Underachieving -- for some time now

Posted by mmq on November 11, 2009 

Longtime readers know that I've long been upset with how our team isn't "coached up," that is to say the team doesn't beat teams it shouldn't.
In the wake of Saturday's beatdown at the hands of the Bucks, I thought I'd bring up the subject again. (BTW, PSU really needed to win on Satuday, if for no other reason than to establish itself as the conference's top dog. Beating OSU and UM two years in a row hasn't happened since the mid 60's for Sparty. If PSU wanted to establish itself as conference royalty, it should've played to win Saturday.)
OK, ask yourself this: When was the last time the Nittany Lions beat a team they should've lost to. Go back, way back... I keep coming back to the Bucks in 2001. PSU was young, OSU was young and had a rookie coach. PSU had to overcome a big 2nd half deficit.
Now, try that exercise again, but go back further. Name the time previous to that one. Go ahead, I'll wait...
OK, you've had enough time. What did you come up with? Here's my list, with only two slam dunk answers last:
1999 Miami, but the argument against is PSU was higher ranked and Miami had a young QB. NEXT!
1996 Texas, Fiesta Bowl, but the argument would be that PSU should've been 12-1 that year, save for a tough loss in a cold monsoon to the Tim Dwight-led Hawkeyes (sound familiar?).
1993 Tennessee, Citrus Bowl, but the argument against would be that team was loaded and would be the best team in the country a season later.
And the two right answers would be...
1990 Notre Dame. Probably the only way PSU wins this game is actually how it happened. Rocket Ismail has to get hurt and miss the 2nd half.
1987 Fiesta Bowl vs. Miami. Yes, the pinacle of college football, the national championship game. The game we've been living off of, replaying in our minds, for 23 years now. And yet, PSU and Miami were 1 and 2, so really anything could happen, right? No. If that game is played ten times, PSU probably wins 2 at most. It was truly a masterful coaching job that night, perhaps one of the best EVER.
And therein lies the problem: the staff has been living off that reputation for two+ decades. Go back through the exercise again: PSU isn't an underdog often. Even in the dark years, PSU didn't pull any surprises (save for OSU in 2001).
Think about it another way: Since the resurrection in 2005, PSU has been the Vegas underdog only 8 times, twice in bowls (2005-OSU; 2006-ND,UM, Wisky, OSU and Tennessee; 2007-OSU; 2008-USC; 2009: None pending bowl game.) The Lions have been victorious only in the 05 OSU game and the 2007 Tennessee bowl game. And they've lost as favorites 7 times!
Why is that? Well, if you ask me, coaching and schemes.
MMQ isn't over with the OSU postmortems, not by along shot. I'll probably get medieval on it Thursday, with apologies to Marsellus Wallace.
(Note: A commenter on the previous post "insulted" me, calling me nothing but a "Monday Morning Quarterback." Well, guess what? That's me. I beg of commenters: Say something, anything, but have an opinion and give some reasoning/insight. Most of us have been watching the blue and white for decades, and I'm in my fourth. So let out whatever it is you like.)

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