Penn State 2014 Football Preview
Let’s go ahead and get the negatives out of the way up front. Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of a number of heinous acts 2012, and they will cost the University and its athletic programs dearly. The Penn State Nittany Lions football team is two seasons into a four-year probation that will always be a blight on the university, but just might end up being a pivotal moment in which they officially shed the somewhat archaic identity of the past and move into the modern era with a confident swagger under the tutelage of head coach Bill O’Brien.
The 2013 regular season began well with two consecutive victories, but the Nittany Lions lost a close game to the Central Florida Knights in mid-September. From there, the team alternated wins and losses every single game for the rest of the season. Victories over Michigan and Wisconsin were highlights, and losses to Indiana and Minnesota were low points.
In a normal year, Penn State would probably be asked to enter one of the first dozen bowl games, but that will have to wait a few years. However, the team is clearly being built from the ground up, and despite all the drama that has happened in Happy Valley, there are many things for Penn State football fans to be excited about as the team looks forward to 2014.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg will be a year older and stronger both physically and mentally. The freshman was asked to step into a huge role at times throughout the season, and he performed admirably. O’Brien and other coaches obviously sold him on the idea that NCAA sanctions would expire while he was still at the University, and he is probably counting down the days until he has a shot at leading this team to a National Championship.
O’Brien has shown an amazing ability to recruit five-star players on both offense and defense, giving fans more than enough reasons to scoop up tickets and sell out the stadium week in and week out. Word has spread in recent weeks that the staff is wooing some blue-chip offensive lineman who would provide excellent stability for Hackenberg to work his magic. The wide receiving corps is full of young talent anxious to make an impact on the big stage. Bowl game or not, defensive lineman and linebackers know that displaying their skills at Penn State on a weekly basis in the fall is an excellent way to audition their talents for pro scouts.
Of course, rumors continue to swirl that O’Brien is ultimately seeking a job elsewhere and is open to listening to suitors on the professional level. The majority of fans hope that the 44-year-old Massachusetts-native will plant his roots in State College and establish a legacy that could make him the next great Penn State head coach. Uneasy fans can take comfort in the fact that if O’Brien does indeed leave, the best and most qualified candidates around the nation will be getting fitted for a new suit and hoping for the opportunity to interview for the position.