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Penn State Football: It's Going to be Like This for Awhile

by on November 11, 2012 12:00 AM

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Penn State football. It’s going to be like this for awhile.

One day you’re the only married guy on the team and you dive over the goal line holding the ball, scoring a touchdown, getting a 29-27 lead and maybe even a 7-3 record. The next day you’re Matt Lehman and you didn’t.

Replay: The next day you’re Matt Lehman and you didn’t.

One day you say, “It’s us against the world.” The next day you’re Matt McGloin and you say, “You turn the ball over three times to a team like that, you’re not going to win.”

One day you’re ahead 83-3 at the end of the first quarter, an FBS best. The next day Ohio State and Nebraska outscore you 54-19 in the second half, giving you two losses in your last three games.

One day you enter the locker room at halftime either ahead or tied in every game but one. The next day, you are Penn State and in the only game you trailed after two quarters, you score 29 points in the second half and beat Northwestern.

One day you led Ohio University and Virginia at halftime, but lost. The next day you’re Penn State and that would never happen now.

One day you tear your right ACL in preseason camp. The next day you tear your left ACL in the middle of game. The day after that you’re Mike Mauti and you never take a day off and run an interception back 99 yards. The day after that you are the best leader in the history of Penn State football.

One day it looks like you are injured so badly that two coaches come to your side as you are laying prone on the field, your teammates weep and people wonder if your NFL career has ended before it started. The next day your name is Jordan Hill and you wouldn't miss playing against Nebraska for the world.

One day some guy not named Anthony Fera misses four field goals in a 17-16 Penn State loss to Virginia. The next day you're Sam Ficken and you make eight of your last nine field goals, include three in 35 mph gusting winds in Nebraska.

One day Silas Redd leaves for Southern California and you move up to fourth in the depth chart, fifth if you count fullback. The next day you’re Zach Zwinak and you have rushed for 686 yards, including five days of 94 yards, 100, 121, 134 and 141 (against Nebraska).

One day you run for 82 yards and a touchdown in the first half against Nebraska. The next day it’s the third quarter and you’re still Zach Zwinak, only now you’re in the locker room, getting an IV and saying, “I hate needles.”

One day the team’s leading receiver, Justin Brown, leaves town and takes along his 35 receptions, tops among returning players. Other days, guys named Smith, Kersey and Drake leave. The next day, you’re Allen Robinson and you stay, along with all three of your career receptions. The day after that, you lead the Big Ten Conference in receiving, with 63 catches, 786 yards and eight touchdowns.

One day O.J. McDuffie (1992) and Bobby Engram (1995) hold the Penn State record for receptions in a season. The next day, you’re Allen Robinson and if you catch one more pass you will have the record.

One day Joe Paterno calls you “McGroin, that kid from Scranton” on the scout team without a scholarship. The next day you’re NASCAR driver Matt McGloin, and you lead the Big Ten in passing and are three touchdown passes away from setting the school record.

One day you’re the quarterbacks coach at Miami (Ohio). The next day you’re Charlie Fisher and you have the same job, only now you’re at Penn State working for the guy who just coached Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.

One day you finally get to play back-to-back Big Ten Conference home games, only the third time ever. The next day you’re Penn State and you find out those games are in November over Thanksgiving break, when the students are not on campus.

One day your campus is rocked by scandal and arrests and firings and death and trials and internal investigations and sanctions and player departures. The next day you’re Penn State and you are lucky that Bill O’Brien is your head coach.

One day you have 85 scholarships. The next day you’re Penn State football and you don’t have that number again until 2020.

It’s going to be like this for awhile.

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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