Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beating a Dead Horse: Ron Cook

Ron Cook wrote an article today about how JoePa needs to hang it up.

Some people might find this kind of article a bit of a surprise from a local paper that usually fondles the sac of local teams, including Pitt's hated rivals West Virginia.

However, this is Ron Cook we're talking about. Let's look at his track record.

January 2, 2006. On the eve of Penn State's biggest bowl game, Cook penned this gem. He even went as far as to make this assertion:
Doesn't 7-5 seem likely next season?
Or 6-6?
And how did Penn State do in 2006? They finished 9-4 with all 4 losses coming to top-20 teams. Three of the 4 losses came on the road (#4 Notre Dame, #1 Ohio State, #17 Wisconsin). The only home loss was to #5 Michigan. They finished the season by beating #18 Tennessee on New Year's Day in the Outback Bowl.

In that same article, Cook also writes:

Paterno and Hall are kicking themselves for not redshirting Morelli in 2004.

And we all know how that one worked out. Morelli's senior year was filled with people asking why Daryl Clark wasn't getting more playing time.

On the eve of the 2006 season, Cook reminds us that in his esteemed opinion, which has accounted for exactly 0 Division 1 NCAA Football wins in his lifetime, Paterno needs to go. In this article, Cook uses the justification that Penn State is coming off the 5 worst seasons of Paterno's career. Known to Penn State fans as "The Dark Ages," the early 2000s when the team went 5-7, 5-6, 9-4, 3-9, 4-7. But the most eye-opening part of the article came later.
Actually, their [Penn State President Spencer and Athletic Director Curley] mistake was waiting so long to ask [Paterno to resign]. It should have happened at least five years earlier. We'll never know if Penn State would have gone through those abysmal seasons under another coach. The guess here is no.

Really? Losing 1st round picks Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington off the defense in the same year wasn't a big blow? In 1999, the year Cook claims Paterno should have been fired, coming off a #11 ranking and a 24-0 shutout of Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, the defense averaged 18 points against per game. After losing Brown and Arrington? 24.4 points per game in 2000 and 25.5 points per game in 2001. The 2002 team had 6 players that went in the first 2 rounds of the draft: DT Jimmy Kennedy, DE Michael Haynes, WR Bryant Johnson, RB Larry Johnson, FS Bryan Scott, and DT Anthony Adams. Larry Johnson racked up 2000 yards and 20 TDs in 2002. Two things happened with the 2002 team. First, the Offensive Points Per Game went from 22.5 to 34.3. Second, the Defensive Points Against Per Game went from 25.5 to 17. 5. Then, after losing 6 players in the first 2 rounds of the draft, the offensive PFPG dropped back under 20 to 19.4 and the defensive PAPG went back up over 20 to 21.3.

But let's get back on track here.

After Penn State's best season since 1996, Cook called for Paterno to be fired in January 2006. He droned the same tone before the next season started in September 2006.

So how does he respond after Penn State reaches a New Year's Day Bowl and a 9-4 season? Calling for Paterno's head again in September 2007. Once again the guy who, in Cook's words, has stayed ten years too long, posted a 9-4 season, a Top 25 ranking, and a bowl win (24-17 over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl). For the record, "Ten years too long" would mean that Cook thinks Paterno should have retired before the 1997 season, when his previous 3 seasons were: 11-2 (beat Texas in Fiesta Bowl), 9-3 (beat Auburn in Outback Bowl), 12-0 (beat Oregon in Rose Bowl).

And then the coup de grace. This article written before the 2008 season. Cook turns his unabashed hate at Paterno towards Penn State fans, actually encouraging them to root against their team. Here's some gems:

Where and when in college football might a 6-6 record be better than 10-3 or 11-2?
That's an easy one.
At Penn State, this season.
A bad year would make it a lot easier to get rid of Joe Paterno.
But it gets even better...

That's why a 6-6 season might be better this season. Not even Paterno's most loyal supporters could back him after that. Many, if not most, already think he has stayed on too long and that the football program needs a new beginning. It's not just the 46 player arrests since 2002 and the embarrassment they caused, especially in a damning ESPN report on "Outside The Lines" earlier this summer. It's that Penn State is a mediocre Big Ten Conference program. It is 32-32 in league games this decade, including 2-6 against Ohio State and an abysmal 0-6 against Michigan.
So be careful what you root for, Penn State fans.
A big season might mean three, four, maybe five more years of Paterno.
Even one more year of Paterno would be one too many.
And where did "rooting for 6-6" get Ron Cook?

To this article after the end of the regular season, one in which Penn State had posted an 11-1 season. That's about as much of a retraction as someone with the logical capacity of Ron Cook can come up with. 

Before the 2009 season, Cook was oddly silent, but couldn't resist comparing Joe Paterno to Bobby Bowden after Bowden was forced out of Florida State last year. That was probably the closest Cook got in the last half-decade to writing a positive article about Paterno. And no, I'm not counting the ones where he said things like "Paterno is the greatest coach of all time but needs to hang it up."

But now, Cook is back at it again. He's back on the "Paterno needs to call it quits" horse.

We're not even going to waste our time with going through Cook's article and tearing it apart. Here's the deal: at this point in his career, Paterno has earned the right to walk away and retire whenever he wants. If he wants to hang it up after this year, so be it. If he wants to hang it up, more power to him. If he wants to keep coaching, we haven't seen anything in the team's performance in recent years that should suggest otherwise.

In the last 5 years, Penn State has gone 11-1, 9-4, 9-4, 11-2, and 11-2. In this time they have finished #3, #25, #25, #8, and #8 in the Coaches Poll and gone 4-1 in Bowl Games. 4 of the 5 bowl games were played in the new year.

Yes, Penn State does have a ridiculously hard schedule this year with road games against 3 top 10 teams: Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State.

Nevertheless, even if Penn State posts a 9-3 or 8-4 season (hell, even if they go 6-6), we still wouldn't care what JoePa decided to do. In our eyes, he's the greatest coach in College Football history and has earned the right to retire on his terms.

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