Same Ol', Same Ol'

Penn State suffers their 6th consecutive Big 10 loss this season, losing to Northwestern by a score of 14-7 at Beaver Stadium. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

No offense, no win, no hope. Well, one remaining hope. That Joe Paterno finally realizes he can't turn the Penn State football program around.

The debate has raged for years. Some say Joe should be fired while others say he should be allowed to stay on as long as he chooses because of all he's done for Penn State. Both sides, however, would likely agree on one thing. Joe Paterno is not the best choice as Penn State head coach right now. He's there because he's always been there, not because he's the best man for the job.

One would think that the legendary coach who has done so much for the university would realize the damage he's now doing to the once proud Penn State football program. You'd think he would put the university, the students, the alma mater and even his players first. But he doesn't. Despite the fact that he repeatedly admits that he doesn't know what's wrong and has no substantive answers, he stays on, determined to go out on a winning note irregardless of how long it takes and how much suffering we fans must endure.

Penn State is losing consistently. It's not bad luck. It's not bad calls. It's not tough opponents. It's not a lack of effort. It's not team youth. It's failure. And it's a trend. Penn State is now 25-36 in their last 61 games over the last 5 years. 1-13 in the Big 10 over the last 2 years. 4 losses in the last 5 games against Wisconsin. 3 straight losses to Ohio State. 4 straight to Minnesota. 5 straight to Iowa. 6 straight to Michigan.

Each week, after yet another disheartening loss, Coach Paterno appears defeated and discouraged during the post game press conference. Of course, we fans can commiserate. Hope inevitably starts welling up in the minds of many of the Nittany Lion faithful that perhaps this time Joe will finally decide to put an end to the penance we have served during the last 5 years and announce his retirement. But somehow, week after week, he shows up at his Tuesday press conference rejuvenated, determined and downright combative with the media.

We're repeatedly told how good a quarterback Zack Mills is. How Robinson is one of the best players in college football. Question those statements and he'll remind you that he was coaching before you were born. You should take his word for it because he's Joe Paterno and you're not. Nevermind that Zack had 10 turnovers in a 2-game span (BC, UCF). Ignore the fact that Robinson turned the ball over 3 times in 3 successive plays against Iowa. Forget that in the last 3 games, Robinson has 9 completions and 5 interceptions.

Despite the atrocious results, Joe continues to go with Mills and Robinson while giving little to no consideration to Anthony Morelli, a true freshman rated by many services as one of the top 3 high school quarterback prospects in the nation last year.

When they played Morelli during garbage time of the opening game this season, effectively eliminating the possibility of him redshirting this year, you had to figure that the plan was to get Anthony some meaningful minutes this season so he would be more prepared to compete for the starting job next season. It's now obvious there was no plan. Joe's post-game explanation after the Akron game as to why he decided to play Morelli was sketchy at best. Here's what he said:

"I think Morelli is a really good prospect and I think that playing Zack and Robinson the way we are playing them, and I like Chris Ganter. I always have liked Chris Ganter. I think if we got in a jam that Chris can handle it. But I think that Morelli's got a little something special. He can throw the football. He's got a little stronger arm than Chris. And I think he just needs to play so that if we got into some kind of jam. If our wideouts come along and they continue to get better, then probably the move with Morelli may not have been the smart thing to do, because then we could move Robinson back into quarterback. Right now, Robinson and Mills have to be on the field. If something happened to Zack, I'm not sure what route I'd go. Whether I'd just put Robinson underneath and just play with the wideouts. Or whether I would try to stick somebody like Chris in there, and put Robinson in and out like we're doing. I don't know. We think we have a couple of things we like that we can do with two quarterbacks in there. One of them being Robinson, of course. And I'm not sure I'd want to give up on some of that stuff if something happened to Zack."

Okay. We did get into a jam. Zack went out early in the Wisconsin game. Did we see Morelli? No. Robinson was put at quarterback despite the fact that he had no one to throw to. Robinson went out early in the same game. Morelli? Again, no. Chris Ganter played the rest of the game, completing 6 of 23 passes for no touchdowns, 1 interception and 32 yards.

They were supposed to work with Morelli during the off-weak leading up to the Iowa game. Once again, despite 4 interceptions and 3 fumbles (1 lost) between Mills and Robinson, and an absolutely abysmal offensive performance by Penn State, Morelli sat the bench. Later, when asked if Morelli might be ready to play during the OSU game, Paterno said the freshman was "not adequately prepared". Mills missed the Ohio State game due to injury and Robinson, who we have to assume WAS adequately prepared, threw 2 interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, amid only 7 completions. Morelli again saw no time on Saturday against Northwestern.

Joe can't seem to find a situation in which to insert his freshman quarterback. If only he had that problem at the beginning of the year prior to wasting 25% of the freshman's college eligibility. Could Morelli be worse than what we've witnessed so far this season? I highly doubt it. Could he be better? Absolutely. Either way, there's only one way to find out. What's at risk?

Unfortunately, there's no accountability at Penn State. Unlike the overwhelming majority of college football programs across the country, this one's in the hands of the current head coach and he's not going anywhere unless he decides to. Losing is the price we fans have to pay for the success of past years. There's seemingly nothing we can do. We're at the mercy of a coach whose incredible resiliency and determination to succeed, which we so admired of him in the past, now serves only to prolong the suffering we currently endure.

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