Penn State's On-Field Issues
Penn State is in trouble and this has nothing to do with lawyers, trials or sanctions.
Putting the unpleasantness that has been Nittany Lion off-field conduct on the back burner for a second, just strictly in football terms, Penn State is in trouble. The first reason is the coaching change. Joe Paterno is gone. His steadiness, familiarity and recruiting strategies are gone with him. Although PSU still managed to bring in some top level recruits for 2013, they are behind some of the other Big Ten contenders in this regard.
The second reason to be skeptical of Penn State’s success this season is the sudden and outright amazing resurgence of previously down Big Ten powers.
Michigan, if you haven’t noticed, is back. The Wolverines won 11 games and a BCS bowl this past season. They bring back Denard Robinson and Brady Hoke gets another year to develop his system. Ohio State, oddly enough, also seems “back.” Although their postseason ban is in affect this season, Urban Meyer has reinstalled a feeling of dominance in Columbus: an ominous feeling for other Big Ten peers that they better go ahead and win in 2012 while Ohio State cannot, because after that, things belong to the Buckeyes. Throw in Wisconsin, who might be the best team in the conference, and Penn State has a lot of looking up to do.
The third reason is probably the most often forgotten yet the most crucial. Penn State is in trouble because Penn State isn’t very good. Besides the playmaking of Silas Redd, the Nittany Lions offense is anemic. Saying Matt McGloin “won” the starting quarterback job is like saying Louisville is the favorite to take the Big East crown. Is there really even a feasible alternative? Sure the defense will be good but having a good defense in the Big Ten is pretty standard. Winning football games though? That might be trouble for Penn State.