Monday Morning Quarterback, regrettably, is having a great deal of difficulty generating enthusiasm for football. It's not just me, either. Many in my circle of friends feel the same way as well. More on that in a moment.
Firstly, though, the issue of the intransigent trustees must be addressed.
The people that run this university, who accepted the Freeh report without reading it (or even those who can't read it), need to realize that they have lost the consent of the governed. Even their own surveys say so. Unfortunately, these trustees think that being one means never having to say you're sorry or admit you are wrong. Since none of them will leave of their own accord, besides Steve Garbage, they need to be forced or shamed into leaving. It appears several of them have no shame, so that may not be an option. Even Chairwoman Karen Peetz, who has the power to fill the Garbage vacancy and restore alumni representation to its rightful allotment, refuses to do so. She even refuses to meet with alumni despite explicitly saying she would do so when she was elevated to chairwoman. Despite just having had an election with 86 hopefuls, she cannot, and will not, seat any of them because they don't agree with her.
So that leaves force. but how? Well, since the NCAA threatened the football program with the death penalty, why don't we go that route?
This is what should happen this evening at football eve. Yes, it's incredibly unfair to have to leave this up to the team, but it's pretty much the last option. In my mind, it may be the best and most appropriate, since the trustees hate the football program.
One of the seniors, perhaps Michael Mauti since he represented so well at B1G media days, should step up to the microphone and make the following announcement:
"This is the Penn State team. We are students. We are athletes. Our former coach insisted on the former being the priority over the latter. And yet the NCAA and our own trustees insist there is a problem with our culture. With apologies to JoePa, that's out of whack. There is nothing wrong with the culture of this team, this program. We are horrified by the crimes that took place. But the criminal process isn't through yet, and much is yet to be known about what, exactly, happened here. No one on this team wants to halt any criminal probe, or impact any such proceeding. So why, exactly, did the leaders of this university do exactly that with the Freeh report? We don't know. But we do know this: The trustees have sold this team and this university down the river. They refuse to acknowledge their accountability for what happened, and continue to heap blame on the football program. If we thought this would solve the problem, we would gladly carry this weight on our shoulders. But it would not."
"Therefore, since the trustees refuse to see the obvious, and refuse to see that they have lost virtually all of the alumni support (again, according to their own polling), they need to step aside. As such, we make the following demand: Either the trustees on the board in November 2011 step down by noon Saturday, not including the ex officio members, and an immediate search is opened for a president who will fight for this university, or we will not play football for this great school until they do. All of the board openings created shall be filled by the top vote-getters from the most recent alumni election.
"Since the millions the NCAA squeezed from Penn State are supposed to come from football revenues, the school will have to find another way to pay. And without football, they will lose all the ticket money, which will have to be refunded, and all of the nonrevenue sports will end."
"You see, this team finally see what the trustees value most of all: money. Our great fans and alumni have been exceptionally generous over the years, and the trustees now take it for granted. They've taken us, the players, for granted as well. That ends today. We take no joy in this, because we desperately want to play and hear and feel the emotion of the crowd, but some things are worth fighting for. We apologize to our new coach, and feel badly it had to come to this, but we believe the trustees have brought this issue upon themselves."
It's that simple, really, in MMQ's head. The trustees fear power, and the NCAA handed it all to the football team. Think of the millions in monetary losses if the trustees resist. Think of the uproar from the alumni, who already despise them, if there is no football. And what can the NCAA or B1G do? This is what THEY set up. For every action...
Again, I know it's horribly unfair, but this is the only way the trustees give up in my mind. This leaves them only one way out: resign.
As an aside to coach O'Brien, you seem like a good man, and you've said a lot of the right things. But saying the right things is a lot easier than DOING the right things. You've been rather Belichick-ian in your recent pronouncements that the fans need to "move on" and get behind the team. I'm going to give you the benefit that a Brown degree offers and assume you are not stupid. But if you use trustee code words and throw your lot in with them, you will not last long. The trustees will NEVER be forgiven for this. NEVER. And if you choose to be their parrot, neither will you, no matter the wins or losses.
Coach, I've never NOT supported the team. I'll do so until I die, and I'm just one of thousands. But I now refuse to support a university leadership that is NOT WORTH my support. So, stop with the trustee-speak, no matter how much Judas Joyner (or whoever) is threatening you. And don't lie to us again. I don't mind the uniform changes, but I do mind the lip service paid to tradition when you were hired, only to throw it under the bus after little Louie started spouting opinions. Unless the leadership is removed, my money and time will be spent elsewhere after the 2012 season. And yes, I'm aware I'm one person, a peon in the great scheme of things. But with apologies to Dr. Seuss, unless someone like me cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
So, coach, please tell me why I should be excited for this season? I want to be excited for football. I've lived for the fall in Happy Valley since 1976. Even when I lived in the South I would come up for as many games as I could. Now, I live 2 miles from the stadium and yet I cannot get excited for this season. Sure I'll be there, but it may never be the same.
Why is that? Is it JoePa? Is it the way he was treated by the trustees? Why wouldn't they speak to him? Why didn't Freeh, since he had 2 whole months from being hired, interview him? What were they afraid of hearing?
Or is it JoePa's death? I don't know. I always feared his tenure would end badly, but not like this, and certainly not with the university he loved turning its back on him and his family. It is unfathomable, unthinkable and unconscionable. Maybe that's it.
Coach, I want to like you. I want you to succeed. I'd really like for you to go undefeated and ram it to ESPN and the B1G every week. I want to see what the new offense is like. I want to see if the defense will continue to be as good as it always seems to be. I want to see the last generation of players embrace the next. I want to watch the McMoxie gunslinger from Scranton throw it all over the sandlot. I want to be there for the next several senior days to thank those that truly believed in the Penn State way, so much so that they gave up potential bowl games and trips to warm locales to do so. I want the next coach from Brown to succeed and thrive and care about the town the way the last one did.
But I will not MOVE ON until the trustees are gone.