But Is It Enough?
Penn State announced that John Donovan was relieved of his duties as Offensive Coordinator and Tight Ends coach for the Nittany Lions, effective immediately. Head Coach James Franklin, who brought Donovan with him from Vanderbilt, thanked him for his service, stating, “I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in over the last five years. I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”
OK, that was a little sarcastic, because the problems on this team, which was summarily taken apart by Michigan State 55-16 in the season finale, transcend just a single coach. If they’re just canning Donovan to take the pressure off the football administration for a while, I ain’t buying it. I know there are those out there who think Donovan was the beginning and end of all the problems with Penn State over the past couple of years, but hell, he had a dearth of talent in the offensive line, which is the beginning — and the end — of the offense. Sure, you can criticize his play calling, but when you have no offensive line, you can’t get too fancy, can you?
This is not meant as a defense for Donovan — just a statement that Penn State’s troubles are not magically erased just by getting rid of one pariah of an assistant coach who has been continually vilified by the fans and the media. When problems run deep, people are inclined to grasp at straws, looking for scapegoats and simple-ass solutions. Don’t let it end there.
This move included, there are no simple solutions that will transform Penn State into a viable contender in the Big Ten anytime soon. Who among us thinks that Penn State will be a ten or eleven win team next year? Realistically, begin with nine and then start subtracting.
Recruiting takes time, and the damage done by the sanctions transcends the scope of the scholarship reduction — the accumulated losses, the coaching follies, the inability to beat ranked opponents, the inability to win in November, and the general perception that Penn State is not a contender will drive premium recruits to Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State. These kids want visibility, major bowls, and NFL viability. Why compromise all that? Sure, Penn State gets some decent talent, kids who care about environment and academics, but realistically, are the Nittany Lions going to out-recruit the Wolverines, Spartans, and Buckeyes just on the basis of Franklin’s salesmanship? Really?
It’s an old joke, but if you paint a goal line in front of John Donovan’s office, he’ll never be able to work again.
— JoePa’s Doghouse (@RowlffDogg) November 28, 2015
So, yes, I approve of the Donovan sacking, but in the words of James Franklin, “We have a lot of work to do.”
Now that Donovan is gone, the big question in this turkey’s mind is whether there is anyone at Penn State who knows even where to start.
I’ll be back later with some more sarcasm about yesterday’s fitting end-of-season effort (or lack of same) against the Spartans.