Tag:Penn State
Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:51 pm

PSU Football; May the Dust Settle Quickly on 2010

It was not that many years ago that many Penn State fans, including myself,  were calling for Joe Paterno to step aside and allow the program to step into the next generation. Of course, through some great recruiting led mainly by two players, Justin King and Derrick Williams, the program turned around, and we fans enjoyed one final period of success. This led to Coach Paterno’s historic 400<sup>th</sup> victory, certainly a proud day for all Nittany Lion fans.

I, for one, would like to know just how key King and Williams were in the recruiting process during those years. It was hinted in many articles, which reported on the progress of recruit commitments, that both were very involved. I wish now that I had kept a notebook where I had tracked each mention that, “Justin King made a phone call to ….” (fill in player’s name), or, “Derrick Williams hosted ….. on his official trip to Happy Valley.” It seemed every top recruit who chose PSU during those years had some connection with either, or both, players.

Unfortunately for Penn State, those two players are no longer available to bring top talent into the fold. With few exceptions, PSU has never been able to attract top talent at the quarterback position. It is certainly debatable whether or not the presence of Pat Devlin would have made a difference on the overall outcome of the 2010 season, but it is certain that Devlin was a recruiting coup at the time. Whatever the true circumstances are surrounding his subsequent transfer to Delaware, the fact is that Devlin proved to be a very good quarterback for the Blue Hens, and may well find himself in a position to make an NFL roster by the end of the summer.

In the end, the 2010 football season proves that Penn State football is no longer a coveted choice for skill position players. Many believe that Justin King chose PSU because his step-father was a Nittany Lion. Most people know that Derrick Williams chose to wear the blue and white because King convinced him that they could lead the team back to the top with their combined skills. Today, we have no one on the roster to inspire others to choose to join them.

Evan Royster certainly enjoyed a nice overall career. He became the career leader in rushing yards, as well as the only PSU back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season three separate times. But he came into 2010 out of shape and looked like a mere shadow of the back we expected for the most of the season. Stephon Greene has always shown promise at the position, but has success only in fits and bursts. He ended the season injured and on the sideline. Silas Redd gave the fans hope for the future, and he may well be a very good runner, but 2010 proved that he has a ways to go yet.

Most fans believe that the current crop of receivers at Penn State is a very nice group, but if you watched the games without your rose-colored glasses on, you saw many, many dropped balls all through the season. There is not one elite receiver on the current roster.

The offensive line certainly improved throughout the season. They also were certainly not close to what we have come to expect as Nittany Lion fans. Stefan Wisneiski was a great lineman for 4 seasons, but he was not allowed to display his entire skill-set because the overall lack of talent along the line forced the staff into a ‘play it safe’ mode throughout his career.

As for the defense, we witnessed a similar lack of talent from front to back. The line was supposed to be a strength, and perhaps they would have been if they were not forced to play it safe. The linebackers had some moments, but overall were a weak version of a once vaunted unit. The secondary is simply below average.

Which brings me to the quarterback position. This should have been Pat Devlin’s year. I am sure that I read comments throughout the season commenting on this missing link. Even Coach Paterno brought Devlin up a few times. Rob Bolden may prove to be a good quarterback by the end of his career, and then he might just be the next Kevin Newsome. Matt McGloin was a nice story … for about two days. Give the kid credit, he used confidence and swagger in practice to earn himself a shot to play major college football. Now be realistic, McGloin is not the answer at the position. The biggest problem with McGloin is that he has a Brett Favre mentality, but lacks the skill to back it up. The throws/plays that he did make during the season were blown out of proportion by many fans and, at times, the media, but they were merely throws/plays that any quarterback on any college roster should be able to make. We fans can only hope that Paul Jones does not lose patience and transfer, as Devlin did. Don’t forget that Jones was the #2 rated quarterback prospect in the country his senior year of high school. Coach Paterno made the decision to red-shirt Jones due to some initial academic struggles. We fans can only hope that Jones is being truthful in reports that he has used this year to mature and get himself together with the books. We also hope that Jones is being completely sincere when he states that he is staying at Penn State.

If yesterday’s game proved more than that the Nittany Lions need a serious upgrade in all facets of the game, it is that the PSU also needs to make some changes in the coaching ranks. Let’s face it, Coach Paterno has earned the right to go out on his own terms, and even if I might complain about some of the coaching decisions that are being made, I will continue to respect everything that JoePa has done for, and brought to, Happy Valley. The thing is, it is time for a major overhaul among the assistant coaching staff. And it is here that Coach Paterno hurts the team most. His blind loyalty is admirable, to a point, but it is clear to most that the game has passed Galen Hall by. Jay Paterno and Mike McQueary probably belong coaching at a lower level, if at all, and Tom Bradley has grown all he can as a coordinator. Bradley needs to become a head coach or retire, because he will never improve in his present position. But what great, or even just good, assistant coach is going to come in to replace any of these men when the future is so cloudy? Coach Paterno could be forced to retire due to age-related concerns at any moment, and there would be no safety net for someone with only a short time with the program if that happens.

As fans, our biggest hope for next season remains that Jones wins the quarterback job, Redd gets bigger and stronger while maintaining his quickness, somebody works with the receivers and all those freshmen on the defensive side of the ball get out there and  prove that all the hype from their high school careers comes through. This may allow for success despite the current condition of the coaching staff.

Posted on: December 27, 2009 2:26 pm

Why must I hate Pitt?

So you're a Penn State football fan? Does that mean that you MUST hate Pitt?

My earliest sports memories go way back into my childhood. I remember my father's family watching Super Bowl III and all the talk about Joe Namath, and I remember The Amazing Mets of 1969 and how that was the big talk all summer around my grandfather's kitchen table. I was 4-years old, turning 5 during the baseball season. My OWN memories that go beyond listening to Dad, Pap and my uncles .... forming my own opinions and memories, come from Super Bowl V when the Cowboys lost to the Colts on a field goal in the waning seconds and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates winning it all against the Orioles behind the epic play of Roberto Clemente. So what does this have to do with Pitt and Penn State? Just a little backgroound to explain where I'm coming from with my take.

While still in the early '70's I began to follow Penn State football in our local paper, front page of the sports section as we were only about 40 miles from University Park. Pittsburgh was only a two-hour drive, so I was also able to follow the Panthers, albiet, on page 2. In November of 1973 I was fortunate enough to attend my first Pitt v. Penn State football game. The first half of the game was dominated by a freshmen RB from Pitt named Tony Dorsett who slashed through the Nittany Lion defense, scoring a touchdown and leading the Panthers to a 13-0 lead. Late in the half Penn State got themselves into position for a last-second field goal, and when Chris Bahr's attempt bounced off the crossbar and through, the halftime score was set at 13-3. The momentum of that play combined with halftime adjustments changed the game completely as the Nits, led by Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti, outscored Pitt 32-0 in the second half for a final of 35-13. Cappy finished with 161 yards and secured the Heisman. I was thilled! I was equally thrilled watching Dorsett clinch his own Heisman rushing for 224 yards and finding the endzone twice while leading his Panthers to a 24-7 victory over the Nittany Lions in 1976. Pitt went on to win the National Championship, their ninth title, when they beat the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl.

It was shortly after this that my family and friends started getting on my back that I NEEDED to pick one team or the other to pledge my allegiance. I chose Penn State. Over the years I BLED blue and white ..... but all the while I was a closet Pitt fan as well. So while I celebrated loudly and proudly as my Nittany Lions finally won the National Championship in 1982, I secretly admired Dan Marino carving up defenses for the Panthers over four seasons. While I lived and died each week with PSU's wins and losses, I rooted my butt off watching my high school teammate Troy Benson lead Pitt in tackles his final two seasons. And while over the most recent past two decades, both programs have seen their fortunes rise and fall, I have stood by my Nittany Lions through thick and thin, while still keeping one eye on the Panthers in the hopes of a return to prominence.

Love one team, hate the other? Hardly. Just because when I became a Nascar fan I loved watching Jeff Gordon race, did I have to hate Dale Earnhart Sr? Well, yea, I did for a little while. But as I watched race after race, I developed more than merely respect for Dale Sr. I found myself rooting equally throughout each race for both drivers, praying for a shootout between the two in the final laps. So, I am the biggest diehard Pittsburgh Pirate fan there is, despite 17 straight losing seasons, must I despise the Philadelphia Phillies? Sure, when they are playing each other. But I love watching the team they have built in Philly. They are exciting, they can hit, pitch, play defense and run the bases like roadrunners. Any TRUE baseball fan has to appreciate watching them play, even if their favorite team is a rival. Celtics v. Lakers? Yankees v. Red Sox? Cowboys v. Redskins? Penguins v. Red Wings? Must I dislike LA, Boston, Washington and Detroit just because I like Boston, NY, Dallas and Pittsburgh more? Not a chance. I LOVE the rivalries and love watching the epice battles!

A little over a year I got engaged, and my now wife and I decided to celebrate by spending the weekend in Pittsburgh. The Panthers just happened to be hosting the Louisville Cardinals, tickets were available (ANY Penn State fan can tell you that Nittany Lion tix are DAMN hard to come by), so there we were. Heinz Field was awesome! The fans were great, the food was great and the Panthers won the game. I have watched Pitt and rooted right out there ever since, nearly equal to how hard I root for Penn State. We attended the Pitt v. Notre Dame game this season, attended a tailgate with my boss and his family and sat at the game with a good friend (my pastor) who LOVES Notre Dame. What a blast!!!!

In summation ........ I LOVE PENN STATE FOOTBALL! I bleed blue and white and my allegiance is truly pledged for the rest of my life to the Nittany Lions. I will root for the Nits over any opponent. And I state ..... I LOVE PITT PANTHER FOOTBALL! Unless they ever get a chance to play PSU again, I will root for Pitt against any opponent. IF the circumstance ever arises that the Pitt v. Penn State rivalry renews, I will, for one game a season, root against Pitt with apologies. THERE!!!!

Congratulations to the University of Pittsburgh Panther football on a great season and a great victory over North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl! Dion Lewis has a great future and I hope he stays for a few more seasons, perhaps even winning the Heisman.

And GO PENN STATE!!!!!!!! Crush LSU and finish this season in style! 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 25, 2009 10:00 am

Vick, SMU and Volleyball

Pondering the most recent items that I consider BIG DEALS .......

Michael Vick wins 'courage' award? I started shaking my head before I read ANY of the info on this one. From what I understand, Vick has not even been a good clubhouse guy, and beside the game against Atlanta, he hasn't played all that great. I could go on about how 'real courage' is taking care of your ailing 87-year old mother fulltime while dealing with the recent news that one of your children has MS, like my friend Karen. But really, how many NFL players deal with something like that? Realistically, Donovan McNabb is a much more deserving recipient, coming back over and over from injury and then dealing with his coach sending in some dummy on half the third-down plays to run 'The Wildcat'.

SMU: From childhood through my mid-twenties I was definitely such a Penn State 'HOMER' that I did not root for any other college teams (except USC, loved that big white horse). As a 45-year old adult, I am so blessed to be able to remember some of the great college players and great moments that I have witnessed. Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska and Greg Pruitt of Oklahoma making such moves that everyone else seemed to be playing in mud, Joe Montana leading Notre Dame to a come from behind victory in The Cotton Bowl, Flutie's Hail-Mary pass Vs Miami and Dan Marino carving up defenses for Pitt just to name a very few. One of the best memories was watching SMU's Pony Express of Craig James and Eric Dickerson run all over the place. Soon thereafter, SMU suffered the NCAA's first 'Death Penalty'. That being said, it was heartening to see what SMU did to Nevada in The Hawai'i Bowl, completing a sporting resurrection. Congrats to June Jones and all SMU fans! If Jones sticks around, the Mustang program should keep improving. I was a little busy preparing for Christmas morning during the telecast, but I did at one point hear the announcers say something about the good recruiting class that would be arriving before next season. Continued good luck to SMU and their fans!

Did anyone not affiliated (or a fan of) Penn State or Texas witness the Women's NCAA Volleyball championship match? I have to admit that I am not a frequent spectator of volleyball, except for my daughters' games, but I do watch the Lady Lions when they go far in the tournament, which has been quite frequently these past years. I watched the last two years as they dismantled the opposition in what looked like romps, and then again in the semis this year. However, this year's championship tilt was a match for the ages. Texas jumped out to a 2-0 set lead behind the awesome play of Destinee Hooker. This girl came from everywhere and was dominating the match. Penn State was definitely off their game, but dug down deep behind superstar Megan Hodge who, despite playing one of her worst matches in this, her last game as a collegiate , reached a level of leadership that few of her age could define, let alone demonstrate. Fellow Senior, Alisha Glass, came up with some nice play and Freshman , Darcy Dorton, stepped up big as the Penn State ladies made a historic comeback to secure their third straight National Championship and keep their streak of 102 straight victories intact. WAY TO GO GIRLS!!!! You've made us so proud!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com