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Closing Arguments - Penn State


"It's the name on the front of the jersey that matters most,

not the one on the back."

- Joseph V. Paterno

I. Case History/Opening Statement

A. Case History

We Penn State fans know two histories.  When a conversation comes up about which program has more tradition (otherwise referred to as "better"), we invoke our place among that ten- to fifteen-team long list of college football royalty.  We can talk about national titles, undefeated seasons, being in the 800-win club, a hall of fame coach/patron saint, and having one of the few stadiums in the country to fit over 100,000 screaming lunatics fans. 

Make your picks in Off Tackle Empire's Annual Obligatory Predictions Competition...This weeks toughest pick? Michigan v. UConn...

However, when someone wants to talk about recent success, we have a very definite timeframe in mind: the past five years, also known as the post-"Dark Years."  Things were ugly from 2000-2004.  We know.  We have blacked it out, and do not understand why everyone else hasn't.  From 2005 through last season, however, things have brightened up.  We've assumed a position among the conference elite, occasionally capable of putting the local bully Ohio State in its place and trouncing lesser-talented opponents on a consistent basis.  I think the fanbase would agree when I say that we're still a step away from where we want to be, but being tied for 7th best winning percentage in the nation over the last five years is not too shabby.


In 2010, this Penn State team will make history in two categories.  First,  for the first time in Coach Joe's 45 seasons as coach at Penn State, a true freshman quarterback will start in the Nittany Lion's first game.  Second, this year's squad will be first team to face three BCS-bowl winners of the previous season...and is playing in enemy territory in all three instances.  Will the rest of the team provide the rookie QB with the help he needs to be successful?  Is Penn State going to start off with three losses on opening day because of how tough those opponents look on paper?  Take your seat in the jury box and hit the jump to find out.

More Closing Arguments:

Ohio State

B. Opening Statement
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, today I stand before you to plead the case of the 2010 Penn State Nittany Lions. First, let me tell you what this is case (or season) is not about: this is not about the defense.  My adversary will point out that we lost three starting linebackers, all of which went in the NFL Draft.  However, you may remember that there were many times that Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman weren't on the field at the same time due to injury.  Additionally, it was Michael Mauti, not Josh Hull, who had been chosen by the coaches as the third starter going into the 2009 season.  Back this year from an injury which kept him out all last year, Mauti will be joined on the field by a number of highly-recruited players who have had game experience.  My adversary may also point out that we've lost first-round draft pick defensive lineman Jared Odrick.  He will fail to mention that we had just lost first-round draft pick defensive lineman Aaron Maybin going into the 2009 draft, and did just fine.  I have one name for you, yee of little faith: Larry Johnson, Sr. 


I ask you, the jury, to focus your attention on the real issue of this case: the offense.  We've lost no wide receivers, and are as deep at the position as the program has ever been.  Moreover, there are four or five running backs that I would love to see get touches this year.  Ladies and gentlemen, this case comes down to the fact that the 2010 Nittany Lions will sink or swim based on the performance they can get in the passing game.  We will feature brand-new quarterback, young and inexperienced, but, as my expert Phil Steele will testify, a "VHT."  Will he be able to make enough throws to keep the defense open and honest?  Or will it be a turnover-riddled disaster, with opponents stacking the box to stuff the inevitable run?  The offensive line returns a number of familiar faces, and I believe they will be able to get enough push to get the job done.  Ladies and gentlemen, it will be your job to watch this season, consider the evidence, and render a verdict.  Thank you for your service, I'll speak to you again in summation.

II. Discovery

A. Pop Music Teaches Us

Because all blogs are required to compare athletic teams to some random entertainment icon, we're equating Big Ten Teams to famous pop artists.

I'm cheating here, and I just role-played a couple hundred words so I don't care.  Instead of a traditionally-famous pop artist, I am equating Penn State 2010 to a famous film segment. 

Yes it is a montage. Yes it is a montage from the 80's.  Yes, it is from Rocky IV:

OSU/Wisconsin/Iowa : Ivan Drago :: Penn State : Rocky.  (Somebody nailed the Colgates in 5th grade).  This is analogy, friends.  On the one side you have the preseason darlings of the Big Ten, with their fancy stairclimber machines and blinking control boards.  The media has all but given one of them the Big Ten Championship upon arrival.  On the other hand you have Penn State, our veteran hero who has been there before, but the critics are saying won't stand a chance this time around.

So bring it, Commie Iowa, and you'll find out that we are made of iron.  Hopefully.

B. Off Tackle Empire Says

Here's some of what we've written about Penn State over the off-season:

Big Ten Stadiums: Beaver Stadium

Evaluating the Mechanics: Kevin Newsome

Keeping the Enemy Closer: Noveau Rival?

MVP Profile: Evan Royster

Spring Field Guide: Penn State

Summation: Penn State in the Aughts

Past as Prelude: Predicting PSU's Defensive Success in 2010

III. Emotional Plea

A. You Just Can't Hate JoePa

Do I really need to explain this?  The man is a living legend that did not only grow a football powerhouse out of a cow pasture and hard work, but lead the college football world by example for the better part of five decades.  Even if you somehow dislike him (I'm looking at you, Commie Ohio State), you have to consider that this may actually be his last season.  You're watching history.  There will be plenty of successful college football coaches in the future, but I don't see the current college football landscape creating too many more legends.  So put your zombie jokes on hold for just a minute this season and enjoy watching a guy who does it the right way.


IV. The Verdict

A. The Staff Calls the Games

Graham Filler: 9-3, losses to Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State

Jonathan Franz: 10-2, losses to Alabama and Ohio State

Bama Hawkeye: 9-3, losses to Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State

Paterno Ave: 9-3, losses to Alabama, Northwestern, and Ohio State

GregGoBlue: 9-3, losses to Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State