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.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Night Games, Contracts, And Beating Dead Horses

You've probably cought this already, but PSU is getting a lot of love from the networks this fall:

Sept. 27 - ILLINOIS at PENN STATE, 8 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
Oct. 11 - PENN STATE at WISCONSIN, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Oct. 18 - MICHIGAN at PENN STATE, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Oct. 25 - PENN STATE at OHIO STATE, 8 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

For those of you keeping score at home, that's four of the five 'Prime Time' games the Big Ten will be playing in 2008. While I generally enjoy a good night game, I don't know how I feel about four of them. Keep in mind that October looks like this (with no bye weeks in between): @ Wisconsin (night), Michigan (night, sort of), @ Ohio State (night).

Who's ready for two "Red Outs" in three weeks? You know it's coming.

Anyway, why four(!) primetime games? I can't remember a season where we've had more than 2. There are only two reasonable explanations: (1) despite every ESPN analyst picking Ohio State as the likely repeat conference champion, the big shots at the WWL think the Lions are Mythical National Championship Game bound, or, (2) they are going to be selling the 'will this be Paterno's last season?' thing real hard.

For those of you already sick of the Paterno contract saga, I have nothing to say except I'm really sorry...and get to know the mute button.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Austin Scott Trial Update

Austin Scott is still alive and still on trial, the latest news:

Prosecutors in the rape trial against former Penn State tailback Austin Scott have appealed the trial judge's rulings allowing evidence of the alleged victim's involvement in a separate sexual assault case to be heard in court.

Assistant District Attorney Lance Marshall, in notifying a Centre County court Tuesday that he was appealing to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, said the orders would "terminate or substantially handicap the prosecution."

This relates, of course, to an accusation made by this same girl in a rape case from 2003. She eventually admitted to fabricating the story.

This isn't a law blog, it's about football, and this news story isn't in the sports section, but that didn't stop them from throwing this bit it:
"[Scott's] arrived at Penn State in 2003 as a highly-rated recruit after rushing for 3,853 yards and 53 yards , both Pennsylvania records , during his senior year at Parkland High School."
Really? A story about a rape case and you tell us how many yards he had in high school? And nice typo.

Anyway, can't wait to see the national media totally ignore the verdict in this case despite jumping all over it when the accusations were first brought out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blue And White Roundtable: Let's Get Longwinded!

Thanks to NWO for a solid round of questions. Wednesdays can be tough on a blogger.

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

The announcement Wednesday is that contract talks are on hold until the conclusion of this season, and that Joe might not even need a contract to coach, how do you see this saga ending? Is this the final year for Joe Paterno?

Well, no, I don't think so. My initial reaction to the announcement, captured in time here, is that this is a terrible decision that will have long term effects on the program. Under no circumstances is this good for anyone. Recruits are simply not going to commit to a rocking boat of a program. The president is forced to wait out Paterno, something that has proven difficult to do. The assistants are totally screwed here because they could be fired after any one of these seasons with little or no warning (really makes you wonder if Norwood left simply because he saw the writing on the wall and needed some stability). Paterno's success, and therefore legacy, will suffer because of said recruiting effects and what will probably be a growing flight of assistant coaches. It's pretty clear this decision was more a result of stubborn heads than a conscious selection of alternatives.

If, as Spanier says, a contract "would have little practicality given Coach Paterno's seniority" then why not just give him a lifetime deal? I think everyone knows the answer to this question. Prepare for ugliness. Buckets of it.

Joe will clearly not be on the sidelines in 10 years time. Whether he is awarded another extension or is forced out against his will, a new face will inevitably be on the sidelines for the Lions in the years to come. Which candidates would top the list when it comes to a coaching search? Should it be an in-house hire or should we start off with a blank slate?

This is one of those questions I can dance around or simply answer. I'm going to dance. It is clear to me that the best thing for the program is an outside search with the offer of a competitive salary. All current assistant are interviewed like everyone else. This is never going to happen:

  • Spanier has already stated, several times, that a "high priced coach" is not in the cards. By "high priced coach" he of course means a decent guy at the going rate.
  • Paterno is not going to make this easy for anyone. He is coaching without a contract for pete's sake. If he said "one/two/three years and I'm done" then people outside the program could plan accordingly and interview in early December in order to minimize the recruiting losses. Well I get the feeling we won't know Joe is leaving until at least after his last bowl game.
  • There are going to be a lot of people who want Joe to coach forever. When he does finally leave, part of the reason, it's becoming clear, is going to be the pressure applied from Old Main and the boosters. Previously mentioned fans are going to resent the next guy who steps in and no one wants to be that guy...especially for a crappy salary and having to work with what will be an under-recruited team.
But short answer: Bradley if it's an inside job but only if Jay leaves. Otherwise I don't care. The outside front runners appear to be Schiano and Golden. I'd be happy with either. I would love to be able to keep Bradley no matter what, but I'm not sure if that can happen.

It almost seems as if we find another athlete in trouble with the law each morning when we read the newspaper. What has gone wrong with the once pristine image of the Penn State program?

I'm not going to be able to stomach a very long answer to this question. It appears the lack of consequences from the Scirrotto fight lead to other problems, namely the HUB thing and Quarless double dipping on drankin' charges. The Bell thing still blows my mind and I'm not blaming anyone for that but Bell. Maybe Joe isn't around enough...maybe he's not allowing the assistants to fill the apparent discipline vacuum...maybe the program never got over Posluszny...I'm out of ideas at this point.

After 14 years in the Big Ten, Penn [State] has not dominated the conference in football as most presumed when we joined winning only 2 Big Ten titles in that span. In 1994, Joe Paterno's undefeated Nittany Lions were also backstabbed by its Big Ten breathern when most conference members voted for Nebraska instead of Penn State. Is the Big Ten the right home for Penn State? Or would Joe Paterno's dream of an all-eastern conference be a much more ideal conference for the Nittany Lions?

These are some loaded questions. I grew up in Big Ten country and it's the football I can relate the most to. I understand it, defend the hell out of it, and I prefer watching it over other brands. That being said, there was a time (about two weeks last fall) when I thought a move to the Big East was the ideal thing to do. It would never happen, and I've come to realize it probably shouldn't.

There's a painful truth here that I think we all need to deal with: the reason the Big Ten doesn't seem to fit us is because we haven't yet made an impact on it. We've beat Ohio State once in the last six tried. The Michigan streak has gotten so long I honestly don't know what the number is anymore. Wisconsin has become more consistent than us. We plain sucked from 2002 right up until the Ohio State game of 2005.

I'd love to hold the 1994 thing against everyone but I simply can't. I understand what happened. PSU showed up, beat everyone's ass and appeared to be the powerhouse everyone feared they would be. Other schools were scared and didn't want to feed what was already a pretty powerful football machine with another MNC. If the same situation happened now I'd be willing to bet that 90% of the coaches would vote for PSU.

Besides that, Eastern Football isn't what is once was. Pitt has been garbage for long enough that I'm almost starting to agree with the people who think the rivalry is better off dead. Syracuse sucks. I simply don't care about Maryland. WVU has had several good seasons now but even after all that they are still looked at skeptically by most non-Big East fans....there is nothing to gain.

With the lack of our traditional rivals in the Big Ten conference, and our unwillingness to reschedule any of them in any consistent manner, which teams are emerging as Penn State's chief rivals in the Big Ten? (USC-Notre Dame proves that rivalries aren't all about geographic significance.)

Exactly, USC-ND proves rivalries can be about money and TV ratings. ND has lost the last six by 154 points (for you math majors that's an average of over 25 per game)! Exactly one of those games was watchable. (Sorry, can't pass up an ND dig).

We don't have a rival. It hurts to say but this is the summer of hard truths so I'm going to stick with the theme. MSU is not our rival. Michigan is a big game, but, again, not our rival. I think the answer to this question is Ohio State. I know we'll never be anything but their second biggest game, but that's something we'll have to live with. It really should be as much of an ego shot as everyone likes to think it is.

I will say this: if we start beating the best teams in the Big Ten, consistently, things will change. That's the only way.

UPDATE:...and yes, I'm making the trip. I mean, it's football!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Legend Of Link: "No Bad News" Edition

-For the rest of you MSM haters, an great explanation (from Deadspin, of course) on the reason the 'real' writers just don't get it.

-Speaking of MSM, Ivan Maison of ESPN, who doesn't suck as bad as some of the other guys, apparently hadn't written a "Paterno Is Quite Old" story in the last six months...well the quota has been reached.

-Brian at MGoBlog took a trip to watch UM blow it in the Frozen Four, but in the process wrote a good piece on the nature of hockey spectatordome. As a fellow stat loser I agree.

-The Branch Campus debate rages on. (I'm not sure how this ever became an issue. The problem isn't that there aren't enough seats. Remember the Purdue game this year? The student section was maybe half full at kickoff. The problem is scalping, period. Stop people's ability to scalp tickets and I'm willing to bet that things will work themselves out.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Let's Get This Out Of The Way

So I've spent the morning trying to write something that "puts things in perspective" and sheds some optimism on the situation, but I simply can't: losing Lee is devastating.

Reason One: Talent
I commented on this before, but I really think it's true: the guy probably is now (and definitely will be) better than both Poz and Connor.

Reason Two: Leadership
Has any team in any sport, in the history of time, ever needed leadership like PSU does right now? I'm not going to rehash the last four months six months ten months of posts regarding fights, DUI's and yelling back at Michigan fans like a five year old, but let's just all agree that the only way the program is going to straighten out is if the players decide to do it. The coaches and admins appear to busy worrying what will become of their legacy, son, cash cow and, in many cases, young coaching career.

Reason Three: He Is Totally Irreplaceable
I know I should put this under #1 but I think it's different. We've always had a leader in the LB spot, and they've always been good. Poz became that guy, Connor naturally followed, and now Lee seems like the undisputed heir...we'll I'm looking around and who's after Lee? I'm sure there is a guy but whoever they are they aren't ready.

Or maybe they are, I don't know. I guess will find out when this off-season for the ages (in a bad way) ends and we actually get to watch football games.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Post In Which I Explain That I Am Not Optimistic

A couple of weeks ago, in response to a BWRT question regarding whether Lee should be moved to the ILB position like Poz and Conner before him, I said the following:

This is a difficult question because you really want to make sure you are truly taking advantage of how good Sean Lee is. And lets not joke around, he will probably end up being the best of the three. Paul will be known for his leadership, and Connor ended up a little better statistically, but Lee brings both aspects to the table and I can't help but get excited about it.

Well, you've all heard:
"He was blitzing a quarterback, and his knee slid out from under him," Lee's father, Craig, told the Mirror on Friday evening. "We don't know the extent of it at this point."

The severity of the injury won't be known until Saturday morning, both Craig Lee and Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson said. The Lee family was on its way to State College on Friday evening to visit Sean on campus.

"He's not in the hospital; he's in his dorm room," Craig Lee said.

If Saturday's test results show a ligament tear, Lee almost certainly would have to miss the 2008 season.

"He does have a redshirt year," Craig Lee said.

"Hopefully it's going to work out," Craig Lee said. "We'll see."

Asked how Sean's spirits were holding up after the injury, his father said: "Do you know my son? Then he's not in good spirits."

This really sucks, and I think I can honestly say I've never felt as bad for a guy as I do for Lee. Matt Hahn comes close, but thinking about that just reminds me how many shitty injuries we've had over the last couple of years.

Here's to hoping it's not as bad as it initially appears and that Lee gets back to doing what he does best.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Profiles In Plagiar-Ageism: Lou Holtz

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.

(Previous episodes: Paul William "Bear" Bryant)

Lou Holtz

Coaching Years: 1969-1971 William & Mary, 1972-1975 North Carolina State, 1976 New York Jets, 1977-1983 Arkansas, 1984-1985 Minnesota, 1986-1996 Notre Dame, 1999-2004 South Carolina

Mythical National Championships: One*, 12-0 1988 Irish

Conference Championships: 3 in 22 years of coaching teams in a conference (excludes, of course, all seasons with Notre Dame)

Backstory: Holtz had a bit of a strange rise in the coaching world, filled with very dramatic ups and downs. He built up the William & Mary program but then left for North Carolina State. HE compiled a 31-11-2 record there, but only finished the season ranked once in four years.

After that relatively bland record at a major college program, he was hired as HC by an apparently desperate New York Jets franchise. He didn't make it though his first season, pulling a Bobby Petrino** with one game left to play. Under his control the team managed 3 wins in 13 games.

He then moved on to Arkansas with mild success but was eventually let go. This led him to one short season at Minnesota, where he gained a rare bowl invitation but did not coach in it because he had accepted an offer from Notre Dame in December.

At Notre Dame he faired quite well. After two mediocre season he went on to finish in the top six of the polls five times, including the above mentioned 1988 Mythical National Championship. He left a couple years later but no one seems to be quite sure why. Some mention a job in the NFL (that never happened), there were rumblings of non-specific 'ethical' motivations, and then there was this:

Maybe he exasperated his new bosses. Holtz is a famous pain. Even in the celebratory moments after his last game at South Bend, a 62-0 victory, Boo Hoo Lou whined about the TV network deal. He said it created "a backlash" that inspired teams to play superbly against Notre Dame and might have "cost us" a national championship or two.

Maybe he told his bosses that if they didn't like the way he worked, it might be time to get a new man. And maybe they agreed.

Wow, that's some stupid shit. Anyway, Lou eventually ended up at South Carolina. He didn't win a game in his first year. In six years, he managed just two bowl appearances.

Burn Out or Fade Away? Ummm....

Current Legacy: This is billed as a series about how the greats quit and that might mean Lou doesn't really belong. But hey, the guy looks the part of an old man, like our own coach, so he gets an invitation. While he is easy to discredit, he coached at Notre Dame and did well there (back when Notre Dame actually played a decent schedule none the less). The school had been playing .500 ball for half a decade until Lou showed up and make them a consistent top ten team.

Lou isn't well respected anymore. The USC thing was him walking away with his tail between his legs. He is paraded like a clown on ESPN. Despite bringing their program back to life, Notre Dame fans tend to shit on him for 'losing the big games' even though he won an MNC there. They haven't even been close since.

So what did we learn? Well, to start, and especially with Paterno, it is impossible to know exactly how a program is run and what kind of internal respect the HC is generating. After last summer's fight, the Hub Brawl, Quarless' repeated alcohol offenses, and now this knife thing with Bell, it's hard to say how much of the old disciplinetarian (I know, not a word, but look at the title of the post) is showing up to practice anymore. While I'll admit it is all speculation, it's a dangerous and slippery slope when you show cracks in the armor.

So here comes the conclusion: sometimes you just get too old to coach. I know that sounds retardedly obvious, but I think the simple concept gets lost in our over analysis.

Is Joe too old? I honestly don't know. I really don't. Maybe all these off the field incidents mean he isn't respected in the club house. Maybe he is respected in the club house but they are choosing to recruit character issue players. Maybe it's just bad luck; even coaches that most agree are in control (guys like Stoops and Tressel) aren't above these things happening to their teams. It's just the reality of the sport now.

I do know that Lou was too old. It's clear from the video of the bowl-brawl. I also know that it's not going to be the same age for everyone, and so that makes the question one that you can't really answer until it's too late.

* Yes, they were voted #1 in the polls, but Notre Dame Sucks has this to say about their win over eventual #2 Maimi (who's only loss that season was to ND):

With Miami trailing 31-24 and facing a critical fourth-and-7 from deep in Irish territory midway through the fourth quarter, Walsh connected with Miami running back Cleveland Gary streaking across the middle of the field at the Irish 11-yard line. Gary picked up the first down and turned up-field but was tackled at the Notre Dame 1-yard line. The ball came loose at the end of the play and the ball was recovered by Notre Dame linebacker Michael Stonebreaker. But that play has become one of the most innacurately remembered and described plays in college football history. Even major accounts of the greatest games in college football history routinely botch the description. Lou Holtz got it wrong in his autobiography, calling it a fumble. Gary was ruled down at the one yard line. It was not ruled a fumble. But the split crew of referees mistakenly believed it was fourth and goal, not fourth and 7. Incredibly, the ball was given to Notre Dame on downs. Jimmy Johnson can be seen on the tape of the game, coming out onto the field and motioning first down, while saying "first down, it's a first down." The placement of the ball verifies the officials got it wrong, since the ball is placed where it was when Gary's knees went down, not where the ball was when Stonebreaker recovered. Here is a section of an article in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel from October 18, 1988: "In my mind, I believe we probably made a mistake in giving Notre Dame the football," the official told the News. "There was confusion as to whether there was a fumble or not, but there was also a great question about giving Notre Dame the football over on downs. That's why they got the football."

** The quitting part, anyway. Based on what I can gather, he didn't recieve the Arkansas job until after he had officially resigned.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why They Get Paid The Big Bucks

Really, really bad idea. This could have been a recoverable blunder except that we have approximately 540 scholarships to give next season and Ryan Mallett is still fresh in everyone's mind.

More later...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rundown Of Offseason Magic

-Bell, as you know, is off the team. I'm still not over the gun thing.

-The NCAA pretty much admitted that college students go to different schools than the regular type after stating that Michigan will face no penalties for the rather shady things uncovered a couple of weeks ago.

-Tressel told a report that DickRod isn't a gentlemen. DickRod agrees. What a stupid fucking story.

Things are getting lame, let's watch one of those videos with cheesy music and linebacker hitting people.

Seeing King and realizing he is not not on the team makes me realize that this was kind of a long time ago now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This Is Getting Old, Fast

In what demention and on what planet is this acceptable ever a good idea?

Full story here.

It's Never Too Early To Complain

The Man Who Must Make The Most Important Decision In Penn State History, Shown Here Playing The Weara-Saxa-Tambor-Shake-a-Cow-Bell-Horn.

While we were all getting ourselves worked up over the non-news of second hand inside sources telling us all that Joe is old, it appears someone was actually listening. has released the "Big Complaints" for 2008. Joe made the list:
The Penn State head coaching situation
Joe Paterno can't be kicked out the door fast enough by the Penn State higher-ups who realize the transition of power just isn't going to be smooth. Succession plans are all the rage nowadays, like at Florida State where Bobby Bowden is turning the reins over to Jimbo Fisher while still serving as the head of state, but Penn State is in an uncomfortable situation of trying to figure out its future while still respecting the past, and even the present.

Paterno has been resistant, to put it mildly, to giving up the program he made into one of the models of college athletics, and now there's a problem. How much say does Paterno get in finding his successor when his bosses would love nothing more than to start clean, sort of like Michigan did with the Rich Rodriguez hire? Penn State will be decent again this season, but a recent slip in recruiting doesn't paint a rosy picture for the immediate future.

This begs for a rehash of all the things that Penn State Blog Army has been posting but I just can't do it. Emphasis mine on the last sentence of the first paragraph; while a large part of their blurb reads like a third grade No Child Left Behind essay, they get an A on their thesis.

One thing I want to point out that doesn't seem very consistent with all the implied news: if Old Main is clear that a high priced replacement isn't in the cards, why are they so against an internal hand-off to a long time assistant? A guy like Bradly would be cheap and safe, two things the Administration loves (not just in football, by the way). The flip side is expensive, even when poaching someone with ties like Schiano.

The only alternative I see that seems to satisfy both of these needs is Al Golden, but is he really better than Bradley? And would he be cheaper? I would say "I'm not sure" and "probably not".

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why There Can Be A Class About JoePa Media Relations

Introducing the new three headed QB quarterback system at Penn State

From this little story:
Asked whether he would consider employing a two-quarterback system this fall, Penn State coach Joe Paterno essentially said, why not three?
'I don't have to make that decision,'' Paterno said. ''Why should I make it? All I want to do is make everybody out there as good as they can be.'

This isn't even news, to be honest I'm not really sure why I'm posting it. Paterno was asked a question, Paterno gave an answer no one would ever take seriously. This is pretty much standard operating procedure.

Did find this a bit interesting, though.
'The biggest problem we have is letting all three have an equal opportunity to show what they can do,'' Paterno said. ''We're going to play all three of them all spring. Then I'll sit down with [quarterbacks coach] Jay [Paterno] and say, 'Maybe we should start using this guy in these situations.'''

So this I kind of like, it means Joe would use a two QB system. At least it implies it when you say things like "in these situations".

Friday, April 4, 2008

Unoriginal Bastards: NFL

This isn't an NFL site, but because "The League" often has an impact on the college game, let's go ahead and take a look at the new changes.

Teams that win the coin toss can now defer until the second half.
According to the story, over half of the college coaches deferred this season, so now we will get a chance to see what the pros think is the right decision. Obviously the situation matters. Penn State often defers and tries to build early momentum off of their solid defense. It also gives us all a chance to forget how bad our offense is until at least a couple of minutes into the game.

An interesting thing to note: our favorite offensive genius, the one that didn't score a touchdown for weeks this year and went 3-9 against a very average schedule, opted to take the ball in ever single coin toss in his Notre Dame career until this year's USC game. That's almost three full years of nothing but "give me the ball".
Unless literally carried out by a defensive player, receivers must land with two feet inbounds for a completion.
This is another effort to make the pro game more like the college one. This call was questionable at best and, if I remember right, not reviewable. Over half the calls were later determined to be wrong by the head official who reviews the tape. It's not really the ref's fault, making that call in real time is tough as hell, and when you look back at instant replay in ultra super crystal clear slow motion, it's easy to call the guy an idiot.

What I'm most excited about, however, is that the Pro fans that I often end up sitting next to at these games will stop their incessant hounding of the refs for the "push out" call. The rule doesn't exist in college and I don't think it ever has. Now that we have some consistency maybe those people will slowly stop embarrassing themselves at the games.
The five-yard face mask penalty for incidental contact with the facemask was eliminated. Any twisting, grabbing or illegal use of a facemask will result in a 15-yard penalty.
Another copy cat rule, one I didn't like one bit. I'm not going to rehash my long and drawn out rant from earlier in the year, but I don't like the idea of forcing an official to decide between a rather powerful auto-first down 15 yard personal foul and no penalty at all. The five yarder is important, I think, because it will still discourage defenders from reaching for the face. Now we are going to have to make a judgment call, in real time, as to whether the defender really fucked up the guys neck or not.

So those are the three rule changes that appear to me simply making the pro game more like the college one. The college is doing the same with the running clock out of bounds and new standardized play clock. I was always of the impression that it would be nice to keep the college game tailored for college play, but with both types of games being fit into the same type of TV slot, I suppose this is inevitable.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Profiles In Plagiar-Ageism: Paul William "Bear" Bryant

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. [Title One Part RUTS, One Part MGoBlog, One Part The Office]

Paul William "Bear" Bryant

Coaching Years: Maryland 1945, Kentucky 1946–1953, Texas A&M 1954–1957, Alabama 1958–1982. Total: 37 Years.

Mythical National Championships: 4?* (Note, in two of these four years, the team went on to lose their bowl game. In said years,the MNC was awarded before the bowl game so they were allowed to continue to claim their #1 rankings in those years)

Conference Championships: 15

Backstory: Bryant grew up in Arkansas and earned his nickname from volunteering to fight a bear when the circus came to town. He later played college football at the University of Alabama where he was part of the (cough-cough)** 1934 National Championship Team. He was drafted into the NFL but never played.

Bryant landed several assistant jobs, including one at Alabama, but left to join the Navy at the start of World War II. After an honorable discharge he got back into coaching.

At Kentucky, he led the school to their first ever conference championship and then, after the “Junction Boys” summer during his first year at A&M, turned that program around and won the Southwest Conference championship two years later. The following season, however, things began to fall apart when a rumor of Alabama interest surfaced. He did, in fact, leave A&M for Bama and stayed there until this retirement in 1982.

Burn Out or Fade Away? Faded away on fire? Can I say that? He shared an MNC in '78, won outright in '79 finished 6th in the AP the next two years. He last year was nothing to print plaques about but it's still better than Penn State has finished the last two years.

Current Legacy:

Um, ya, they still like him there. Very much so.

Similar to Paterno's Situation?
Well they are tough to compare. Paterno was at Penn State his whole career. Bryant was HC at four schools. Paterno grew the program as an independent. Bryant played in the SEC. Paterno took a true cow college with no football history and turned into a national power. Bryant sure did turn the program around (the preceding coach had a wining percentage of .163), but from 1924-1946 the school won 81% of their games and had claimed (emphasis this word please) six national championships before he even got there.

So what did we learn?
Well Bryant didn't go out on top, but he came pretty close. Four of his last five seasons were rather impressive. What was his response to life after football? "I'll probably croak in a week." He was wrong, it took four weeks.

Paterno has made similar jokes about mortality, but he's also very healthy. But the point is the one thing these guys have in common is their total lack of hobbies. Joe has made it very clear that he doesn't golf or fish or do any of that old people stuff. He coaches football, period.

Joe still thinks he has it, Bryant thought he lost it, and that's why he retired:
After a disappointing '82 season, Paul Bryant announced he was retiring at seasons end. He said the decision had come because he wasn't pleased with himself anymore. "This is my school, my alma mater. I love it and I love my players. But in my opinion they deserved better coaching than they have been getting from me this year."

No one ask the Bear to leave, he felt it was time and packed up his office. If there is one thing we know about Joe it's that he has no such intentions. Bryant thought the program was bigger than him. I don't know if Paterno feels that way.

* Now Bama has a reputation for claiming MNC's they didn't acutally win. If they need this for ego reasons I'm not going to stand in the way. But when I look up the polls in '65 and '78 they finished #4 and #2, respectively. In those two year's they had two losses and one tie. I don't want the wrath of Bama, I've liked every one of their fan's I've ever met in person, but I simply don't get this.

** Ok, this is getting fucking ridiculous. Bama was ranked sixth, SIXTH, that season. Yes, they were undefeated but if you want to bitch about being snubbed by the polls get in the back of this very long line we are standing in.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wow. Action? Action! [Edit: Some Day]

Remember when I was bitching about ticket scalping? Well it looks like PSU is thinking about actually trying to do something about it.

The opinion suggests placing student ticket packages on student ID cards, as opposed to paper tickets, to help prevent students from scalping their entire package for a high profit.

Along with placing tickets on students' IDs, UPUA suggests an anonymous online ticket exchange site, possibly on eLion, Vickrey said. Students could resell a maximum of three tickets per season, which would not allow elevated prices.

Vickrey said money would be transferred to students' bursar accounts, but they could request a check from the bursar.

If the selling maximum is not enacted, the opinion calls to penalize students caught selling their ticket package by banning them from purchasing tickets.

So, if I'm understanding this right, the actual "ticket" will be transfered from one ID to another through this Must Sell At Cost ticket exchange. A pretty good idea, honestly. I'd make damn sure your systems are working well, but deferentially a creative solution that I can get behind.

Hold on, though. What about this law? The one that lifted the 25% profit limit for ticket sclapters (which was never enforced anyway) and allowed legal, unlimited price increases?

Oh that little guy? Don't worry about that little guy.

"As long as it's written into the contract when you purchase tickets, and you promise not to do something like that, if you are caught scalping your tickets, you will be punished," Keller said.

Alright, lets do it! Right? Right?
Greg Myford, associate athletic director for marketing and communications, said tiered distribution is something that may be worked on in the "long haul" but would have to be carefully examined and would not be ready for implementation this fall.

Myford said there are some aspects of the opinion that may be in practice by this fall but would not comment on them specifically.

"The opinion is solid and has a lot of viable suggestions," Myford said. "I will say that a lot of what is written in the opinion is being given serious consideration."

Sweet Greg, keeping up the good work man.

Full story here.

Ridiculous and seemingly pointless call to action (see "long haul" comment above) written last fall by our boy Greg here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Americans And Their Damn Table Habbits [Joe Will Have None Of It]

Nothing pisses me off more than when someone tries to serve me ice cream on the same plate as something other than pie*. I'm not one to mix my shit up, JoePa agrees.

"I had a little bit of soul search I had to do when President Clinton was here the other day," Paterno said Saturday. He said he felt that perhaps he should welcome Clinton out of respect for his status as a former president.

But in the end, Paterno said, "I didn't want to get into that because of my situation, because I couldn't vote for either one of them because I'm a Republican." He later declined to say whether he was supporting Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee.
You see that? The ice cream was running toward the carrots but Joe made sure to put an end to that when things got dangerous. Good man.

Speaking of ice cream
During his visit, Bill Clinton also fondly recalled the "Peachy Paterno" ice cream at the school's creamery during an earlier visit to Happy Valley.

*I couldn't tell you when this has ever happened to me, but for some reason I have this terrible memory, maybe from a past life, of vanilla ice cream headed straight for something I should have eaten at least 15 minutes before desert was served.