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My Love Letter To Joe Moorhead

It’s hard to imagine a better start to Nittany Lion fandom than the one current sophomores like myself have been graced with.

I’ve never seen a loss at Beaver Stadium.

I am disappointed by the team being ranked No. 9 after its final regular season game.

Without ever experiencing the emptiness of the postseason ban, I celebrated the same Big Ten Championship that many others spent a long year fearing they’d never live to see.

I’ve watched some incredible football; four of the team’s five losses in my two years at Penn State have been by a total of ten points. I witnessed ESPN broadcast live from campus for something other than Sandusky coverage. I knew who Saquon Barkley was when I came here, but I watched him explode on the gridiron and in the national eye. Right behind him and his fellow starters, a new generation of phenoms waits on the bench and at the top of the recruiting class rankings, ready to seize the moment and our hearts.

Call me spoiled — because I am.

It’s partially because I’m a millennial and I know, we suck, kill everything, and are entitled. But, it’s also partially because of the brains that powered James Franklin’s high octane offense.

The only offensive coordinator I’ve known is Joe Moorhead. My first two years at Penn State were his only two.

To me, John Donovan is nothing more than a name from a funny video, not the fabled, incompetent ringleader of a band of misfits that hardened and perpetually scarred fans remember with scorn. Although, I have learned that James Franklin is much more than a fraud.

We knew this day was bound to come, even after you reportedly turned down the Minnesota job last year and told Sports Illustrated you weren’t “in a hurry” to land a head coaching position. JoeMo, you helped bring some of the most exciting football I have ever seen to Happy Valley in two short, yet unforgettable seasons. Thank you for spoiling us.

James Franklin. Saquon Barkley. Trace McSorley. Mike Gesicki. Jason Cabinda. Marcus Allen. Saeed Blacknall. Grant Haley. Joe Moorhead. Only a few of the men who brought Penn State football back.

My first impression of you was a mixture of, “Wow, what the hell is this FCS dude doing?” and “Wow, this FCS dude has some serious guts.”

In your debut against Kent State, your unit struggled during its opening possessions as disgruntled upperclassmen bemoaned the “Same old, same old.” When Trace McSorley finally found DaeSean Hamilton in the end zone at the end of the first quarter, you called a bold, though unsuccessful, two-point conversion, showing just how aggressive this new-look Penn State team was going to play.

It took a few weeks for the Nittany Lions to find their stride and identity, but when they did, boy, did it get fun — not just the rancorous student section but actually watching the polished product on the field every Saturday with flea flickers, circus catches, and overpowering attacks.

Over the next 14 months, I still had the same reactions to your play call that I had on September 3, 2016, although my disbelief grew to be more out of awe and admiration rather than skepticism.

I mean, with the help of a few generational talents, you upgraded Donovan’s abysmal unit that averaged 23.2 points per game to one of the nation’s top groups that averaged 37.6 and 41.6 during your two-year stay.

Your out-of-the-box thinking took full advantage of perhaps the greatest running back prospect in years and gave him the opportunities to use every aspect of his athleticism on the field. With your help, a (generously listed) 6’0″, 195 lb. quarterback is breaking every school passing record. You kept his (much bigger) backup who could beat out essentially any Power-5 quarterback not named Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, or Jalen Hurts creatively involved in your offense enough that he didn’t jump ship and transfer. You managed to make the offense the focal point of Linebacker U.

So, to answer The DAILY Collegian’s question from Monday: The turkey drop came a week late this year. But, there’s no breakup business decision that eating a pint of Peachy Paterno and watching Saquon Barkley throw touchdown passes and take direct snaps doesn’t heal.

Thanks for everything, JoeMo. You’ll be missed. Best of luck with the Bulldogs, you might need it. We always cheered “We want Bama.” Now, you’ve got Bama, every year.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci is Onward State’s managing editor, a preferred walk-on honors student, and a senior majoring in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected] All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.


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