Once again, with apologies to Peter King, here are some things I think I think as the college football season winds down.
I think Saturday was a start in Happy Valley, but it was just a start. Right now I could really care less what happens on the football field there because really football matters little in times like this.
Was it great that the Penn State players, who had nothing do with the issues surrounding their program but where nonetheless in the middle of it, got to take a break for a couple of hours? Sure it was. But there is a lot of healing that has to go on in that town. Football can be a crutch, but it can't solve the underlying issues.
We heard for decades that Joe Paterno was Penn State and that he was bigger than the university. Well, it took about two days for that be proven false and rightfully so. Penn State is bigger than Paterno and Graham Spanier and its football program and in the long run the university will be stronger. But it is going to take a long time to emerge from that enormous cloud cast over Happy Valley.
n I think I could cover football for 50 more years and never see a team force turnovers the way Bucknell does this year. In 10 games the Bison have forced 38 turnovers -- 18 in the last three games -- and are a whopping plus-28 in turnover margin, which leads all of college football.
Senior cornerback Bryce Robertson has a dozen interceptions and has a chance to do something not even Superman has done before (see college football notebook). Robertson has caught as many passes from the other team in the last three games as any Bucknell receiver has caught from a BU quarterback in that time span.
Perhaps even more remarkable, Bucknell is tied for first nationally in both interceptions (21) and fumble recoveries (17). Add into that the fact that Bucknell tailbacks have fumbled the ball away just once all season you can see why the Bison are on the verge of going from 1-10 to possibly 7-4.
n I think the PSAC Championship game is great, but the losers of the game have really been punished since it was brought back four years ago. Slippery Rock, the PSAC West champion, fell to Kutztown in the title game on Saturday and despite the fact that it beat California (Pa.) head-to-head, The Rock was left out of the NCAA Division II field on Saturday, as was a 9-2 Bloomsburg squad, while Cal got in along with Kutztown from the PSAC.
A year ago Bloomsburg lost the PSAC final and a Kutztown team it beat the week before got the top seed and a bye; Bloomsburg, on the other hand, had to travel while Kutztown got a bye and a home game. The same thing happened in 2008 when West Chester beat Bloomsburg late in the year, but lost in the State Game. Bloomsburg got the bye while WCU had to play the first week of the playoffs then travel to Bloomsburg in the second round, where the Huskies won to eliminate the Golden Rams.
What's the solution? I don't really know. The game is a perfect fit for the PSAC and they do a great job scheduling it and making it fit within the confines of the schedule. But you shouldn't be so overtly punished for losing a tough game late in the year like that. Maybe this won't become a bigger issue until FBS teams use a playoff -- don't hold your breath -- and someone like Alabama or Florida gets left out the tournament while someone they beat two weeks earlier gets in.
n I think Susquehanna's going to be around a while. Sure the Crusaders got stung at Juniata and sure they lose three-year starter Richie Palazzi at quarterback and Greg Tellish at tailback, but the Crusaders should be very, very good next year if they can find a new QB.
Susquehanna will return every starter from a defensive line that is big, nasty and tenacious and anchors the defense. Aaron Inch, a Line Mountain product, will be back to hold down the fort in the middle of the defense and hopefully healthy for the entire season.
The Crusaders have a future star brewing in Alex Patchin at wide receiver, who looks like a younger and bigger version of Mike Ritter, although not quite as explosive. SU could get a couple of players back for an extra year of eligibility after some offensive stars missed most of this season, maybe enough to earn them the extra year.