Alright, alright, I too have jumped on the Terrelle Pryor-mania bandwagon. But as NLOID approaches, where he and all the other top recruits will be playing their college ball is all people can talk about. As your Penn State correspondent, I’ve been wondering to myself “Why on earth is Terrelle Pryor, the best prospect coming out of the state of Pennsylvania, not seriously interested in his home state’s massive state university?” Well, regardless of what some of you might think, the problem lies with more than just the Head Coach.
Sure, JoePa’s “prehistoric” playing-calling is a problem for attracting new recruits, especially one comfortable with the spread offensive like Pryor is. But with Darryl Clark’s performance in the Alamo Bowl, we have seen that the Penn State coaching staff is not adverse to a running quarterback. This is confirmed further by Penn State Offensive Coordinator Jay Paterno, the son of Head Coach Joe Paterno and most likely the 81 year old’s successor, announcing Penn State's desire to run the “Spread HD”, hoping to both pass and run for over 200 yards per game.
So, I can hear you all saying, “get to the point, Phil! What’s the other reason already!?” Well, as I was going on my college tours and other tour members were asking questions like “How many students are there?” or “What about this school made you decide to attend?” I, being the obsessed college football fan, asked “Who is your biggest rival in sports?” From Texas, I got the answer “Oklahoma, we hate them.” From Michigan: “If you have to ask that question, you don’t deserve to come to Michigan.” And from USC I got “UCLA.” And these aren't one-sided rivalries, either. Michigan, USC, and Texas are the biggest rivals of Ohio State, UCLA, and Oklahoma, respectively, as well. And if you think about it, that's what truly makes a rivalry great.
It was when I went on the tour at Penn State that I discovered that there was something lacking. When I asked my question to the Nittany Lion tour guides, they couldn’t give me a straight answer. Some said that it used to be Pitt, but we don’t play them anymore. Some said that it’s Ohio State, and some said that it is Michigan or Michigan State. But if you asked all of those schools, not one of them would say that Penn State was their main rival.
College football, to the kids that are playing it, is not about corporate sponsorships or TV contracts; it’s about winning your rivalry game and having bragging rights for an entire year. I can understand that not having a rival may be a big issue to some kids, especially when the greatest rivalry in the entire country, Ohio State-Michigan, is in the same conference as Penn State.
That being said, we can't forget the problem of JoePa’s style of offense. He has not evolved with the game, and still runs the same offense that won him two national championships…back in the ‘80s. LSU doesn’t have a major rival either, but they have coaches that have evolved with the game and know how to recruit players. JoePa simply hasn’t and doesn’t, and refuses to quit doing what he is doing, even if it means mediocrity in both the conference and the nation.
Penn State won me over with the academics and the student pride, but if I was a top football recruit, I would be looking at the Michigans and the Ohio States, not Penn State. To get Penn State back to the top, JoePa has to realize that the game has changed, and so must he. Or, he has to leave behind the program that he built, and is now in the process of destroying.
-Phil, Penn State Correspondent