STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Pat Devlin was not a part of Penn State's pre-Rose Bowl media day yesterday.
Not that he would have been.
On Wednesday, the Nittany Lions announced that the quarterback was transferring and that he would not play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. As the backup to Daryll Clark, Devlin's departure puts Penn State in a precarious position heading to Pasadena to play defensive-minded Southern California.
"The timing is maybe not the best as far as we're concerned, but it may be the best for him," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said of the sophomore quarterback. "I have no ill feelings. As I told him, 'Pat, I hope you're making the right decision. I wish you luck.' . . . He's a good kid. He's a prime football player."
The Downingtown East product is shopping his services to a Division I-AA program. And the Lions, who needed Devlin to step in when Clark was knocked out in the Ohio State game, are in a possible bind.
Paterno met with Devlin and his parents, Mark and Connie, on Monday. By the end of the meeting, the 81-year-old coach said it was clear Devlin was leaving. Paterno confirmed yesterday that it was he who decided Devlin should end his Penn State career immediately.
"I said, 'Would you like to come out to the Rose Bowl?' Which I probably should not have said," Paterno recounted. "And he said, 'Well, it's up to you, Coach.' And when I thought about it, I thought it might be a distraction."
Most of the players first heard rumors of Devlin's departure at the end of the regular season, but they weren't told until Tuesday or Wednesday. Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno told Clark privately.
The junior, who was named to the all-Big Ten first team two weeks ago, said he had no indication Devlin was thinking about transferring. He described his relationship with his backup as cordial throughout the season, even though they engaged in a tight off-season competition.
Still, like most of the team, he was shocked.
"If it [were] me, I think I would have went about the whole transferring deal a different way," Clark said. "I don't know if I would have transferred, to be honest with you." Devlin would have had only one year as a starter after Clark graduated.
Most of Devlin's former teammates expressed their best wishes, although they would have rather had him stay through the Rose Bowl.
"It would have put us in a better [situation], because, God forbid anything would happen to Daryll," wide receiver Deon Butler said.
Fifth-year senior Paul Cianciolo will move up behind Clark. He played briefly in three games this season. Paterno didn't say who the third-string quarterback was, although he mentioned his walk-ons. Freshman Matt McGloin is an option, but more than likely wide receiver Derrick Williams, who was used in the "Wildcat" against Iowa, would slide under center if need be.
"I wouldn't want to do a lot more than what we've done with him, because he's carrying an awful lot on his shoulders now," Paterno said.
Even though he was likely weighed down by his pending decision, Devlin never confided in his teammates about his unhappiness, according to roommate Graham Zug. In fact, Zug wasn't informed of his leaving until Devlin told his roommates - wide receiver Brett Brackett and cornerback Jesse Alfreno are the others - on Wednesday morning.
"He just said that he's made the decision to transfer, and that was it," Zug said.
Devlin is home in Downingtown for the weekend, but will return to campus next week to take what will be his last finals at Penn State. According to Zug, he hasn't moved out of their apartment. The sophomore wide receiver doesn't imagine there will be any awkwardness as Devlin prepares for his finals and his former teammates prepare for the Rose Bowl.
"He's still supportive of us. He still loves Penn State," Zug said. "He's got nothing against Penn State. He just wants to play football."