Did you notice what I did in the headline? ReinSTATEd? Penn STATE? It’s genius. I need to talk about this first and it’s not as light hearted as my other stuff so bear with me. It’s worth it.
Joe Paterno coached at Penn State for 46 years before he was wrongly dismissed. I was at the first game of the post-JoePa era on November 12, 2011. It was surreal. There were student protests and news vans all in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. At the time, the school and the NCAA felt they needed to react so they fired Paterno, stripped away 111 of his record setting 409 wins, removed a large number of scholarships and banned the football program from post-season play for four years. A lot was based on the Freeh Report which was later found to be irresponsibly investigated. Joe Paterno was fired at the age of 84 in November 2011. He died in January 2012 from cancer he never knew he had. Over the past three years the world has learned that the pain of his final two months was unnecessary. On Friday, the NCAA announced that they were restoring all 111 wins to JoePa’s list. This comes a few months after they announced that all sanctions against Penn State’s football program were lifted as of the end of the 2014 season, one year earlier than originally planned. They said it was for good behavior and proof that the school had turned things around. What they should have said was that they did not do their jobs properly, screwed up to unforgiving levels and were directly responsible for the demise of Joe Paterno. They will never admit that though. While it is a great day for Joe’s family and for the Penn State football program, it came 38 months too late.
On to other things…
If you haven’t been paying attention to the NFL, the coaching carousel is going at breakneck speed. Let’s see…the Broncos fired John Fox who was hired by the Bears and then hired former 49ers D-Coordinator Vic Fangio while his former Broncos D-Coordinator Jack Del Rio was hired as head coach of the Raiders and is bringing in Bill Musgrave from the Eagles who was Del Rio’s O-Coordinator when he was head coach with the Jaguars; the Jets fired Rex Ryan who was hired by the Bills as head coach to replace Doug Marrone who was hired by the Jaguars as Assistant Head Coach and Ryan then hired former 49ers O-Coordinator Greg Roman to do the same job while the Jets hired former Cardinals D-Coordinator Todd Bowles as head coach and are set to hire former Bills head coach Chan Gailey as O-Coordinator; after Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers for Michigan, the 49ers promoted D-Line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach which is why Vic Fangio left and went to the Bears as did Jeff Rodgers who was the Special Teams coach in Denver under John Fox; the Broncos named Ravens O-Coordinator Gary Kubiak as head coach to replace John Fox and he will now need new coordinators as Del Rio is in Oakland and O-Coordinator Adam Gase was let go and linked to head coaching jobs with the 49ers and the Falcons who remain the only team without a head coach but are expected to name Seahawks D-Coordinator Dan Quinn to the job after the Superbowl and he is said to be bringing in Kyle Shanahan as O-Coordinator which is why Adam Gase will not be working in Atlanta. Got that? Good.
The Raptors have been struggling to say the least with only 3 wins in their past 10 games. The defense has been better but a lot of the games they just couldn’t buy a basket. Most of the analyst talk surrounding the team is to relax because they’re in good shape and just need to tighten up. I slightly disagree as there is one glaring issue I have noticed on the court: bad decision making. Whether it is fouling the other team late in the clock, not sticking with your man, bad passes in the paint or not finishing strong on a dunk I believe that all the issues stem from bad decisions. I don’t know if the players were buying into their record a little too much and taking some plays off but it needs to get cleaned up. Dwayne Casey is an intelligent coach and all he talks about is sticking to the basics and doing the right thing on the floor. The players have not been doing that and they better fix it. They were dominated by Atlanta on Friday, let a 10-point 4th quarter lead slip away against the Pelicans on Sunday and grinded out a tough win last night in Milwaukee. I know the Bulls and Wizards are struggling as well right now but at the end of the season it is much more favorable to be a 1 or 2 seed then a 3 or 4 seed so that needs to be the focus. They were on top of the East for two months so they can get back there but only if they right the ship sooner than later.
The Leafs are…well, I would say…I don’t know what to say. My take is that Shanahan made the coaching change to take away blaming the coach from this group. He wanted Horacek to get them playing defense to see who was coachable and who was getting shipped to the KHL next season. While I don’t think Shanahan wants to tank, he wants younger, hungrier players that can be coached into a system. He played for Scotty Bowman so he knows the deal. It is very clear that while Dave Nonis is unlikely to be back next year, Horacek might. Shanahan had a hand in bringing him and Steve Spott in before the season so don’t be surprised if he’s back. The amazing thing to me is how a “professional” hockey team can only play one way. When they were only focused on offense they had a 10-1-1 streak before the lack of D caught up to them and teams starting pounding on them costing Carlyle his job. Since they have been refocused on D, they don’t know what to do with themselves in the offensive zone. The have scored 2 goals in 5 games, all losses, getting outscored 16-2. I’m glad Shanahan is looking at next season and beyond instead of trying to sneak into the playoffs this year and get crushed. Buckle up because it is going to be a bumpy ride in Leafs-land the next few years.