Olean Times Herald

Did Crist Make Mistake In Not Checking Grid?

For some strange reason Salamanca’s super-athlete Chuck Crist has not been a pin-up boy for Penn State basketball coach John Bach.

That despite Chuckie’s heroics on the Penn State squad last year as well as during the current hoop wars. Chuck still remains the No. 1 sub for the Nittany Lion dribblers.

The Lions are 8 wins and 9 losses for the season and the other night almost blew a decision to Navy, after constructing an 11-point lead. “Our balance saved us and I think that’s encouraging,” said Coach Bach to reporters after the game. “Chuck Crist is a key man. He gives us some zip.”

Crist, the 6-foot-2 lad with the All-American look in football and basketball when the scouts romanced him in his senior year at Salamanca Central, enrolled at Penn State on a most unusual basis. It was a scholarship in either football or basketball. He was to make up his mind which sport after playing both his freshman year.

Chuckie decided on basketball even before he stepped on the Nittany Lion campus for his first season and it anguished his Salamanca football mentor, Joe Sanfilippo, as well as the Lion’s gridiron coach, Joe Paterno. Speaking at an Olean area high school sports banquet, Paterno discussed Crist’s decision.

“I wish he had given us a look,” Paterno said, in words more or less to that effect. “He’d have had a good look by us, who knows, he could be right in there as our first quarterback.”

Crist, of course, is a boy with his own mind – a sharp boy, one should add, with a mighty sharp mind. When he decided to make it basketball – sidestepping the frosh football action – he must have felt that basketball was “his” sport. He must not indulge in the small-talk and the second-guessing of the disgruntled.

That’s not the Crist makeup.

A junior, Crist could be a starter on the Penn State basketball team the remainder of the season. Yet, one wonders how Johnny Bach – who has seen hundreds and hundreds of the top New York City schoolboy talent – has overlooked the talented Crist.

What Crist displayed during his Salamanca years, and in his two seasons at Penn State, was the ability to come up with the big play in the clutch. He rescued Penn State several times last season as well as in the current wars and, maybe that’s the reason Bach has assigned the fireman’s role to the Salamanca star.

We said, it’s not the Crist nature to pout and to spread the disgruntled word, but one wonders if he is second-guessing. That is, second-guessing the decision to go for basketball without giving football a look.

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