UNIVERSITY PARK - Over the years, with its strong travel base, heretofore impeccable reputation and nationally renown coach, Penn State has always been a favorite son of the bowls.
That will not be the case this year.
"I can't see someone eager to take them," a bowl official told Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports.com. "I don't think you want that story on your hands. When you bring a bowl team to your community, you want warm, fuzzy stories about student-athletes. You don't want what's going on there."
McMurphy went on to say Penn State was described by one person involved in the bowl selection process as "toxic."
The Gator Bowl president has already said he doesn't like to recommend teams with an interim coach, the Jacksonville Times reported.
In the wake of allegations that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused young boys, and all the fallout that has accompanied, including Joe Paterno's unthinkable firing, the Nittany Lions are likely to hear similar thanks-but-no-thankses from the bowl folks.
Put yourself in a bowl's shoes: Beginning with the night you invite Penn State, you'll have to hold your breath every time the news comes on. And what if Sandusky decides to do another sitdown with Bob Costas? That won't exactly spike ticket sales.
The Big Ten has eight bowl bids and could end up with 10 bowl-eligible teams (at least six wins), including Penn State.
New Penn State President Rodney Erickson said Saturday that he thinks the Lions "certainly should be allowed" to play in a bowl if they're invited.
Interim coach Tom Bradley feels the same way.
"The players and the guys on this team didn't have anything to do with any of this that's surrounding them," Bradley said Tuesday.
Surely some bowl, even in an outpost, would be a consolation prize for the torture that the current PSU players have endured over the last week.
That's presuming the Lions don't win the Big Ten and represent the conference in the Rose Bowl, which on paper they still could.
At the same time, given everything this program has been through - a lifetime's worth of adversity in one week - the very best thing for the 2011 Penn State football season is for it to end as soon as possible.
That would take the spotlight off the football team and remove players from having to answer questions about things that allegedly happened when they were in grade school.
Further, bowl games can be an invitation for temptation or trouble - with kids, even disciplined ones, running loose in strange towns.
On how he'll handle such matters, home or away, Bradley said, "I made it perfectly clear that if you step out of line, I'm coming down quick and fast and hard."
Ending the season sooner than later would allow the school to get on with the massive task of finding a new head coach, hitting the recruiting trail and forging a new direction and a new image.
It would also allow the current staff, all of which is likely to be gone, a jump-start on finding new employment.
Erickson may say this team should go to a bowl game, but it won't be high on a pecking order and potentially winding up in some pre-Christmas game before 25,000 empty seats in 40-degree weather is not a reward.
The Lions definitely don't deserve to twist in the wind for a couple of weeks before finding out that few bowls this side of Hawaii are interested.
Getting out in front of the issue - for Penn State, that would be novel - is better than allowing some minor bowl committee to determine their fate.
Staying home for the holidays might not be fair to this year's team, but it's not nearly as unfair as the situation in which the Nittany Lions of today have been placed.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org