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Joe Bastardi: Is Joe Paterno Influencing the Climate?

on August 09, 2011 5:50 AM

Years ago, someone came in (I think it was the New York Times) and did a study on how Penn State football influenced the economy around here. Well, I have just done them one better. And since at this time of the year everything takes a back seat to football, I have to figure out how to keep the weather out in front.

A recent study completed by me indicates that Joe Paterno -- who was reportedly injured when blindsided by a player during pre-season practice over the weekend -- might have a lot to do with the climate. During the Paterno tenure, Penn State's unbeaten or national championship seasons all occurred around the time of an El Nino.

Coincidence? C'mon. If you are going to tell me a trace gas that some studies say humans yearly contribute only 1 part per 20 million is running the climate, then certainly the linkage between Paterno's greatest teams and a major climate event such as an El Nino has to trump that. I mean every one of our unbeaten or national championship years had an El Nino going on very close to it. Since those warm events spike the Earth's temperature, it could be argued that the success of the PSU football program is the actual link to global warming – or climate change or climate disruption or whatever the nom du jour is now.

One argument could be made that it is Penn State football, not Paterno, that is the controlling influence here. However, since Penn State before Paterno did not have the frequent success it does when an El Nino is occurring, that linkage can quickly be dismissed. It comes down to the man at the top.

This startling discovery has to have linkage to the climate since the tropical Pacific is the great thermostat of the overall climate pattern. When the Pacific is in its warm cycle, El Ninos are more frequent; when it is in its cold cycle as it is now, La Ninas are. Given the clash of theories on climate cycles, this discovery is one that may render useless all other arguments, including my own! It may simply come down to the fact that it's Paterno and Penn State football that are, in large part, in charge of the entire global-climate shooting match.

Which, of course, would put a bunch of us out of business since we would have nothing left to argue over. In fact, I was concerned that if Al Gore found out it was Paterno who is in control, our beloved coach could become a target of his. But in an effort to keep the argument alive and to give the former vice president his due (I am also concerned about how people on the other side of the debate would manage if it is discovered that it's Paterno who controls the climate), I have a counter theory, though it will raise the ire of football-first, weather-second people.

But first ... I interrupt this vital revelation for an announcement: For those out there who have no sense of humor on such matters, this is an attempt at one, OK? Now, back to whatever it was this is about.

Close examination reveals that the El Ninos start before the final game of the season. The 1972-73 El Nino preceded, then coincided with the undefeated '73 season. The 1982-83 El Nino was underway, as were the 1986-87 and 1994-95 El Ninos when those amazing seasons occurred. The 1968 unbeaten season occurred before the '69 El Nino set in, and we were unbeaten in '69. The argument could be made that the event caused the PSU season. But that, as any fan of Paterno and Penn State football knows, would be blasphemy. Obviously, any true PSU fan would tell you the atmosphere simply understood that a great Penn State season was on the way and reacted accordingly. In addition, because the first unbeaten season – 1968 — preceded the El Nino, that may have been the spark that set all of this off.

I ran the study on the college record of another local legend – he is here, so he is now ours – Cael Sanderson, to find out if there were any linkage there. Cael won national titles from 1999-2002. All those years were neutral years except 1999, when there was a La Nina, which is a cold event, not a warm event like an El Nino. That would make sense since you have to wrestle indoors cause it's cold, right?

So while extensive study needs to be done over the coming years as to whether Cael as a coach will have an effect on the climate (certainly the climate for wrestling fans around here is much improved), this is probably in doubt since wrestling is an indoor sport. However, it is interesting to note that the year Cael won only 39 matches, there was a La Nina, while the other years, there was not.

I could not contact Cael about this because he was in Romania wrestling, which is what they do there. And when in Romania, do as the Romanians do, right?

But to the matter of the Paterno influence ... obviously, 100,000 football fans exhaling several Saturdays a year, more loudly when the team is good, can be linked to the weather and climate, and this study proves it. What other conclusion can there be?

By the way, since I somehow got wrestling into this and I believe in equal opportunity when it comes to my foolish tangents ... the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club Golf Tournament is this Saturday. Perhaps if you show up and support it and you run into Cael, you can ask him his opinion on all this. Just don't tell him who gave you the idea for the question. I have a family, you know.

In an effort to make sure this is all transparent, I made no effort to contact Joe Paterno, for if it is true he is in charge of the weather and climate, he obviously has better things to do than to talk to me. In fact, most people I run into have better things to do than to talk to me.

One more aspect: I could not run the same study on Joe Battista's hockey teams when he was coaching cause they never had any down years, show-off that he was.

A positive: This study didn't cost a thing and I did it in 20 minutes, simply looking up the stats (actually, for years I have been bringing this up). Sticking out as plain as the nose on my face is the fact that there were El Ninos around the years we were undefeated or playing for national titles. I would have had it pier reviewed, but I have been too busy to get down to the shore.

And you thought JoePa was just a great coach. Hah! Obviously there is much more going on here, enough so that, not only does the guy deserve a library, but probably a couple of lecture halls in Walker Building named after him.

As for me, I am still waiting for a men's room – or at least something in the men's room – to be named after me. This study should accelerate that process.

Now, let's see if this makes the Penn Stater or, in a worst-case scenario, the journal of the American Meteorological Society.

Next Article
Penn State Football: Can Joe Paterno’s Staff Provide Comfort?
August 09, 2011 3:00 AM
by Mike Poorman
Penn State Football: Can Joe Paterno’s Staff Provide Comfort?
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