Controversy is brewing in Happy Valley, and the outrage coming from the Penn State athletic department seems to be equal to or greater than the concern over a former coach serially raping young boys and using the university facilities to do so. A rational person might assume this new concern must be over something truly terrible. More rape? Murder?
No, this is about something much more heinous, right Bill O’Brien? You see, there was a contingent of Illinois coaches who went to Penn State to talk to a few players, who are now free to transfer to other universities after the NCAA sanctions against the diddly- er Nittany Lions. As ESPN reported yesterday, these Illinois coaches were supposedly waiting outside the Penn State athletic facilities to harass Penn State players and try and convince them to come to Champaign. Except, were they?
According to the Illinois athletic department, Penn State redshirt freshman OT Ryan Nowicki contacted the Illini to let them know he would be
transferring out of Penn State. Nowicki was heavily recruited by the Illini before committing to PSU, and apparently had some interest in heading to Champaign instead of remaining at Neverland Ranch. Oops, I mean Happy Valley. The Illini coaches acted on this, and sent a contingent of coaches to talk to Nowicki’s parents in Arizona, and others to Penn State to talk with Nowicki himself. All of this happened once Nowicki had first contacted the Illini, and Illinois AD Mike Thomas called the Penn State athletic office to let them know (following the NCAA requirement).
None of these facts stopped ESPN from stirring the pot and reporting only on the presence of Illini coaches on campus, although coaches from other teams were there as well. For one, USC has been openly recruiting Penn State RB Silas Redd since the sanctions came down. Purdue has also reportedly been in contact with Penn State players.
When asked about the issue at Big Ten media day Thursday, PSU coach Bill O’Brien (in a backhanded slap at Illinois coach Tim Beckman) thanked Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema for his integrity after Bielema said he wouldn’t be recruiting Penn State players, and then remained defiant about the status of Silas Redd by indicating Redd would not be transferring. Meanwhile, Redd was meeting with USC coaches, not that a Penn State coach whistling past the graveyard should take many by surprise at this point.
The Illini and the Nittany Lions face off in Champaign on September 29th. Should be fun.