Offensive lineman Justin Boren, you may recall, shocked (OK maybe too strong of a word but work with us on this one) the world earlier this year when he annuonced he was leaving Michigan and transferring to the Wolverines most bitter rival, Ohio State.
Who knows how that thing will turn out but perhaps it gave former Penn State Josh Marks the courage to make a similar jump as it was learned this week that he'd be transferring to Pitt, which despite the mostly self-serving denials of many those fans in Blue and White is still a bitter rival of Penn State.
At any rate, this has set off a little bit of a message board flame war on both the Pitt and Penn State fan sites and it has also produced some of the more hilarious e-mails I've had the pleasure to read in a long time.
That being said, a few things about this Marks situation need to be made clear:
1.) Unlike Boren, who was a starter at Michigan last year is expected to be a starter at Ohio State next year, Marks was not counted on at Penn State (he was a true freshman last year and took a redshirt) and he really is not being counted on by Pitt (he is joining the team as a walk-on. He must earn a scholarship and playing time and he has a long road to get into the kind of shape he'll need to be in to compete for a starting job).
2.) Marks apparantly was not in the immediate plans at Penn State, so his moving on is not really a loss to that program.
3.) Pitt can't lose in this situation as the worst thing that can happen for Pitt is that they took a walk-on who didn't pan out. The flip side of that -- Pitt might end up with a good player (remember he was very highly ranked coming out of high school) should Marks pull it together and get into shape and fulfill the potential he showed in high school.
In other words, while the flame wars have been entertaining, in the grand scheme of things this transfer -- at least right now -- is not even a blip on the radar screen in terms of importance. And it says nothing about either program, other than just like every other program in the country both have a few players who come and go each season.
-- Paul Zeise