It's Blue-White Roundtable time again. Your humble blogger has the questions this week. Remember to check out Run Up The Score and The Nittany Line to get their views, and please leave your opinions in the comments.
Let's get the fight club thing out of the way first. On Monday night, Joe Paterno said the punishment for the apartment fight will be cleaning up Beaver Stadium on Saturday mornings after home games. Is this sufficient punishment?
I hate to say it, but I told you so. I didn't think we were going to see half the defense kicked off the team like the crack monkeys on the message boards suggested. I do think it's a bit harsh the entire team gets punished. It seems more appropriate for just those involved to clean up. I'm also not a big fan of delaying punishment like that. I would prefer swift punishment. If you want them to do some manual labor, give them a vest and make them clean up along the highway. Handing out punishment in October seems a bit detached from the crime.
I think this is an appropriate punishment though. I suspect we'll still see a few kids dropped on the depth chart and sat out for a few games.
When Penn State joined the Big Ten we were viewed as outsiders by many of the other institutions and their fans. Fifteen years later, have we been fully accepted as a Big Ten school or are we still the guy wearing the rented tuxedo around the country club?
The Big Ten had a long proud tradition, and bringing in another school upset that. I think there was some distain for us in our early years in the Big Ten. Especially after we went undefeated in 1994. The not-so-great years from 2000-2004 brought us down to earth and I think relieved some of the fears other schools had. Once they all beat us they knew they could compete with us. Now I think we're accepted as much as any other Big Ten school, although nobody considers us their biggest rival.
Joining the Big Ten was supposed to open up new recruiting grounds to the west for Penn State. It did, but at the same time it opened up Pennsylvania for teams like Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin to raid. Has joining the Big Ten helped or hurt recruiting in your opinion?
I think Penn State is definitely losing out on the recruiting battle with the other Big Ten powerhouse schools. Michigan has pulled a ton of talent out of Pennsylvania in recent years. Blue chip kids in western Pennsylvania tend to be a tossup between us and Ohio State. On the flip side, we rarely get any talent out of Michigan, and Tressell has a lock on the talent in Ohio. Only in years when they have limited scholarships do we stand a chance of pulling a kid out of the Buckeye state.
Prior to joining the Big Ten, Penn State was considered one of the marquee football programs in the country. Do we still own that status or are we now relegated to a Big Ten also-ran?
We're definitely not as feared a program as we used to be. The early part of this decade ruined that perception. But I do think right up until 1999 we were considered an elite program. People forget we were ranked #1 in 1997 late in the season. I think we can win another conference championship in the next two years, which we're in a good position to do, we will be elevated to the level Ohio State, Florida, and USC are on now.
Would you rather win 10 or 11 games every year as an independent or win 8 or 9 games most years in the Big Ten with an occasional great year?
I almost worded this question, "If you had it to do over again, would you still favor Penn State joining the Big Ten?" Absolutely, yes. Joining the Big Ten is the greatest thing Penn State ever did. The women's sports have flourished in the Big Ten. While some people say, "who cares?", you can't deny that women getting scholarships for an education is a good thing. Thing probably haven't worked out as well as we hoped in football, and basketball has been a disaster. But I still wouldn't want to see Penn State as an independent again.
The problem Penn State has now is the perception of the Big Ten by the media. If anyone other than Michigan or Ohio State win the conference, they all say it was a "down year." It happened both times Penn State won the conference in 1994 and 2005. It would happen with anyone else too. If Purdue won the conference it would be a down year. Somehow the Big Ten has to change that perception. The SEC has an aura about them that no matter who wins their conference they are one of the top two teams in the country. We need that.
Ron Zook has been bringing in some great recruiting classes at Illinois. How many years until we have to start worrying about them?
The short answer is 2008. They have a lot of young talent, but they need to grow up. They have to learn how to win games now.
What are the biggest advantages Penn State has going for them in recruiting?
A great tradition, top rate facilities, and a legendary head coach.
On the flip side, what are Penn State's biggest disadvantages in recruiting?
Unfortunately, tipping cows is still a legitimate option for nightlife activities in State College. And our coach probably only has two years left.