Wednesday, January 04, 2006

One of the Greats

Full disclosure time. I grew up a Penn State fan. My grandparents --- who never attended college --- were Penn State fans, and Gramps had season tickets at Beaver Stadium, on the 40-yard line, 'bout halfway up. When it came on to November, my grandmother was not too fond of the cold, and I'd take the bus about once a year with Gramps up to Penn State to sit in the cold with him and watch Joe Pa and his team.

So I believe. I believe that Joe Paterno's time is not past. I believe that, when I first heard the joke about Bear Bryant crawling into bed, and his wife commenting "God you're feet are cold!," and he said, "Dear, you can call me 'Paul,'" it was really about Joe Paterno. I believe that Penn State was robbed in its game this year against Michigan, when officials put two seconds back on the clock, allowing Michigan to score in the last second to win the game. And I believe that Penn State has a legitimate claim on this year's National Championship.

But you don't have to be a Penn State fan, or even a football fan, to recognize that last night's Orange Bowl (screw FedEx) has a legitimate claim on being one of the best college football games ever. Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles. Two coaches with more than 700 victories between them, a match-up not likely to be repeated in our lifetimes, or even in this century. Triple overtime.

Sure, there were imperfections. Two kickers who were the difference. Lots of penalties. Sadly, quite a few injuries, including one cheap shot on Penn State's star linebacker, one the great Jack Ham calls a great.

But when you get down to it, you couldn't turn the game off. The lovely and gracious Mrs. Young has to get up waaaay too early to go to work, and she couldn't go to bed. As I said to her, "You wouldn't be the woman I married if you could." I'm blessed with a wife who is both a Trekkie and a football fan.

And last night's game in Miami was one of the most thrilling and exciting moments I can remember in college football, rivalling Penn State's low-scoring victory over Alabama for the National Championship in the Sugar Bowl a few decades back. It was a privilege to watch.

And I'll bet that there are quite a few East Coast offices where the start-up this morning will be quite slow.

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