In my view, there haven’t been any players who signed up to attend Penn State (whether they were going to be playing football for the Nittany Lions or not) who are caught off-guard when, come late November, it is cold outside.
According to Accuweather, the historical average for today (Nov. 27) in State College is a low temperature of 31. The 51 Pennsylvania players I see on the Penn State roster, presumably, have been outside in the cold.
From my (very) quick analysis of the Lions’ roster, I judge just nine players to be natives of what I would consider to be warm-weather states (even then, it does snow on occasion in Tennessee and North Carolina). Among those nine, it is likely just two will be in uniform Saturday at Wisconsin – center Ty Howle and backup quarterback Tyler Ferguson, who probably won’t play.
Howle, incidentally, is in the midset of his SIXTH winter in Central Pennsylvania. So I think he’s adjusted to it by now — even if the North Carolina native wasn’t when he first arrived (last week, he admitted he wasn’t when he enrolled in January 2009).
Most of all, though, whether these players grew up in the Maldives or are natives of Edmonton, they are share a commonality that they chose to play football at a Big Ten school. As college-eligible young men, one would imagine they understood that it might get a little cold against those teams late in the season.
Also, of course, Penn State regularly practices outdoors and has been doing so in recent weeks.
The point of all this? The weather being cold, in my humble opinion, isn’t much worth discussing and won’t be much of a factor in the game.
Still, players and coach Bill O’Brien – at the behesting of media – talked about it at length this week. As such, I deliver their comments to you.
FYI: Projected weather for Saturday’s Penn State-Wisconsin game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI: 36 degrees and mostly cloudy.
DE C.J. Olaniyan: “Being cold is a mental thing. Once we get out there for warm-ups and once I let the cold hit me and let the wind hit me, I’m ready to go.”
TE Jesse James: “You really don’t do anything different (when it’s cold). You get to practice in the cold, so that helps a lot. You get the feel for it. It won’t be a big adjustment for anyone.”
QB Christian Hackenberg: “I just try not to think about it. I just keep my hands warm and go out there and just throw the football. At the end of the day, you’ve got to deal with the elements, it’s part of the game. So the less you think about it, I think the better it helps.”
LB Mike Hull: “Your adrenaline’s going so much and you’re just thinking about the game that it doesn’t really faze you at all.”
In an added twist to the weather, an unscientific straw poll was taken on whether players wear sleeves in cold weather.
Hull does during practice – but not during a game: “It’s kind of like a toughness thing that we have going. (Linebackers Glenn) Carson, myself, Nyeem (Wartman), we don’t really want to show any weakness. So we kind of go bare skinned.”
Hackenberg, by that logic, apparently is showing weakness. He wears sleeves during games: “Yeah, Howle jokes with me about it a lot, but it’s just something I do. They really don’t pay much attention to it.”
Olaniyan does not we sleeves.
One man in the program who surely isn’t affected by the weather is director of strength and conditioning Craig Fitzgerald.
Said Hull, “I don’t know if I could do it if I wasn’t playing. He’s kind of standing there the whole game. I don’t know how he does it with the short sleeves and shorts.”
So there you have it. The requisite cold-weather update for a pair of Big Ten teams playing a Nov. 30 game. It kind of reminds me of the Pittsburgh local TV news showing the ubiquitous salt trucks and empty supermarket shelves every time we get 1-3 inches.
Maybe I’m just too cynical.
Enjoy your turkey!