Don’t Blame Football Players Who Transfer

On Monday morning, NCAA President Mark Emmert stood before the world as a man with absolute power. He stood before the world with the futures of dozens of young men in his back pocket.  These young men were collateral damage in Emmert’s ruling against a supposed football culture that permeates the campus of Penn State, apparently more than elsewhere.

Upon levying some of the most severe sanctions in NCAA history on the Penn State football program, Emmert and his cronies will prompt these young men with one of the most daunting decisions of their young lives — stay or go?

On the surface there are two simple choices. A player can stay at Penn State, not play in bowl games, and realistically struggle to compete in the vaunted, prestigious Big Ten Conference. His other option is to leave, without penalty, without having to sit out a year, and join a new football team who can compete for the highest level of NCAA splendor.

For these student athletes, the decision is not that black and white. These guys have formed camaraderie with one another. They’ve earned course credits. They’ve signed leases on apartments. They’ve become a part of a community. They’ve fallen in love with the school as we all have. Put yourself in the shoes of these guys. Leaving would be an extremely complicated choice — even for those who have potential NFL careers just up the road.

If they do decide to leave, we, as Penn State fans, must not take it personally. These decisions will shape the future of the lives of these young men. If they were anti-Penn State, they would have never committed to the University in the first place. These players were blindsided by this scandal as much as you or I were. As Tim Hyland, a contributor to Black Shoe Diaries and other college football sites on the web tweeted recently, “they deserve better than what they got.”

For example, there have been rumors from “sources” of ESPN’s Joe Schad linking star running back Silas Redd in a potential transfer to USC. As expected, people from Penn State — among various other schools — took to twitter to plead their case to Redd. Awful Announcing collated various tweets to Redd (@momentofsilas25) and some of them are truly astounding. One tweet, from a PSU fan, is too vulgar to repeat here. Check them out for yourself and search his @ mentions when you get a chance. It’s insane.

If Redd decides that transferring to USC or another school will help him reach the National Football League and benefit him in the future, so be it. He has my full support, and he should have the support of the rest of Nittany Nation.

On the other hand, a large portion of the team has already pledged in one way or another to remain a Nittany Lion. Devon Edwards (@Devon2012), a former colleague at Onward State and current blogger for Black Shoe Diaries, has put together a document that outlines the various public confirmations from Penn State players that they are remaining in Happy Valley.

That list, coupled with this morning’s announcement and statements from Mike Mauti and Mike Zordich, surrounded by dozens of teammates, shows the remarkable resolve and character from the guys on this roster.

There will be tough times ahead for Penn State football, but we can get through it together. As Zordich said this morning, “we need you as much as you need us.”

Our support must not waiver (shout out to Stretch), but if someone decides to transfer, we mustn’t treat them with any vitriol. It won’t make their decision any easier and it won’t reflect positively on Penn State.

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About the Author

Sam Cooper

Sam is a senior originally from Newtown, PA who majors in print journalism and is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. His athletic peak was age 11 so he decided to grow a beard and write about sports instead.

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