Keep Your Head

Keep Your Head

Sigh. Well, we answered that question: no, it wasn’t enough. 

What started with so much promise– the momentum of a great win against Maryland, the second largest Beaver Stadium crowd in history, 110,865 fans, an absolutely gorgeous day, and winning the coin toss to defer to the second half– ended in exactly the way we feared it would. Jahan Dotson tweeted that it hurt his eyes. Accurate. Hurt our hearts, too. 

The defense showed up to play, the offense let us down. Again. We all feel the frustration as we all want to beat Michigan (and Ohio State for that matter) any chance we get. The fact is the number 10 team lost to the number 1 and number 3 teams and this should not be a surprise. Most lower ranked teams lose to higher ranked teams, right?

I understand it’s a pattern though, I do, and I agree it's problematic. I won’t pretend to know the solution other than, it’s not #firefranklin.

My continuously unpopular opinion is that James Franklin is not a bad coach. He’s certainly not the best coach, but he’s not bad. I think it’s in his head now. He’s so scared to lose the big game that he inevitably loses the big game. I couldn’t find anything in his post-game conference that helped him out; he obviously doesn’t have the answer, yet. Maybe he never will. There’s so much money involved that it’s hard to see things clearly anymore. That’s a problem with football and with our society, not a uniquely Penn State problem.

The first two stanzas of Kipling’s poem come to mind, and I sincerely hope Franklin can rise to them:

If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
      But make allowance for their doubting too 

I’ve been reflecting—as I have each of the last ten seasons when we've lost these games—as to why I stick with Franklin. And my answer remains: I think he gets the Penn State way. I really do. If we have any hope of the Grand Experiment continuing, I think we stick with him. Penn State is the only hope for integrity in college sports.

I know I don’t have to compare it to a certain other scandal for you all to see the massive hypocrisy in the way the Michigan cheating scandal was spun. Did you see the emotional debacle of a post-game reaction from the acting head coach and their star player? As if Michigan has endured some injustice that requires them to come together…as if they were the actual victims of their own unethical choices. It’s egregious enough that they are allowed to continue this season with the barest of hand slaps to the head coach, after they were found out to have very literally cheated to win, let alone to have national media collude to spin it positively for the cheaters.

We are the team that needs to stick together and bounce back. I hope our players are able to block out the noise of the belligerently critical faction of our fan base. I hope our fans are able to keep their heads.

Drew Allar said the noise doesn’t matter to him. “We’re the ones going out and playing the game. We’re not going out trying to lose a football game. We put too many hours, too much hard work, too much sacrifice in this to want to go out and lose a football game.”

So what if Penn State is 10-2 for the rest of forever? It is once again, always, forever, about your perspective. Will you celebrate the wins we get and keep the losses in perspective? Or will you allow rage to flood your body and the lives of those around you in the wake of the perceived injustice of not getting the win you feel you deserve? The choice is yours. And what a powerful choice it is.

Go State! Beat the Scarlet Knights!