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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Evidence That Penn State Football Is Eroding Even More

A top recruit from the Philadelphia suburbs, who once gave an oral commitment to the Nittany Lions, is going to Wisconsin.

The reason offered up is that Wisconsin is Offensive Linemen U., and the recent article in Sports Illustrated -- an elegy to the Badgers' development of offensive linemen -- had to help. Look, if a kid wants to go into a profession (and especially where there is no grad school to gain an extra credential), why shouldn't he look at the school best suited to give him the training to get to that career? Because that's precisely what J.J. Denman is doing, and, yes, Wisconsin is a good academic school too.

But here's the thing for Penn State devotees -- Penn State used to get kids like this automatically just by showing up. Penn State was the default drive, the major aspiration -- good program, kids get their degrees, chance to vie for a national title. But the first is in question and the last hasn't been true for a while. So, recruits like Denman will go to a place where not only to they have a better chance to fulfill their potential, sadly, they also will have a better chance to connect with the head coach (read the whole article and see what I mean).

Penn State fans shouldn't be mad at J.J. Denman. He's doing the right thing for himself. If they're frustrated, they should direct their disappointments and dissent to the Penn State administration, which has let the entire issue of succession planning for Joe Paterno get out of hand. Look, I've written this before -- Paterno's body of work is tremendous in every way -- but how far is the administration supposed to let the program slip because they're honoring the past -- extremely so -- at the expense of the present?

No, of course, Penn State won't put together two consecutive 0-12 seasons and fall off the proverbial cliff, but the Nittany Lions are a far cry from what they used to be -- a dominant presence as to the right way to run a major college program that can win championships. Perhaps Penn State fans are okay with the current state of play, and that's okay if the majority of them are.

It's just that they, the university, Coach Paterno and his friends -- they all can do a lot better.

And everyone knows it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are inferring that Penn State cannot effectively recruit top-flight high school players because the Nittany Lions have an old head coach. He's old, all right, that's for sure (I hope I can do the same when I'm 84), but your inference is a big jump to an unproven conclusion.

Every day, high school kids de-commit from college programs. Indeed, it seems to happen on a minute-by-minute basis, judging from the little scrolling news crawl at the bottom of ESPN-U.

Look, Joe Paterno was 82 or 83 when J.J. Denham first gave his verbal commitment to the Nittany Lions. JoePa's turning 84 was not exactly a shock to the kid; that's what 83-year-old men are supposed to do.

The kid is going to the fifth-ranked team in the country which happens to favor a ground-and-pound run game and he's a center. It may not have factored into his thinking but Wisconsin's also an upgrade academically. Not sure you can pin this on Paterno.

5:47 PM  
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