Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Bar Down The Street

It's a nice place, really, and from now on we'll meet over there.

I can't really explain how fun this whole creating a blog thing has been. It all starts with a post no one will ever read. With time, you get a couple of good people to drop your URL and all of the sudden you have a couple of readers. Sitemeter becomes your drug and the addiction is underway. You make bad jokes, you complain, you rationalize, you copy FJM's format, you even dive into pointless research, but mostly you enjoy it.

Last week Mike at Black Shoe Diaries emailed me and asked if I'd co-author over there. This is normally where I'm suppose to say I have mixed feelings but, to be totally honest, I don't. I'm excited.

Still, leaving TBE is a bit of a downer, but if I can get over the 2005 Michigan game I can get over this. For those of you who have subscribed or check back daily, I'm glad I could kill 15 minutes of your day. The rising numbers only fueled the fire so I appreciate it. As far as what is changing: almost nothing. I'm not go to be posting any less content and you are still going to get the same weak-grammared, conclusion-lacking style you've come to expect.

It's that time. I'll do the hard part, you just have to click it:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Your Moment of Zen

Prepare yourself for a bit of a shake up tomorrow. In the meantime, something to hold you over...

My favorite part, other than the obvious, is Tamba's very calm walk back to the sideline.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Legend Of Link: Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing Today

-The NYT's weak effort at college sports coverage, The Quad, is ranking all 119 teams (um, what about #120?) this year. Before they got to #97 they had already named two Penn State opponents: Temple and 'Cuse. Missing Minnesota, who came it at #101, kept PSU from having three on the list.

-Even with bonus points for being creepy, I still don't think Mariah Carey's overhand bowling is as bad as missing home plate by 45 degrees. (H/T: AA)

-I unfortunately missed this year's National Spelling Bee, so I wasn't able to get my bets in, but from what I hear it was a good time.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I Guess I Have To Post On This: Schiano Rumor

Yes, this.

The great thing about the internet is that, with a properly timed post, a person can say something outlandish with not much to go on and get like 8 gazillion people to read it. It also helps if you do it during the offseason when bloggers are hungry for post material. This is not a sarcastic comment, it's part of what gets me through the work day.

A source told The Phanatic Magazine
Here we go again...
that a succession plan to replace Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno is being ironed out.
Ironed out. I see, so it's pretty much done?
The source also stated that the university, by NCAA by-laws, can not have any official contact with Schiano, who is under contract at Rutgers, but has put out feelers to gauge Schiano's interest.
I'm no lawyer, but it does seem like it would be difficult to create a contractual succession plan with a coach who is under contract and is not allowed to even speak to PSU as a potential employer.
That interest, according to a source, appears to be substantial and mutual.
This is not news. Schiano is a blue blood and besides has (what is reported as) a very good relationship with Paterno, he turned down "duh" opportunities at Michigan and Miami. I hate to bust anyone ego here, but it's fact that the reason for this was not entirely his love for New Jersey. I mean have you driven on the Turnpike? Bad jokes aside, it's pretty clear that he said "no thanks" in order to be considered for the Post Paterno Position.
Barring a last-minute power struggle or change of heart, the source indicated that this will be Paterno's last season in Happy Valley, and that Penn State would move quickly after Schiano at season's end.
So which is it? A power struggle or change of heart? Becuase the former indicates that Paterno is being forced out, while the latter makes me think Paterno is stepping down on his own. This sentence means you don't know which one it is.

Besides that, I don't see how the first sentence (about ironing it out) can coexist with this statement. You can plan on going after Schiano after the season, but that's hardly a succession plan. It would be the school saying that they want Schiano, but why would they announce this publicly before the 2008 season? For starters, it's clear Paterno doesn't want a farewell tour. Besides that, what if Schiano says no? He's going to have to take a pay cut of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if the situation is public Rugters is sure to counter with an offer that would double or triple that gap. It doesn't make any sense.
[Solid recruiting has] led many surrounding the program to assume either Bradley or Johnson, Sr. would take over once Paterno retired, while the other (particularly in Johnson, Sr.'s case) became the right-hand man, defensive coaching staff leader and head of recruiting.

That is not the case, according to the source, who maintains the board of trustees would rather go outside the program while attempting to maintain some Penn State ties.
I'm not sure what to make of this. If PSU lifers Bradley and LJSR want to stick around in their rolls, why would the BOT not want this? Besides, when you hire a brand new head coach, I'm pretty sure they get to create their own staff.

I'm not here to say that Schiano won't be PSU's next coach, it could very well happen. Be we already knew this.

Bottom line (this is where I state my opinion and pertend it's fact): this is either not real or, if it is real, irrelevant because this 'source' is just outlining the different scenarios we've already heard of.

Phil Steele: A Smart Man

Pre-season predictions are a bit of a double edged sward. On one end, you like seeing seemingly independent predictions of your team ranked near the top because it confirms that you aren't totally blinded by your homerizm. On the other side, however, is the furthering of your preseason expectations, a dangerous thing and often painful thing when it turns out Morelli really can't read defenses (I ked, he just wan't very good).

Enter one of the most respected college football analyst: Phil Steele. His 2008 top ten, via EDSBS, in reverse order for some reason:

10. Penn State.
9. Georgia
8. USF
7. Missouri
6. West Virginia
5. Clemson
4. USC
3. Oklahoma
2. Ohio State
1. Florida
While #10 isn't MNC contention, it's still about 15 spots higher than most of the less-qualified, way less informed "journalists" like to put the Nittany Lions.

My feelings continue to be mixed.

Penn State In Maryland: A Retrospective Look

With the ridiculous recruiting of LJSR in a state that is in the process of changing its name, I got to thinking: why the sudden surge? Of the eleven commitments Penn State currently has, six are from LJSR's territory.

Well where were these guys last year?

Of Maryland's Top 20 players in 2008, PSU was considered* by recruit #4, #6 and #11...but received commitments from none of them.

Same goes for 2007, consideration was only given by #2, #5, #6 and #15 (this is really strange considering the #10 prospect went to Akron). Again, none of them are currently in State College.

So the trend probably continues into 2006, right? Um, not so much:


That's seven of the top nine. So this type of dominance isn't totally unprecedented, but still a bit strange considering how inconsistent PSU has been in Maryland.

So why the sudden influx of players? Could this just be the result of a decent shot a freshman playing time? Or have the recruiters taken some notes over the past two years of relatively weak classes and decided to change the game plan a little bit?

*To be honest I don't know if the inclusion of PSU on the list means they were offered or are considering. Does Rivals eliminate a school from the list of the player decides to take that offer out of consideration? I don't know.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Evans Named The "Sixth Scariest Defender" On Off-Season Filler List

I suppose all lists in May are filler lists, but Evans is getting some recognition:

6. Maurice Evans, Penn State, DE: Last season, Evans ranked among the nation's top eight in sacks (12.5), tackles for loss (21.5) and forced fumbles (five). Not a bad trifecta. He also had 54 tackles, deflected three passes and returned a fumble 55 yards en route to earning All-Big Ten honors. Penn State ranked No. 11 in the nation in total defense last season, and Evans was a major reason.
Everyone's favorite over-rated linebacker, James Laurinaitis, didn't make the list. Somewhere, his dad is wearing a spedo.

More Great Effort Going Into Previews

Another gem:

Who's the second-best team in the Big Ten? Ohio State is the prohibitive favorite in the Big Ten. Indeed, a case can be made that the Buckeyes are the biggest favorite in any league รข€“ and we're including USC in the Pac-10.

So, who's the second-best team in the league? Is it Wisconsin, which has a manageable schedule and looks to be strong except at quarterback and in the secondary? Is it Illinois, which should have a fast, aggressive defense, but also has a huge hole at tailback and questions about its passing game? Is it Penn State, whose offensive and defensive lines look strong but who has some issues elsewhere?

Our early bet is it will be Wisconsin. But another early bet is that there's no way the Big Ten is going to have two teams in the BCS.
What do you mean by "issues elsewhere"? Like how all of our starting WR's are back? Or how Royster has shown to be a great back, only to be matched in quality by a redshirt freshman in the Blue-White Game? Or how our probable starting QB averaged 8.3 ypc against A&M? Or how we've been recruiting the hell out of LBs the last couple of years and, even with the devastating loss of Sean Lee, will probably have one of the more solid cores in the Big Ten?

Listen, I know we have issues. The QB situation is more complicated because whoever starts can't simply be a role player like Clark was in the bowl game. Our secondary loses players and they weren't even that good last year. But can you at least make an attempt at an informative comment if you are going to, you know, publish the thing? Is anyone really better off by you simply reading down the 2007 Big Ten standings and then calling it a 'preview'?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Legend of Link

I couldn't agree more.

Despite Penn State (or maybe because of Target 10), the Big Ten leads the nation in basketball attendance attendance.

In one of the most thorough blog posts I've ever read, Rumors and Rants examines the ten biggest falls from grace.

Are we are really still talking about this?

The horror that his Big Ten Refereeing has a new face.

Commit To Penn State And Crabcakes And Football!!! That's What Maryland Does!!! [Here is #11]

And the story continues, with commitment number 11, the sixth from The [insert Maryland motto here, crabcakes? I don't know...] State. He is WR Brandon Felder, stands 6'4" and runs a 4.43 forty.

"I got to talk to all three of the coaches. Coach Paterno was a real cool and funny dude. He told me he was going to be around forever. I didn't have to worry about him leaving. He also mentioned he's excited to have me on his team as well."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All The Sudden Not So Worried About The Future Defense

Penn State lands commit #10, DE Sean Stanley from Maryland. Rated a four star prospect, he chooses Penn State over such teams as Pitt, Michigan, Georgia and Rutgers. Ha, Rutgers. That's funny.

Blue White Roundtable: We're Halfway There

You know you might have a football problem when you start writing questions for yourself and then answering them in type. Well that's exactly what you are getting in the latest version of the Blue and White Roundtable. Don't forget to check out the other knights below:

Black Shoe Diaries | Run Up The Score | The Nittany Line | There Is No Name On My Jersey | William F. Yurasko | The Nittany Notebook | Tangled Up In White and Blue

Of the PSU players who went undrafted but were picked up by NFL teams, which one has the best chance of actually seeing playing time in The League?

Austin Scott. With his off the field issues now behind him, it will be interesting to see how well he can progress focusing solely on football. He not only has the size to be an NFL back, but he is in a great situation in Cleveland. While Jamal Lewis is the obvious starter there, he is on an expensive year to year contract. The Browns didn't pick up any tailbacks in the draft, so it's clear they will be looking to develop a cheaper alternative to the ageing Jamal during 2008.

My office recently installed those vending machines that keep the coil spinning when your selection gets snagged by the oversized potato chips in the next slot over, usually resulting in two treats for the price of one. This has improved my occasional afternoon snacking 250%.

What football technological improvement has most increased your afternoon football enjoyment the most in, say, the last five years?

The obvious choice here is HDTV, although I'm not sure when that really started to catch on in the football world. On the field graphics have been nice, giving us the First Down Line and even the Line of Scrimage Line, which is a lot like the glowing puck in that it's damn near pointless and usually more distracting than helpful.

The one line I do like, however, is the Longest Field Goal Line, showing where a team needs to drive to in order to be in a position to (maybe) hit the game winning kick.

If I had ever used one, I would be inclined to go with this, but the $50 price tag ruins the fun. Plus I'm pretty sure you could achieve the same thing with a big ziplock bag and some ducktape. Hoary ducktape.

List the top 5 Penn State games, in order of intrigue, that you would like to attend. For bonus points, include an away game.

1. Michigan - I don't care how good or bad Dickrods team ends up this year, I just want an end to this eternal streak. The losses have been painful and full of questionable calls and we are all going to be better off once this thing is behind us.
2. Oregon State - It's something new, and besides that it will be an early test against a Top 25 team. It is the first time we will be able to see just how successful this team can be.
3. Ohio State - While I don't like our chances, the upside of winning that game outweighs the fallout of losing it. It's at night and should be a good time.
4. Illinois - I want this team exposed. Pre-season #8!? Really? Plus I could use a little redemption after Morelli simply handed last year's game to them.
5. Wisconsin - Nothing interesting to add here except it will be a good chance to see how the team is progressing.

Penn State hasn't played a team from the Pac 10 in eight years (USC in the 2000 Kick-off Classic). Oregon State adds a little flavor to an otherwise very standard schedule. How do you think this season's matchups compare to prior years?

I think this is the toughest schedule Penn State has faced in a very long time. Ohio State is top five in the nation, and we play them on the road and at night. A night game at Wisconsin is also a little unsettling. Besides that, Oregon State is a Top 25 OOC game, and there is a stint in the middle of the season where Paterno will face up to four ranked teams in five weeks. Worse still, Michigan State appears to have put the John L Smith Slap Myself Late Season Slide behind them, which kind of sucks for us as their "rival".

Night games appear to be a growing trend in the Big Ten. While the 2005 Ohio State game was as good as it gets, the following year's Michigan game seemed overhyped and we all know about last season's Ohio State outcome.
This year's Penn State night schedule includes Illinois at home and tough ones in the dark at Wisconsin and at Ohio State. (I'm not sure what to make of the 4:30 kick-off against Michigan)

Here is the three-parter: (1)Does this mean that all of our big games will be played at night from here on out? (2)Do you enjoy the 8:00 or still prefer 3:30? and (3)Do you think a night kickoff actually increases home field advantage or does it simply look cooler on TV?

I'm afraid that yes, (1) they are here to stay. After the success of the Ohio State game in 2005, I think the networks, along with the schools, realized the opportunity for exposure and high ratings. With ESPN's ability to create there own hype, I don't see them passing up the chance of pitting two large market schools in a prime time slot. (2) I do enjoy the occasional night game, but mostly because they are something different. The problem is that the novelty wears off quick when every game against a .500 team is going to get the Lee Corso treatment. The buzz at the previous two night games didn't even approach that of 2005. (3) So with the sheer number of night games that players and coaches participate in, I don't think the atmosphere is any more intimidating than usual anymore. The fans may be getting used to them as well, and with so many during the season, they don't have a reason to get extra excited for an 8:00 kickoff when we have two more before the month ends.

Lighting Round:
How would Penn State finish with Iowa's 2008 schedule (substitute Iowa in place of the obvious difficult situation of playing yourself)?

Undefeated. Maybe one loss to Wisconsin.

Which RB gets the most carries this year? The most TDs?
Royster and Royster.

How much would you pay for this fall's Michigan ticket? What is the most you've ever paid to attend a PSU game?
Up to $175, but only because I really want to be at that game. I dropped $150 on last year's Ohio State game and consider that a steal. Not that this trend is going to change, but ticket prices are truly getting out of control.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Guy's Got Jokes

As easy as it is to get caught up in, you know, the football part of the Paterno-Penn State situation, I think it's important to start taking note and enjoying all the charisma things that his replacement will probably lack.

So Joe, what do you think about a college football playoff?

"I don't think so right now, and I don't know why," said Paterno, who is entering his 43rd season as Penn State's head coach. "I'm only going to be a head coach another 10 or 15 years, and I don't think it will happen by then."
"To be frank with you, I don't know what the reasons are not to have a playoff," Paterno said during a speaking appearance in Pittsburgh. "You can talk about missing class and all that kind of stuff, [yet] you see basketball go on forever. You have a lot of bogus excuses, but obviously the majority of people who have the say don't want it."
He's calling it exactly like he sees it, and that's something to be respected. With coaches like Meyer playing media games, and the Tressel types keeping everything close to the sweatervest, it's amazing that it takes an 81 year old man to provide the breath of fresh air.

For those of you who have wondered (like myself) why Paterno no longer votes in the Coaches' Poll:
Paterno has not voted in the coaches' poll since 2004, when he wanted to vote for undefeated Auburn but was forced to vote for Southern California after it won the BCS title game.

"They said, 'Well, you've got to vote or else you can't participate.' So I will not participate in the voting," Paterno said. "Not that I'm against what other people want to do, it's just that philosophically I think you ought to win it on the field. If I have to vote for somebody only because people have said these are the two teams that ought to be in the BCS championship game and I think they left somebody out that probably ought to be in it, that's when I'll feel a playoff ought to be appropriate. I've always been for a playoff."

A Picture Tells A Thousand Words

I don't know why I find this so funny, but here is the picture from Anthony Morelli's wikipedia page:

For starters, if you were to pick one image for a quarterback, wouldn't you want to find one of him throwing? Or at least running a draw or something?

So besides the fact that he is handing it off, look who's getting the ball: Austin Scott. I find this a little bit...well I don't know what the word is but it makes me laugh. In a sad way.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm Getting Really Tired Of This: Zookers In The Rose Bowl

Please make it stop!

The Rose Bowl's selection of a three-loss Illinois team in January sparked debate after Big 12 North champion Missouri, a team that had beaten the Illini in the season opener and held the No. 1 ranking at the end of November, was left out of the BCS. Many felt the Rose Bowl should have prioritized matchup over tradition and selected red-hot Georgia to face red-hot USC.
Ok, for the love of all that is holy, can someone get the story straight.

Why was Missouri left out of the BCS?
Because of the damn rules.

What rule?
The one that states that only two teams from a conference can play in the BCS in any given year.

What does that have to do with anything?
Well, no matter what the Rose Bowl wanted to do, they weren't allowed to select Missouri because Oklahoma and Kansas were already selected.

Oh, I see, I wonder how the WWL forgot that obvious rule...well, regardless, we should have been able to see USC and UGA in the Rose Bowl.
Why? It's not like that would have happened under the old system, so why does the BCS owe it to anyone now? Besides, look at this:
Unless they qualify to play in the NCG, the champions of selected conferences are contractually committed to host selected games:
Atlantic Coast Conference-Orange Bowl
Big Ten Conference-Rose Bowl
Big 12 Conference-Fiesta Bowl
Pac-10 Conference-Rose Bowl
Southeastern Conference-Sugar Bowl
C. When two bowls lose host teams [Rose lost #1 OSU, Sugar lost #2 LSU], then the bowl losing the number one team [Rose] may not select a replacement team from the same Conference as the number two team [The SEC, or, more specifically, Georgia], unless the bowl losing the number two team [The Sugar] consents[Ya fucking right].
You see that? The only way that the Rose could get a USC-UGA matchup, even if they wanted one, was if the Sugar decided to just give away Georgia. Not. Gonna. Happen. Why would they? Give up a regional draw for Illinois? An Illinois team, and an Illinois fanbase, that is going to feel like they were screwed out of that 'magical' trip to the Grandaddy Of Them All? Doubt it.

Worst. Story. Ever.

In my tireless quest for Penn State related information, I found what sounded like an encouraging story I could pass along. The headline:

Time Warner Ramping Up Negotiations With Big Ten Network

Never mind that I don't have Time Warner, or really care about the Big Ten Network fight anymore (it's an excuse to get to the bar at 11:30 am), but I suppose the more cable companies that carry the BTN the better.

Well the first let down was finding out it's from a local NBC station in Columbus, Ohio.

It may be spring, but in central Ohio, it's always Buckeye football season. And with the Buckeyes now ranked number one in an ESPN poll, is Time Warner closer to striking a deal with the Big Ten Network so you can see all the games this season?
You know, just because "it's always Buckeye football season" doesn't mean that you can be ranked. In fact, every poll I've seen has Ohio State no higher than 4th.

Of course, they are probably talking about preseason polls. Never mind that those aren't due out for another four months or so, or that ESPN doesn't sponsor any pre-season polls, or that last years pre-season Top 5 included Michigan...never mind things that make sense...this is going to be the best football season eva11!1!
Fans are gearing up for what they expect to be one of the most exciting OSU football seasons ever. “I'm hoping national championship this year,” says Buckeyes fan, Erik Gossnikle.
Did you hear that, guys? A fan in Columbus is 'hoping' for a national championship! This is some groundbreaking shit! Oh, right, the cable deal:
But with anticipation of another year of Ohio State football, comes anxiety for some fans that if their [sic*] not at Ohio Stadium to watch the game, they could miss it. Last year, Time Warner customers missed four games due to disagreements between the cable giant and cable rookie, Big Ten Network.

“It was very frustrating,” says OSU fan, Daniel Lundy.
Here man, the end of you frustration. They are called sports bars, and there are lots of them.

Ok, let's get back on track here: give me the breaking news that warrants the language "Ramping Up Negotiations":
Judy Barbao with Time Warner says next week, after taking several months off, officials will sit down with Fox, the company that owns the Big Ten Network to ramp up negotiations. “I would say we are optimistic we will have productive talks and we are hopefully we will reach an agreement with big ten network before football season,” Barbao says.
I think I speak for all of us when I say: thanks for nothing. Based on that quote it doesn't even sound like they are in negotiations right now, so to say that they are ramping up is a bit misleading. Oh, and Fox doesn't own the BTN.

But before we finish with this non-story rittled with bad journalism, let's check back in with your National Championship hopeful Erik Gossnikle:
“I'd love to be able to watch it from home,” says Grossnikle. And in the end, that’s all fans like him care about.
Well at least they nailed the ending.

* I understand that me calling out other's grammar mistakes is a bit of a joke considering there is probably one in this footnote, but I don't get paid to do this and I never claimed to be good at it anyway.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When Stupid Goes Wrong: Odds Preview Edition

I forgot to mention where I lifted those odd from yesterday. Well, as an added bonus, they included some worthless Big Ten analysis:

PENN STATE (+5000 in the BetUS odds) -- Linebacker Dan Connor was a big loss for the defense, but even worse, Sean Lee looked like he was going to step forward as another potential All-America, but went down with a knee injury that ended his season before it started. Anthony Morelli was not spectacular enough to lead Penn State to a Big Ten title, but he showed steadiness. Darryl Clark and Pat Devlin will battle it out for the starting QB position. There are some talented offensive players, but no game-changers. This team will go as far as the defense takes it, and leading that defense are standout defensive ends Josh Gaines and Maurice Evans. Joe Paterno will get to a bowl, and maybe even a good one, but there are no realistic national championship hopes.

If I were to write down 5,000 words to describe Anthony Morelli, "steadiness" would probably not make the list. That comment alone totally dismisses any credibility this guy may try to bring to the table; it's clear at this point that he has watched zero Penn State football games in at least the last two years.

Moving on, saying Penn State has "no game-changers" isn't quite as dumb as the "steadiness" thing, but still a bit dismissive and ill-informed. Williams is still explosive, and he can be a game changer when we call plays that aren't horribly predictable (this, unfortunately, doesn't happen much). Besides that, our tailbacks look to be very good this year, and Clark showed in the bowl game that he is athletic as hell.

Finally, we are obviously not a pre-season Top 10 team, but to say that there is no "realistic" hopes, again, shows that the person writing this nonsense simply doesn't care enough to look at any kind of relevant information. Let's look at the schedule:

August 30 Coastal Carolina Home Time TBA Big Favorite
September 6 Oregon State Home Time TBA Favorite
September 13 Syracuse Away Time TBA Big Favorite
September 20 Temple Home Time TBA Big Favorite
September 27 Illinois (1) Home 8:00 p.m. Favorite
October 4 Purdue Away Time TBA Favorite
October 11 Wisconsin Away Time TBA ???
October 18 Michigan (2) Home 4:30 p.m. Favorite
October 25 Ohio State Away 8:00 p.m. Underdog
November 8 Iowa Away Time TBA Favorite
November 15 Indiana Home Time TBA Big Favorite
November 22 Michigan State Home Time TBA Favorite

In summary:
Likely Big Favorite: 4 games
Likely Favorite: 6 games
Likely Underdog: 1
Undecided: Wisconsin

Even if you throw Wisconsin into the likely loss category, we are looking at what could be a 10-2 season if the favorites win these games. It is not "unrealistic" for Penn State to beat Wisconsin and end the season 11-1. From there, it's not entirely "unrealistic" to think that an 11-1 team could get into the BCS MNC.

I understand I am gleaming with optimism here, but I find it difficult to conclude Penn State is already out of it.

I'd love to hear what this guy said before the 2005 season. I'm not saying we'll get to that level, but if the quarterback situation gets filled properly, and a couple of linebackers step into leadership rolls, we are looking at a team with a lot of upside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When People Don't Think Before They Speak, Recruiting Gets Weird

Kansas' Coach Mangino on recruiting:

"My point is there's disinformation," Mangino said. "There's misinformation, because the kids even play games with these guys now and stroke them about they're going to take a visit here when the school is not recruiting them, and saying that they're considering Kansas and we talked to the guy the night before and we can't get to first base with him. [emphasis mine]
Nice choice of words, Mark, because you stalking 17 year old kids isn't already kinda weird.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mythical National Championship Odds For 2008

The top contenders nationally:

Southern Cal +300
Florida +600
Georgia +900
LSU +1000
Ohio State +1000
Oklahoma +1000
Texas +1200
West Virginia +1400
Virginia Tech +1400
Missouri +1400

A couple things jump out: Florida at 6:1 and UGA 9:1? With the amount of love Gergia is getting from the media, I would have thought those would be switched. Besides that, the game between these two is a home game for the Bulldogs.

Secondly, I would have though Ohio State would be closer to the top. I know there is a rather large backlash from the back-to-back losses, but they still got to the BCS MNC and are, without question, the most talented team in the Big Ten. An early game at Southern Cal will be a difficult game, and a loss will hurt their chances of finishing in the Top 2, however wins are still king and, even with a loss to SC, running the Big Ten table will probably still land them in the big game; and once you're there anything can happen. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that they get Penn State and Michigan at home.

Anyway, the top Big X contenders:

IOWA +10000

After seeing several Way Too Early Pre-Summer Polls that have Michigan State ranked ahead of PSU, this is a bit of a relief. There is always the risk that your homerism and blinders mean you don't quite know how good or bad your team will be, but even without Lee I just can't imagine a situation where we would finish behind MSU, who plays @Cal, @Ohio State and @Penn State. All in all, though, this is about what I expected. We really weren't very good last year despite winning some big games again Wisconsin and A&M, from an outsiders perception I can understand being ranked fourth in the Big Ten, especially with our five week stretch that include Illinois, @Purdue, @Wisconsin, Michigan, @Ohio State....that is brutal.

I still am shocked at how many people are on the Zooker bandwagon. They play Missouri at a neutral site (I think, definitely not home), and then play @Penn State and @Michigan in back to back weeks (although I guess Michigan could be pretty bad this year). I also don't think people realize how good Rashard Mendenhall really was. Besides rushing for almost 1700 yards, he also was the second leading receiver in terms of catchings and the third in terms of yardage. Oh, and the whole USC/Rose Bowl thing last year doesn't usually help your public perception.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

If The Centre County DA Was A Baseball Player, He Would Still Suck

How things like this can go on simply baffles me, I mean how bad do you have to be at your job to get fired? Apparently pretty bad.

Below is a complete list (I think) of charges filed against Penn State football players starting with the Scorotto thing. I found it on several message boards after a quick search, I've updated where appropriate:

1. Anthony P. Scirrotto - Burglary, criminal trespass, criminal solicitation, simple assault, harassment. - Dismissed
2. Chris I. Baker - Burglary, criminal trespass criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, harassment - Dismissed
3. Jerome A. Hayes - Criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, harassment. - Dismissed
4. Justin King - Criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, harassment. - Dismissed
5. Tyrell A. Sales - Criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, harassment - Dismissed
6. Lydell R. Sargeant - Criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, harassment - Dismissed
7. Andrew Quarless - Underage Drinking - Guilty
8. Willie Harriot - Underage Drinking - Guilty
9. Austin Scott - Rape, Drugs[ed - really?] - Dismissed
10. Joe Suhey - Underage Drinking - Guilty
11. Ryan Breen - Underage Drinking - Guilty,
12. Joe Paterno - Road Rage - No Charges [ed - then why the hell is it on the list?]
13. Chris Baker - Felony aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct, summary harassment and stalking, - Essentially Dismissed
14. Navarro Bowman - Felony aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct, summary harassment and stalking, - Dismissed (I Think)
15. Knowledge Timmons - Disorderly conduct and defiant trespass - [ed - or more accurately, "Getting Really Pissed Off About Losing An iPhone" - Dismissed
16. Tyrell Sales ? Under age drinking 2008 ? Pending
So let's do some quick math, and to get back to the title of the post: If Centre County District Attorney Michael T. Madeira was a baseball player, and filing felony charges since 2007 against football players were "at bats", he would be batting zero.

For baseball stat-losers*, that's a .000 OBS, a .000 Slugging%, and, most importantly, an OPS+ of -73**.

As for the underages, I hate to sound dismissive about this, but they happen. There are too many reasons not to get worked up about them.

*Present company included.
Roughly...depends on what you consider a "strike out".

Friday, May 16, 2008

Number Of Profitable Football Programs Increased

To 19? WTF?

Without subsidies, athletics departments at 19 of the 119 schools in Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision) made money in fiscal 2006 — up from 18 in '05 and '06 — and 16 did so over the three-year period.
With all the emphasis on money and football, and the fact that you (almost?) never hear about programs folding for financial reasons, this sounds like some fuzzy accounting to me.
The report showed that for the 67 I-A football programs that showed a program-generated surplus in fiscal year 2006, the average surplus was nearly $8.8 million, while among the 52 programs that showed a deficit, the average deficit was a little more than $2.5 million.

The report also showed that for the 19 I-A athletic departments that showed a surplus in fiscal 2006, the average surplus was nearly $4.3 million, while among the 99 departments that showed a deficit that year, the average deficit was a little more than $8.9 million.

Both gaps have grown since fiscal 2004.
I'm simply not buying that only 19 football programs make money. With an increasing lineup of bowl games, an ever expanding lineup of televised games, and a D1a list that is actually growing, something has to be off here.
For the study, athletics-generated revenues were defined as those from sources such as ticket sales, conference revenue sharing and donations. School-allocated revenues were those from sources such as student fees and direct and indirect institutional support, including utilities and maintenance.
What is the difference between "athletics-generated" and "school-allocated" revenues? Regardless, it doesn't sound like this is taking into account the large boost home games give to the local economy, the way success on the football field can impact the number (and thus quality) of applicants, or, and this I don't get, TV revenue?!?!

Penn State is typically one of the top 15 most profitable programs, netting roughly $26 million a year.

The Legend Of Link

-Yes, Paterno stopped by the hospital yesterday, and was promptly released. Don't need anymore news like that.
-You might remember the argument saying "recruiting does matter", well let's take it a step further: star-ratings correlation to NFL Draft position.
-Puff piece on Wallace and King.
-Jeff Rice has jokes! Ten ways to kill time during the offseason.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When Things Working Out Ends Up Twice As Nice!

Is there anything better than the thought of a disappointed Notre Dame fan? Probably, but this is still fun:

A quick Google search yielded this golden nugget from a Notre Dame message board:

The story I've heard is, where he's grown up in PA, you're either a Notre Dame fan, or a Penn State fan. Word is that his family tree is littered with Irish fans, so most ND followers feel the Irish have a definite inside track.

Lord knows after this year we could point to our game footage and say, "Look at that line, and tell me there aren't playing time opportunities..."
Enter: Verbal commitment to PSU.
West Scranton offensive lineman Eric Shrive decided to end the recruiting process this morning when he called Penn State head coach Joe Paterno to tell him that he wanted to be a Nittany Lion.

Shrive, a four-star prospect and one of the top offensive tackles in the nation, is ranked No. 68 in the Rivals100. [-Ed: He is a five star on Scouts]
This is a big pickup.

Old School vs. New School

The Big Ten wants to spearhead a new dead period in the summer:

"We've gone to a policy where three coaches have to be in the office at all times," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said Wednesday. "God forbid you're not there when you've got a pretty good prospect and his parents standing outside the door. A dead period means no body's going to drift into your office.
For a guy who is getting fired at the end of the year, I'm not sure why Tiller still cares. But good for him.
If approved, the proposal would be taken to the NCAA. Gaining the support from head coaches of other conferences will be vital and could be difficult, given the opposition from some to new rules prohibiting off-campus recruiting visits during the spring evaluation period.

"I don't know if everybody will buy it or not," Tiller said. "If not, I suppose we could do something independently as a conference, but I think we're going to take the lead on this nationally."
Really bad idea: tell Big Ten coaches they can't recruit while the other 109 schools in the nation can.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez supports the plan and noted the benefit of having dead periods, like the one during the annual American Football Coaches Association convention.

"That would be healthy."
Going out on a limb here:

Coaches For The Proposed Dead Period
Tiller - Even though he's not coaching anymore.
Alvarez - Who isn't coaching, but still gets to speak.
Paterno - Probably thinks there already is a dead period in the summer.

Coaches Against The Proposed Dead Period
Dickrod - How is he suppose to steal Tiller's recruits if he can't talk to them?
Tressel - The biggest PA high school basketball fan you've ever met, since 2008.
Zook - Although he's already found a loophole.


From WWL 'expert' Ivan The Terrible:

Behind the Buckeyes, the race gets interesting. Wisconsin will challenge. After the Badgers, which team comes next? Is Illinois ready to handle being the hunted? Can quarterback Juice Williams run for 755 yards again, without first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall there to distract the defense? Some challenger will emerge from mediocrity. Penn State? Iowa? Michigan State? Northwestern?
Yes, The University of Ohio State is, without question, the favorite this year. They did too well in the conference last season and have too many quality people to reload with. After that, does it really go: Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern (or other teams of "mediocrity"?). This is your classic example of ESPN analysis that consists of looking at last years standings, applying some well known events like Michigan turnover, and acting like you have a clue.

Keep up the good work Ivan.

Update: Oh, and he is...
Notre Dame's offensive line got pushed around last year but didn't seem to do much about it. The linemen have gotten bigger and stronger. If they also have gotten more aggressive, Clausen will be able to set his feet.
Are you kidding me? If Notre Dame lineman can get bigger, stronger and more aggressive, the quarterback will be able to set his feet....BRILLIANT!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why A 9th (or 10th) Game Doesn't Solve Anything

Leading up to the 2005 football season, with the recent NCAA rule allowing all teams to play 12 regular season games, the Pac 10 decided the smart move was to increase the number of conference games from 8 to 9, meaning all teams will play each other every season.

Still, they have declared a shared championship in 2 out of the subsequent three years of the round robin*.

The ACC has seen the Pac 10's experiment, and after a rather short round of consideration, decided that eight games is enough. They don't want to give up the cupcakes.

This discussion isn't anything new for the Big Ten, still I don't quite understand the argument for the Big Ten to increase conference games. The current slate of 8 means two teams are missed ever year, but so what? Yes, there are situations like 2002, where Ohio State and Iowa both went undefeated in the conference and did not play, but it was settled through out of conference record. Besides, that's one time in close to 15 years.

Bringing it a little closer to home, Penn State 'missed' Minnesota and Northwestern last year...both teams that are not much better than our crappy OOC games (Minnesota was actually much worse). I can live with the payday and uneventful home game if the alternative is uneventful league game in the Metrodome.

So what if the Big Ten did increase their conference matchups? Nothing good. The common call has been for "everyone to play everyone", meaning 10 league games. That means each team has two free weeks to work with. When you consider that Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue play Notre Dame just about every single year, along with the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry, you are left with just one week. What kind of matchup do you think these teams are going to schedule when they have just one chance for a tune up? Just one non-BCS matchup and just one series where they don't have to trade home and home? It's going to mean, without question, shitastic football in the 12th week.

Even the schools with no out of conference rivalry are not likely to schedule an exciting BCS matchup. The income from home games, even if it is against Youngstown State or Temple, is too important. I'm not saying it's right, but you are crazy if you think schools are going to agree to trade three to four cash cows a year for extra away games.

Even leaving money out of the equation, the addition of two extra in conference games for each team is going to mean a lot of extra losses disbursed throughout the league. This is going to have a rather large impact on public perception and the computer rankings that can mean the difference between playing in the BCS MNC game and sitting at home watching it.

Finally, from a fan's perspective: I don't think it makes the season more fun to watch**. I sure as hell didn't miss playing the Gophers or Cats, and even occasionally missing Michigan or Wisconsin does not make me long for a football season that consists of the exact same schedule every year with a fill-in-the-blank Game 11&12 crapfest.

Yes, Coastal Carolina is a stupid game, but without that game we wouldn't get the Nebraskas, Oregon States and Alabamas to sign on.

*Yes, you could use head to head matchups to separate the two, but keep in mind one team was given a home field advantage for that game. Besides that, it's not really that difficult to achieve a three way tie, in which case I have no idea how you would decide who gets the Rose Bowl bid.

**Yes, in a perfect world a 10 game Big Ten season, along with two evenly matched up BCS opponents would be great, but that's not what we are talking about here. The truth is this: if the number of Big Ten games increases, the rating of the non-conference games will dramatically increase on the suck-o-meter.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Playing Time, It's Good For You

Obviously a nice weekend when you land two three ranked prospects.

Especially when one came via Ohio State:

[Darrell Givens] said of the decision, "Ohio State and Penn State both had all the things I'm looking for. The only thing that swayed me to Penn State was playing time. I can play early at Penn State."
This is a bit important on a couple of levels. For starts it means we won't be totally debilitated like some might have thought. Penn State is still a good school, the game day atmosphere rivals any in the country, and the football specific facilities are top notch. We have just one problem, of course, age. However, a recent trend that doesn't appear to be going away is the impatience of recruits as far as getting on the field.

With so many players running out of eligibility after 2008, and the large number of scholarships available, this might work as a nice offset.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why Every Team In The Big Ten Isn't Going To Run The Spread, Despite What You've Been Reading

According to Fanblog, the Big Ten is (once again) ready for the "speed" revolution that includes, of course, the spread offense. You know, because no one in the Big Ten has ever run the spread before:

Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore has been getting a lot of calls and hosting a lot of visitors during the off-season. And while that's to be expected after the Mountaineers knocked off Michigan last season, it may surprise some fans to hear that many of those calls & visits have been from Big 10 schools.
"Since Rodriguez got the Michigan job," [App State Coach] Moore said, "I've had calls from every other school in the Big Ten."
I'm damn curious to see if the entire Big 10 is about to undergo a complete offensive makeover.
For starters, people need to realize that the Big Ten is no stranger to the spread. Purdue has been running "Basketball on Grass" for years now, Northwestern is no stranger to the open offense either. Now Penn State will run it in HD. The list goes on...

The offense that Moore has been running is a direct descendant of the spread Rodriguez "invented" several years ago at Salem. Do you think, maybe, they are calling to learn how it works in order to defend it?

I'm pretty sure you can't stop Michigan's new spread by running the same thing your self, that doesn't seem to make any sense.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lost Cell Phones, Previews, Ugliness and Political Hockey

The fight/contract phase of Penn State blogging appears to be on the low end of the cycle, which is nice, but there is an update to Timmons' situation:

Timmons however was charged for conduct after the alleged [HUB Fight], when he was swearing loudly and overturning furniture while looking for his cell phone, according to court documents. Timmons also refused to leave when told to do so by Penn State police, court documents state.

Centre County Judge Thomas King Kistler placed Timmons on ARD for 12 months, essentially probation, and ordered him to serve one day of community service. If Timmons completes the program and is not arrested again, the charges will be dismissed and his record cleared of the arrest.
Kid's and their loud swearing...


Rivals has come out with a Big Ten roundup (if you've read a story about Penn State in the last three months you can skip the first several sentences):
Penn State

OVERVIEW: There was so much controversy surrounding the team this spring that football almost was an afterthought. Coach Joe Paterno did not get a new contract; several players were suspended, and one was dismissed from the team; and linebacker Sean Lee, an All-American candidate, suffered a knee injury that will force him to miss the season. But there was some good news. Taking advantage of the absence of suspended tight end Andrew Quarless, redshirt freshman Andrew Szczerba distinguished himself with strong performances in scrimmages and the Blue-White game. In addition, Stefan Wisniewski had a strong spring and could challenge Mike Lucian for the starting job at right guard.

LINGERING QUESTION: How will the Nittany Lions cope with the loss of Lee, their top defensive player? Penn State has good depth at linebacker, but replacing his production and leadership won't be easy.
Szczerba was fun to watch in the BW Game, and given Quarless' apparent laziness, he's doing a very good job of taken advantage of the situation.

As for the "Lingering Question", replacing Lee at linebacker is a lot more like "impossible" than "won't be easy" in he will not be replaced. Regardless, the defense is sill in good shape. The difference, of course, is that they will no longer be able to win ball games like they were forced to in the Morelli Era. The bigger question: who will play quarterback? And, more importantly: how good will they be? They need to be able to take advantage of the same receivers that Robinson used during 2005, only said recievers are now seniors instead of freshman. That story is going to make or break the season, the defense will be ok...not great, but even without Lee they are talented enough to hold up their end of the bargain.


Here is some good news: we don't to play in the Metrodome this year (I know, not really news, but always good to hear). In an effort to brighten up a home field that looks like an ill-lit basement, the Gophers will be wearing new uniforms:

Yup, still ugly.


The Governor, who several years ago pushed for the Superbowl to be moved to Beaver Stadium if the Steelers and Eagles were matched up, isn't done fighting for a professional sports matchup in State College:
Gov. Rendell would like to see an annual outdoor game between the Flyers and Penguins played at Beaver Stadium in State College.

Rendell told Comcast SportsNet yesterday that it would be a great way to preserve the rivalry that exists between the two franchises, which both entered the league in 1967. He also pitched it as a game that would disperse some of the proceeds to the United Way in both cities.

Having the governor carry the banner could remove a lot of obstacles, especially with his enthusiasm. Rendell noted that it would be a great event for people who normally don't get to see a game and predicted that an annual game would fill the stadium.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why Charlie Weis Makes It Easy To Not Like Him

I'd say hate, but he manages to redeem himself by not being an ass at the occasional hospital (I'm trying to link to a story but all I can find is malpractice claims).

Weis, in an effort to explain why he just finished one of the worst seasons in Notre Dame history, came up with this:

I could get hoodlums and thugs and win tomorrow. I won't do it that way.
There are so many things wrong with this I don't know where to begin. He is being attacked as a racist (H/T Wiz), but I don't understand why no one is calling him a liar.

He is blaming a 3-9 record, and the first loss to Navy is like 200 years, on recruiting. Yet, according to Rivals, he's finished in the top 10 in recruiting for three years now. This includes landing some of the most highly touted Emus in the nation every single year.

Besides that, name one single highly ranked player ND had to pass on because of character issues? Terrelle Pryor isn't exactly a saint and Notre Dame was all over him in the beginning.

Notre Dame has offered letters to the 2,3,4,5,6,8 and 10 ranked players on this Top 100 for 2009 (1 and 7, at least, appeared to only be looking regionally, it's not a 'thug' issue). That's just in the Top 10, I didn't look beyond that but I suspect the trend continues.

No one has the national exposure and money to recruit like Notre Dame. They have their own TV deal. And you want to blame your shitty record on the fact that you can't "go after thugs", because it would be so easy to win with them?

And to bring this back up: you lost to Navy. Do you think Navy can go after thugs?

Stop making excuses and deal with the fact that you probably should have been fired by now.

Oh, and um....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Reacting To: What A Rivalry Is All About

I didn't have time to get into it yesterday, but I'm realizing this morning that I might have lead some people to believe that I agree with everything that guy said. I don't. First let's look at one of the most disturbing quotes I've read in a long time:

"My decision to go to Penn State was brutal.

My Penn State teammate Nick Haden and I laugh. We were cheering for Pitt half the time on the sidelines during our first Pitt-Penn State game."
What the fuck? You were cheering for Pitt?!? It's one thing to cheer against your own school, but against your own team?

This is a credibility killer for me. He then goes on to say he "has a love for both places", but seeing as he now coaches at Pitt, I'm not buying it. He has one love, Penn State sounded a lot more like a good looking affair to me than a mutual wife (you know, if fandom was polygamy).

He then goes into a THON-like "it's for the kids" speech which seems a little sappy, but I understand where he's coming from. It does, in fact, hurt the national exposure of PA football and, as a result, makes it harder to keep kids in state. Maybe more kids go to Pitt than would have otherwise, but a hell of a lot more top prospects would go to Penn State as well. In Ohio and Michigan there is a pride factor that comes into play when a recruit is making a decision. There is a local team. Penn State is losing some of that feeling. Staying local is more a geographical concept than one of identity.

Now there are practical issues with the rivalry, ones that make the upside for Penn State look rather dull. For the record I'm torn. We don't have much to gain, but Pitt does. We don't need to do them any favors. At the same time, how many OOC games have we played that would have been more fun than Pitt? Nebraska, maybe, but definitely not Oregon State, Boston College and Syracuse. Even the Notre Dame series was a major disappointment.

I guess I'm just saying I could use a rival.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What A Rivalry Is All About

Interesting read about what the PSU-Pitt game really meant, the teaser:

[Editor's note: The University of Pittsburgh was once Penn State's biggest rival in all varsity sports. That is no longer true--not since Penn State joined the Big Ten in the early 1990s. At one time the competition in football was bitter and intense, with an annual game played at the end of the season that was as fervent and as any other in college football. Greg Gattuso played for Penn State and now coaches at Pitt. Here, in his own words, is his unique perspective on the rivalry.]
...and the story.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Profiles In Plagiar-Agism: John Cooper

Profiles In Plagiar-Agism is an offseason series being run to examine the history of exit plans. We will be analyzing some of the greatest football coaches of all time and determining any parallels between their final days and those that are facing Joe Paterno.

Editor's note: I know, I know...John F-in Cooper? Not really Plagiar-Ageworthy, but in light of his puzzling introduction into the College Football Hall of Fame this week, I thought he might make a decent case study.

(Previous episodes: Paul William "Bear" Bryant, Lou Holtz)

John Cooper

Coaching Years: 1977-1984 Tulsa, 1985-1987 Arizona State, 1988-2000 Ohio State.

Mythical National Championships: None.

Conference Championships: Three, all shared.

Backstory: After growing up in Tennessee, Cooper earned his keep as an assistant at Iowa State, Oregon State, UCLA, Kansas, and Kentucky. He was later handed the keys to the Tulsa program where he managed a 57-31 record.

He was given the job at Arizona State and earned a Rose Bowl bid in just his second year. However, as a sign of things to come, in three seasons he never beat in-state rival Arizona.

Regardless, Ohio State came calling and Cooper took the job in 1988. His progress there was slow but steady, leading to his first (Shared) Big Ten Championship in 1993. As mentioned earlier, he would share a total of three conference championships, and as most of you know, could rarely beat Michigan. He was fired in 2000 almost exclusively because of his 2-10-1 record against the Wolverines. The most painful appears to be the 1996 game, in which an undefeated Ohio State team, ranked #2 and playing at home, took a 9-0 lead into the locker and lost 13-9. Michigan was 8-4 that season and cost Ohio State an MNC.

From there the whispers became rather loud calls for a replacement. While Cooper would recruit with the best of them, some said he either lacked coaching skills that were needed at the top level or maybe just didn't have the confidence to "win the big games". He was fired in 2000 after an 8-4 season, a loss in the Outback Bowl (Cooper was 3-7 8 in bowl games with Ohio State), and yet another defeat at the hands of "that team up north".

Current Legacy: When a fanbase gets sick of the "almost made it" seasons, a dramatic move usually comes back to bite them in the ass. This is where I make a Nebraska joke. At one point Cooper finished in the top two of the Big Ten seven years in a row, no MNCs, but he finished second in the nation twice. There are two roads to take at that point: either try to weather the storm and wait to get over the hump, or hire a guy who has never coached at the D1a level.

They did the latter, and as a result of Jim Tressel's success, Cooper is either the but of a joke or, if your a Michigan fan, the face of better times. I can't remember the last time I heard an Ohio State fan say something good about the guy. But we have to be a little bit fair here: if Ohio State's last 8 years had been more like that of any other Big Ten team, Cooper would likely still be highly respected. He's not, though, mostly because of three MNC Game appearances and several additional BCS bowls.

So What Did We Learn? Cooper coached at Ohio State for 13 years, and thus played his "biggest game of the year" thirteen times. Penn State has no active rival, but it is fair to say Ohio State and Michigan tend to be the bigger games.

Paterno's record against Ohio State the last thirteen years: 5-8. Not 2-10-1, but not great either.

Against Michigan: actually I don't fell like typing it out.

Bowl games: 5-2. Since joining the Big Ten that's 9-2.

So the pictures don't exactly fit right over each other, but there is a trend here. For two years now PSU hasn't had a win to hang their hat on (debatable comment, I'll admit that). A rivalry win gives you something to be proud of when your team ends up being mediocre. Paterno hasn't been able to bring that kind of thing home and it has become one of the biggest problems that his critics will bring up.

So how bad is it? That's really what I'm getting at. At what point would a normal coach be fired? Probably at this point. While 2005 was a great season, all it's really been doing, for me, is reinforcing how athletic and driven Michael Robinson was. The loss at Michigan this year was a direct result of coaching, and while I am of the opinion that Morelli was uncoachable (the way he would get batter and then totally revert is a big factor), a coach can either tailor a gameplan for a crappy qb or start developing one of the two other quarterbacks that are ready to play the position.*

What is interesting is that the lack of a rival is probably helping Paterno right now. Can you imagine if he lost 5 of 13 to Pitt (you have to do two things to imagine this: (1) try to remember what the Pitt game meant when it meant something, and (2) try to forget how bad Pitt has sucked the last decade+)? Even the biggest supporters of Paterno would start to hurt a little bit.

*Once again, this is coming off at Paterno bashing. Paterno get more room than guys like Cooper, and think he should. But I can't let that stop me from telling it like it is.

Butkus To Now Give Out Butkus

Extra, Extra!

"Dick is thrilled," Butkus lawyer Robert F. Helfing said.

Butkus' family will begin presenting the award in January 2009 in Chicago, where he grew up and played eight Pro Bowl seasons for the Bears.

"The point of this whole lawsuit was to use this award to raise charitable funds, and he feels he will be able to do that better in Chicago than down in Florida," Helfing said.

Club officials said the cost to defend the lawsuit was no longer justifiable and the money could be better used to serve youth.

And here comes the outcry from the SEC about more Big Ten bias.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

+1-1=Current BCS

Working on a Profiles In Plagiar-Ageism, which is a task not easily done. In the meantime two quick topical points:

-There won't be a +1 anytime soon. I'm ok with this, mostly because it's not really going to solve anything. Yes teams #3 and #4 get in, but what happens when #4 wins? How many teams from each conference are allowed? Where are you going to play the games? In the South and West of course, where the power bowls currently are. That's bullshit for the rest of us.

-Old Man Media v Basement blogger has been a hot topic ever since the CostasNow episode on Tuesday night. I could talk all day about it but I'll save you the trouble. Blogs aren't newspapers. They aren't here to replace "news". They are the people taking back some of the power. For the rest of the story I'll defer to what I consider the best analysis of this whole thing.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Captains And Quarterbacks

Very close to what you probably expected (I had three of these, anyway):

Defensive end Josh Gaines (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.) were named the defensive captains. Center A.Q. Shipley (Coraopolis) and wide receiver Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) were named the offensive captains.

In addition, linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) will serve as an honorary captain in 2008. Lee suffered a serious knee injury earlier this month that will likely keep him off the field this season, but he is planning to return for the 2009 season as a fifth-year senior.
The only real surprise here, I think, is Scirrotto, although he's not a surprise if you think about the circumstances. Lee was going to be the guy, and so it's rather clear not one person is going to be able to fill those shoes.

Moving on, there was some good new/bad news out of Michigan yesterday. Texas quarterback Shevodrick Beaver has committed to the Wolverines. He is a 3/4 star player depending on who you ask.

Why good news? Well because we don't appear to be actively recruiting anymore, this ups our chances of being some kind of default choice for our last chance at a decent quarterback: Tate Forcier.

Speaking of quarterbacks that ended up here on accident, RUTS clears up the misconception that we've actually landed a QB target since Zack Mills...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quick Thoughts On That Five Star, Now Graduated Quarterback

I wasn't going to touch on this but something appears a little bit irrational to me. Anthony Morelli was a five star quarterback out of Pittsburgh. He brought passing records, lots of high school wins and an arm of steal to Happy Valley. It was said he "couldn't read defenses", mostly by people who don't really understand what that means.

Well it turns out that is true...although not entirely. Mostly, he couldn't handle pressure. He couldn't check his receivers. Also, he couldn't make the easy through because everything off his hand was at top speed.

Now I'm not here to defend anyone, I'll bash JayPa with the best of them, but this one isn't his fault. Jay is totally underqualified for his position, and besides that he isn't very good at what he does, but does anyone really think Morelli was coachable? I watched enough of his nonsense to think, simply, "no".

Was he "actually undercoached"? Maybe, but I'm not sure anyone in the Big Ten has what it takes to make him not-actually that way.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Ultimate Tease?

I didn't follow the draft much this weekend, but when looking at ESPN's wrap up about King I found this a little bit out of place:

King is the ultimate tease. He's talented but just doesn't finish plays. He doesn't get his head turned around in time when running with receivers down the field and doesn't time jumps very well either.
I little harsh, I think. Not totally unfair, though.

Overall, I was a bit surprised at how late the two PSU alums were taken. I didn't think Connor was very far behind Poz's senior year, yet he was taken over a full round later. In hind site I suppose King's spot makes sense. He does have a couple of major flaws (obviously the face-guard issue is one of them). However I don't understand the knock on his athleticism, he's going to be one of the quicker guys on the field, even at the NFL level, and that has to count of for something.

In the end, however, I simply don't know enough, or care enough, about the NFL draft to understand it. Players end up on teams and play football. Tim Couch isn't the last of his kind and there never seems to be a shortage of Willie Parker stories.

Friday, April 25, 2008

PSU-NFL Draft Projections

With the NFL Draft this weekend, I thought we'd take a quick look at those departed:

1. Dan Connor - While he is probably the best linebacker in the draft, this
years heavy focus on other defensive positions means he will probably fall, much like Posluszny, to a very early first round slot. Scouts has him at #33:

With Jake Long going first in the draft in the real world, that leaves either Glenn Dorsey inside or Chris Long outside for the Rams’ defensive line. Having another elite defender on the line with Adam Carriker will be a dream for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, but there’s one certainty about any defense – especially a 4-3. Without a stalwart linebacker in the middle, your talent will never come together to its fullest potential. Connor is the latest member of Joe Paterno’s Linebacker U club, an extremely cerebral player with surprising speed who will be asked to lead a St. Louis defense that has been directionless for a number of years.

2. Justin King - Scouts has left King out of their second round projections, but most of the 'experts' are split on him. One one side of the coin you have a very underdeveloped sense of position and, of course, him getting totally burned all day by Indiana's James Hardy. And now to flip that coin: King was athletic enough to shutdown the shock of last years first round (I still don't understand why the Dolphins did this), Ted Ginn Jr., in two different games. He also ran a 4.31, which helps.
Still, that Indiana game seems to be the focal point in the discussion about him:
Six months after the fact, it still seems to Justin King that he is shadowing James Hardy. Or, more to point, being shadowed by the Indiana wide receiver. King, the Penn State cornerback who came out for the NFL draft after his junior season, believes he was unfairly singled out for criticism after Hardy caught 14 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the Nittany Lions' 36-31 escape against the Hoosiers. "Did it irk me? Of course," King said of the widespread belief that the 6-6, 222-pound Hardy had toasted him like a breakfast bagel. "But I kept moving forward and went about my business, trying to get better at what I do." King is expected to go sometime in the second round of Saturday's NFL draft, but he thinks he could be taken in the first round if there is the early run on cornerbacks that some expect. "Cornerbacks are always at a premium," said King, from the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville. "I know that. Anywhere from three to six could be taken in the first round. You never know. Depending upon teams' needs, I could be one of those." - Bernard Fernandez, Philadelphia Daily News

While projections appear to be all over the place, I think mid-second round is a reasonable average.

3. The Rest: Anthony Morelli, Rodney Kinlaw, Austin Scott - It's hard to find anyone who thinks any of these guys are going to be picked up in the seven round draft. They've all proven enough on the field to be signed after the fact for a look, however.

Morelli...well Morelli doesn't need much of an explanation. I could turn this into Morelli bash #453 but I'm over that now.

Kinlaw lack the size to be an NFL back. It's not an uncommon story.

Finally, there is Scott, who may or may not have baggage issues...something the pundents like to make a big deal about. Guess what? Dallas just traded for Pacman Jones. Stop kidding yourselves about "how character issues are more important than ever".

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Early Recruiting: All Signs Point To Crappy

Flashback to Saturday:

[regarding, sort of, recruiting]
Joe: "You take a look at the wideouts. [Deon] Butler was a walk-on. [Jordan] Norwood only had one scholarship [offer]. The best skill position guy we got is [cornerback Drew] Astorino. He was going to go to Kent State if we hadn't offered him a scholarship. You guys all get caught up......[as most of you know, because you've read this interview, this quote includes answers to several questions].....I think we've had a heck of a year recruiting...[about recruits' questions regarding the coaching situation over the next four years]...Don't you think that they talk to me about that? I tell 'em this:....I tell them exactly what I think: 'I'm here. I hope I'm going to coach while you're here; I may not. God only knows what's going to happen with me.' "
I'm not totally sold on recruiting services either. Similar to the NFL draft, the hype machine has too much of an influence and people end up rated way too high and way too low. But like the NFL draft, having a better pick is always better than having a lower one. You have more control of your own situation. Translate this to our current topic: landing five star guys is better than not landing them. Saying "well our walk-ons are going to become great players" is not a good strategy.

And that's not even really an opinion at this point, look at what has happened in just the last week:
  • Dorian Bell, a five star Linebacker out of Monroeville, PA, choose Ohio State over Penn State. The one saving grace in our recruiting woes has been our ability to land the top LB and DL players. Now even that appears to be ending. Hell, even Posluszny's little brother picked another school.
  • Paterno's top QB target, from traditionally Penn State friendly VA, appears to be headed to Michigan. Brian jokes that our only other highly rated target, Tate Forcier, might also be going to Michigan. At this point, it's obviously not likely, but it's not really funny either.
  • Which leads us into yesterdays news: Former Michigan starter Justin Bore will be playing for Ohio State in 2009. The kicker? That the Buckeyes will now probably land his little brother, standout linebacker Zack Boren. We mentioned this before: his father made it clear that he is "not going to have two kids at two universities". Zack is being recruited by Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State.

And so that's that. I know it's about 11 months too early to care but with so much bad news in April it's hard not to mention.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Throwback Behavior Miscatagorized As Recent Trend, And Other News

All this rage this week is talking about public urination:

“Office of Physical Plant did make some improvement in the number of Port-a-Potties, comfort stations — whatever you want to call them,” Brumbaugh said, adding that he wasn’t aware of any problems reported during this past weekend’s Blue-White game.

Bodenschatz said facilities were only used to a 55 percent capacity with “no significant lines” to use the toilets.

More than 73,000 people attended the Blue-White game.

Paul Ruskin, Office of Physical Plant spokesman, said the university bases the amount of toilet facilities on the crowd size from previous years. About 71,000 people attended last year’s Blue/ White game.

Comfort stations? That makes it sound like walking into a steaming hot booth of human waste is a pleasant experience. I think I speak for the whole human race when I say that's not the case.

-State College is 900% more political:
Voter turnout from State College for the Pennsylvania primary increased 900 percent since 2004 and 1,260 percent since 2000, according to a report using unofficial data from Centre County's Office of Elections and compiled by Matt Popek of Represent Penn State.

-After the DA finished dragging out yet another trumped up/bogus charge against a Penn State football player, Austin Scott is trying to get on with his life. Right now, he's not getting much love:
But, former Dallas Cowboys general manager and current NFL Draft analyst Gil Brandt said that hill is a little steep -- he estimated Scott has just a "10 percent chance" to become a starter at the professional level.


The most likely situation for Scott to make a pro roster is after the draft. Brandt said a team typically invites about 13 free agents to work out and see if they're worth signing.

It's all really sad, and I'm not going to get into it, but I really hope he finds some luck somewhere.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

IT'S A WHITE Virginia Tech? [and Ohio State?]

In an effort to try and move beond the ugliest colors in all of sports, the marketing people of Virginia Tech have decided to call their own "White Out":

The university will sell special “White Out” t-shirts, starting on Saturday (April 19th) at the University Bookstore, and at the stadium store for the Spring game. They’ll cost $6.00 each.

The Hokies plan to also wear a special white uniform for that game, that will include white helmets. Tech says the uniforms will feature parts of past uniforms to honor a group of former Virginia Tech head coaches and teams from 1961-1986.
This is awesome, they are going to take pieces of several different uniforms, worn over a span of 25 years, and combine them into one ultra-mega totally ugly uniform. I've never been so excited for a game involving Furman since this happened:

So what's the deal with the "White Out", anyway? And why is Penn State the only school getting sued? Probably because we were the first team to use it. The effort is almost always cited when the 17-10 victory is brought up. Then, like all great things, it was copied by everyone.

They all wanted in on the action. Maryland printed special t-shirts and declared a "Black Out". Even Middle Tennessee State is using the same TV phrase this fall.

Louieville felt a similar need for attention, and not to be outdone in the creative department, also changed the color and instigated a "Red Out" last year.

Hawaii, being so far away, figured Penn State (and the NHL) wouldn't even notice when they didn't even change the color.

Which bring us all full circle, when The University of Ohio State, the masters of making a big deal out of stupid traditions, did the unthinkable and called for a basketball "White Out":

It took a couple of posts, but eventually someone was bound to realize that white might have been a bad call considering it's not a University "preferred" color:
[...]:Why white? Shouldnt it be scarlet or gray? Stupid.

[wait for it....wait for it...]

[...]:WEAR WHITE AND BE LOUD>>>>>Stop questioning everything
DO NOT QUESTION, THE KREMLIN WILL TELL YOU WHAT IS BEST! (The rest of that intelligent discussion here.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Bit Transparent

I'm unfortunately too busy this morning to get into it right now, but if you missed some of the Q&A with Paterno from Saturday's event, I highly recommend this high level summary for the WWL.

More tonight...

Blue And White Game: The Review

And on to the review....

The Quarterbacks:
All in all I was very please. With the kind of quarterbacks that you have, a two-hand-touch type of game doesn't allow you to see much running, but as far as touch passes that we've been missing for two years, I left encouraged. Clark had a great pass to Williams for a touchdown and Devlin showed the same type of accuracy on shorter passes that were called his way. There will be much discussion about who should start, and a couple weeks into the season I'll have an opinion, but for now I'm just going to be happy we have two great players with a lot of potential.

The Weather:
Unlike last year I was smart enough to put a little sunscreen on, and therefore I have nothing to complain about. Pretty much the perfect drinking weather.

The Runningbacks:
Everyone obviously will remember Green's great opening run. Royster looked solid as well. One thing that will open up the game for these guys will be the threat of the QB keeper, something the defenses in this scrimmage didn't have to consider. That's going to help turn a lot of the 3/4/5 yard stuff into first downs. The nice thing about RB is that you can run a committee without disturbing anyone's rhythm too bad, and you also are well protected against injuries. Similar to the QB situation, I'm just going to be grateful for what the team has right now and put off the who should start thing until the fall when we get to see some real life carries.

The Tailgate:
I think I might miss the tailgates as much as the games at this point.

The Receivers:
While we don't seem to have a lot of depth, I have to say I'm very excited about the prosect of having athletic recievers running routes for a quarterback who can get them the ball. While Williams was able to handle it, the rest of the core didn't seem to work well with Morelli's darts. I think they will all be more productive in the new "system". Speaking of system...

The "Spread HD":
It's hard to say how much of the play calling was being held back, but I was getting a little tired of the six yard TE passes. Andrew Szczerba played great, so I suppose if that is the system it could work, but there has been way too much made of JayPa's "new" old offense. It looks pretty standard to me. Maybe he will surprise us when he shows his full hand against Oregon State, but based on the last 5 or 6 years, I'll believe the phrase "New Exciting Penn State Offense" when I see it.

Still better than last year, though.

Cheering Sean Lee at half time:
I'm looking forward to him getting back on the field.

Booing Morelli at halftime: (zero stars)
As happy as I am that he's gone, that didn't feel right.

Defensive Line and Linebackers:
I seem to be giving everyone four stars here. I'm not going to bring up Sean Lee and how big of a loss that will be, but I have to say I was pleased with the pressure being brought upfront and the run-stuffing of Sales, Hull and Gbadyu (especially considering the limited scheme the defense was forced to play).

That being said, I think we are going to be forced to play a balanced game for the first time in a while. The defense is not longer going to be expected to shut down every single offense we play, which I hope would subliminally open up our offense a little bit.


Overall I would say I'm pleased but not surprised. Everytime someone looked good you have to consider that means someone else looked bad. However, the two big questions for me, quarterback and linebacker, appear to be in line.