National Notebook: Week 11

Nick Cremona

Penn State to accept bowl bid despite school scandal
Interim head coach Tom Bradley announced this week that the Nittany Lions will accept a bowl invitation despite recent turmoil surrounding the school.

Several bowl officials feel as if the Nittany Lions’ postseason appeal has declined greatly amid recent allegations of sexual abuse taking place on school grounds.

“I can’t see someone eager to take them,” said one official. “I don’t think you want that story on your hands. When you bring a bowl team to your community, you want warm, fuzzy stories about student-athletes. You don’t want what’s going on there.”

The Nittany Lions are 8-2 (5-1) on the season and are currently ranked No. 21 in the BCS standings. Their two losses have come against No. 3 Alabama and most recently No. 19 Nebraska.

“The shame of it is the kids at Penn State now had nothing to do with all the controversy,” said another official. “But there’s a bigger picture here. Bowls are part for the economic impact and part being an opportunity to showcase the community. With Penn State, the other team won’t be a story. Everything will be what happened at Penn State [concerning former assistant Jerry Sandusky]. It’s not what you’re looking for as a bowl. It’s not a fun story. No matter what, the story with Penn State will be the residue of that situation. As a bowl game, you don’t want to bring that on yourself.”

Mackey, Neat suspended for violating Ole Miss rules
Head coach Houston Nutt has suspended quarterback Randall Mackey and running back Jeff Scott for Saturday’s game against No. 1 LSU for violating team rules. Seldom-used running back Korvin Neat was also suspended.

Nutt did not specify the violations but said the suspensions could also carry over to the season finale against Mississippi State.

“They’ve got to learn how to handle change and it’s tough for a lot of them,” Nutt said. These last few weeks you try to teach them the best you can that life can be hard and lessons are tough, but there’s no easy way out.”

Mackey has been the Rebels’ starting quarterback for the past six games and has thrown for just more than 1,000 yards while recording seven touchdowns and five interceptions. This is the second time Mackey has been suspended this year.

Video games to blame for Louisville’s last loss
After the Cardinals’ 21-14 loss to Pittsburgh last week, head coach Charlie Strong attributed the team’s lackluster play to an interesting factor: video games.

“I said [last week] we have guys that miss class because they want to stay (up) all night and play that video game, whatever it was,” said Strong “I didn’t even know what it was, but it’s such a big deal.”

Strong said he knew it had become an issue when he started seeing several players talk about “MW3” on Twitter.

A win against the Panthers would have left only Cincinnati and the Cardinals as the only Big East teams with one loss.

Now the Cardinals chances of capturing a Big East title are slim.

“I said to the players (Sunday) that’s why I talk about today and not tomorrow,” Strong said. “You had your opportunity and you can’t let it slip by. There’s a great example right there. If we would have taken care of our business, look where we’d be sitting right now.”

Yale QB chooses football over Rhodes scholarship
Quarterback Patrick Witt, a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, will forego his candidacy in favor of playing against rival Harvard in “The Game” this weekend.

The Georgia native was set to interview for the scholarship this weekend in Atlanta but has decided to play in his last collegiate game in New Haven, Conn, instead.

“I will be playing in the Yale-Harvard game this Saturday,” Witt said. “My focus this week is solely on preparing for the game alongside my teammates and coaches.”

At 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 230 pounds, Witt is a legitimate pro prospect.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to play at the professional level,” said Witt. “The Rhode does affect that. If I win the scholarship, that would put the NFL on hold for at least a year or two. But if I don’t, then I would pursue the NFL in the spring and get an idea of what kind of opportunity I’d get at that level, if any.”