It's tough to get started on days like today. A dark, dreary work day and a loss we'd rather not discuss. Just wading though your day trying to avoid the comments. You know the ones. They come out of the woodwork looking for you, the loyal Penn State fan: "Boy that was a route! Heh, heh, season's not lookin so good, is it? Glad I didn't waste my afternoon watching that game!"
Oh zip it. We've heard enough couch-side coaching and critiquing, haven't we?
Yet, I try keep my cool, classy, rise above exterior. By now I've perfected my Teflon coating. A good friend taught me to imagine wiping off the annoyance. Sometimes you might catch me literally running my hands down my arms, wiping the verbal gunk off of my non stick self.
We don’t need to be reminded. We know we are still in the midst of a very stormy sea. The foreseeable future is likely to be rough sailing unless certain people start recognizing the truth. Until then we've certainly got enough excuses to chalk up a bad loss. Sanctions, no scholarships, media pressure...
At the helm we've got Bill O’Brien who said recently, “No excuses. I've got to coach better.”
I wanted Tom Bradley. That guy sure got the raw end of the deal. I rooted for him so fiercely during his time as interim head coach. I wanted so badly for him to hold us together somehow, but we were drowning in the Sandusky scandal and Joe's illness and nothing could have saved us then. And so the Tom Bradley shipped sailed.
I cringed with the hiring of Bill O’Brien. He coached professional football. For the Patriots. You know how I feel about that. I have no interest in any NFL like changes around here. Couldn't we have found someone with a Penn State connection? Someone who would know how much this all meant to us? I prepared myself to see the dismantling of everything we hold dear. I held my breath.
The sanctions were handed down. O’Brien recommitted to Penn State. The dogs were at our door not only for our players to transfer, but also with job offers for our coach. Yet he stayed.
And then I let my breath go. Slowly. Over the seventeen games of the O’Brien era I've started to breathe again. Because it turns out O’Brien is cut from the same cloth as JoePa. Hardworking, well educated, with a bit of charisma. He refuses to dwell on that which he cannot control. He doesn’t complain. He accepts the situation as a challenge. He’s got the heart of a Nittany Lion.
O’Brien is no stranger to adversity. The daily challenges of living with a special needs child put these football challenges into perspective. This guy has weathered many storms, the least of which is our first loss to Indiana.
We might pace the deck and we might feel a bit sick watching but Bill O’Brien will sail us through. It's not his first time as captain in rough waters.
And I must admit that I was wrong (my husband can mark it on the calendar). I was wrong to doubt that Bill O’Brien was the right man for the job. In fact, I think there’s no one better suited to lead us into the future of Penn State Football.
"We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty." ― G.K. Chesterton
We’re behind you, Coach!