What if I told you that as the clock struck zero on one of the greatest blizzards Happy Valley had ever witnessed, #9 tossed a bullet to KJ Hamler running full blast over the middle and he scampered his way to pay dirt on fourth down and five? Just daydream for a second and imagine to yourself, what if? Laugh all you want but remember, just mere seconds prior to that final snap on October 29, 2018, Trace McSorley was literally one play away from making himself the clear cut Heisman front-runner, and Penn State was on the verge of beating its chest and demanding a spot in the top five. At that very moment, it wasn’t just wishful thinking, that was fact. Instead, as we know too well, it all fell apart.
Can someone remind me when nine wins became so unfulfilling because I apparently missed the memo? The thing is, it has been that way the entire offseason. 2018 just didn’t feel like a success, no matter how hard the Lions tried. All things considered, it should. It seems like ages now, but I remind you in vain, it wasn’t that long ago Sam Ficken was saving Senior Day in 2012; Christian Hackenberg stuck a dagger in Michigan’s heart a year later; Bill O’Brien was frantically beating down the doors of any PA kid that would listen to his pitch. Things have clearly changed since way back then.
Penn State Football social media felt the need to remind us this week that the Nittany Lions are one of only six teams to win nine games or more over the last three years. Say what you will when it comes to love and war on the gridiron but it’s great company to be in any way you look at it. Even if one of the other five is that arch nemesis from Columbus. I guess it made me wonder once again, what if? There were a ton of those last year but the most glaring one of all happened during the Whiteout. What if, the scales had tipped in our favor instead of being stuffed in our backfield on fourth and five? Ultimately, we reached our peak and took a hard fall down but hey, we were that close.
Ever since that fateful night, it seems like nothing’s gone our way. Attrition hit us like a ton of bricks, even the Lion left, for crying out loud! But, what if I told you the reconstruction of Penn State football truly began the minute CJF left the podium that night, at least on some level. Would you believe me? Sure, pride was on the line in Orlando but the truth is, once we lost to Ohio State everything else seemed more ‘been there, done that’ than Fight On State. Have we reached the point of playoffs or bust already?
As hard as it’s been to keep up with all the moving and shaking going on this off-season, what if I told you that evidence suggests that wasn’t just a wild, heat-of-the-moment tirade CJF went on after last season’s Whiteout, but that he actually meant every single word? After all, he did warn us there wouldn’t be anything easy about getting to where we all want to go. To date, the guy’s been right on the money with nearly everything he’s said. Just food for thought, Nittany Nation, as we barrel full steam ahead into barbecues, beaches, and toes in the sand.