Stop it — Penn State will not rebound in 2012 or ’13

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

I know, I know. It would be awesome if Penn State found a way to rise above the immense penalties levied against their football program and found a way to keep their heads above water for the next decade.

But that won’t happen, because that can’t happen.

While the debate rages on about whether SMU’s death penalty or Penn State’s sort-of-death-penalty was a harsher punishment, some seem to think PSU will learn from the lessons left by SMU’s 25 years of irrelevance after their lost season. They think there’s an advantage to the Nittany Lions seeing a football program go through this before.

Hindsight is 20/20, but that doesn’t mean there will be a positive vision for Penn State.

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So as I listen to callers of sports talk radio shows try to paint a rosy picture for how Penn State could get back to a bowl game as soon as their four-year bowl ban expires, I had just one thought running through my head.

Get your heads out of your butts.

It’s blunt, but here’s what the Nittany Lions will be when that bowl ban expires — total crap. No player is going to sign up for that program in the next two or three years so they can redshirt and then hope to play in a bowl game, if by some miracle they win six games in a tough Big Ten schedule and become bowl-eligible in 2016.

Not anyone that’s any good at football, at least.

Put yourself in a recruit’s shoes. If you’re a blue-chipper, with opportunities to play at any school you want, why would you choose Penn State? The Nittany Lions are going to get waxed on a weekly basis, and head coach Bill O’Brien’s chief concern for the next five years will probably be winning a single Big Ten game. Not a Big Ten title — just one game.

Suddenly, Indiana is licking their lips. Think about that for a second.

And with the likes of Urban Meyer at Ohio State, Brady Hoke at Michigan and Bret Bielema at Wisconsin, what is the incentive for any recruit to choose Happy Valley? There isn’t a single one.

I feel very bad for O’Brien, because he probably won’t even last for the five years he signed on to coach the Nittany Lions. I feel bad for the students at Penn State, who will never know what winning, or even mediocre, football is like. I feel bad for every single kid who grew up idolizing Penn State, but will be forced to play for Ohio State or Michigan instead.

And I feel bad for that guy who continues to insist Penn State will have a good football team in the next five or 10 years. Because that must be a lonely, shrinking island.

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