Thursday was a time to reflect on the many positives left behind by Joe Paterno as more than 12,000 fans, alums, family and former players gathered to honor the man we all called Joe Pa. It was a magnificent ceremony from start to finish. From the speeches by former players such as Charlie Pittman and Michael Robinson to the remarks by students who benefited from Paterno’s efforts that few of us ever knew about, to the stirring vocal support offered by Nike founder Phil Knight and the emotional closing remarks by Joseph Vincent Paterno Jr., who we know more commonly as Jay Paterno, and the playing of Hail to The Lion by a single Blue Band trumpet, it all seemed fitting for a man who never wished to be the center of attention.
While we recognize that Paterno leaves us all with a stain on his legacy we also remember that stains can fade and will never be enough to let us forget how much good he has done. Now, with the deserved honors paid the Paterno family will look to move forward in life without their head coach. So to will the rest of the Penn State community.
In time our focus will return to football and the ushering in of the Bill O’Brien era. On a day in which all eyes were on the memorial for Joe there was some notable news coming out of New Jersey, and Tampa that Penn State fans should be taking notice of. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano accepted a job offer form the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers less than a week away from college football’s National Signing Day. Schiano’s sudden departure is leaving the door wide open without a lock for recruits who may have been preparing to play in Piscataway in the fall. The question for Bill O’Brien and his staff should be “Will any of those kids now consider Penn State?”
“It will absolutely destroy recruiting this close to signing day” CBSSports.com’s Tom Lemming said in a report by The Star Ledger. “I only remember two other coaches — Jimmy Johnson and Butch Davis — leaving this close to signing day and both left Miami right after signing day, so the recruits were locked in.”
“For [Schiano] to leave a couple of days before signing day you will see the vultures circle quickly and Rutgers could end up with a recruiting class like Penn State’s,” Lemming said. Penn State’s recruiting class may be lacking in star power, especially now with Armani Reeves looking like he will choose between Michigan and Ohio State (where teammate Camren Williams switched his verbal to after committing to Penn State previously).
It is my opinion that the prolonged search for a head coach to ultimately succeed Paterno essentially tossed the Class of 2012 down to the bottom of the priority list, and overall that is an OK decision. Given the state of the school, not necessarily the program, this was going to be a tough recruiting season no matter what. While O’Brien and company have lost out on a couple high-profile players they have seemed to plug some holes by picking up some players that had either fallen off the radar or were never on the radar. This would seem to show that the staff is doing a decent job on short notice. Mix in the fact that they have already been reported to extend an offer to a top junior quarterback and there are positive signs in recruiting moving forward. Once O’Brien has the time to commit to recruiting instead of splitting responsibilities, it will be interesting to see how he handles it.
Penn State will continue to be in rebuilding mode when it comes to their brand name. That is simply just a fact and it has nothing to do with the players or football staff in place. Is it unfair to them? Absolutely. But do they have what it takes to move forward and make alums and students proud of their accomplishments? I think they have already done so despite losing three of their final four games in the 2011 season.
But today is the day we officially start to move on. Sure, we can still honor Joe Paterno in a number of ways, as well we should. Don’t let Thursday’s memorial be the last time we discuss Paterno. We will always honor the past, no matter what, if it is deserved. Paterno deserves it, while others do not. But we also turn the page to the next chapter of Penn State football. Hopefully for everyone, it turns out to be a good one.
Yesterday we did something a little unique with paying our final respects to Joe Paterno. We shut down all Internet interaction. No website updates, no tweets, no Facebook status updates and no Google+ conversation. While our individual staff members carried on with their own personal online interactions yesterday, I want to thank everyone for their participation in our site-wide shut down.
For a website to shut down on such a day in this day and age is a bit odd because our readers do seek out content. We appreciate our readers and our friends on the social networks, and we also appreciate the support we received from our decision to hold a virtual day of silence in honor of Paterno. Sure, we recorded a month-low page view total but I like to think that this website strives to be about more than page views (bizarre, I know). I realize that sounds silly, but my point is I want this site to be something Penn State fans and friends can be proud of as a community. Your support means a lot to us here.
We thank you for being a part of this website in any way you choose to do so and look forward to continuing to bring you some fresh content that you hopefully will not be getting anywhere else. We have a great staff made up in part of a few of students at Penn State who continue to want to show the best Penn State has to offer, and I look forward to seeing what they have to say. I hope you do as well.
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