Nittany Lions Not Bowled Over

Penn State seniors would love to play in the postseason. But they are not getting their hopes up over the prospect of their bowl ban being eased.

CHICAGO -- Last September, Penn State athletics integrity monitor George Mitchell suggested that the NCAA's bowl ban against the Nittany Lion football program could be lifted if the university continued to successfully implement reforms stemming from the Sandusky scandal.

If it happens, the players most impacted would be the current crop of Penn State seniors, who would suddenly have the chance to end their careers in a way that once seemed impossible -- in a bowl.

“It would be great,” linebacker Mike Hull said at Big Ten Media Days here Monday. “I've been to two bowl games. I was very fortunate. Those were two of the best experiences of my life. It would be great to go back and end my career on a high note.”

Based on Mitchell's findings, last fall the NCAA softened its scholarship sanctions vs. the Nittany Lions. If the four-year bowl ban (of which PSU has already served two years) is to be repealed, it won't happen until Mitchell submits his next report and the NCAA has a chance to act on it -- a process that could go into September.

Because of that, the Penn State players are not getting too amped about the prospect of going bowling.

“Obviously it would be great for the program. But at the same time, we’re taking this season as if we have 12 games and we want to win them all.”

“Obviously it would be great for the program,” kicker Sam Ficken said. “But at the same time, we're taking this season as if we have 12 games and we want to win them all. It's not going to make us play any differently, it's not going to provide any extra incentive.”

When asked how the team would react to the bowl ban being rescinded, running back Bill Belton asked the reporter, “How would you react if you were going to a bowl game?”

Then he added, “If you were a kid in a program, and you were in a bowl game, it would be exciting. That's all I'm saying.”

The players agreed that playing in a bowl is not a team goal at this point.

“You just continue to work -- do what we have to do to get better each day,” Belton said. “That (a bowl) is something the guys don't think about.”

“Whether we go to a bowl game or not, we're going to give our hearts every single game,” Hull added.

According to Ficken, “Bowl games are fun, you get cool stuff. But at the end of the day, we're here to play, we're here to win. It's not gonna change in any way the way we attack the season.”

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