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Chat wrap: Penn State's woes
By Jack Arute
Special to

During halftime of the Penn State-Ohio State game on Sept. 23, ABC's sideline reporter, Jack Arute, visited the chat room to discuss the Nittany Lions' troubles in 2000, the future of college football, and the issues surrounding Alabama and Florida.

Myronne Bess
How good are the Buckeyes? With their bye next week are they capable of sneaking up on Wisconsin in Madison, after Wisconsin takes on Michigan?

Jack Arute
I would say that the Buckeyes are showing some strengths unexpectedly when you base it upon previous games that they have played. But that's the great thing about the Big Ten -- when it counts in-conference, the Buckeyes thus far, have risen to the occasion.

There is no question a week off will certainly help them down the road.


What is your impression of the increased parity in college football this season?

Jack Arute
It can be attributed to the 85-scholarship limit. In some respects, the BCS has a lot to do with it as well. Schools now in various conferences can talk about playing for a national championship.

What's your take on the Florida Gators and how Steve Spurrier handled the team this week, preventing them to speak to the media?

Jack Arute
What happened in their game last week was bad for football. It was an embarrassment to Steve Spurrier. He acted swiftly and correctly. I applaud for his actions. Keep that junk at home.

Going quacky
What does Oregon have to do today to upset UCLA?

Jack Arute
It's a good question. If I knew that, I could replace Mike Bellotti. The only thing that I know about UCLA, Oregon and the rest of the Pac-10 is that they are back, and back with a vengeance.

Bama Joe
What is your reaction to Alabama's decision to not start Freddie Milons today and all the problems the Tide are having right now.

Jack Arute
Alabama is still reeling from its bumpy start to the season. Far be it for me to second-guess a coaching staff, but much like Penn State, Alabama is in a position where it has to begin to try and make something happen.

Aaron Leroy
Rashard Casey
Rashard Casey has not been helped this season by his offensive line.
I think that Rashard Casey is looking for the run too much. He needs to calm down and if he can't, he should get pulled out of the game. What do you think?

Jack Arute
As I said in the first half, Rashard is difficult to read because he does not show a lot of emotion or facial expression. The most difficult thing for Casey right now is that he needs his O-line to step up and play a little harder.

It would not surprise me to see Matt Senneca put into the rotation by mid-season, but this is and will be Rashard's team for a while longer.

What has happened to Penn State? I don't think the blame should be pointed at Joe P. He would be the coach that every team would love to have. Do you think he will stay around or retire?

Jack Arute
JoePa is not a quitter. I would find it absolutely amazing to see Paterno leave before this program is turned around. As Paterno told us last night and has said to other people all year, this squad is just not very good. That does not mean that it cannot become good by season's end.

Aaron LeRoy
I think that Penn State needs to use Rashard Casey more for option passes and try to get him to use his athletic ability kind of like how Kordell Stewart was. They shouldn't try and make him a different quarterback, just let him play the way he wants to.

Jack Arute
Last year, the coaches wanted Rashard to develop a better pocket presence. Now, they seem to be shifting towards your suggestion. I would think that it has to be a little confusing to the youngster. Again, things would be a lot different if the offensive line was better for the Lions. But run the option, yes. Much like the way Ohio State has introduced some option to capitalize on Bellisari's athletic ability (although they haven't needed much this afternoon.)

Van Dukes
A win for South Carolina today could be a big confidence builder. How far do you think a win here could take them through the rest of season (with games vs. Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, and that word I hate, Clemson)? Those last three games of the season (THE ORANGE CRUSH: Tennessee, Florida, Clemson) make it really difficult to end the season on a good note.

Jack Arute
It could take Lou Holtz to the coaching job of the New York Jets. Oops, he's already been there. Maybe he could take over at Notre Dame. No, he's been there too.

Seriously, a win today would push the Gamecocks into a legitimate mid-bowl contender and make their life enjoyable.

Hey, Jack. I have two Qs. One, is how do you think that Wisconsin will beat Northwestern and do you think that Wisconsin has a chance at the national championship?

Jack Arute
I have always said that the Big Ten Conference beats up on each other so much that it is difficult to run the table. And that folks, is what will get you BCS national title game consideration. But the season's early. The big game to watch out for is the Wolverines at the Big House.

Where do you see college football 10 years from now? Will new teams dominate or will traditional powers stay ahead of all 115 Division I schools?

Jack Arute
Excellent question. A lot will depend on the future direction the NCAA takes regarding scholarships and the attitude that presidents take concerning emphasis on revenue-producing athletics. It certainly has been shown that an aggressive approach can help establish a second-tier program. But 10 years from now? I just don't know. So much can happen between now and then.

I'm listening online, how is the weather affecting the game?

Jack Arute
Not as much as I would have thought. The new turf system at Ohio State has done an excellent job. The track, while wet, is not slick. And the rain has subsided.

Aaron Leroy
Do you think that Penn State will be as good as last season in the upcoming future?

Jack Arute
Penn State is going to have a difficult season. From what I have been told, the freshman class is very athletic. So there is reason to hope for the future in Happy Valley.

Gary Smith
Do you believe that a Pac-10 school will make it to the end of the season undefeated?

Jack Arute
Like the Big Ten, it is a difficult proposition for the Pac-10. That would put them in a position of being the title for worst to first. Let's not get greedy.

I have to go for the second half. Thanks for the questions.

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