CRAWFORD: Scramble for Penn State players shows same old culture - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD: Scramble for Penn State players shows same old culture

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- NCAA president Mark Emmert called for a change in college sports culture.

Apparently, a bunch of coaches thought he said, "vulture."

They're circling over the Penn State campus, coaches who have declared open season on Penn State players who might be interested in transferring, and even some who are not. Penn State is beginning to look more like Penn Station.

Sophomore cornerback Adrian Amos was among a group of more than 30 Penn State players who voiced an intention to stay at the school on Wednesday. But the same morning, Amos Tweeted: "We have chosen to stay at Penn State and opposing coaches are outside our apartment, was that the intention of the NCAA? #comeonman."

Oh, they're coming.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien was on his way out of the Lasch Center (yes, that Lasch Center, lest we forget) on his way to tape some ESPN interviews when he ran into coaches from the University of Illinois, hoping to enhance the college football culture of their program, with bags and suitcases in hand, according to ESPN. And Illinois wasn't the only school represented in State College Wednesday.

Once at ESPN, O'Brien told the network that every Penn State player had been recruited by another school in the first 24 hours after the NCAA's actions against the school, and that several players had received as many as 50 scholarship offers.

It's all legal. The NCAA, as part of its ruling, placed no restrictions on players who want to transfer from Penn State, and ruled only that other schools needed to contact Penn State before recruiting its players.

Southern California was one of many schools who reached out to Penn State's leading rusher, running back Silas Redd, immediately after the ruling. USC coach Lane Kiffin, who took over after that program received stiff NCAA sanctions, often complained of his players being "free agents" when other coaches pursued them about transferring. Now he's doing the same, and even talking at the Pac-12 Conference media days about "depth at running back."

Want to get a taste of real college football culture? Look at what fans of schools all over the nation are saying to Redd -- @MomentOfSilas25 -- via Twitter. Grown people are begging him to go here or there.

Emmert can bemoan college football becoming bigger in the "culture" than academic matters, but Kiffin isn't calling Redd because he needs more depth at marketing major.

Truth: none of this is taking the academic concerns of any of those Penn State players into account. Academics are a secondary consideration -- and maybe lower than that on the lists of these poaching coaches.

Greg Webb, a defensive tackle and a top recruit in the high school senior class of 2013, changed his commitment from Penn State to North Carolina after the NCAA rulings came down.

North Carolina. There's a model college football culture for you, where players systematically took non-existent classes for years.

This is college football culture.

The NCAA was in such a rush to make a statement that it threw these Penn State players from a difficult situation into an annoying one. There might've been more order to it if they'd just allowed schools to come in to Beaver Stadium and make the playing field college football's largest yard sale.

The players at Penn State deserved better than this. There's already enough of a circus going on around that program without throwing them even more into the center ring. The NCAA did the right thing by allowing them to transfer and by allowing other schools to contact them. But yet again, the NCAA did it in the wrong way.

And in the process, it gave coaching staffs around the nation a chance to display just exactly the kind of oblivious-to-all-else, over-the-top behavior that Emmert was urging schools to get away from.

Finally this: The focus on Penn State is going to shift to football more and more. It is inevitable. Frankly, I have a bit of Penn State fatigue, with all of the reporting going on. But I've told myself that I won't end any more Penn State columns without getting back to the original line of scrimmage.

Penn State's football players, O'Brien said, were wary of leaving the Lasch Center, lest they be besieged by coaches waving scholarship papers. In that building, of course, much less privileged young men had unspeakable experiences that should not be forgotten. Over time, people will write less and less about them. They will chronicle every move of every big-time player who both stays at Penn State and leaves. They will write about the team as it begins its journey under NCAA sanction.

They are not the real victims, and never will be. Those of us who write about sports will write about the sports at Penn State. I just have trouble doing that alone. In so many ways, including the pursuit of college kids like so many commodities, what is going on at Penn State has long since stopped being just a game.

Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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