Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Two Ways to Honor Joe Paterno This Summer

When I think of Joe Paterno and his impact on Penn State University, I think primarily about his commitment to developing young men - his football players - into educated and responsible citizens who contribute greatly to the world we live in.

Yes, Joe also won a lot of football games - 409 to be exact - but in fact Joe didn't win a single one of those games by himself.  His players were the true winners.  What Joe did so beautifully over 61 years of service to Penn State as a coach was to establish the right conditions and discipline for those team members to excel. 

And to excel while earning their degrees at a demanding university that cuts no slack to athletes. I know, because I teach at Penn State and have to fill out forms on athletes' progress in my classes - they are very tightly monitored to make sure they are attending classes and succeeding in the classroom.  Regardless of their position on the team, if a football player is slacking off in the classroom, Joe Paterno would tell you "Flunk him.  It will teach him a lesson."  I know because this situation happened in my classroom and that is exactly what Joe Paterno told me. 

Joe Paterno and his wife Sue were also great humanitarians.  They gave back (and his family continues to give back) to Penn State University and to numerous Pennsylvania charities.  Economically, the success of Penn State football during Joe's tenure contributed greatly to Centre County businesses and tourism and certainly the quality of life.

For these reasons, the efforts to Honor Joe through the film "The People's Joe" and through a very exciting bench sculpture project "Joe's Bench",  planned for downtown State College are worthy of your support.

These projects are designed to be projects by the people and for the people. Many sculptures are created due to the generosity of a few large donors with deep pockets, but the intent here is to reach out to all who want to share in the story and pay tribute to a man who truly deserves our respect.

Recently, I was visiting the City of Amsterdam, and while wandering through the Red Light District, happened upon this bench which pays tribute to Lieut-Colonel Alida Margaretha Bosshardt, a Salvation Army leader who was known as the "Angel of Amsterdam".   I didn't even know who she was at the time, but felt compelled to sit on this bench and curious enough to find her biography online. 




Just think...how cool would it be if we had something like this in State College to honor a man who would never want to be described as an angel, but who had such an impact on so many lives through his work? 
 
To find out more about the film and bench projects and to contribute $1, $5, $25, $100 or more towards this effort, visit igg.me/at/joesbench

And please...spread the word....this project will happen only with broad-based support.
  









Friday, January 31, 2014

Penn State Football: A Heartfelt Request in Memory of My Husband

On January 8, 2014 my husband Terry Todd passed away at the age of 78. 
Terry had attended 282 Penn State football games in a row between 1990 and the end of 2012, and 426 football games overall since 1970.  You can read his full obituary here
Football was Terry's passion and in 2013 cancer stripped Terry of that passion as well as his life.  
For that reason I have asked that memorial contributions in Terry's name be made to the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes. It's an annual PSU football team effort to raise money for kidney cancer research, and it seems very fitting to support this charity.
Any donations in Terry's memory are most appreciated, or you can choose a favorite athlete and support their efforts in the upcoming 2014 Lift for Life.  
You can visit the Uplifting Athletes website here:
www.upliftingathletes.org
As for me, I will do my best to carry Terry's passion for Penn State football forward as we welcome Coach James Franklin and look forward to yet another new beginning for Penn State football this fall.   
Thank you for your patience this year, I promise you that this blog will see new life in the months ahead.
We Are...Penn State!
Carolyn Todd
 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Penn State Football: Orange Ex'Cused as the Penn State Football Nation Shows Some Love

It wasn't always pretty, and it came down to the final minute or so, but Penn State got the job done, beating Syracuse 23-17.  And so the second season under Coach Bill O'Brien gets off to a roaring start, under the shaky (at times) leadership of a true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg who is still learning the game but obviously has great potential.  At the end of the game, O'Brien relied on the defense to secure the win, not daring to risk another offensive turnover in a game that had plenty of ups and downs for both teams.

This was a most unusual game for me and especially for my husband Terry.  We weren't actually there.  For the first time since September 1990 my husband Terry was not able to make a Penn State game in person, and the last game I missed was September 2001, a game in Iowa City that Terry went to but I stayed home due to a sick animal.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Great Retrospective on the 2012 Penn State Football Season

Yesterday, Penn State sports historian and author Lou Prato stopped by our house to visit Terry.  It was a great visit, and we spent time discussing our separate journeys to becoming devoted Penn State football fans.  Lou, with his years of experience as a journalist and in broadcast news, has tons of stories not only about his work with Penn State sports, but his coverage of other teams like Ohio State and Michigan.  Hilarious.

Lou learned that our story is different than a lot of Penn State fans.  Our devotion to Penn State had nothing to do with attending school here, and so Terry told him about how he evolved from Ohio State to Missouri to Penn State.  And I told him about my complete lack of devotion to football before I met Terry.   Also as I will tell my students tomorrow when classes begin, the reason I'm here teaching at Penn State's Smeal College of Business is due to Penn State football.  It's not the other way around.

One of Lou's tasks yesterday was to autograph his new book, entitled, "We Are Penn State:  The Remarkable Journey of the 2012 Nittany Lions".   You can purchase it here.  It's a very good read.  I finished it in a day.  Its hard to put down once you get started.

While Lou certainly has a point of view about what happened to Penn State as a result of the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal, especially the damages done to the football team and the Penn State brand by the Freeh Report and the NCAA sanctions, he does not dwell too long on those issues in the book.  He has written about those topics elsewhere, such as in his columns in Blue White Illustrated.

Rather, this book is almost entirely about the 2012 team who stayed when the NCAA sanctions said they could leave at any time without penalty.  It's about this remarkable group of football players whose emotional leaders were seniors Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich, and their brand new coach, Bill O'Brien, and how they kept Penn State football alive and helped us all smile again.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Penn State Football: "Life Comes At You Fast", and Sometimes It Isn't Pretty

It is with a great deal of sadness that I announce that as of this coming football season, the attendance streaks at Penn State football games for my husband Terry and myself will end.  For Terry, it was 282 games in a row.  The last game he missed was the Penn State - USC game in Los Angeles in 1990.  For me, it was 146 games in a row.  The last game I missed was the Penn State - Iowa game in 2001 in Iowa City.  The games we attended were anywhere in the country:  home, away, and bowl games.

Somehow, none of that matters now.  It's just a game, after all.  Right???

Well, maybe.

There was a sign I saw recently in a medical office:  "Life is just a game.  Football is serious business."  For us, it certainly has been that way.  It dominated our lives each fall, and, well, I expect there to be a big hole now.

Unfortunately, I know how it will be filled, and finding time to tend to what needs to be done over the coming months will be a real challenge.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Penn State Football: Is This The Feeding Frenzy the NCAA Wished For?

Is this what the NCAA intended last year when, as part of the NCAA sanctions announced a year ago, they reduced scholarships for Penn State football by 20 scholarships per year for four years, and they allowed current Penn State football players to leave for other schools without penalty?

Fortunately many of the schools represented here in this mascot collection exercised restraint last summer on recruiting current PSU football players, and the one school that did not, Illinois, does not have a mascot so is not in these photos.  Chief Illiniwek, now gone, was never a mascot.  He was a spirit, I was told when I tried to acquire one the first time Penn State played Illinois in Champaign.




 Photos by Carolyn M. Todd.  All Rights Reserved.

Sure looks like the NCAA wanted a recruiting picnic full of mayhem that would cripple if not destroy Penn State forever.   A feeding frenzy of sorts.

And even if none of these schools pictured here directly tried to destroy Penn State, they are in fact represented on the NCAA Board and Executive Committee that discussed, approved and authorized the sanctions announced by Dr. Mark Emmert on the basis of a management advisory opinion piece called the Freeh Report rather than follow its own investigation rules.

Fortunately, few players transferred, thanks to the quick thinking leadership of the 2012 football team senior leaders, and the fact that the new coaching staff at Penn State, led by Coach Bill O'Brien, had earned the team's respect.

However, with 80 scholarships gone over the next four years, I can't help but think that Penn State's ability to be competitive over time, even with the most brilliant coaching staff around, will be crippled.

The feeding frenzy might not be so dramatic as it was last summer, but if nothing is done about these draconian scholarship reductions, sanctions that are particularly punitive to current students and players who had nothing to do with Sandusky's criminal behavior, it will be felt over time.



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Penn State Football: On Losing Your Voice When It Comes to Sandusky

Media critic John Ziegler had it right in his newly published online book, "The Betrayal of Joe Paterno", which I recommend that you access here at his website www.framingpaterno.com.  In Chapter 5, entitled "The Firing", Ziegler describes the late night decision of the Board of Trustees to fire Joe Paterno via cell phone at 10 p.m., and then the ensuing "riot" downtown after it became known.

This riot of a few thousand people who were downtown when they heard the news consisted of a trash can fire and the toppling of a news van that created serious damage to the van.  But because all the national media were present, the images became something much more like a full scale riot in the minds of the public.

Never mind that five times as many students turned out two days later for a candlelight vigil on the lawn of Old Main to pray for victims of child abuse, and students and alumni in the next several weeks also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for child abuse prevention causes at that Saturday's game and beyond.   That didn't get nearly the publicity or the press images.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Penn State Football: Will Bob Costas Create New Discussion on Sandusky Case?

Tomorrow night, on Wednesday May 29 sportscaster Bob Costas will air a long-awaited discussion about the Sandusky scandal.  He has been rumored to have second thoughts after the Paterno family commissioned a report authored by former US Attorney General Richard Thornburgh regarding the Freeh Report's inadequacies.

According to ESPN:  "In addition to Thornburgh, former FBI supervisory special agent and former state prosecutor James Clemente, and Dr. Fred Berlin, a treating physician, psychiatrist, psychologist and expert in sexual disorders and pedophilia at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine, contributed independent evaluations of the Freeh Report."   The report was entitled "The Rush To Injustice Regarding Joe Paterno."

According to NBC's Vice President of Communications Adam Freifeld, “(The Freeh Report) will be the focus of Costas Tonight tomorrow at 11pm ET following hockey on NBCSN.”

Is this good news or bad news for Penn State fans waiting to hear some positive news about the role of Joe Paterno in this scandal?  It remains to be seen what Costas will say and what he will conclude.
One has to ask about the timing of this broadcast.  The show is not exactly prime time coverage!

Those of us who have lived through this saga remember all too well how overly-consuming the media coverage was in November of 2011.  Prime time coverage was not a problem when it came to media suggestions that former Penn State head coach and college football icon Joe Paterno was somehow at fault for not stopping Sandusky's crimes.

As to any effort at vindication, it appears to me that the media has given such news second fiddle at best.

Here is what John Ziegler, independent documentary film maker and creator of the website www.framingpaterno.com has to say:

"Having spoken to Bob Costas twice about the facts of the case and the nature of the show he might do on this, I am confident that he will take a fair and objective second look at the facts here. Unfortunately, he will not be taking an advocacy role here and the size of that audience at the time with limited time to promote won't be ideal."

Bob Costas' show will air on NBCSC immediately after the hockey program is concluded.  That is anticipated to be about 11 p.m. EST on Wednesday.