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Penn State Football: Transition Period Nothing Special For Nittany Lions

by on January 15, 2014 9:48 AM


If you're counting at home, that's how many coaches some of Penn State's football players have had while in Happy Valley.

Three head coaches and two interim head coaches have taken over the reigns of the program since 2011.

Considering that Penn State has been the picture of stability in college football over the past several decades, it's a little surprising that three years have packed in so many coaches.

So when news came down the pipeline that Bill O'Brien was headed out of town, there wasn't much panic inside the Lasch Building.

“A lot of players on the team called each other and made sure we took responsibility to communicate with everyone and to see where everyone is mentally,” cornerback Jordan Lucas said on Tuesday. “And to pretty much let everyone know it's us. It's just us. It's Penn State football. We'll be fine no matter what.”

That message has been the guiding force through the past three years. The players make up the team, not the coaches, not the outside world, not even the media can define who they are. As long as the players stick together things will be ok. It's a principle that has guided the program through possibly the most trying times for any team in the history of college athletics.

A coaching search? That's simple compared to some of what these players have had to go through. Being recruited by schools on Penn State's own campus? Answering questions about a convoluted scandal? Finding out who is going to call plays next season is far less stressful, and far easier.

By the time this past Sunday's squad meeting had come around, it was like nothing had changed at all.

“We walked into the locker room and it was really like nothing changed. We walked in there and guys were having a great time,” guard Miles Dieffenbach said. “When we go home, we miss each other. We couldn't wait to get back and be with each other and that's a good sign of a tight team. We've been though a lot together.”

And losing assistant coaches like Larry Johnson Sr to the business? While fans read meaning into every statement and move made by the football program -- holding grudges and building conspiracies -- for the players it's just how these things work.

“It wouldn't be weird at all, because at the end of the day, you've got to line up and play,” Lucas said. “I have no doubt in my mind that my teammates think the same way. So if he is on the opposing sideline, all the power to him. We're gonna bring it to every team we play.”

“We got a bond that's going to be hard to break. We all just want to stay together and keep working, keep making things right at Penn State.”

With an attitude like that, it's no wonder the Penn State football program is still standing strong.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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