Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Time catches up to all of us. For some it soars right by while we aren't
looking, and for others it creeps up at a snail's pace.
Joe Paterno has been the top man at Penn State for 45 years now and it could
just be that he and Father Time have finally met out there in central
With four losing seasons since the turn of the century, things aren't the same
at Penn State. The Nittany Lions have long been a national power, one that is
supposed to be a valuable commodity come bowl season. However, this could be
the very last year that JoePa remains in charge.
Inconsistency is the main problem. Despite several sub par seasons since 2000,
there have been others where Penn State has been on the cusp of a national
title, none more heart-breaking than in 2005. We all remember the Michigan
game, when Big Ten officials put two seconds back on the clock, allowing the
Wolverines to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and sink Penn State's
perfect season in the process.
On to the here and now. The 2010 Penn State squad is an even 3-3 on the year.
The wins were expected, knocking off lesser foes Youngstown State (44-14), Kent
State (24-0) and Temple (22-13). Two of the losses were probably expected as
well, but getting blown out by Alabama (24-3) and Iowa (24-3) wasn't.
With four losing seasons
since the turn of the century, things aren't the same at Penn State.
Then there was this past weekend. Illinois came to University Park having never
won there. It was Penn State's Homecoming and the town abuzz with anticipation
of a big Nittany Lion victory. What transpired over the 60 minutes of football
can only be described as a huge letdown, as the Illini pummeled Penn State on
their own field, in a 33-13 rout. It was just the sixth time in Paterno's
tenure that Penn State has lost a homecoming game.
It very well may be the last.
There is no doubt that Paterno is seasoned, his 2010 team however, is anything
but. Is it all Paterno's fault? Certainly not. The team is extremely young,
being led by a freshman quarterback and the defense has been ravaged by
Still, excuses are unacceptable in Happy Valley. It is the burden Paterno must
carry for his extended period of success.
Paterno is in his 61st season on the Penn State coaching staff, With the most
victories at the Division I level (397), the most bowl victories (24) and the
most bowl appearances (36) to go along with two national titles (1982, 1986)
and five undefeated campaigns (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, 1994), it is awfully
hard to find fault in the Hall of Famer.
In looking at the rest of the schedule this year, there is only a few games
that could be viewed as potential wins. The Nittany Lions travel to Minnesota
and get Northwestern and Indiana at home. Claiming victory in those three games
is certainly attainable, although at this point, nothing is a given. The other
three games on the docket, home against Michigan and Michigan State and a road
game at top-ranked Ohio State are currently penciled in as losses.
If Paterno were to step away at the end of the season with three more
victories, he would have 400 in a truly distinguished career. It isn't the most
important thing in the world, but 400 is a nice round number and a milestone
that isn't likely to be met by any other coach on the current horizon.
In breaking it down, the best Penn State can hope for this year is a 6-6
record. That is if everything goes right.
Of course, if you've been paying attention to what is going on these days in
Happy Valley, you would know that little if anything has gone according to