Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Last College Football Head Coach

When Bill O'Brien left PSU last week for the NFL's Houston Texans, it marked the second time in two years that Nittany Lions are searching for a new head football coach.  From 1950 until 2011, Penn State were only led by Rip Engle and Joe Paterno. They were the only two head coaches most of us knew.  If you count the interims, the Lions will be on 5th head coach in 26 months.  For now, it is "Nervous Valley" for Happy Valley, but not for the rest of us.

Like it or not, scandal or no scandal, the stability at Penn State over the last half century was living on borrowed time.  With the advent of the BCS, internet, conference television networks, and radio, college head coaching gigs are now approaching 6 million dollars on what we know.  Then there are other endorsements. 

As a fan of the University of Notre Dame, I would tease my PSU brethren that there are going to be some rough patches in the post-Paterno era.  When you look at coaches like the Bear, Bo, and Woody (date yourself if you know their last names and universities), all of their universities had some trouble after they left their respective post.  Alabama has won 4 titles without the Bear, Ohio State and Michigan each have 1 title without Woody and Bo. 

The last few days have yielded the hiring of James Franklin for the Nittany Lions and the departure of Larry Johnson.  Johnson was the last coaching link to the Paterno era at Penn State.

I would ask Penn State fans to look at the Red River rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas.  Bob Stoups and Mack Brown only have one year separating them in years of service at their respective schools.  Brown has one more year at Texas and has decided to step down.  Even with a national championship in 2005, he is referred to as "Mr. February" in some parts.  Stoops also has one championship plus is only 53 years old.  He has been mentioned for some job both NFL and college, but has not been the white hot candidates that Franklin and O'Brien have been.

No one how a playoff system and monopoly money with effect coaching staff and universities in the future, but the landscape is about to change once again.  My advice to Penn State fans is this:

  1. Joe Paterno was the last of the great coaches in a wonderful time of college football.  Appreciate and savor it.  His time at State College built the university (A trial in the future may have an effect good or bad on his lasting legacy.)
  2. Don't worry about statue.
  3. A playoff system will help the game in the long run.
  4. 2014 will be a trying one with only 10 seniors, the Lions are still young.  With that in mind and the recruits on the way, the Nittany Lions will survive the sanctions more than people thought.
  5. Franklin is Pennsylvania guy.
  6. He played college football in the Poconos and could relate to recruits what is like being from an urban area and life in central PA.
  7. Franklin is 0-0.
  8. He is 2 years away from being 15-9 or 9-15 where he might be judged with greater scrutiny.
  9. Franklin has two young daughters which would help him staying put for awhile. 
  10. Franklin will make sure Beaver Stadium is full in 2014 and beyond.
Head football coaches are kind of like Supreme Court Justices, Popes and Presidents.  You don't know where your getting until they step into the command chair.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wussies or Dummies?

The recent cold weather periods hitting northeastern and central Pennsylvania over the last week, there has been much conjecture about the delaying the start of the school day or cancelling all together.  The question has been brought up, is it too cold to wait for a bus in the cold weather?

Back in the late 70's while attending a parochial elementary school in Shamokin, we were required to serve as altar boys for the daily mass that started at 6:45 am. Your turn to serve the morning mass rolled around once every few weeks because of the many "volunteers." One it was my turn to serve mass, I had to leave earlier than my sisters and friends.  I would be on my own.

My daily commute consisted of a 20 minute walk in the morning and a 25 minute walk in the afternoon. On occasion, a trusted family friend would offer a lift if they had room in their vehicle and were traveling the same direction. By the late 70's we didn't have to walk uphill both ways! Most of all, the task wasn't too difficult. It was only a matter of time until I would have to man up.

A January morning rolled around where I was on my altar boy rotation and the low overnight was minus-5 degrees. The advice of my mother was to simply dress warm.  It meant wearing a coat, hat, sweater, gloves and even a scarf that would make fans of a Christmas Story proud. After bundling up from head to toe, I ventured out from my home. After walking just one block, I knew what the term "exposed flesh" meant on a person although the wind was mostly calm that morning.

I arrived at church with some time to spare.  There wasn't a band celebrating my sub-zero commute to serve the Lord. The normal parishioners and guests were seated.  If there were more than 15 people in attendance, it was a special day.  I informed our church pastor of my arrival.  The Reverend George Dubitsky informed me I had roughly 10 minutes to get ready.  It meant taking of my winter garb, getting warm, and having my cassock buttoned from head to toe. 

The following never happened in this story.  I wasn't asked, "how cold was the walk?" " Are you warm?  Do you need something warm to drink?" Mass started at 6:45 am.  If it was your turn to serve, be there on time.  It didn't matter how close or far you lived. 

Now well into my 40's, I drive through a few bus stops on my way to work.  I see many students without coats, just wearing t-shirts or shorts in sub-30 degree weather.  You could survive conditions like that, but cannot wear a coat sub-zero weather?  For the most part, if you didn't have problems with your home, a sub-zero temperature was just another day at the office.

As the calendar turned over to 2014, I realized that my high school class of 1984 will be celebrating our 30-year anniversary.  Throughout 2014, I will highlight what was big in our area of Pennsylvania along with state, national and global events that took place at that time.
One thing about 1984, it produced one of the most talked about commercials in Super Bowl history in January of 1984.  The company is still around strong as ever and most of our children can't go without one of their products.  Here is the commercial in which all have been judged: 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Festivus - Airing of the Grievances Shamokin Style

"I couldn't get up the steps. They were a ball of fire," said Shamokin Police Chief Edward Griffiths.

Patrolman Nate Rhodes climbed to the second story at the rear of the home. He tried to enter a window but flames shot out when it was opened.

The above two paragraphs were taken from the News-Item's report about the fire that took the life of Missy Pangburn on December 10th.  Also, but not appearing in this blog is the picture of Shamokin police officer Jarrod Scandle also volunteering his time as a firefighter battling flames from the second story roof.

This past Friday, Shamokin City government decided to balance their 2014 budget on the backs of public safety with four full time officers being projected to be furloughed along with two special officers.  The budget shortfall is in the neighborhood of $800,000. Their fate may be decided tonight at a meeting of city council.

There are a few questions that need to be asked and answered:

  1. Where did the shortfall in revenue fall from 2012?
  2. How much did the Northumberland County cost the city with constable duties?
  3. What was the increase in health benefits premiums.  If companies were changed from a year prior, why the change?
  4. Was the problem a conflict of personalities with the council and chief clerk with checks and balances?  Was it plain malfeasance??? 
With 6501 calls to 911 and only 7300 citizens, safety is of the utmost service needed.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Battle for the Coal Bucket, Memories of Thanksgiving Long Ago.

With the arrival of the Thanksgiving holiday centered on a turkey feast and the Black Friday frenzy, it was 40 years ago that Shamokin and Mount Carmel last played for the Coal Bucket on Thanksgiving Day.

The News-Item takes a look back and thanks to the Mount Carmel television station, very high quality video still exists of that game. 

One thing that really stands out in the video footage is the size of the crowd and how engaged they were at the game.

Thanks to the News-Item and WKMC at Mount Carmel, take a look back:


Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963

Our parents generation holds the above date firmly in their memories.  Where were they when they found out the terrible news coming from Dallas?  I was born until 1966, so I wasn't a gleam in my parents eye at the time.  My parents were newlyweds having been married two months earlier.

For the current generation, it is hard to be told horrific news and having no Internet or social media to view or search for information.  There was just radio and limited television.

Over the past 47 years of my life, I heard some brief accounts of what happened locally.  I cannot rewrite history or jump into all the theories surrounding the assassination. For those who those who were school age at the time, the common thread seems to be confusion. That Friday being the Friday before Thanksgiving and long before gearing up for shopping became commonplace, most area schools dismissed early.  Most were not told of what happened until they met their parents at home.

The other common thing they came home was to see a parent or grandparent crying.  In 1963, many citizens were sons and daughters of immigrants or immigrants themselves.  They left a world behind to find hope and peace.  In one violent act, their world changed forever. For some strange reason, some people thrive on the negative, but most live off of hope.  Somehow, born or not, we all lost a little of hope that day.