Are Penn State Suspensions a Blessing In Disguise?

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst ISeptember 5, 2008

Usually, I am very critical of my Nittany Lions. I watch each game on edge and think they can always do more.

Last week, I was disappointed with the one touchdown they gave up because I saw it as the linebackers being out of position and getting beaten against a far inferior team. Yes they won 66-10, but I thought 66-3 would be much better.

However, for some reason, with the current news coming out of State College, I went from extremely nervous to thinking this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

On Tuesday night, University police were summoned to the Nittany Apartment Complex, which is where all the football players live. A complaint about a loud party at Apt. 5204, as well as the smell of burning marijuana, is what the police report said.

(Let me just say that loud music and some burning marijuana at 8 p.m. should not attract four police cars. Student housing has Resident Assistants for these types of matters. There does seem to be a chip on the shoulder of the State College Police against Joe Paterno and the football team.)

No charges have been filed yet, police said. Players Abe Koroma, Andrew Quarless, AJ Wallace and Maurice Evans were named as the apartment's residents.

All but Cornerback AJ Wallace will sit out this weekend’s game against the Oregon State Beavers. Word is that Wallace was not involved with the incident, however, there are reports that both Koroma and Evans were not present at the time the Police came either.

Again, details are still being investigated, and no charges have been pressed against any of these players. The suspension is a punishment by Joe Paterno to send a strong message to his team.

"It's unfortunate. We preach, preach, preach and they stepped out of line. They deserve what they're going to get. Whatever that's going to be, I don't know” Joe Paterno said during his weekly radio show yesterday.

“My feeling on all of this is they have a responsibility to the program, they have a responsibility to themselves, to their family. They have responsibility to their teammates. And if they do something as dumb as it appears they did, and I'm not saying if they did or they didn't yet, but even being close to that kind of thing, I'm not going to play any one of those three kids this weekend."

As evidence comes out, the fate of the other three will be determined. Already, rumors are swirling that all three passed their urine tests and that early next week we should get some good news.

These are all just rumors right, but of course Nittany Nation is anxiously waiting and hoping for good news as Koroma and Evans are a major part of the Defensive Line. Losing them would be a major blow to any hopes of a Big Ten title that the Nittany Lions have.

With that being said, you may ask why I think this can be a positive situation. Well, assuming (and we all know what happens when you assume, but let's hope) nothing major happens to these other three players, and they are back in time (at the latest) for the Big Ten schedule starting on Sept. 27 against Illinois.

Penn State will have three weeks to develop some of these second-team guys who do have experience and have proven themselves but now have a chance to really step up.

Word is Jerome Hayes, Jared Odrick, Ollie Ogbu and Josh Gaines will be this week's starters. Hayes and Odrick both saw significant time last season until both had season-ending injuries in mid-season. Ogbu and Gaines are this year's starters, and both have past experience.

Of course the major issue will be depth. There are really only three or four players behind this weekend's starting four, with maybe the addition of some freshmen who would be redshirted had this not happened.

With all this being said, I think, and expect that, we have enough talent on both the offensive and the defensive side of the ball to beat Oregon State (knock on wood) who is traveling across the country to play in front of 110,000 fans and just lost to a weak Stanford team.

If these kids have to sit out more than just this game, we travel to Syracuse the following week, and have Temple at home on Sept. 20, both of which should be easier then Oregon State this weekend.

The problem arises if they are forced to sit out any games starting Sept. 27 and on which is when we start the Big Ten schedule.

So as you can see, I think this will help develop our depth even more, force first-year starting Quarterback Daryll Clark to step up even more and be a solid leader, as well as force all the senior captains, including Derrick Williams to assume a much greater leadership role. All of this should help our future.

Don’t get me wrong, losing these guys for even one game is not “Good News,” but I am just trying to keep things in perspective and take the positive from the situation.

My point of view may change if we get bad news next week and these players need to sit out more than just one to three games, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.


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