“Did you know that the Academy now has a Woodstock Academy Athletic Hall of Fame? Where is the Woodstock Academy Academic Hall of Fame for students who graduate and go on to do great things? ”
It will be interesting to see how the punishment of Penn State for the Sandusky situation plays out over the coming years. I may start watching their games to follow this. For years I have been saying (to myself and Becki) that Paterno needed to be retired. His behavior in recent years on and off the field had become more and more erratic. The swiftness of his firing last November indicated to me that Penn State was tired of the Paterno thing even before the Sandusky situation. Let’s face it – age diminishes judgment and this starts in the elderly long before it becomes recognized. Paterno was 85 and scheduled to continue coaching this year if the scandal hadn’t developed and he hadn’t died. Paterno could have avoided much of this scandal if he had retired or had been forced to retire at a reasonable age – let’s say 75 or earlier. Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to believe that Sandusky’s pedophilia first surfaced at Penn State in 1998.
I confess that I enjoy watching college football. This all started when my father took me to Yale games in the 1950s. Since then I have attended college football games at, yes, Penn State, Ohio State, all Univ. of Pittsburgh games for four years, Annapolis, Stanford, all home games at the Air Force Academy in 1994, and games at UConn’s Rentschler Field. Becki, Mariah, and I took Ernie and Zack Wetzel to the first game there in 2003 when UConn embarrassed the Big 10 Indiana. We sat on the 40 yard line on a clear day behind the Hoosier bench and joined the chorus chanting “Hooooosier, Hooooosier…” as their rattled quarterback started shouting at his own players for dropping his wobbly passes.
In the fall of 1969, I went with a couple of guys from my lab at Pitt Medical School to take in a Penn State game. Guess who had been their coach since 1966, and guess who was there in his first year as assistant coach – Paterno and Sandusky. It was another beautiful day for football. The signal for the Penn State players to run onto the field was the deafening roar of the Nittany Lion over the loud speaker. The team that year may have been the greatest team in Penn State history with Lydell Mitchell at halfback (later with the Baltimore Colts), Franco Harris at fullback (later with the Pittsburgh Steelers) and concert pianist Mike Reid at Defensive Tackle (later with the Cincinnati Bengals). Some years later I watched Franco Harris catch the Immaculate Reception from Quarterback Terry Bradshaw to beat the Raiders in the playoffs in Pittsburgh.
It’s sad that there is a seamy side of football on the school side, the spectator side, and the athletic booster side that should be obvious to all who follow football and other sports; just follow the sports news for a year and you’ll know what I am talking about. Did you know that the Academy now has a Woodstock Academy Athletic Hall of Fame? Where is the Woodstock Academy Academic Hall of Fame for students who graduate and go on to do great things? Buzz Bissinger at the Daily Beast, who wrote “Friday Night Lights” about a high school team in Odessa (where two of my daughters graduated), feels that there is an insidious culture in high powered sports that explains the Penn State mess and cover-up. I would agree with him and this is why the NCAA penalties against Penn State were appropriate, if not enough. I don’t think it would diminish the excitement of college football if the NCAA limited scholarships to just 22 players for every team. Of course they would not do this because it would diminish their empire.
I have mentioned this before, but Becki and I stopped going to Rentschler Field after a while because we got tired of rubbing elbows with the drunks in the stands and stepping around steaming puddles of barf as we left the stadium. I almost wrote the governor about this but then just let it go. One of my daughters and her husband went to Texas A&M and they pointed out to me that there is no sale of beer or other alcoholic beverages there. Why can’t UConn do the same? I will still go to a game once in a while because I enjoy the spectacle. Maybe I’ll try out the spectacle of the Academy’s new football field this fall.