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Sunday Sitdown: Former Penn State QB Chuck Burkhart

Burkhart guided the Nittany Lions to a pair of undefeated seasons

    Our Sunday Sitdown interview for this week's Sunday Sports Frenzy was with former Penn State Quarterback Chuck Burkhart.   His stats are not gaudy but his record guiding the team is special.  Burkhart led the 1968 and '69 teams to undefeated seasons.  He's living in Texas and took his great sense of humor to the lone star state as well.  Chuck will be one of the Nittany Lions Legends on the Happy Valley Cruise in June of 2021.   The '69 team celebrated their 50th anniversary last Fall and he still values those lifelong friendships.  

Here is the transcript of our interview.  You can also watch it in the video attached to this story.

(CHUCK BURKHART)

“I WAS REALLY FORTUNATE TO HAVE GREAT TEAMMATES AND COACHES IN HIGH SCHOOL AND AT PENN STATE.  IF YOU RECALL, WE WERE AT THE BEGINNING OF WHEN JOE REALLY STARTED WINNING AND AS I TELL EVERYBODY, I NEVER LOST.  WE ALL CAN SAY THAT WE HELPED JOE BUILD PENN STATE AND JOE WOULD ALWAYS SAY THAT ABOUT US.  BUT THE REAL THING IS, PEOPLE LIKE FRANCO, LYDELL, STEVE SMEAR, MIKE REID, JACK HAM, DON ABBEY WHO I’VE GOT TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH.  FRANNY GANTER WHO WENT ON AND WAS A GREAT COACH AT PENN STATE, JUST A CHANCE TO GET TO SEE EVERYBODY AGAIN BRINGS BACK A LOT OF FOND MEMORIES.  IT WAS MAYBE TOWARDS THE END OF TOTAL INNOCENCE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND BY THAT I MEAN YOU DIDN’T PLAY TO BE NUMBER ONE.  HELL WE WERE HAPPY TO BE RANKED, JOE JUST KEPT US FOCUSED ON WINNING THE NEXT GAME SO IT WASN’T LIKE THERE WAS A LOT OF HOOPLA ABOUT BEING NUMBER ONE.  NOW THAT WE SEE IT, WE’VE GONE TO SANDY BARBOUR AND TOLD US SHE OWES US SOME RINGS BECAUSE HELL, WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ONE ONE OF THOSE YEARS AND THERE GIVING RINGS TO EVERYONE ELSE, THEY SHOULD AT LEAST GIVE SOME TO US.  IT’S THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT YOU HAVE THAT YOU TALK ABOUT AS MUCH AS YOU TALK ABOUT THE GAMES AND THAT’S WHAT’S BEEN SPECIAL.  FOR PENN STATE, IT’S REALLY ALMOST NORMAN ROCKWELL-ISH IN MY MIND AND IF YOU HAD A CHANCE TO GO THERE, YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S DONE FOR THOSE THAT WENT AND IT’S HARDER TO EXPLAIN TO THOSE THAT DIDN’T”

(TODD QUESTION)

“THE CORONAVIRUS IS SERIOUS AND THEY HAVE TO MAKE A LOT OF DECISIONS.  I ALWAYS SAY THERE’S REALLY NO WRONG DECISIONS, JUST A LOT OF EMOTIONAL RESPONSES BECAUSE EVERYONE IS IN NEW TERRITORY.  THAT EMOTIONAL RESPONSE FOR THE CURRENT PLAYERS AND ESPECIALLY THE SENIORS CHUCK, CAN YOU IMAGINE HAVING TO GO THRU WHAT THEY’VE BEEN GOING THRU WORKING SO HARD AND THEN SO MUCH UNCERTAINTLY ABOUT WHETHER THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE A SEASON OR NOT.”

(CHUCK BURKHART)

“IT REALLY IS HARD FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND.  THE YEARS THAT WE PLAYED INTO THE 70’S WAS REALLY THE LAST TIME YOU HAD SOME FREE TIME AS A STUDENT-ATHLETE.  TODAY, THESE KIDS ARE WORKING OUT 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK, 12 MONTHS A YEAR.  THEY DON’T GET A LOT OF BREAKS.  WE WERE ABLE TO GET SOME BREAKS.  WE DIDN’T HAVE 40 COACHES, YOU COULD HIDE EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE.  THE DEDICATION THAT SOMEONE HAS TO HAVE TO PLAY MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL, ANY SPORT IN MAJOR COLLEGE TODAY, IS SO MUCH MORE LOOKED AT AND YOU HAVE TO DO IT.  MY HEART GOES OUT TO NOT JUST COLLEGE PLAYERS BUT HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS THAT ARE LOOKING TO THEIR SENIOR YEAR AS A WAY TO GET INTO COLLEGE AND A LOT OF COLLEGE KIDS THEY HAVE TO SHOW OFF THEIR SENIOR YEARS IF THEY’RE GOING TO TRY TO MAKE IT IN THE NFL BECAUSE A LOT OF THEM WANT TO DO IT.  IF IT PLAYS OUT LIKE IT IS WITH THE PAC 12 AND THE BIG TEN DON’T PLAY, THEN YOU STILL HAVE THE BIG 12, SEC AND THE ACC PLAY, THERE’S GOING TO BE A LOT OF THESE KIDS THAT AREN’T GOING TO BE ABLE TO SHOWCASE THEMSELVES TO SHOW PEOPLE WHAT THEY ARE ABLE TO DO IN THEIR SENIOR YEAR.”

(TODD QUESTION)

“YOU WERE A QUARTERBACK, JOE DIDN’T LET YOU SLING IT ALL OVER THE YARD.  NOW THERE’S THE 7 ON 7 DRILLS, THE QUARTERBACKS DON’T TAKE THE BALL FROM CENTER, THEY ARE THROWING IT ALL OVER THE PLACE, HOW MUCH FUN WOULD YOU HAVE HAD IN TODAY’S WORLD CHUCK?”

(CHUCK BURKHART)

“NOW YOU KNOW YOU ARE TALKING TO THE QUARTERBACK THAT TOOK THE FIRST SHOTGUN SNAPS AT PENN STATE?  WE OPENED THE 1969 ORANGE BOWL FROM THE SHOTGUN, THREW TWO PASSES, BOTH OF THEM GOT COMPLETED, WE NEVER WENT BACK TO THE SHOTGUN.  A FRIEND OF MINE DOWN HERE IS CHUCK HIXSON WHO WAS MY AGE, WE PLAYED AGAINST EACH OTHER IN THE BIG 33, HE WENT ON TO QUARTERBACK SMU.  BACK THEN, SMU THREW THE BALL 50 TIMES A GAME AND I’M THINKING, ONE TIME WE PLAYED MARYLAND, I THREW LIKE THREE PASSES AND WE WON 61-7.  YEAH, IT’S A DIFFERENT AGE BUT THE DIFFERENCE MORE THAN THE QUARTERBACK ARE THE WIDE RECEIVERS.   BECAUSE RIGHT NOW I ALMOST THINK WIDE RECEIVERS AND DEFENSIVE BACKS ARE PROBABLY THE BEST ATHLETES ON THE TEAMS.  QUARTERBACKS USED TO BE, ESPECIALLY IN HIGH SCHOOL RIGHT, THAT’S WHERE COACH WOULD PUT HIS BEST ATHLETE.  THESE KIDS TODAY ARE UNBELIEVABLE.  YEAH IT WOULD HAVE BEEN, YOU BRING UP A POINT AND I’M GOING TO SMILE ABOUT IT, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NEAT TO THROW THE BALL 30 TO 35 TIMES A GAME.”

(TODD)

“MY BAD, I DIDN’T REALIZE YOU WERE A TRIVIA ANSWER AND I’M GOING TO GO AHEAD AND BORROW THAT AND I’M GOING TO QUIZ OTHER PEOPLE AND SAY WHO WAS THE FIRST QUARTERBACK TO GO FROM THE SHOTGUN AT PENN STATE?”

(CHUCK BURKHART)

“AT 72, ANYTIME SOMEONE MENTIONS MY NAME I CONSIDER IT A GREAT THING.”

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