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For Penn State Fans, It Ain’t Been Easy Being Blue The Past 15 Years

by on November 23, 2014 10:00 PM

To hell with Kermit. It ain’t easy being blue.

And, especially, a fan of Blue and White football.

The past 15 years and two weeks have been a testament to that.

You’ve been STEPed on, Joe Must Go’d, coached from the press box, scandaled, fired, sanctioned, vacated, poached, scholar-stripped, parking passed, no bowled, bowled over and Houston Texaned.

You’ve had 112 wins 86’d and you’ve been 6-4’d and 63-14’d. Yet, you keep coming back for more – sometimes even#107kStrong.

You’ve seen five head coaches, lasting from 10 days to 14 years – and everything interim-between. And you’ve seen 33 assistant coaches since 1999, including one whose name has been erased from page 172 of the 2014 Penn State football media guide.

Among those assistants has been a White, a Golden and Big Red. A Hall and a Roof. A Vandy and several guys from Vandy. A Butler, a Fisher and a Smith. And both a Hand (four inches when measuring a horse) and a Midget (5-foot-11 when measured at the 2000 NFL Combine).

You’ve been Freehed, Emmerted, BOT’ed, short-termed, untrusted, sued, charged, dismissed, remanded, Tweeted at, ESPN’d and booked by family and not friends.

We get it. Once Minnesota’s Dan Nystrom made a 32-yard field goal to beat you 24-23 on Nov. 6, 1999 and knock you from your No. 2 ranking, being a Penn State football fan got a lot tougher.

We get it. It hasn’t been the easiest rodeo in major college football since you dropped your last three games of that season, free-falling from 9-0 and No. 2 to No. 13 and 9-3 – only to finish with a win in the Alamo Bowl that is remembered for entirely differently reasons. It’s been, in many ways, the toughest ride in college sports. Ever.

You rode out that very tough 26-33 stretch from 2000-2004 – a journey made easier by the best student section in all of college football and a belief, then a hope, then a prayer that Joe Paterno would make it Happy Valley. Again. And it happened. There was the MRob MoRange Bowl season in 2005, when you finished 11-1 and were No. 3. Then you exalted over back-to-back 11-2 seasons in 2008-09, but you were frickin’ livid at Ferentz for twice ruining perfect seasons. 2012 was as special as any of them, thanks to fighters like Mike & Mike, OB and McG.

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It’s been imperfect, admittedly. And so have you. You’re a Penn State fan. Which makes you part of #OneTeam. At least until you’re #Unrivaled.

The loss tally of each of your past five seasons reads like this: 6, 4, 4, 5, 5 and maybe counting. But they included 400 and 409, a destination or state of (your) mind in many ways, like OBX or 26.2.

It’s all confusing and frustrating and what’s a Penn State fan to do? You take to the message boards, social and anti-social media, mass texts, email strings, marathon tailgates, TV viewing parties and W.R. Hickey’s. It’s a group hug that tries, often angrily, but can’t just WhiteOut chunks of the past decade-and-a-half. That’s why a stadium of white against Ohio State is so important, so effective when you're feeling blue and Blue. It’s a 12-step program that has hit double digit victories just three times in 15 years.

Funny, though, you seem to take it out on a kid whose loyalty to Penn State was tested before he came, once he got here and again when his head coach left. Three-for-three. Loyal should know what loyal does. Context should be everything. Patience is a virtue. #Hashtagitout.

You no doubt find it hard to believe you’ve lost by 5, 7, 1 and 2 points in the past fortnight, thinking at least one or two of those should’ve been a Frankwin. Hey, me too. But you did upset Wisconsin twice, hoked Michigan in 4 OTs, won earlier this year by 2 and then 3 in your ancestral homelands of Ireland and Jersey. You’ve got that going for you.

So, yes, your offense right now is offensive. Very. Very very. But you were that way in 2001, when you scored a total of 31 points in your first four games. And then again in 2004, when you scored 10 points (and usually less) in six of your first nine games. Those seasons, you went 5-6 and 4-7.

So, now, you’re 6-5. And, most likely 6-6. Then maybe even 6-7.

By that point, it will reach Biblical proportions and you’ll cue the locusts. You’ll want to fire everyone named James and John, and send Christian to the Lions’ den.

Some might consider that a rush to judgment. You know better than to do that. I mean, how’d that last episode of judgment rushing work out around here?

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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