PSU has much to be thankful for at 2012′s end
It’s the time of year when we often reflect on those people and circumstances in our lives for which we are thankful.
If Penn State football fans do so, they can, first and foremost, be thankful this is the end of 2012 and not 2011.
Last year’s passing found PSU in arguably the worst situation of any college football program in the sport’s history. The Sandusky scandal had exploded, Joe Paterno had been fired, the campus had ereupted in riots, the team had lost two of its last three games after arriving at November 8-1, and no one knew what would happen next.
So, Penn Staters can be thankful for:
- The hiring of Bill O’ Brien. The largely unknow offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots stepped into an unprecedented situation, and has done everything right. He kept the team largely together, and after a tough 0-2 start, steered the ship to an 8-4 finish, winning conference coach of the year and getting consideration for other such honors.
- The leadership of Michael Mauti, Michael Zordich, and other seniors. These guys stayed loyal to their school, conducted themselves with honor, and showed people why fans say with such pride, “We are Penn State.”
- The continued commitment of high profile recruits such as Cedar Cliff tight end Adam Brenneman. His very public support of the school is no doubt helping keep others to their commitments, and giving O’Brien and his staff a boost in their recruting efforts.
- The steadfast support of most fans. While Beaver Stadium wasn’t full on most Saturdays, getting 90,000 folks to make the trek despite the best efforts of the PSU brass to make the games unenjoyable and unaffordable shows most Lions faithful are still that.
- A much brighter outlook than could probably have been imagined 12 months ago. While the bowl sanctions and scholarship reductions for the next three years will no doubt hurt, it looks like Bill O’Brien is keeping things pretty much together. 2014 recruits can be sold on the fact that by the time they are likely to be impact players, the sanctions will be gone.
Rocky days remain, with the upcoming trials of Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Graham Spanier. Possible revelations in these court cases may serve to further damage the reputation of Joe Paterno, or, while it seems less likely, reduce the former coach’s culpability.
Still, as you raise a glass this new year’s eve, it will be one that’s half full, when considering the Penn State football program’s future.