Penn State lost again.
It seems the Nittany Lions are truly staring down an unthinkable winless season. The offense is a mess. The defense may be even worse. The players are checked out and the coaches are repeating the same clichés over and over again.
This is the bad place.
1. Nothing has been fixed
Every single Penn State game this season has been the same script. Turn the ball over. Get behind early. Struggle to run the ball. Get lit up defensively. Making some minor tweaks at halftime. Make what appears to be a half-hearted attempt at a comeback, and ultimately fail in spectacular fashion.
Spare me the excuses. They’re useless. Every single team in the country is facing some form of the adversity that Penn State is facing and yet the Nittany Lions truly appear to be the worst Power Five team in the nation. It’s disgraceful.
Nobody around the program seems to care at all and it looks as if they all just want the season to end. Just an utter embarrassment. Meanwhile, players are celebrating “big” plays while down 24 points in the third quarter.
Somehow, the program has developed a huge loser’s mentality seemingly overnight, and that’s not something that gets fixed easily.
2. The solutions aren’t simple
If you’d told me before the season that Penn State would lose Journey Brown, Micah Parsons and now Pat Freiermuth due to various reasons and then would play uninspired football on the way to a losing record, I would’ve shrugged.
You could see how all those things, coupled with massive coaching turnover and COVID-19 difficulties would lead to a bad season, and it wouldn’t necessarily be indicative of future problems.
But this? This is a nightmare.
Where’s the fire? Neither the players or coaches seem to have any emotions during or after games other than defeat. Heads are dropping almost immediately and everyone is acknowledging problems and yet no one seems to be fixing them.
It all starts with leadership and the man who just signed a massive contract extension. It’s not as simple as taking blame, James Franklin needs to be finding solutions, and right now he is failing spectacularly at doing so.
3. This will have long-term effects
Recruiting and image wise, you can survive a down year. Notre Dame went 4-8 not that long ago. Texas has had nightmare seasons. Florida was in the dumps before Dan Mullen. But Penn State can’t survive that type of thing, especially if there’s not an obvious excuse and fix.
Seasons like these, when you’re already recruiting poorly in the current class, are what cripple the next 2-3 recruiting cycles and that momentum is not easy to get back.
Currently, the Nittany Lions are off to a great start in the 2022 class and their centerpiece, quarterback Beau Pribula, seems set for a big ratings bump after a monster junior season. But can you hold on to those pieces?
How do you sell to guys that they’re coming to compete for conference and national titles when you’re getting the doors blown off by Maryland in your home stadium? How about when you look markedly worse than Rutgers under Greg Schiano, who undoubtedly will be competing for some of the same kids soon, I would love to say this season is a one-off issue, but Penn State is staring down some serious and potentially lasting issues.