Myke’s note: Penn State is playing for honor, tradition, loyalty, and to prove that Penn State stands for what being a “family” is! In essence, we will prove that the NCAA and the general media have no idea what the blue and white means and that it goes way beyond a football game or a championship or money.
By David Jones, Harrisburg Patriot News
For a game where nothing’s supposed to be at stake, a lot surely is at stake.
One of my buddies who covers Ohio State is calling Saturday evening’s OSU at Penn State game, “The Battle of The Banned.” You know by now, neither team may play in a bowl or in the Big Ten championship game because of NCAA sanctions.
But the fact is, if Penn State can beat Ohio State, it will have ramifications far beyond this season. It will be yet another sign to recruits – the most emphatic yet – that the PSU staff is able to coach-up the mutts and motivate the stars and weave them all into a unit. A win over the unbeaten Buckeyes could be powerful stuff, an indicator to elite high school players that, even with depleted numbers over the next three years, they can hope to have ample support should they commit to Penn State.
More than ever before, recruiting now tends to be viral. The best players don’t simply want to be well-coached. They want to play with their own strata of high-quality of athlete.
What a win over Ohio State will tell those kids: The Penn State staff can really coach and it plays pro-style football. If you come to PSU, you’ll get the best preparation for The League. And, even with scholarship limits, there’ll be enough elite players of your type – because they’ll see this.
If that all happens, Penn State can actually be a threat to the upper half of the Leaders Division.
Considering what looks to be going on the lower half, that’s not exactly a stretch. Illinois is a long-term toxic waste dump; Tim Beckman is a small-timer who never should have been hired. Purdue appears to be in for a coaching change if not this year then next. And while Kevin Wilson already looks to be building a viable offense at Indiana, it remains to be seen if he’ll ever have any players who can stop somebody.
As for Wisconsin, it’s not as if the Badgers run on 4- and 5-star athletes, anyway. Even amid the 65-scholly years, PSU can hope to match up athletically with Bret Bielema‘s teams.
Then, what we’re left with is Urban Meyer. He will recruit superior athletes and plenty of them and then he’ll drive them and coach them up as well. Penn State cannot realistically hope to match Ohio State during the meat of the sanction period. But that’s only one division member.
So, Saturday’s game will serve as a symbol for at least a year that Penn State is a serious player in this division – if O’Brien’s Lions can pull out a win that few considered even conceivable several short weeks ago.