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Building Your Historical Penn State Offense? Don't Let Recency Bias Hold You Back

by on April 16, 2020 4:45 AM

Last night Ol’ Roy called my landline and he was cussin’ up a storm about something on his Twitter feed called Barstool Sports. Normally when Roy is complaining about a stool it’s because he’s having trouble passing last night’s Salisbury steak. That’s the life of old guys.

Now I’m older so stay with me if my story weaves from here to there. On this Barstool Penn State account was a square with pictures of 25 different players. There were five each at quarterback, running back, tight end and two rows of receivers. Every player was assigned a dollar amount from $1 to $5 and the challenge was to build an offense of 5 players with a budget of $15.

Roy was complaining about something called a “recency bias” with that list. I’m not sure what that meant but I saw only three players on that list that graduated before 1995. My friends and I have seen our fair share of Penn State games and I’ll lay you dollars to doughnuts that we’ll find more than three worthy PSU players before 1995.

So for you young ones at Barstool Penn State, here’s a history lesson. Put on your mask and pull up a chair on the front porch. But keep 6 feet away. At my age I’m at risk from all the asymptomatic young people running around having coronavirus parties.

Now I know Barstool puts these things up to start a debate, especially with no sports right now. You kids need something to hold your attention spans now that you’ve streamed “Tiger King” in one sitting. Like all old folks I love arguing, so let’s get to it.


We have $15 to put together an offense? Back in my day $15 could damn near get us a half-keg of Schaefer Beer at the old Centre Beverage where they never carded anyone. We’d take that to our apartment and charge the guys 3 bucks to get in and clear $75 on a good night. And we didn’t charge the girls back then, because that’s just “how we rolled,” as you young people say.

But enough about that, let’s talk about what you left out.

Starting with your quarterback list, here are some guys you missed. Both Richie Lucas (1959) and Chuck Fusina (1978) were All-Americans and finished second in the Heisman voting. You’ve got no style if you leave out Lucas, a college football Hall of Famer whose nickname was “The Riverboat Gambler.” You left out 1972 All-American John Hufnagel and Milt Plum. From 1957-69 Plum played in the NFL and set the single-season passer rating record that stood for 29 years. And if you still want recent guys, Big Ten MVP Daryll Clark is still Penn State’s only two-time First-Team All-Big Ten quarterback (2008 & 2009).

Let’s see where you whiffed at wide receiver. Kenny Jackson was a two-time All-American in 1982 and 1983 and the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NFL draft. I’ll also argue that 2003 first-rounder Bryant Johnson belongs on that list. Your 10-man list has one first-rounder and I’ve already given you two. You can thank me later. And for good measure I’ll add Joe Jurevicius, a second-round pick who played in three Super Bowls in his 11-year NFL career.

Ol’ Roy was also yelling that Kyle Brady being the $1 tight end is insane. The man was an All-American, the ninth overall pick in the entire draft and played 13 years. When the other guys hit 10 NFL years you can put them ahead of Brady. But most offensive is the absence of Ted Kwalick, a two-time All-American (1967-68) and College Football Hall of Famer. Oh, and by the way, in 1999 Kwalick was named to the Sports Illustrated All-Century team for ALL of College football. All-Century is not even worth a buck on your list? (For you youngsters, Sports Illustrated is a magazine that used to be printed on actual paper every week and mailed to our houses. They even had one issue that our moms used to hide from us.) 

Here are some other All-American ends/tight ends you left out: Bob Higgins (All-American in 1915 and 1919 — he left to fight in World War I), Sam Tamburo (1948) and Bob Mitinger (1961). Other tight ends who played eight or more years in the NFL include Troy Drayton, Mickey Shuler, John Gilmore and Tony Stewart.

Now before I get to the running backs, football is played with six skill players, not five. So your setup is all wrong. And then it hit me, you young people have been robbed of the fullback experience. And while I’m at it, I guess I’d better tell you there was a time when a quarterback took the snap under center, too. See if that ever happens now that we’re all about social distancing.

But you just haven’t seen real football until you’ve heard the crack of a collision between a fullback and a linebacker on an iso play. What’s an “iso play” you ask? That’s another lecture for another quarantine day.

Give me a fullback list with Matt Suhey, Sam Gash, Steve Smith, Tim Manoa, Bob Torrey and Mike Meade. Oh, and there was another fullback named Franco Harris. He’s in the NFL Hall of Fame, won four Super Bowls and made the greatest play in NFL history. He even had his own Italian Army that was so elite that Frank Sinatra himself only rated one star.

Who is Frank Sinatra you ask? Only the Chairman of the Board, that’s who.

And before you go, I’m gonna tell you about the great running backs that weren’t “recent” enough for you. Two-time All-American (1981 and 1982) Curt Warner’s resume includes: first-round pick, AFC rookie of the year, Seahawks’ all-time leading rusher, multiple Pro Bowls and the College Football Hall of Fame. 1971 All-American and Hall of Famer Lydell Mitchell set the NCAA single-season TD record and made three Pro Bowls and led the NFL in receptions twice (as a running back!).

What really gets my goat is this list left out Lenny Moore. Lenny Moore is in the NFL Hall of Fame. Your $5 running back Saquon Barkley was a great player who ran the ball, returned kicks and caught passes. Lenny Moore did all that in college and played defense too. In the 1955 PSU win over Syracuse, Lenny Moore played offense and defense which meant tackling Jim Brown. I suppose if Barkley had tackled Ezekiel Elliott in college I could go with him.       

So kids, there you have it, you got me arguing. But the old adage says “old age and treachery always triumphs over youth and skill.” You take guys on your board and spend your $15. You young people want everything for free, so I’ll take Chuck Fusina, Lenny Moore, Franco Harris, Kenny Jackson, Bryant Johnson and Ted Kwalick for free. Then with my $15 I’ll buy a half-keg of Schaefer, charge $3 and have $75 to buy your entire list. 

Now get off my lawn and for the love of God stay away from each other. I want this football season starting on time!



State College native and Penn State graduate Jay Paterno is a father, husband and political volunteer. He’s a frequent guest lecturer on campus and at Penn State events and was the longtime quarterbacks coach for the Nittany Lions. His column appears every other Thursday. Follow him on Twitter at
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