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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

We’re Still Penn State

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Courtesy of pennstatelive on Flickr 

 

 

 

Every fall just before college football season the public is lured into grand expectations of high profile teams and touted individual players. People are introduced to the top five Heisman trophy hopefuls as well as some dark horses. We get to speculate on which teams will contend for the National Championship and make a stand against the powerhouse SEC teams. This year, however, with the Heisman race heating up and the National Championship picture becoming clearer, we are labeling the wrong people as heroes, or as saviors. We are forgetting what should be the major story.

The most admirable man in college football right now is head coach Bill O’Brien of the Penn State Nittany Lions.  He’s from Dorchester, so we know he’s tough, but what he does with this 2012 team and beyond will show the rest of the nation. Coach O’Brien took over Penn State only to find his football program the latest black eye in sports. In the midst of the Sandusky sex abuse scandal, he stood his ground and vowed to the Board of Trustees, the players, the student body and his peers that he would turn the program around.  

True to his word, Coach O’Brien and the Nittany Lions have put up a strong effort throughout their schedule at 6-4 with two games remaining. If not for a few tough calls, that might have been 8-2. They are already bowl-eligible. They’ll host both Indiana and Wisconsin to round out the year, and Coach O’Brien is calling for the student body to unite and support the football team as it closes out this tainted campaign.  

The hidden difficulty behind the numbers has been the loss of star players and the tarnished appeal to top recruits. Ten players transferred right away following the sanctions brought on by the Sandusky scandal, including top running back Silas Redd to USC, and top wide receiver Justin Brown to Oklahoma. They left because the Nittany Lions lost four years of bowl eligibility. To college football players, being in a bowl game—any bowl game—matters. It drives up their stock when applying to the NFL. To make it even more difficult for the new coach, Penn State may offer scholarships to only 65 recruits a year through 2016. That’s like telling the freshman quarterback at USC, “Hey pal, I know the female population is 54 percent of the student body, but you can only say ‘hello’ to 16 each year.” Good luck! Coach O’Brien starts to resemble Sean Penn in “Dead Man Walking.”

Yet Coach O’Brien has given hope to the program that it will move on. He already has a solid running back recruit in Mark Allen. O’Brien is recruiting the “Patriot Way,” finding situational players to help his team win. When he wins, top class recruits will follow. Athletes always say the same four words: “I want to win.” A 13-10 win is as good as 63-28. Coach O’Brien doesn’t have much to work with, so he has to be selective and choose the foundational players.  

When many thought that the Nittany Lions would roll over this season, Coach O’Brien has reminded them that this is Penn State. He has passion for this team, as coaches have had for decades before him. Everyone knows Penn State as a ‘tough guy’ team. In the face of adversity, that tradition continues because of the Dorchester ‘tough guy,’ Coach Bill O’Brien.