About a week ago, it was announced that Pat Chambers would resign from his post as Penn State Basketball coach. After the results of an internal investigation that took several months, originating with a story in The Undefeated outlining an incident with the coach and former player Rasir Bolton, the administration thought it was in the best interest of all parties to part ways.
The tale of what Penn State was under Chambers has been told many a time: nine years, three winnings seasons, one would-be NCAA Tournament appearance if not for Covid-19, and all the potential in the world. Some believed nine seasons was too long to build a lasting, quality program. Others believed that this approach is exactly what you need to have at a program like Penn State. What everyone agrees on, however, is that the circumstances for this departure are most unfortunate, and the timing is horrendous.
But for now, we move on. One could litigate the reasons for the departure, or the coach’s tenure while at the school, or any other number of topics one might like, but the fact of the matter is still that Chambers is gone (and he’s not coming back), we have a season to play, and the Big Ten will not be any easier than it was last season. In fact, it may be tougher.
Speaking, for a minute, not as Eli the writer, but instead as Eli the fan, what I am glad for is not hearing any news from the players yet. This may change in the next couple of weeks, but no news is good news on that front. If the team still feels like they have unfinished business, it’s possible that they’ll stay together to see it through. And, who knows, maybe Chambers’ replacement could keep most of the players at Penn State, instead of having to start from scratch, yet again.
Sandy Barbour has already named Jim Ferry as the interim head coach pending a national search, one that will include Ferry himself as a candidate. This season will be Ferry’s audition year, to prove he has what it takes to compete and recruit at this level. We’ll see what happens this season, but 2020’s weirdness combined with this development could mean a crazy ride is in store. Regardless, all we have left to do as a fanbase is hope for the same level of progress we saw in the previous four seasons, and a coaching change that maintains relationships while improving on what Chambers started.
If Chambers proved one thing, it’s that relationships matter, and those relationships can lead to players coming to Penn State. Good players, coming to State College, is something that was seldom done, but now, we have verifiable proof that this can happen. So for now, we look forward, hope for someone to maintain those relationships, and look to a future where Penn State basketball is a team that can compete with the rest of the conference year in and year out.
But for now, we simply move on.