In an old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton's characters try desperately to rid themselves of a tin owned by Ray's mother. They throw it in the trash, then are stunned later when the tin falls down the steps and comes clattering back into their life.
That's about the feeling I got when I saw columns by the Altoona Mirror's Neil Rudel and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Starkey on Sunday.
I thought we were done talking about Joe Paterno and how he looked at Big Ten Media Days when it happened earlier this month. Apparently not.
Let's be honest: Paterno is not capable of running a major college football program at this point in his life. His assistants have been doing the heavy lifting, leading the Nittany Lions to a 51-13 record over the past five years ...
Would you say Paterno does 60 percent of what the Urban Meyers and Nick Sabans and Jim Tressels of the world are doing to maintain their programs? Fifty? Much less than that?
Perhaps even more annoying than commenting on Paterno's health when it's probably safe to say Starkey hasn't been within 100 feet of Paterno recently is the fact that Starkey would question Paterno's competency and contributions when the 51-13 record is right there in front of him.
If the team is winning, does it really matter what Paterno does on the practice field or the film room? The key to all of this, and Paterno admitted as such as recently as Friday at Penn State's media day, is that Paterno is there to manage an excellent team of coordinators and coaches that have made Penn State what it is today.
Both defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. have been tempted to take jobs elsewhere in the last several years. Without Joe Paterno, they would probably be long gone, but the loyalty those guys feel to him has kept them in Happy Valley filling important roles. Isn't that alone a good enough reason for Paterno to continue if he feels he's able?
Rudel also had a lot of nothing to say in his column.
It now appears he's facing the last dozen games of a career that will undoubtedly chisel his face on the Mount Rushmore wing of coaching greats, and that 2010 will be his final hurrah.
And if that's the case, how and where it ends for the only head coach the vast majority of the Nittany Nation has ever known, will totally overshadow any other game, win or lose, this season.
If it ends up shaking out that way, it shouldn't. The fans don't want that, the players don't want that, and Joe Paterno certainly doesn't that overshadowing the work of his team.
The only people who want it that way are people like Neil Rudel and Joe Starkey, who are continuing to hammer this topic in their columns because it's the easy thing to do.
Do I know whether this will be Paterno's final season at Penn State? Of course not. It's doubtful Paterno even knows at this point. What I do know is that I don't care. I don't. I've lived with this story in the headlines since I was a little boy. I'm numb to the possibility. They'll be right eventually, and until then, they'll continue to write the same cookie-cutter columns.
One of the hot topics over at Black Shoe Diaries this week has been the emergence of Sean Fitz, former Blue and White Illustrated writer and the man behind the @Lions247 Twitter account. He's been breaking news about the quarterback situation and offensive line in stunning detail over the past week, and has instantly made himself a go-to source for Penn State news for the masses ... with a Twitter account!
Unfortunately, that's the kind of information you're going to have to pay for eventually, as Fitz and his outfit intend to move their content to a pay tier in the near future to compete with Rivals and Scout.
You don't see Fitz, or anyone at those sites, writing columns like Starkey's or Rudel's, because people aren't willing to pay for them. They want to know the players who will be on the field for Penn State against Alabama in a few weeks. They want to hear the hot rumors on potential recruits.
They don't want to hear about Paterno's health.