Nittany Notes: Enough is Enough

Senior leaders are taking a hard line with the Penn State football team's off-field issues.

Penn State linebacker Sean Lee was talking a good game when we caught up with him recently. Discussing what type of tone the seniors want to set for the program in 2008, the All-Big Ten linebacker did not mince words.

“It's no nonsense,” he said. “Everybody, all the seniors, [are saying] you better get on the bus or get off. No more getting in trouble, none of that stuff. We're focused, we're committed, and if you're not ready to do that, don't hang around.”

He was speaking, of course, about the rash of off-field incidents that stole so much of the spotlight from the team's on-field performance in 2007. Some of the legal ramifications from those problems have poured into 2008.

Program observes are now reporting that Lee and his fellow seniors are not just paying lip service to taking a hard stance against off-field issues.

They've been given opportunities to react already, with the recent DUI arrest of tight end Andrew Quarless and the previous suspensions from the team of multiple players for a variety of reasons, some left over from 2007 and some that happened this year.

While in the past, seniors might rally to the defense of teammates who ran afoul of the law and even lobby to get them quickly back in the program if they were suspended, that is changing now. Not every case is the same. But generally speaking, the seniors are not putting up with less shenanigans.

“I think people are realizing that maybe we've taken too many chances on some kids from a character perspective and it's come back to bite us in the [rear end],” one observer said.

Though our observers declined to name names, they report that Lee has already “jacked one person up against the wall in the locker room.” This happened last month.

After the most recent incident, a couple of other team leaders let their displeasure be known.

“[Center A.Q.] Shipley was [ticked],” an observer said. “He was going off in the locker room earlier this week. They thought he was going to hit someone. The locker room cleared out. He was yelling, '[bleeping] idiots. How many [bleeping] times does it take to learn? [Bleeping] grow a brain.' ”

Assistant coaches Tom Bradley and Ron Vanderlinden eventually came into the locker room to help calm down Shipley, according to an observer.

Receiver Derrick Williams was riled up, too, telling another observer, “We don't need these kind of [bleepers] on our team.”

If it seems like some of the leaders are losing their cool over the discipline issues, that is partly true. But there is also a bit of calculated logic behind their actions.

One observer quoted Shipley as saying he was upset because “99 percent of the guys work so damn hard and yet one idiot can make them all look like hoodlums.”

“It's gotten to the point where, as talented as these players [who are in trouble] are, you have to wonder if the team wouldn't be better off without some of them,” another observer stated. “Maybe it's time for the staff to start acting like a placement service, calling D-IAA programs to see who needs help.”


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