We had a plan.
Monday night, Ross, Adam and I had a brief editorial meeting to prepare for Michigan State week, and we left with something good. We were going to run a series of posts called "MARK DANTONIO: COUNTRY JUSTICE" in which the Michigan State coach would play an Old West sheriff who would catch bandits and bank robbers, look at them sternly, then let them go or add them to the sheriff's department. There would be photoshops of Dantonio looking like Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters 2, only in a funny hat. It would be the kind of absurdity you --and we -- expect from BHGP, and we hoped it would be funny.
Then Happy Valley exploded. It started around lunchtime, with reports that Penn State, on the heels of this weekend's reports of gross (in so many senses of the word) misconduct by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, was about to terminate Joe Paterno. The rest of the day was a blur of news: Penn State officials canceled Paterno's weekly press conference after seeing the throng of media preparing to grill the 84-year-old head coach, Paterno's son threatened to hold an independent press conference off campus, protesters gathered to oppose Paterno and PSU president Graham Spanier and burned diplomas, the press staked out Joe Paterno's house, something approximating demonstrations broke out in Happy Valley in support of Paterno's continued employment, the police showed up with tear gas in hand, the PSU regents head faked toward a complete housecleaning, and -- saddest of all -- the victim count exploded into the twenties. The Penn State trustees promise swift action this morning; the assumption seems to be that will include the dismissal of pretty much everyone who ever stepped foot on campus.
This causes us some problems. How do you criticize an opposing coach for his stern-faced dereliction of duty when a 46-year veteran coach, iconic to such an extent that his name is on the newly-minted championship trophy, has committed the same offense to an egregious level? How do you even attempt to refocus on the upcoming contest when a sister program is imploding in such horrific fashion? How do you write wisecracks while the victim count triples?
We write some analysis, and we occasionally summarize the news, but BHGP has always dealt in humor, and that humor is built on equal parts sarcasm and absurdity. We can write things like The JoePa Chronicles because the figure of Paterno is so beyond reproach. We can write Ken O'Keefe sneaking into his quarterback's room in the middle of the night because the idea of an assistant coach that creepy is ridiculous. We can write MARK DANTONIO: COUNTRY JUSTICE because, at the end of the day, it's only football, prime for parody and comedy. That all changes now. Creepy Ken O'Keefe doesn't work in a world with Jerry Sandusky. The JoePa Chronicles don't work where Joe Paterno looks genuinely lost in the weeds. Mark Dantonio as the strict non-disciplinarian doesn't work in a world where the PSU administration has looked the other way while a 40-year member of the faculty commits such horrendous offenses. Most importantly, things just don't seem too funny right now. The real world in State College is more absurd than we could ever imagine, and in a way that cannot be parodied. Life isn't imitating art as much as obliterating it.
We're going to handle some loose ends today, and we'll be back to this week's game against Michigan State as soon as we can (including a podcast with The Only Colors set for tomorrow morning), but we are flying blind. Forgive our relative seriousness, but, at the moment, it's all we know.