It's hard to fathom how Patrick Chambers does it. The hectic July Live Period had just come to an end on Monday. Chambers finally returned to his family in State College after a 10-day non-stop excursion to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and D.C. But instead of taking a day off to recuperate, Chambers was seen at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Altoona, leading a meet-and-greet event with Nittany Lion fans. With July recruiting over, Chambers can now focus on another big goal he has for the program: changing the negative perception of the program. You know, that all-too-common 'Penn State doesn't care about basketball' slogan.
"That's not what the perception is out there. The perception is people aren't into basketball, the basketball program is not at an elite level. But that's not true."
This perception has obviously been around forever, and there are no signs it is going away any time soon. Nationally, PSU's perception suffered drastically this past season, even with the NCAA berth. The Bon Jovi fiasco exposed the athletic department's lack of commitment, while DeChellis' personal demotion brought on more negative press. PSU became the butt of many jokes in the national college basketball media.
I'm encouraged to see Coach campaign against this issue head on. Perception obviously hurts the program's recruiting and fan support. It constantly drums up the old chicken or the egg argument. PSU could win with some more fan support at games, but fans won't support PSU without seeing some wins. Something's gotta give, but Chambers is trying to get after both. He continues to hype up how supportive the administration has been (they pimped out his golfcart), while trying to connect with fans on a personal level with all of these public appearances.
It's refreshing to see this level of passion from the coaching staff, as it's a much needed change of pace. But the apathetic perception is something that's going to take years to turnaround, no matter how many t-shirts and attitude bands he dishes out. If he didn't realize it already, Chambers got a taste of it at this very event. The very first question he was asked?
"'Have you met Joe?"