If nothing else, the wild fake season of 2020 was history-making for the Penn State Nittany Lions, in ways both awful (0-5) and terrific (900 wins). From a wealth of young talent showing out at the skill positions to the many maddening instances of game mismanagement, the guys continue their reflection on the good and bad aspects of a season like none other here in Happy Valley.
2020 was a year like none other for all of us, so it only makes sense that it was historic in all the wrong ways for James Franklin and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Before finally turning the page on a tumultuous fake season that saw PSU get out to its worst start in program history, the guys are taking one last, long, meandering look back on the things that made 2020 awful, and also maybe so bad, for Penn State. Kevin is in rare form for this one, so come for part one of our digression-riddled retrospective on the largely-miserable slog of 2020 Penn State football, but stay for Kevin’s eloquent self-analysis of his complicated love-hate relationship with the head coach.
The guys welcome in Coach Nick Codutti of ForTheBlogy.com to talk about the past and future of Penn State’s offense under James Franklin. All season long, For The Blogy has been publishing game film analysis from Coach Codutti, including a recent feature on what to expect from new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. The Obligatory guys are big fans of everything FTB has brought to Penn State football coverage this year, so it was great to have Nick join the show and talk about what held the Nittany Lions back in 2020 and what might be in store from a new-look offense with multiple impact starters returning.
In a genuinely shocking power move, James Franklin relieved first-year offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca of his duties as Penn State’s offensive coordinator to bring in newly-available superstar assistant Mike Yurcich, reportedly a favorite for the job a year ago before being lured away by big bucks at the University of Texas. Ben Jones, Penn State beat reporter for StateCollege.com, joins the conversation as the guys react to the surprising news, and all involved conclude that the message is clear: James Franklin’s not messing around.
Ben’s article on the Mike Yurcich hire: http://www.statecollege.com/news/local-news/penn-state-football-concepts-terms-and-question-key-as-yurcich-takes-on-new-role,1484833/
“Happy Valley Hockey” by Ben Jones: https://www.amazon.com/Happy-Valley-Hockey-Ben-Jones/dp/0692964037
Read Ben Jones’ Penn State football coverage at StateCollege.com: http://www.statecollege.com/news/authors/ben-jones,191/
GUEST: Ben Jones
And we’re back. After enjoying some time off for the holidays (just like Penn State), the guys return to wrap up the 2020 bowl season and dig into the surprising amount of early roster news for the Nittany Lions – from transfers and departures to recruiting to an influx of new blood via the transfer portal. Say what you will about the portal, it’s here to stay (at least for the time being), so it’s nice to see James Franklin and his staff importing talent to Happy Valley instead of just shipping it out. Come from the Penn State talk, stay for the bizarre Christmas tree rituals of Mike the Mailman’s childhood and Brandon hellish story of getting stranded in Cleveland. It’s good to be back in the saddle, and we’re glad you’re along for the ride.
So that’s that. You can close the book on Penn State’s 2020 fake season. Unlike many teams across the country and most of their Big Ten peers, the Nittany Lions managed to play all of their scheduled games, which wasn’t always a great thing. James Franklin’s team stumbled out to an 0-5 start, the worst in school history, but rebounded to win its next four games, becoming only the ninth college program to reach 900 all-time wins in the process. And with the announcement that Penn State will forego a bowl game (and an opportunity to finish at .500), we have come to the end. The guys have pretty strong feelings about the year and the decision to pass on a bowl game especially, and they let ’em fly. Can’t wait for the internet to react to this one!
The snow is falling in Happy Valley for early National Signing Day. In a year in which the Nittany Lions gave their fans plenty of reasons to worry about the health of the program, is a 28th-ranked recruiting class yet another cause for concern? The guys dig into that question before moving on to other targets, namely a hobbled Fighting Illini team that comes to Beaver Stadium without their head coach (the fired Lovie Smith) and his absolutely tremendous beard. Will the Illinois players come out fired up to play well for their departed boss, or have they already checked out on this all-around miserable season? The answer may dictate how Penn State finishes its season as the Lions seek to preserve a .500 finish in a potential bowl game.
Is this ostensibly the “Michigan State wrap-up show?” Yes. Does the conversation eventually meander its way back to some discussion of Penn State’s 39-24 reclamation project against Sparty that moved the Lions to 3-5 on the year? Again, yes. Do Mike, Brandon, and Chris also seize on Kevin’s absence as their “jailbreak” opportunity to run the discussion directly off the rails almost immediately? For a third time (one for each win so far this season!), yes. But honestly, who has better digressions? It’s a full-spectrum exploration of a positive weekend from an exceptionally weird season to tide you over until whatever we decide to talk about for the “Illinois” show.
Well, it has been, as they’d say in days of yore, “a long, strange trip,” but we are finally coming down to the last weeks of 2020 and its suitably bizarre fake college football season. How many games do the Nittany Lions have left after this weekend? One? Two? None? Who knows? We are reasonably sure that Penn State will have a chance to extend its winning streak to three games versus Michigan State on Senior Day. Befitting this relatively unexciting matchup with Sparty to end the regular season (ah, the good old days), the guys deliver an episode that really shows off Obligatory’s range: From briefly applauding Penn State basketball and trashing the college football playoff rankings to waxing poetic about 900 wins and even talking about this week’s football game. We hope to consistently bring a little mirth to this pandemic-addled holiday season all across Nittany Nation. #WeAre
It wasn’t always pretty, and in the end, it was, after all, only Rutgers, but dammit, in a season full of misery and disappointment, the “surging” Nittany Lions combined a solid defensive outing, a second week of much-improved offensive line play, and a maddening number of QB draws to leave New Jersey with their second win of the fake 2020 season, the 900th victory in program history. The guys enjoy the opportunity to say some complimentary things about Penn State before attention turns to the Battle for the Land-Grant Trophy and a possible berth in a crappy bowl game.