It’s a busy week in Purdue athletics. This week is the beginning of the early signing period for men’s and women’s basketball teams. Also, Purdue football hosts Ohio State this week at Ross-Ade. And finally, the Penn State mess is spilling over and will not only affect Happy Valley, but also the future of the Big Ten Conference. Let’s get to it!
- Rapheal Davis, AJ Hammons, Ronnie Johnson, and Jay Simpson will all sign with Purdue on Wednesday, November 9th. This class is currently ranked 13th in ESPN’s power rankings and in the top 25 of Rivals.com’s rankings (as of 11/8/11, but this will surely change constantly). These guys ensure that Purdue will at least stay in the top half of the Big Ten, but there’s still waiting on a blue chipper to announce…
- That blue chipper is the much discussed Gary Harris. If you follow Twitter or the online message boards of Purdue, MSU, IU, and Kentucky websites, you know that not an hour goes by without multiple threads and tweets about Harris’ latest leanings between the four schools. As of 10 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8th, Michigan State and Purdue look to be in the best position. A decision could come as early as November 9th as Harris’ family members are allegedly discussing his decision on Tuesday night. Beware of the many posers out there who claim to know where Gary is going and why. I don’t have inside information and I won’t claim to know where he’s going, but I do think Purdue has a 50/50 shot here at arguably the best prospect in Indiana for the class of 2012. I think Harris will choose Purdue if he decides he wants to stay very close to home, play with his friends/acquaintances Ronnie Johnson, AJ Hammons, Rapheal Davis, and Jay Simpson. I think the proximity to home and familiarity with Purdue are the Boilermakers’ biggest selling points. When it comes to Michigan State, I think Coach Izzo and the MSU coaching staff is the main reason why Gary may choose the Spartans. Izzo is a proven winner and he may decide that the Spartans’ recent history under Izzo is too much to turn down. I can’t completely rule out IU or Kentucky, but I think IU is at a disadvantage with their scholarship crunch and Kentucky got into the picture late. In a hushed recruitment like this though, nothing is for certain. In the meantime, we’ll just have to be patient and wait for the big announcement.
- Purdue is the underdog by about a touchdown to Ohio State. Purdue needs a big bounce-back performance against the Buckeyes because Purdue was absolutely disgraced last week against Wisconsin. I think the key to this game is stopping Ohio State’s running game. That’s not impossible for Purdue, although Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan ran like crazy against Purdue’s defense. Scoring points won’t be easy against Ohio State, so limiting Ohio State’s offense is very important. I’m not very optimistic about Purdue’s chances after last week, but I thought the same thing two years ago when Purdue knocked off the undefeated Buckeyes in Ross-Ade for Coach Hope’s biggest win (so far) of his career at Purdue.
- The New York Times (and other sources) are reporting that Joe Paterno will be ousted from Penn State in a matter of days. I think he may not be let go until the end of the season, but this will surely leave the future of one of the Big Ten’s strongest football programs in question. Although Penn State has the resources to go after a big name coach to replace Paterno, their stock just plunged. The detailed allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky (one-time heir apparent to Joe Paterno) is creating a shroud of shame for the entire university. It’s unclear how the NCAA will handle this matter, but truth be told, the public perception is much worse than any penalty that the NCAA could give. The stories about children being molested right on the campus of Penn State is disgusting and deserves swift punishment. The fact that Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials were confronted about this issue in 2002 is mind-boggling. How could it take this long to finally act on such serious allegations? Getting back to the broad impact of this on the Big Ten — one of the conference’s top football programs will likely be down…if at least for five years. Going forward, I would think that this would haunt Penn State for years to come as this is one of the biggest sports stories of the year. I think, eventually, Penn State will overcome this troubled time and bounce back, but it’s not an overnight fix and they will be at a major disadvantage when trying to replace Joe Paterno. It’s sad to see a legend be ousted like this, but there’s no excuse for how the leadership at Penn State failed to act on such an egregious, witnessed act.