Recent recruiting headlines have sent some people into a spiral of negativity and despair. Penn State is in trouble. It’s bad. Oh my gosh, panic! Thankfully not everyone is fit to be tied when considering the future of Penn State athletics.
The reality of the situation is that Penn State is in great shape, up and down the athletic department. Russ Rose has his program at an elite level and so does Cael Sanderson. Guy Gadowsky has the most talented roster in program history after missing out on the NCAA tournament by one spot, following two consecutive appearances.
A little over a month ago Rasir Bolton entered the transfer portal and those who would panic in that situation declared that it could only be classified as bad news. At the time, with Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins set to test the NBA waters, the outlook for Pat Chambers and the Penn State basketball team looked bleak if you were prone to looking through a negative lens. Would the team lose three key players that had eligibility remaining?
Bolton left for Iowa State and Chambers recently added Curtis Jones to fill the vacant roster spot. There is plenty of talent on the team, specifically in Myreon Jones, to fill the void left by Bolton. With MJ and CuJo, the team will not miss a beat. All of the worry about Stevens and Watkins leaving with eligibility remaining was just wasted energy.
Penn State basketball has the most talented roster, from top to bottom, especially in the two-deep, that it has had since Chambers arrived in Happy Valley. If you believed the anxious folks a month ago, you would expect the team to have a horrible season. Instead, some experts are picking the Lions to make a run to the NCAA tournament.
I’m no expert but I expect a great season from the Penn State basketball team. Who knows if it will be an NCAA tournament run but it should be fun to watch. I haven’t spent one anxious moment worrying about the roster this offseason.
On the football side, there have been a few high school kids recently that have changed their mind, deciding to either reopen their recruiting process or having made a verbal commitment to another school. While we have fun with football recruiting, it is important to keep the process in perspective. National Signing Day is when players officially commit to a university. Anything before the signature on the dotted line is just words. Verbal commitments, as we have seen, are not reliable to the point of celebration.
Many of us celebrate Richard Marx’s entire music catalog. Whether you do or not, he nailed it with this one. It don’t mean nothing until you sign it on the dotted line.
For some people it is entertaining to follow recruiting news twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week, year round. It is not necessary to do so in order to have all of the information that is required to follow the Penn State football team. In fact, a lot of what we learn from the recruiting circles does not turn out to be true. If kept in perspective, recruiting news can be fun. When taken too seriously, it can cause unneeded anxiety.
Recruiting overreaction disorder can quickly spread during the offseason. If not taken care of in its early stages, it can get out of hand and turn an entire fan base to the negative.
As a low rent sports reporter I have a great deal of admiration for professionals within the industry. I don’t follow recruiting news but I have respect for those who do, such as Sean Fitz and Mark Brennan over at 247sports.com. Sean Fitz is as knowledgeable as anyone on the Penn State beat. I spent some time with Brennan during the week leading up to the Citrus Bowl, and sat next to him during the game. Seeing the way Mark interacts with his family only increased the respect that I have for him.
The negative hysteria that can sometimes arise from the recruiting news often comes from those receiving, not sending the information. It is their job, a path to getting paid in the sports journalism world that is shrinking and fading, to report on recruiting news.
We as fans have to take the news in responsibly. If we get drunk on the expectations of a player that was not likely to impact the team until the year 2022, and then that player decides to attend a school other than Penn State, it is our fault if we have a hangover. We should be careful not to spew our vomit on others in the aftermath.
You could say it is just a matter of perspective, that we are all experiencing the same thing in our own way. Some say the sky is falling. We who have only positive energy for Penn State athletics feel as though we are walking on clouds. Maybe the ground is simply rising.
The floor for many of Penn State’s athletic teams has risen so high in recent years, that it is easy to forget that things could be much worse, and were, just a few years ago. In 2014, had someone described the current outlook for the basketball team, hockey team, and football team, it would be described as a best-case scenario. The other programs within the athletic department are on the rise or at high levels.
There will be news during the remaining two-month stretch of offseason, but that does not mean that there will be reason to worry. Most of the worry is coming from the speculation about the future, past this coming season. We’ll have plenty of time to anticipate future seasons when they get here. The one in front of us looks great. We should feel as though we are walking on sunshine.
The next time news gets you down hit the play button on your Walkman tape cassette or whatever music device that you utilize, and whistle along with Bobby McFerrin. Remember, it’s the games that matter, not the offseason chatter.