To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil

From: McLane, Jeff

Subject: Missing Pat Devlin

So I'm walking through the Lasch Building - that's Penn State's football headquarters, to the uninitiated - and down one of its decorated hallways, and I count the number of all-American quarterbacks under Joe Paterno. The final tally is a whopping three: John Hufnagel, Chuck Fusina and Kerry Collins. Three in 43 seasons. By comparison, there have been 13 first team all-American linebackers during that span. I guess you don't get the nickname "Linebacker U" for nothing.

I make note of this because the team announced a few days earlier that Pat Devlin was transferring. A high school all-American at Downingtown East, Devlin sort of dropped in Penn State's lap three years ago and never seemed to fit. Prep quarterbacks of Devlin's stature normally don't find their way to Happy Valley and when they do the results are often dubious. (See Anthony Morelli.)

Devlin never developed a rapport with quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, sat behind Daryll Clark this season and is now likely headed to Delaware to chase his Joe Flacco dreams. The Lions, meanwhile, are in a pickle. Devlin could have stayed through the Rose Bowl, but he hemmed and hawed and Paterno said, "Getttoutttaaaheeerreee."

That leaves JoePa

paisano

Paul Cianciolo as the second stringer. Can you imagine the blitz packages a ferocious Southern Cal defense is going to send at Clark? What's the over/under on which quarter the Penn State quarterback gets knocked out of the game?

And here's the real question: Did the Paternos fumble away another quality signal caller or did Devlin simply force their hand?

To: McLane Jeff; Sheridan, Phil

From: Ford, Bob

Subject: Missing Pat Devlin

I can't blame Joe for this one. It's not like Devlin was arrested in a panty raid. He quit on Joe. I'm sure there were two sides, but he could have waited. No team has three top QBs, so they are left short. Have to hope Clark doesn't get run over by that Trojan horse.

To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil

From: McLane, Jeff

Subject: Missing Pat Devlin

You can get arrested for a panty raid? Well, there goes No. 6 on my L.A. to-do list. Of course, I could kill two birds with a panty-raid bust and a low-speed chase on I-405 in a white Ford Bronco.

Back to Devlin, et al. Bob, I can understand your take. Devlin looks like a prima donna, and it's a shame because he isn't. He's a good kid and a good student but obviously couldn't handle sitting another season.

And since we're just "Talkin," here's the scoop: I'm not sure he wanted to leave. When he and his parents met with Paterno, the Devlins tried to back the coach into a corner. I'm pretty sure that if a university president can't tell Paterno what to do neither can a backup quarterback's parents. And that was that.

To: McLane, Jeff; Ford, Bob

From: Sheridan Phil

Subject: Missing Pat Devlin

Well, if Penn State wasn't so cheap and so worried about winning the Salary Cap Bowl instead of a title, Paterno wouldn't have let Jeff Garcia go. Garcia is a winner, man, not like that - oh, wait. Wrong thread.

Gotta agree with Bob here. I'd rather rely on a Paul Cianciolo who wants to be on the team than a Pat Devlin who doesn't. But you can't coach expecting the worst to happen. It's college, not the NFL. Depth isn't something you can buy.

To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil

From: McLane, Jeff

Subject: Missing Pat Devlin

Oh, you can buy plenty in college. Just look at USC's offense.

Zinger!