Erstwhile Nittany Lions’ backup quarterback Pat Devlin and his parents met with Lions’ head coach Joe Paterno on Monday, presumably to obtain more playing time for Devlin and get him a shot at the #1 slot next year. They brought along with them a list of “issues” with the Penn State program that they perceived to be impediments to their son’s progress and they presumably accompanied their discussion points with an ultimatum to change things—or else!
Oh, yeah, right: they’re going to walk into Paterno’s office and make demands! You can imagine how that went down! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that meeting. Joe’s been handling players and their annoying parents for well over 50 years. It must have been interesting to watch Joe’s face turn 12 shades of purple, particularly when Devlin, Sr. pulled out the list. This act of ballsy stupidity was predestined to go down like O.J. asking the judge for mercy in Las Vegas, but apparently, the Devlins thought they held a trump card. They didn’t. Paterno was no doubt cordial and polite, while not giving an inch.
Threatening to transfer has absolutely no effect on Paterno, who has seen high-profile kids come and go for a half-century and who is immune to public criticism. There was a lot of that when Jeff Hostetler and John Sacca left, and you saw how unfazed Joe was by it all. “My kid will transfer out” is just an ineffectual ploy against stubborn old Joe.
Paterno runs the Penn State football program, not the parents and not the players. The minute the inmates start running the asylum, bedlam prevails. Might as well bring in Lavon Chisley on Work/Release as Weapons Coach and enlist Andrew Quarless as Booze and Weed Coach. No, Joe handled this properly. Don’t walk into my office with threats. If you want to play, you play by my rules. If you don’t, nice knowing you. Good luck.
What were the senior Devlins thinking? Aw, shit, he’s just a weak old man recovering from surgery. We’ll storm in there and kick his not yet healed ass with our demands. He’ll never know what hit him!
Wrong! It was like a few rogue Irishmen thinking they could topple The Godfather and his organization. Uh huh.
I don’t know what was on the list of issues they presented but the talking points will probably emerge in the next couple of weeks as the media fervor waxes and wanes. One source, Devlin’s high school coach, said that his relationship with quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno had never really jelled, and that he respected and relied upon the advice of wide receivers coach and former PSU quarterback Mike McQueary more. So, what are the parents going to demand on this issue? That Jay be fired? That McQueary take over as QB coach? If those subjects emerged, I bet Joe had to exercise as much restraint as he could muster in order to avoid kicking their three asses out of his office right then and there, newly replaced hip notwithstanding.
Please don’t think that I’m painting Devlin and his family as villains. They’re not; they’re just a bit misguided. It is natural to want a kid who set passing records in high school to be a starting quarterback in college. It is also natural, if a bit unfortunate, for such a kid and his family to have aspirations of eventual NFL greatness, which is rarely achievable in any case, but almost impossible without substantial high-profile college playing time. However, I don’t think much of their manner of presentation, and the implicit threat to transfer if things don’t go their way.
Devlin will find playing time with an FCS Division school, no doubt. It has to be an FCS school, because if he were to transfer to an FBS school, he would have to sit out next year. Plenty of FCS quarterbacks are scouted by the NFL, so this should work for Pat.
Meanwhile, between Monday and Wednesday, Devlin could not make up his mind whether he wanted to remain with the team so he could play in the Rose Bowl. Paterno had apparently left that decision up to the kid. However, when he hadn’t received a yea or nay as of Wednesday, Paterno made the decision for Devlin. By the end of the day, his locker was cleaned out.
The quarterback depth chart as of Wednesday was Clark, Cianciolo, and Derrick Williams. Expect it to prevail through the Rose Bowl.
Now, Joe has to show us that he still hasn’t lost it with respect to recruiting. Kevin Newsome visited the campus last weekend, but still hasn’t made a commitment. Can Joe close the deal?
Well, I could kind of see this coming. I feel really bad for the kid in terms of timing. He is clearly a good QB (and who knows he could be great)…just so happens Daryll Clark was better for this team. I was lucky enough to have seats behind the PSU bench at the Purdue game (like eight rows up) and since the game was a bore (and quite frankly tough to get good perspective so close to the field) I was watching and listening to the interaction of the team on the sideline. I remember seeing Devlin’s demeanor and thinking — this kid can’t stand to be on the sideline and he kind of made sure everyone knew it — if you know what I mean. Basically, he did not appear to be “part of the team.” Not that I would expect him to have pom-pom’s on routing for the squad, just that he would express more interest in the outcome and the plays and more importantly his team. His body language suggested that he did not really care– and that is not good.
As an all world benchwarmer myself at various sports, I was well practiced at it– even though I did not like it– the reason I “played” was because I liked being part of the team. I can’t imagine the ego hit that an 18 year old takes when you are the greatest thing since sliced bread and now you can’t even break the starting line up in front of an “after-thought” recruit like Clark. (Of course, Clark has turned out to be much better than an after thought). Couple that with the fact that Devlin truly has (in my view) legitimate NFL aspirations. He needs to show his stuff for two years at least. He won’t get that chance at PSU. All in all, it’s a sad tale for all concerned. I hope he does well. Devlin did give the coaches a chance to tell recruits– you will be starting as a red-shirt freshman if you come to PSU.
By the way, if the story really is that Devlin did not want to transfer, but then there was this meeting in which someone made a threat of transfer — someone most seriously mis-read Paterno’s personality.
The Nittany Turkey says
Thanks for sharing your Devlin observation in connection with the Purdue game, which sort of paints him as an impatient prima donna. He no doubt knew that if he didn’t win the starting job, he would be a backup for two years before being given the chance to start. History makes that clear. So, his choices were either to be patient or to pout. He chose the latter.
I understand that there’s only one chance to audition for the NFL, and that Devlin’s transfer is all about that. We won’t know if he’s a viable NFL entity for a couple of years. We all thought that Morelli was, but that flew out the window when we saw that the sum total of his talents was his ability to throw the ball 60 yards with his brain shut off and his eyes locked on a receiver. So, who knows yet whether Devlin is a valid pro prospect. Good luck to him, in any case. (The Larry Johnson pouting routine won’t go very far in the NFL unless he has All-Pro talent.)
I have to wonder about the timing of this march on Paterno’s office with an ultimatum. Did the Devlins want to shake up the team as they prepare for the Rose Bowl against the toughest opponent of the season? Or did they think they would have more leverage if they could threaten that Devlin wouldn’t play in the big New Year’s game?