Friday, September 5, 2008

Three Nittany Lions Suspended, One Kicked Off the Team

Consider me officially depressed. This program, which has gotten a bad rap overall, simply cannot hide from this one. And it hasn't. Joe Paterno has suspended three Penn State players for Saturday's game against Oregon State.

Turns out, in the incident involving marijuana, preseason All-American defensive end Maurice Evans, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive tackle Abe Koroma were involved, and all three have been suspended.

All three players were required to take drug tests, and further punishment could be doled out of any test positive. Hopefully that won't be the case.

The one piece of good news is that A.J. Wallace, also a resident of the room where the weed was found (along with the other three), will not be suspended because he was not there or involved in the incident. Wallace will play Saturday.

But while one cornerback has managed to stay out of trouble, another has not. Backup corner Willie Harriott has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

"Willie got himself into a jam the other night and won't be with the team," Paterno said.

The state of the program seems to really be at a crossroads. I don't like to overreact like this or use some broad-sweeping statements, especially because I truly believe the Penn State program and players are pretty much just fine. But the perception is quite the opposite, and as we all know, perception is reality.

It's no secret that things like this happen everywhere, on every college campus in America. Truth of the matter is, having marijuana in an apartment, especially a party, is a pretty common thing for college students, whether they are athletes or not. On the scale of things that are serious, this would rank pretty far down the list. But when a program like Penn State has already been under the microscope, thanks in large part to an absolutely bogus, sabotage job by ESPN, you have to tread lightly. Especially when you are key players to a big time program.

Maurice Evans has never been in trouble before. Hopefully he never will be again. But as the undisputed best player on a talented Penn State defense (with Sean Lee out for the year), he should be smart enough not to put himself in these types of situations. For Andrew Quarless, he should simply know better. Quarless has had discipline problems before and been suspended before. You only get so many chances. Especially under Joe Paterno. Say what you want about his cranky demeanor and lack of control, but if Quarless' test comes back positive, you can bet your life he'll be gone. Forever.

The sad part of it is, none of this is the coach's fault. But everyone wants to point the finger at Paterno. They say he's lost control, lost touch. Players don't respect or fear him. None of this stuff happened in the past. Well, that's a bunch of bullshit, to be quite honest with you. You don't think Kerry Collins was out drinking and partying and getting in some skirmished back in the early 90s? Really? Or Matt Millen? Or Jack Ham? Or anyone?

The fact of the matter is, these athletes are still college kids. They'll do dumb things. I did some incredibly stupid things when I was 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 years old. Like, way dumber than having weed in my apartment. Most people have. The coach can't control all his players 24/7. It's impossible. But when you really look at the facts, Penn State has paled in comparison to some programs with the severity of the trouble its players have gotten in.

There are programs with players who have backgrounds of dealing drugs, cheating, lying, stealing, taking incredibly large gifts from boosters and raping women. Incidents like that haven't been common at Penn State. Even in this era of the program getting "out of control." There have been a few domestic abuse situations and plenty of DUIs, but those happen at pretty much every program as well. I'm not saying it's right, but it's not solitary to Penn State. And when you look at the most publicized cases for the Lions, they involved players getting in fights, most of which were provoked by the other parties involved, or underage drinking. I dare anyone to show me a college campus where fights and underage drinking don't go on.

That's what happens when you put 42,000 students together in a town, in a college and party atmosphere. But when all of the sudden more players start getting caught doing these things, thanks in large part to a town and campus crackdown on drinking, drugs and violence, the media starts calling for heads to roll. And when Paterno takes these situations on a case by case basis, like any logical person would, he gets criticized for not addressing it with a broad, sweeping brush. That's simply bullshit.

While it's troubling to see more players get involved in incidents they shouldn't involve themselves in, it's a fact of life. Things are going to happen. But to tell Joe he should do things differently is asinine. Why should a guy who graduates his players, cares about his players and cares about his university be forced to change simply because society tells him to? Where's the outcry for the rest of the programs across the nation? Like Iowa? Or Georgia? Nowhere. And you know why? Because they don't have old, stubborn coaches that do it their way, media be damned.

The players have certainly had their troubles in the last few years, but Paterno is hardly to blame. When you truly look at it closely, you'd see Penn State hasn't really changed all that much in the football landscape in the last 40 years. Society has. Maybe that, not Paterno, is the reason for this perceived change. Or maybe everyone is just overblowing the significance of college kids acting like college kids.


  1. how dumb are these kids? there are thousands of kids doing the same thing and not getting caught. you should know that you are a football player and will be under greater scrutiny. watch out and pay attention. jackasses.

  2. tru dat. And seriously, why couldn't this have happened to Anthony Morelli last year. Or Robbie Gould a few years ago? Or Kevin Kelly?