In many ways, the recently completed college football season will be one to remember. But perhaps for even more, it will be one to forget.
On the home front, Bobcat fans are still reveling in the wake of Ohio’s historic gridiron campaign. To the northwest, Ohio State followers are still trying to swallow the fact that the team finished with a losing record for the first time since 1897. The Buckeyes are not eligible for postseason consideration after the 2012 season.
Perhaps the most uplifting story was the tale of Louisiana-Lafayette, which was picked to finish among the worst teams in college football in 2011.
The Ragin’ Cajuns responded to the pressure by winning eight games and clinching a berth in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in front of a hometown crowd. In the game, placekicker Brett Baer nailed a career-long 50-yard field goal as time expired to give Louisiana-Lafayette its first bowl win since 1944 and its first nine-win season since 1976.
Michigan played its first-ever night game at the Big House against Notre Dame in September. The contest featured a frenzied ending, with the teams’ scoring three touchdowns in the final 72 seconds.
But Michigan had the last laugh, as quarterback Denard Robinson threw a touchdown pass with two seconds left to lift the Wolverines to victory in front of an NCAA-record 114,804 fans. First-year head coach Brady Hoke led the Wolverines to an impressive 11-win season capped by beating Ohio State and winning the Sugar Bowl.
Then there was the “Game of the Century,” a low-scoring thriller between Louisiana State and Alabama. Three field goals were enough for LSU, which won the game 9-6 on Alabama’s home turf. But the Crimson Tide returned the favor in the BCS National Championship Game Monday night, winning the title game 21-0.
But for all the on-field festivities, one off-field bombshell spoiled the season for many.
Former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested and indicted on 40 counts of sexually abusing eight boys during his tenure with the Nittany Lions. On top of that, legendary coach Joe Paterno knew of the allegations for years but came under scrutiny after reporting the matter only to the school’s athletic director and not to law enforcement. Paterno, the athletic director and two other top administrators stepped down amid the scandal.
The State College, Pa., community was heartbroken by the news that such atrocities had taken place. For once, football did not reign supreme at Penn State — or anywhere in the U.S.
Football might be a safe haven from the real world, but sometimes it teaches us about our problems. And unlike JoePa or former Buckeyes head coach Jim
Tressel, we must confront our problems before they control us.
College football gave us countless more memories this season, some of which we would love to forget. But as in any area of life, we best learn our lessons before we move on.
Here’s to a brighter 2012 filled with good sportsmanship, integrity, and — of course — good football.
Michael Stainbrook is a junior studying journalism and sports editor of The Post. Disappointed too? Let him know at email@example.com.