Do I have your attention after that title?
Last week we detailed what Jay Paterno has been doing with his "spare time", namely living the life of a political activist as a blogger for Barack Obama. Well apparently after spending all week working the phones and sending letters to recruits and studying film to institute his new Spread HD philosophy, and after spending the few hours left in the week to do his blogger thing, he still has time left over to play in a celebrity bocce ball tournament.
How fitting that today of all days the York Daily Record points out what we have all known for years now. Penn State can't recruit offensive skill players.
Because the fact that Penn State doesn't have one marquee receiver prospect waiting his turn -- doesn't even have a high-echelon high school senior they're going after -- says something significant about the program.
Or the fact that one of college football's great tailback schools hasn't landed a truly big-time tailback since Austin Scott and Tony Hunt in the winter of 2003.
Or that their only national-caliber quarterback recruits in recent memory (Anthony Morelli, Pat Devlin) actually decided to go elsewhere first.
Of course, Penn State can still recruit and develop defensive talent with the best of them. But the Lions seemingly lag farther behind when it comes to offensive difference-makers. Now, they are getting drilled by Ohio State in western Pennsylvania and pinched by Rutgers to the East.
As the story points out, Penn State has two problems in this area. For one, the offensive skill players today are primadonnas. They want to play and star right away. And they want the freedom to express their individuality while they do it with flashy endzone dances and controversial quotes for the microphones. None of this occurs at Penn State, where skill players wait their turn to play. If you're lucky you can start by your junior and have two solid years of playing time. Yeah you can point to guys like Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood, Tony Hunt, and Austin Scott who played their freshmen years, but those were different times when the cubbards were bare following the 2000-2004 downturn. Guys like Pat Devlin, Stephfon Green, Derek Moye, and Evan Royster all could have played their freshmen years but got redshirted and told to wait their turn.
The other major problem we have is the complete ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball when it comes to recruiting. Since coming on board in 2004 I don't think Galen Hall has once left the soil of State College on a recruiting trip. I can only remember a handful of kids saying they met with him on campus when they come to visit. Our offensive coordinator doesn't recruit. Period. He was brought in back then to install the spread offense and tutor Jay to one day take over. That's it.
Jay Paterno recruits, but he does it poorly. If you have access to the premium message boards you know the background. He has forgotten to return phone calls. He has cancelled visits because they conflicted with his vacation time. He has turned kids off with his smuggish demeanor. He lets kids that have verballed to us visit other schools without following up afterwards. Then we're all shocked when they pick the other school on signing day.
The one bright spot we have on the offensive side of the ball is Mike McQueary. All of the comments I see from recruits are positive. He's young and energetic and seems to relate well to these kids. But you get the impression we're asking him to run a marathon with a fifty pound bag of rocks strapped to his back.
With each passing day I'm more and more convinced this will be the status quo as long as Joe Paterno hangs around. We are behind the times and handicap ourselves in so many areas. I love the man dearly and I'll miss him when he's gone, but 9-4 with second rate bowl games mixed in with the occassional BCS year will be the best we can do.
The good news is I truly believe the next guy, whether it be Bradley, Schiano, Golden, or someone else, will oversee a renaissance period of Penn State football. Galen Hall and Dick Anderson will retire when Joe does allowing him to hand select a few people for their offensive staff. We'll have people out there on the recruiting trail with purpose and energy once again. Everything east of Ohio and north of the Mason-Dixon line will be Blue (and White) states. There will be no more talk about resurging programs in Pitt and Rutgers, and Penn State will once again be restored as the Beast of the East.