Bradley’s defensive units were the lone positive in a myriad of offensively offensive offense.
We could go further to paint the picture of his achievements (read: a list of national statistical rankings for PSU’s defenses over the last decade, which is basically a table of single-digit numbers signifying a top 10 position in nearly every major category every single year), but instead, let’s review a realistic – or the opposite depending on with whom you speak regarding the subject – outcome and with it the best possible scenario for those who appreciate Bradley and who live in reality.
Thanks to satellite trucks and their owner-operators camped out in State College in early November and whose hunger for meat on a stick, along with a failure to and/or lack of interest to wait until all the facts are revealed before passing judgment on a living legend, this newly-formed brass placed with the job of hiring a new coach does not have a millennium to make a decision. As already noted above, we are all being told – although you should disagree yet begrudgingly understand the angle taken – by John Q. National Media that in the interest of public relations, the new head coach won’t have ties to the Paterno staff.
So where does that leave Bradley? Well, here’s one idea. Hire a coach who understands what Bradley has meant and still means to Penn State. Said hire will only accept the position with the following caveat: Bradley remains on staff, resumes his duties as defensive coordinator and is given the title of associate head coach, which he basically already was for the past five seasons.
The next issue becomes finding a coach would want that situation and one with whom Scrap would agree to “work for” under this scenario. Let’s be honest – is Bradley going to cow tow to a man 15-plus years his junior? No. Nice he surely is, but pride he surely exudes. There also must be a level of mutual respect; Bradley must know the man personally, have had some interactions with him through the years and be certain that this man understands what the Penn State program is all about.
So, moving along with our fictional situation, which, if any, coaches exist to fit this bill? The first name that comes to mind is Mike Munchak, currently the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Munchak brings instant credibility. He is a current NFL head cheese, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was selected to the all-decade team for the 1980s, went to nine Pro Bowls, was an assistant coach in the League for 16 years prior to assuming his current position and, perhaps most importantly, is a Penn Stater.
I defy Urban Meyer to walk into the living room of any prep player in the Commonwealth and believe he has him in the bag when he knows that the duo of Munchak and Bradley have an appointment in the same household several hours later.
Is this a possibility? Sure it is. Is it likely? No. But for a man who devotes (emphasis on the present tense of the verb) his entire life to the program and it is understood that which he has truly earned, he deserves to be spoken for.