Burn the Ships!

Has it really been two weeks since I last posted? Actually it’s been 16 days but who’s counting?

I can assure you that my lack of posting has nothing to do with my enthusiasm for Penn State football. In fact, I’m really looking forward to this season. Despite being shafted by the NCAA, and the myriad injustices foisted upon Penn State under the guise of punishing pedophilia, I think this team is poised to have a great season.

How can that be?

Am I forgetting the sanctions?

Are we not a linebacker injury away from being Pitt?

Did anyone look at the schedule?  Ohio State (#2) , THEM (#17), Nebraska (#18) and Wisconsin (#23) are in the USA Today preseason poll.  And we all know how accurate those preseason predictions are, don’t we?

How could I be so optimistic?

Coach O’Brien.

Coach Craig Fitzgerald.

John Urschel.

Christian Hackenberg.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

A football program is not the University anymore than the University is defined solely by it’s football team.  It is not the tradition.  It is not the legendary coach who is no longer at the helm.  It is not what you did last year or fifty years ago.

No.  It is the people that are here.  Now.  And what they can and will do.  It’s not always the size of the dog that matters in the fight–mostly it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

If you have a few minutes, I recommend you check out this Matt Hayes article on The Sporting News.   Here are a few highlights . . .

This is the way the NCAA wanted it, you know. After Jerry Sandusky was caught, after the outrage of his horrific crimes grew, the only thing left for the suddenly scrambling NCAA was to make it all go away with unprecedented punishment on those picking up the pieces.

“You’re going to hear people tell you that you have nothing to play for,” O’Brien says, his voice rising with each point he makes. “They’ll say we don’t have enough players; that we’re going to struggle. They’ll say we can’t win the Leaders Division. Bull—- we can’t win the division.”

Again, if you have the time, WATCH the Death Crawl Video O’Brien used.

You’ll never know just how good you can be until you give maximum effort.

It was Fitzgerald who came up with this 16th Century idea for the 21st Century world.

Back in 1519, Conquistador Hernando Cortes convinced a small group of 500 men to take the world’s richest treasure by overwhelming the mighty Aztec empire. And to make sure they would, to further motivate his men to fight, Cortes had his men burn their own ships when they landed in Mexico.

If they were going home, he said, they were going home using the Aztecs’ ships.

The Penn State players sat in awe while watching the Death Crawl video, each wearing a stark white T-shirt with the words “Burn the Ships” emblazoned in navy blue on the back.

The message is simple: all or nothing—complete and total commitment. No matter the sanctions. No matter the scholarship losses. No matter the odds.

Are you starting to feel excited yet?  The ships/scholarships parallel is fantastic.

“Five scholarship losses (a year) would be critical,” says one Big Ten coach. “Twenty is the death penalty. They just didn’t give it a name.”

Technically, the Lions—who return 16 starters from last year’s eight-win team—could have more than 65 scholarship players this season. But a source told Sporting News the PSU administration wanted to get to 65 by the 2013 season for two reasons: to show the NCAA they were serious about abiding by the rules, and the hope that the NCAA would allow the program to begin the four-year run of 65 scholarship players this fall, thus giving the program one slight advantage in digging out from underneath itself.

Like there’s any advantage to paying for someone else’s sins.

“Why complain about it?” said Penn State linebacker Glenn Carson. “We can still control one thing they can’t take from us: we can win.”

Okay.  They technically took away Paterno’s wins, but we know what Carson means.  Let the scoreboard do the talking.

Penn State won’t be back because the NCAA or the Big Ten says they’re back.  It won’t be because I blog about it, or some sportswriter anoints it so.

Penn State will be Penn State because of the players, coaches and fans, and because of the professors, teachers, students, and alumni.

WE ARE . . . PENN STATE!

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Filed under Big Ten, football, NCAA, Penn State

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