OPINION: We Interrupt Your Emotional Rant...

...with a bit of perspective. As Penn State comes off a tough, last-second road loss, Mark Harrington lets you know why the world is not about to end.

Phew, what a heartbreaker. I don't know about you, but Penn State's 24-23 loss to Iowa was a rough one. But, alas, as the cliche goes, that is why they play the games.

Clearly, judging by the FOS premium forum, this loss sucked the wind out of the Nittany Nation's sails. However, before you toss in the towel and submit that dramatic post stating "Player X is a bust," "Coach Y has to go" or the good old simple cerebral classic "We suck," take a minute for some perspective.

Because if this team deserves anything, its is the benefit of the doubt. It deserves the chance to see if it can bounce back and "only" win the Big Ten and clinch a Rose Bowl. Boy, what a horrid prize — heading to Pasadena for the first time since 1994.

I get it, believe me. This is a disappointing, emotional loss. We all had visions of Joe Paterno getting hoisted up on shoulders of his players to claim his sixth undefeated season and third national title.

Well, that storybook ending wasn't to be. Don't look now, but welcome to life. I know the bulk of the posts "demanding" that school presidet Graham Spanier "fix" this 9-1 team are based, in large part, on emotion and not logic. But I suspect that if you're honest (and reasonable), you didn't predict an undefeated, national title season this time around. Not when you consider:

• A first-year starting quarterback.

• A first-year staring running back.

• A defensive line decimated by losses: Phillip Taylor (booted), Chris Baker (booted), Devon Still (injury) and Jerome Hayes (injury).

• The soul of the squad, projected All-America linebacker Sean Lee, out for the year with an ACL injury.

How many other teams do you think could make a 9-0 run with these factors? A lot of teams with a lot less to cope with did not make it nearly as far in the title hunt as Penn State did this season.

I suspect, if you're still being honest, that you actually had two, three or even four losses penciled in for 2008. PSU couldn't possibly beat Michigan. No chance the Lions win in Columbus. Camp Randall was unlikely. Heck, I heard a good number of fans who doubted Oregon State would be a victory. Aside from the Oregon State sentiment, I was there, too, and had three regular-season losses predicted.

So being disappointed, upset or frustrated is one thing. But giving up and throwing these players, coaches and program under the bus is another. And why? Because they are not perfect?

Of the past five national title winners, two have been undefeated. It's a nearly impossible task to run the table nowadays. So disappointment in the loss is reasonable. But desertion (or at least the emotional talk of such) of this team and its players and coaches for the one loss is nothing short of myopic and obtuse.

If perfection serves as your criteria for loyalty, prepare for a lifetime of frustrating change.

What amazes me is the sheer loss of perspective by so many. It's as if they forget where the program was four years ago — in the doldrums, suffering three- and four-win seasons. Far from the old Joe Paterno recruiting sound-bite of "We're going to make a national title run every four years."

Don't look now, but PSU is getting back to the point where it can start saying that again.


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