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Editor at Large

Cold-blooded and ruthless, that's Division I athletics

Penn State football: In the national top 10 for a second consecutive year.
Penn State football: In the national top 10 for a second consecutive year. - (Photo / )

Two narrow, last-minute losses for ninth-ranked Penn State ruined what would have been a spot in the national playoffs. Then again, the Lions had a close victory over Iowa that could have gone the other way.

A victory over Washington in the Dec. 30 Fiesta Bowl will clinch a second consecutive top-10 final ranking for Penn State under coach James Franklin – who many Lion fans doubted and perhaps still do. After all, a national title is the ultimate goal.

Meanwhile, at least two Penn State players will transfer: running back Andre Robinson and placekicker Alex Barbir. Robinson was stuck behind Saquon Barkley, who is expected to go pro, and likely would be behind Miles Sanders and incoming freshman Ricky Slade next fall.

Robinson has talent and hopefully can be the feature back somewhere.

There are rumblings that backup quarterback Tommy Stevens also could transfer. Stevens, who has two years left of eligibility, would be behind starter Trace McSorley one more year at Penn State.

One landing spot for Stevens could be Mississippi State, which just named Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead as head coach. The athletic Stevens obviously is very familiar with Moorhead’s system.

Transfers are part of the fabric of big-time Division I college athletics. The athletes only have four years of eligibility, so the clock is always ticking. Plus, many dream of playing professionally, and sitting on the bench doesn’t help.

College athletics at this level is not like high school, when teenagers are coddled and nurtured and brought along slowly and given second and third and fourth chances. In Division I, if you can’t make the playing field relatively early on, if you can’t help the team win, then you’re banished to the bench, sometimes permanently. Yes, keep your scholarship, but otherwise you’re a forgotten man.

It’s a brutal wakeup call for some of these kids who were superstars in high school. But big-time D-I athletics are a big business in which coaches essentially just care about winning and their next contract. If a player can’t help them win, see you on the scout team.

By the way: Is the NCAA potentially vulnerable for CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) lawsuits from former football players? We’ve seen how the NFL money-making machine is paying up and recognizing the link between football and CTE, a degenerative disease linked to repetitive concussions and brain trauma.

The NCAA and its member schools pull in billions of dollars in revenue annually, and those are the kinds of deep pockets that pique the interest of lawyers.

RANDOM SHOTS AND SECOND THOUGHTS

Current ranking of pies: 1. Cherry. 2. Pizza. 3. Pumpkin. 4. Chicken pot. 5. Raisin. 6. Shepherd’s. (Most overrated: shoo-fly.)

Permanent all-time ranking of favorite classes in high school: 1. Gym. 2. Lunch. 3. Study hall.

Eagles’ fans will be ready to jump off the Walt Whitman Bridge if their team loses its second straight game on Sunday. I’ll alert the Coast Guard, because the Eagles’ opponent, the Rams, is a complete team with a rushing attack that can control the game.

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