- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Penn State coach Tom Bradley said Tuesday that the Nittany Lions will accept a bowl invitation despite all the recent turmoil around the program.
Do you agree? After all that has happened, some think Penn State would be better off closing the book on this season and beginning the difficult process of moving forward. The school will be conducting a coaching search at some point, and the bowl process will only delay things. While head coach Joe Paterno and assistant Mike McQueary are gone, many longtime assistants remain with the team -- not the clean break some are asking for.
Vote in our poll about what Penn State should do when bowl invite time rolls around.
Another question here is do the bowls still want Penn State?
Several bowl officials told CBSsports.com's Brett McMurphy that Penn State's postseason appeal has taken a major hit in light of recent events. Although Penn State is a national program with a national fan following and a terrific bowl tradition -- Paterno won more bowls than any coach in history -- the sex-abuse scandal has placed a dark cloud over the program.
"I can't see someone eager to take them," a bowl official told McMurphy. "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."
That's the unfortunate part in all of this: the student-athletes. Penn State has some terrific ones with terrific stories this season -- defensive tackle Devon Still and running back Silas Redd, to name two.
As I've written numerous times since the scandal broke, Penn State's players did nothing wrong and deserve no blame for what happened or didn't happen at their program. But if you think entities like the Big Ten care about the effect of negative publicity -- as shown by the decision to remove Paterno's name from the championship trophy -- may I introduce you to the bowl folks.
For them, it's all about perception.
"The shame of it is the kids at Penn State now had nothing to do with all the controversy," a bowl official said. "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."
At least the official is being honest. But it's still very unfortunate for the players.
Penn State can make this all moot by winning the Big Ten championship and earning a Rose Bowl berth. Even by reaching the league title game, the Lions can ensure they fall no further than the Gator Bowl, which would be required to select Penn State according to Big Ten bylaws.
The danger is if Penn State loses out to finish 8-4, it could be leapfrogged by other Big Ten teams for the league's tie-in spots. Here's a look at the Big Ten's bowl selection guidelines.
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney