Just Play Well

Just Play Well

That’s what Coach Franklin said at half time.“Coach, what do you need to do in the second half?” asked the reporter.

Just play well.

Yeah. That would’ve worked. That would’ve been great actually.

I wanted to jot down a few things I was thinking after the game. I grabbed a notebook and pen. Then I went back and switched the random pen for a Penn State pen a former student had given me. I started to write. The pen didn’t work. The stinking Penn State pen. Did. Not. Work. I mean, come on.

You know that I try to find the bright side. I try to look for the hope. But that was a dark loss. A spirit-crushing loss. By the fourth quarter, I was still watching but I was no longer seeing. Is this actually happening?

Quite honestly the best thing about that game for me was that kickoff was at 3:30. It started after nap time, dinner was served at halftime, and it was over before bedtime. When that’s the silver lining, you know you’re in trouble.

Here I sit, typing with my glass of Tailgate Red, thinking sadly of things like Christian Hackenberg’s mom watching her little boy suffer sack number eight, nine, ten. Of the conversation between Tom Bradley and Joe Paterno before Bradley’s first game as interim head coach: it’s your team now. Of Larry Johnson working for Ohio State instead. Of all of you angry or crushed or hopeless Penn Staters mulling over the first loss to Temple in seventy-four years.

There’s only one Penn Stater who enjoyed the game and that was Matt Rhule. Although, I imagine deep down inside somewhere even he was a little sad for us.

During the game, I was also following the comments in a group discussion. It was as you would’ve expected with complaints about the play calling, the offensive line, the quarterback, the coaching staff... save one woman named Linda.

Linda called for collective positive energy. She implored everyone to support the players. She yelled for the complaining to stop. And then she said the thing I’m going to hang my hat on this week. We’ve seen it before and I have no reason to believe we won’t see it again. She said, “Adversity creates opportunity.”

And suddenly the soundtrack of my life is playing Dave Matthews “Mercy.” Have we come too far to turn it around? Is it asking too much to be a little bit stronger?

I want to know what good is going to come out of this problem. We have until next week to come on back and imagine we could it together. I’m gonna hold on a little bit longer.