I don’t want to say we’re being purposely misled by media coverage of Penn State’s football team in the wake of NCAA sanctions, but Thursday’s report that Penn State was losing its backup kicker was reported with this lede: “Penn State lost its 13th player since the football program was hit with NCAA sanctions this summer in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal when backup kicker Matt Marcincin became the second Nittany Lion this week to leave the team.”
It’s the backup kicker! The story doesn’t even say whether the kicker leaving the team was in any way related to the sanctions by the NCAA or not. He might have just been sick of practicing. Or upset that he wasn’t the starting kicker in the wake of Sam Ficken’s meltdown last week. The kicker who left the team, Matt Marcincin, would have been the third-string kicker instead of the backup this year had 2011 starter Anthony Fera not transfered to Texas.
The intent of reporting every Penn State roster change is obviously to document the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the subsequent NCAA punishments meted out to the university. These punishments include allowing any player to transfer out of the program without having to sit out for a year. They could even be actively recruited by other programs until the season started. Star running back Silas Redd, a 2011 starter and the team’s leading rusher, transfered to USC just before the season. He is currently averaging 6.8 yards per carry with one touchdown for the Trojans.
So while it’s a story to mention that players are transfering because of the scandal and punishments that followed, it’s disingenuous to report every, single player who leaves the team just because it’s Penn State. Hell, the article even says the kid didn’t leave the school. He just stopped playing football is all. Maybe he’ll transfer, but if he’s the backup kicker at Penn State, he’s probably not transfering somewhere else in FBS to start.
But most of all, we would all be better off if we didn’t hear anymore about Penn State’s football program for a while. Reporting like this is at best schadenfreude and at worst doing a movie review of a snuff film. Some horrible things happened at Penn State for a long period of time. A predator was allowed to walk around campus in a virtually consequence-free environment. The last thing anyone cares about anymore when it comes to Penn State is their freaking football team and whether or not they have enough kickers on the roster.
Even when starting receiver Shawney Kersey left the team this week, it was for “personal reasons,” not because he was bailing as a result of the sanctions. Yet he’s somehow counted as a player who is leaving in the wake of the scandal despite only meeting the most basic criteria for that label: he did indeed leave the team.
Reporting on the backup kicker leaving the team, or really anyone who isn’t a major contributor transfering because of the sanctions, is just allowing Penn State to remain in everyone’s consciousness when it’s better for everyone if they just go away. The football team is 0-2 after two pathetic losses to inferior opponents, and theyre 108th in scoring. No way should a backup leaving for nebulous reasons be news. Not to be mean, but no one cares about Matt Marcincin or Shawney Kersey even if everything was fine at Penn State.
Penn State football is bad. The program still exists, but it’s not a power program in 2012. The university is only just now beginning to be fully chastened by the Freeh Report, and the fans of the team have been predictably supportive while not endorsing anything that happened in 2011 or before. There’s no reason to think about Penn State for a while unless one lives in State College, PA or is an alumnus. They’re bad and should be off the radar. And then everything would be as it should be.