Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Signs that Joe Paterno is losing it

One of the great things about having a job like this, operating a successful, independent and award-winning blog, is that you don't have to answer to anyone.
It's a little like the job Joe Paterno has.
Kamara nominated for special award
Temple linebacker Amara Kamara (No. 56) has been recognized for his efforts off the playing field. He is a member of the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®, which recognizes players for their outstanding community service work.

A total of 112 players across all collegiate levels of the sport were
nominated for the award by sports information directors on behalf of
their teams, and Kamara was one of 22 players selected. His impressive
resume of community service accomplishments follows:
  • A strong advocate for bone marrow donor awareness, he assisted in the
    registration of 1,270 new marrow donor registrations – the largest donor turnout in the history of the program.
  • Coached over 500 kids grades K-12 on football techniques at three
    different youth football camps
  • Named the 2010 male recipient of the Athletic Department’s Temple
    Teammates Award and the 2010 T.E.A.M. Award, designated for
    student-athletes that have demonstrated leadership and exceptional
    community service efforts.

The 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® features two 11-player teams,   one for the Football Bowl Subdivision (Div. I-A) and the other for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Divisions II, III and NAIA. All players, including Kamara, will be invited to New Orleans in January to participate in a special community service project before the 2011 Allstate® Sugar Bowl.
He's successful. He's won coach-of-the-year awards. He doesn't have to answer to anyone.
I admire the guy. I really do. He's one of my favorite people in sports.
Like everyone else, Joe has a bad day. So what if he snaps out on a reporter now and then? The reporter can cry and scream and whine until he's blue in the face and Joe can just ignore him.
Nobody's going to fire Joe Paterno. He can coach until 100 if he wants to and he can say whatever he wants.
But that doesn't mean the signs of slippage  go unnoticed. Take Tuesday's press conference, for instance. Maybe Joe had a bad day, but he forgot the focus of at least one Temple question and his UConn-Michigan score was off by only 16 points.
No biggies, but food for thought.
 Here's just one question from the official transcript:
 Q. Temple's running back Bernard Pierce, what does he present for your defense this week? COACH PATERNO: "I think the whole Temple team presents a problem. Al Golden, he has two other kids that played for us, that are on his staff, one is defensive coordinator (Mark D'Onofrio), one is the offensive coordinator (Matt Rhule). And I think they're very, very sound. They've gotten better each year. The kid you're talking about is a fine linebacker. Does a lot of things really well. And they ask him to do a lot of things. But they've got a couple other people, they've got a couple of down kids who are big offensively."
 Err, Joe, the kid they were talking about, Pierce, isn't a linebacker but a tailback. Wait. There's more. PATERNO: "They've played a couple of good teams since. Central Michigan is a good team and Villanova is ranked the best in their division (FCS) by far. And they beat them in a tough ball game. And they had a tough one with a good Connecticut team, (which) lost by four points to Michigan."
Err, Joe, UConn lost to Michigan by 20, not four.
I saw this transcript and got to wondering if this slippage might result in a mistake or two during the heat of the battle on Saturday afternoon against Temple.
Joe's been a pretty sharp guy for 50 plus years there, but the knife gets dull for everyone at a certain point.
In a game as close as Temple and Penn State might be on Saturday, every edge helps.
I've got to believe a 41-year-old Al Golden might be a little sharper than a guy more than twice his age.
The last time Temple avoiding losing on a football field to Penn State, a 7-7  tie, the Owls' quarterback was named Gavin White, Jr., who later became athletic director.
The year was 1950. Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons, not Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, were the Phillies aces.
And that guy with the glasses on the Penn State side of the field, the quarterback coach for Rip Engle, was none other than someone named Joe Paterno.
You've got to admire his durability. When you think about him being a coach on the sideline in Philadelphia when across town Chuck Bednarik was playing his ROOKIE year with the Eagles, that's truly amazing.
Way to go, Joe.