In January 1991 I was in 8th grade, we were about to liberate Kuwait and bomb Iraq, Seinfeld’s 2nd season had just started and we were a two weeks away from Whitney Houston blowing the doors off Tampa Stadium singing the “Star Spangled Banner” for Super Bowl XXV.
One of the top NFL games that season was the NFC Championship game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco. Â The 49ers were the favorites to win, led by Joe Montana, Roger Craig and Jerry Rice. Â The Giants had a great defense but a boring ball control offense. Â In 1991, defense won championships and it was the Giants defense that gave them the upset victory, by knocking Joe Montana out of the game and causing a fumble as the 49ers were running out the clock. Â The Giants won the game a few minutes later with a field goal. Â The win in San Francisco propelled the Giants to the Super Bowl where they defeated the Buffalo Bills.
21 years later, we are right back to that NFC championship game. Â The players are different but the stakes are the same. Â No one will confuse Alex Smith with Joe Montana, but some might think the Giants defense is just as good as the 1991 model, and they are probably right. Â For those wanting to take a trip down memory lane, here is a YouTube clip of the game highlights:
Last month when I wrote about Penn State University and morals, I had to re-write that post a few times because my original draft was very angry. Â I was angry at so many people, and I wasn’t even sure why I was angry, I did not personally know any of the people involved. Â When I stepped back, I realized my reaction was due to shock…I was shocked that Coach Sandusky could do what he is accused of to children and, Coach Paterno and Penn State could turn a blind eye.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving, and now there is a similar scandal erupting at Syracuse, my alma mater, class of 1999. Â Again, I was shocked when I heard these allegations. Â I spent 4 years working in the athletic department, I got to know Jim Boeheim, his wife Juli, and the coaching staff. Â I never saw or heard anything to indicate that Coach Fine was abusing children.
The reaction that I had, and the inactions of Penn State University and definitely theÂ inflammatoryÂ remarks from Jim Boeheim come from the same place, shock. Â See, we never really know a person. Â You may be friends or work colleagues with someone for 30 years, but you cannot possibly know everything about that person. Â I first learned this lesson when my rabbi was caught on Dateline NBC to Catch A Predator back in 2005. Â I kept asking myself, how could this happen? Â I knew this man, I traveled to Israel with him, and was friends with his daughter, but you see, you never really know a person.
I thought Sean Keeley at the Syracuse SB Nation blog, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, wrote a terrific piece about how everyone interpreted Jim Boeheim’s comments incorrectly. Â Coach Boeheim, Sean Keeley wrote, was scared, and he was scared because the person who he spent 40 years with turned out to be someone he never really knew.
I waited a few days before writing about what has gone on at Penn State University because the first 2 attempts to write this post came across too angry. Â I am angry at Jerry Sandusky who has been accused of harming so many young children, I am angry at the former Penn State quarterback, and at the time a grad assistant who witnessed one of the alleged assaults but only went to Joe Paterno, I am angry at Joe Paterno for not reporting the assaults to the police, and finally the leadership, or lack there of, at Penn State to take these statements seriously.
What happened at Penn State is that they forgot that as leaders they should have done more than the bare minimum. Â Mike McQueary, was a quarterback at Penn State. Â He led 10 other men into battle each week in the Big Ten Conference, and when the games ended, he became a grad assistant coach. Â Why only tell Joe Paterno? Â If someone was robbing the PSU Bookstore would you tell coach or campus police? Â The athletic director and finance guy just sat on the news. Â And then there is Joe Pa, he did nothing. Â Sure he told the AD, but as the leader of 80+ student athletes, and dozens of coaches, he essentially did nothing. Â If Joe Paterno saw a person injured on the street, would he try to help? Â He has no morals, and was more interested in protecting his image, his university and his friend, Jerry Sandusky.
This pattern of protecting Penn State and the semi-pro status that the football team has is well documented. Â I encourage you to read an article by Chris Korman, a PSU grad, who talked about all the cover ups that have occurred at Penn State under Joe Pa.
My heart aches for the victims and how their lives have been impacted by this. Â In a community as small as Happy Valley, PA, I initially was shocked that no one had discovered this sooner, however, after reading Chris Korman’s article it became clearer. Â At Penn State University the only morals that leadership had when it came to their football program was money.
The Big East Conference is on the brink of extinction. Â The reek of desperation coming from the Providence, RI headquarters is overwhelming at this point. Â The same week the conference, which was started by schools located in the Eastern Timezone, went and invited Boise State in Idaho to join the conference. Â By Friday morning, the conference filed a lawsuit against West Virginia University to prevent them from leaving the conference at the end of the school year.
Let’s quickly rewind. Â The Big East has been under attack since 2003 when the ACC came after two of the key football members in Virginia Tech and Miami to leave the Big East. Â This upheaval caused the conference to add inferior teams and put in place rules that said if any other team were to leave the conference they would have to pay $5M to exit the conference and wait 27 months before departing.
Fast forward to 8 weeks ago, and Syracuse and Pitt decided they wanted out because they were concerned they would be left without a seat at the table of big conference football. Â I said at the time this was a brilliant move, and 4 weeks later I still think it was an awesome move. Â The league said Syracuse and Pitt had to wait 27 months to leave, which they made no comment on, and they did so purposely I am sure. Â Now West Virginia wants out to move to the Big 12, again great move by West Virginia, but this time, both West Virginia and the Big 12 say WVU starts play in the league next year. Â WVU immediately sues the Big East to get out of the 27 month waiting period, and that brings us to today.
Here is what Mountaineers do. Â As soon as they can, work with the Big 12 to put together the football schedule for 2012 and release it publicly. Â West Virginia sets the dates, announces ticket sales, start scheduling TV coverage. Â I can see it now, next September, lowly UConn shows up in Morgantown and finds their locker room occupied by Iowa State.
Syracuse, Pitt and fans of each team are just sitting back with a bowl full of popcorn watching how all of this is going to play out. Â Talking with a friend who is in the know at Syracuse believes that there is a 50/50 chance that they will be in the ACC starting in 2012, thanks to West Virginia though he believes the odds have dropped. Â The league is going to get injunctions and prevent all 3 from leaving until 2013. Â The Big East should just move on, they are starting to look like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction. Â Give up!