Neil Rudel on football: PSU defections further slow down the 2021 season | News, Sports, Jobs
The year was 1997, and a once promising season was torpedoed by a November faint, which was followed by the suspension of a few key players for various indiscretions.
Suffice to say that the Penn State camp weren’t too happy, even though the Nittany Lions still landed in the Citrus Bowl for a clash with Florida with marquee coaches Joe Paterno and Steve Spurrier.
Nonetheless, when he caught a flip card in the media lounge hours before the game, Budd Thalman, the Lions’ director of sports information, jokingly summed up: “Let’s see who’s on our team. “
That’s about the feeling Penn State fans should have as the Nittany Lions line up against Arkansas in today’s Outback Bowl (noon, ESPN2).
These are different circumstances from 1997, when Curtis Enis broke NCAA rules by accepting gifts and Joe Jurevicius was deemed academically ineligible, unfortunate endings for two outstanding players.
These times are different as the rollover of the list is now focused on those who have decided to forgo another year of eligibility and bowling as well.
The change in college sport has become rapid. Keep in mind that Saquon Barkley, who placed second in the 2018 NFL Draft, played in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl against Washington. He carried 18 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Just three years ago, against Kentucky at the Citrus Bowl, several PSU subclasses were thinking about going out early and doing so, but still played in the game.
Part of the story of bowling over the years has been: is this the last game of 2021 or the first game of 2022?
As much was asked of James Franklin during the preparation for the Razorbacks.
“I think it’s a combination of the two” he said. “It’s the end of the season and it’s always an opportunity for us to go out and play the way we want to, and always an opportunity for the players to show on a national stage what they are capable of doing, not just for Penn State, but also for their future. And also young players who have more important opportunities to give some impetus to the offseason. “
With so many key Nits players missing this game – six starters have retired, including star receiver Jahan Dotson – and the way the season has crashed from 5-0 to 7-5, it’s hard to believe that they can win a tough game. against a team that lost only by one touchdown to Alabama in November.
Not without Dotson and five defensive starters – outstanding defenseman Jaquan Brisker, defensive linemen Arnold Ebiketie and Derrick Tangelo, and linebackers Ellis Brooks and Brandon Smith.
They’ll be lucky to keep Arkansas at 30 points, right?
With all the things that went wrong last season – the Iowa debacle, the lack of a backup quarterback to Christian Veilleux, the 2-point nightmare against Illinois, the false placement with a chance to go 10-0 against Michigan, Michigan’s frozen state strategy – there’s no arc that can be put on 2021 that’s going to make him feel a whole lot better.
With Sean Clifford back for a sixth season, it’s time to start in 2022.
And if you haven’t taken a look at next year’s schedule, proceed with caution. Four of the Lions’ toughest games – the opener at Purdue, a trip to Auburn two weeks later with Ohio State, and a visit to Michigan – land in the first six weeks.
If Penn State was lucky enough to beat Arkansas, being 1-0 – a Franklin manta – would be a much better way to start 2022 than 8-5 would be to cap 2021, certainly a year to forget.
Neil Rudel covers Penn State football and can be contacted at [email protected]