Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coming to a Bowl Near You: More JoePa

According to the Altoona Mirror, a Penn State student did a study showing that JoePa is getting more TV coverage than ever before.

Alex Bippus, a communications student at the University Park campus, tracked five Nittany Lion bowl games over 40 years and contrasted the amount of time TV networks focused on Paterno.

"Alex's research is proof positive that Paterno has, in some ways, transcended the sport," said Mike Poorman, founder of the class and a senior lecturer at PSU. "He is as big as the game, if not bigger. And the director's increasing focus on Joe is proof positive."

Bippus watched the entire broadcast of five Penn State bowl games and submitted a
23-minute DVD featuring clips and samples from the contests. An overall look at the study's findings:

* 1970 Orange Bowl: 22 times on camera for JoePa for an average of 10.3 seconds, along with 11 other mentions by the announcers. He made up 2.45 percent of the broadcast.

* 1974 Orange Bowl: 20 times on camera for an average of 10.3 seconds, along with 16 mentions, for a total of 2.56 percent of the broadcast.

* 1983 Sugar Bowl: 37 times on camera for an average of 15.0 seconds, along with 21 mentions, for a total of 4.81 percent of the broadcast.

* 1995 Rose Bowl: 60 times on camera for an average of 10.3 seconds, along with 16 mentions, for a total of 5.98 percent of the broadcast.

* 2006 Orange Bowl: 133 times on camera for an average of 8.2 seconds, along with 51 mentions, for a total of 8.18 percent of the broadcast.

"When Joe started as a head coach, the primary focus was on the game, much more than the star players or most certainly the coach. Now, personalities and story lines are key aspects - if not the No. 1 aspect - of any sports telecast. And Joe is a larger-than-life personality with a story line that gets more compelling each year."

I don't doubt the stats, but I wonder how that compares to other coaches. For instance, I would be surprised if the TV cameras aren't glued to Bobby Bowden in his last bowl game as coach of F$U. And I'm sure Joe gets more TV shots than say the coach at Idaho. But what we don't know is how these numbers compare to other coaches like Urban Meyer, Nick Saban and Pete Carroll.

By The Numbers: LSU

Penn State comes into the Cap-One Bowl with a 10-2 record, with losses to Iowa (10th in the BCS) and Ohio State (8th in the BCS.)

LSU is ranked higher in the BCS at 12 (PSU is 13), but the Tigers have 3 losses: 13-3 vs Florida (BCS #5), 24-15 vs Bama (BCS #1) and 25-23 against Ole Miss (not in the BCS top 25.)

With the Mississippi game notwithstanding, the two teams appear pretty even.

But looking at the NCAA stats for PSU and LSU:

NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.LSU
Passing Offense4099
Total Offense36108
Scoring Offense4174
Rushing Defense1044
Turnovers Gained6786
Passes Had Intercepted4122
Pass Defense1929
Net Punting10613
Punt Returns1071
Kickoff Returns107110
Turnover Margin4620
Fumbles Recovered94114
Passes Intercepted3333
Fumbles Lost175
Turnovers Lost285
Passing Efficiency2149
Pass Efficiency Defense1418
Total Defense828
Scoring Defense412
Fewest Penalties Per Game768
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game336
Punt Return Yardage Defense1169
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense623
Offense Third-down Efficiency761
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency56111
Defense Third-down Efficiency1444
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency1072
Tackles for Loss643
Offense Tackles for Loss882
Pass Sacks878
Pass Sacks Allowed27107
Time of Possession13103
First Downs3885
First Downs Allowed760
Red Zone Efficiency2525
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense128
Average NCAA Rank:34.7353.22
Weighted Avg. Rank:31.9248.17

Both teams struggle in kick-off returns, but LSU has a distinctive edge in punting and this could be key. Penn State lost the Iowa game on a special teams play that turned things around, and the poor field position against the Buckeyes was in large part to special teams problems and a tough Buckeye defense. I don't expect the LSU defense to be any softer.

LSU's offense appears to be a weakness for them, but they have faced some tough defenses in Florida and Bama. I'm not going to get into that argument of which conference is better or stronger. I think both the Big Ten and the SEC can hold their own--at least the teams at the top, and LSU and PSU fit into that category.

Hopefully, PSU will have spent some time looking at special teams this last month and some changes will have been made. Penn State cannot afford to give up field position on punts or worse yet, points on returns. Defensively, I don't think LSU will move the ball consistently. Offensively, Penn State goes as Daryll Clark goes. If the LSU defense rattles him, I look for a long, frustrating afternoon.

My heart says PSU will prevail. The stats seem to indicate we have the overall better team. But I fear the problems we have seen all season will still be there and will come back to haunt us. I hope that I am wrong.

Penn State Ranked #3

Forget the BCS.

We're talking Forbes ranking of college football teams based on their relative value and profitability. Texas tops the list, followed by Notre Dame. And the Nittany Lions come in third.
Our ranking of College Football’s Most Valuable teams is based on what the football program contributes to four important beneficiaries (in order of weight): (1) their university (money generated by football that goes to the institution for academic purposes, including scholarship payments for football players); (2) athletic department (the net profit generated by the football program retained by the department); (3) conference (the distribution of bowl game revenue); (4) and local communities (estimated incremental spending by visitors to the county that's attributable to the program).
And this is BEFORE the STEP program kicks in!

I'm Back . . .

. . . for the moment.

For my loyal readers, I apologize for not posting much recently. Perhaps I could blame it on burnout. Maybe just plain laziness. But since I no longer get paid for doing this, my incentive to continue has dwindled.

And Penn State hasn't helped things with the unveiling of their STEP plan to generate more money. I don't have a problem with the concept--those who want the best seats pay the most. It actually makes sense. But what bothers me is that the current tickets I have along with the parking pass cost me $3000 per year in NLC donations. Under this new plan, I will be forced to pay $10,000 for the same number of tickets--and I won't even have the option of keeping my previous seats, since they are being turned into student seats. I have sat in the same seat since the late seventies, but now that will change. Words cannot express my feelings at this time.

I wish the powers-that-be would have given more thought about this new program, perhaps phasing it in over a period of years. Seriously--$10,000 per year for 12 tickets? I know there are many others who will be affected by these changes. I always considered myself a loyal fan--but this has blind-sided me and depending on where they feel fit to move me, my days of attending games may be over.

But I will continue to post through the bowl game.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gaining Momentum?

Adam Rittenberg of ESPN blogged that the grassroots movement to add a 12th Big Ten team and create a championship game may be growing.

Seems like the movement for Big Ten expansion has received a boost, at least according to Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez.

The AD and former Badgers football coach told Wisconsin's athletic board today that he expects the Big Ten to increase its push to add a 12th member. The Big Ten hasn't expanded since adding Penn State, which began competing as a league member in football in 1993.

"I have a sense [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany] is going to take this year to really be more aggressive about it," Alvarez told the board. "I just think everybody feels [expansion] is the direction to go, coaches and administrators."

Which begets the question . . . who? Notre Dame would be a natural fit, geographically and historically. They usually play 3 Big Ten teams every year already. But their exclusive TV contract and independence remains a considerable roadblock.

I have seen various other teams thrown out there: Missouri, Nebraska, Pitt, West Virginia, Syracuse, and even Rutgers.

Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror has thrown Cincinnati into that mix. His argument looks at things from the other side . . . not who the Big Ten wants, but who would want to join the Big Ten.

Not Pitt. Not Syracuse.

Forget about those schools because it's not going to happen. They are happy in the Big East and have become national powers in basketball. They won't give up their hoops exposure and rivalries merely for the right to be a second- or, in Syracuse's case, third-tier football program in the Big Ten.

Notre Dame may be down, but it's still getting paid big bucks. Its TV deal with NBC runs through the 2015 season and reportedly is worth $9 million per year. The school would be crazy to join a league and be forced to give up or share that money.

Looking over every major conference and every possible team, the best choice - for several reasons - to become the Big Ten's 12th member is ... Cincinnati.

There may be sexier candidates, sure, but just because the Big Ten might want one of them -- like Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse, Maryland or Boston College -- doesn't mean those schools would be at all interested in walking away from their current situations.

Cincinnati probably would.

He lists as the only potential drawback the size of their stadium.

The lone drawback would be that its football facility, Nippert Stadium, seats only 35,000. That would have to be addressed if Cincinnati were to enter the Big Ten.

Size doesn't matter does it? And even if it does, consider that our last game at Indiana was attended by 41,251 in 2007. I just realized that we played Indiana at home two years in a row. Huh? And next year the game will be in Washington D.C.! And the Northwestern game attendance this year was only 30,546. Surely the Bearcats could match that number with just about any Big Ten team on the schedule.

I think the maiun downside of Cincinnati is that it doesn't add anything to the viewing area, since Ohio State already represents that zone well. At least Syracuse, West Virginia, Missouri and Rutgers bring new viewing and recruiting areas into play, although arguably Penn State already draws well from those areas with the exception of Missouri.

And as for writing Notre Dame off carte blanche, consider this report by Clay Travis as to the financial implications for Notre Dame:
Why's that number important? Because in 2008, every school in the Big Ten will clear north of $15 million from the conference, a number that will only increase in years to come. Every school in the SEC will bank, conservatively, $17 million. (Looking at the numbers it's likely the SEC will hit $20 million within a couple of years.) The reason for these increases is simple, spiraling television money. The Big Ten Network distributed $7.5 million to each conference school last year, and in conjunction with the 10-year, $1-billion deal that the Big Ten signed with ABC/ESPN, there's a whole lot of new television money floating around. Let me repeat that, the Big Ten Network alone has almost equaled the payout for Notre Dame's sacrosanct contract with NBC.

Every team in the SEC has also eclipsed Notre Dame since signing a new $3-billion contract with CBS and ESPN that tripled existing rights fees ($2.25 billion reportedly comes from ESPN, while the CBS deal is $825 million). Throw in that Notre Dame now nets just $4.5 million for an appearance in a BCS game (against $1.3 million each year if it doesn't go to a BCS bowl) and you're looking at a financial mountain that is becoming increasingly uphill for Notre Dame. Television revenue at most conferences is rapidly accelerating while at Notre Dame it's staying the same. Where once the Fighting Irish were king of the television universe, conference affiliation deals are now lapping the Irish.

And these numbers were cranked out BEFORE the added expense of buying out Weis and dwindling TV ratings. It will also be interesting what effect the potential Comcast buyout of NBC has on the future of Notre Dame's contract.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clark Wins the Silver . . . Football

Congratulations to Daryll Clark for winning the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football for the conference's Most Valuable Player.

After the votes of the 11 Big Ten coaches were tabulated, two players earned the exact same count -- three first-place votes and one second, for seven points.

What to do? Every year since its inception in 1924 (first winner: Harold "Red" Grange), the Tribune Silver Football trophy had been awarded to only one man. No need to slice it in two. Either the Big Ten office or the Tribune sports staff would break the tie.

But this year the Tribune decided that both players were worthy, so, in keeping with the spirit of the award, we have altered that policy.

Besides, would you like to tell Brandon Graham, Michigan's 263-pound defensive end, that in this case a tie equals a loss? Didn't think so.

As announced Tuesday night on the Big Ten Network, Graham and Daryll Clark, Penn State's personable fifth-year quarterback, are the 2009 Tribune Silver Football winners.

Kind of appropriate for a league that recognizes Co-champions. This is the first time since the award was started in 1924 that this has happened. Either way, it's nice to see Clark get some recognition.

Penn State has a nice summary of Clark's stats on

Other notes: Odrick, Bowman and Royster also received votes. Kerry Collins (1994) and Michael Robinson (2005) are previous winners of this award.
Curt Warner was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Former Penn State All-America tailback Curt Warner, the Nittany Lions' career rushing yardage leader, will gain induction in the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Warner is the 17th Penn State player to receive college football's ultimate honor.

Congratulations Curt!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Award Winning Nittany Lions

According to this article in the CDT, Daryll Clark has been awarded the team's MVP Award. Other awards are as noted.

A two-time first team All- Big Ten honoree, Clark was presented the Outstanding Senior Player Award to highlight the State College Quarterback Club’s annual banquet honoring the Nittany Lion football team.

Other award winners were: tackleDennis Landolt (Richard Maginnis Memorial Award for outstanding offensive lineman); punterJeremy Boone(John Bruno, Jr. Memorial Award for outstanding member of special teams); linebacker Sean Lee(Ridge Riley Award to senior for sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship); defensive endJerome Hayes(Robert B. Mitinger, Jr. Award for senior who exhibits courage, character and social responsibility); Linebacker Josh Hulland defensive tackleJared Odrick(Quarterback Club Special Awards); defensiveendTom Golarzand receiverPatrick Mauti (Walk-on Award for walk-on players who exemplify total commitment, loyalty, hard work and courage) and kick snapperAndrew Pitz(The Nittany Lion Club Academic Achievement Award for the senior with the highest GPA).

In addition to the player awards, former Nittany Lion All-American linebacker Brandon Short was presented the Alumni Athlete Award.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Final Regular Season Blog Poll

5Boise State
8Ohio State
10Penn State
11Virginia Tech
12Georgia Tech
13Brigham Young
14Miami (Florida)
17Oklahoma State
18West Virginia
21Oregon State
25Central Michigan

Florida is the only one-loss team in the country.

Five Teams remain undefeated: Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise State

Two teams went without a win: Western Kentucky and Eastern Michigan

Saturday, December 5, 2009

And we're back . . .

I was only gone a week on vacation and look what happened around here . . .

Pitt loses to West Virginia on the final play of the game. And this just in . . . Pitt loses AGAIN to Cincy by one point after missing a PAT and then giving up the final TD with less than a minute to go. Not only do they lose, but they do so painfully. So much for the BCS bid.

Bobby Bowden steps down as coach at F$U. Thank God--I thought this would never end. Maybe he'll end up at Notre Dame . . . who else would want that job? I'd feel sorry for Weis but he's got enough cash on the buyout to never have to work again (oops, that would suggest he has been working) if he doesn't want to.

Penn State inched into the Top Ten again by attrition. What can I say? We do better when we don't play!

Can Nebraska upset Texas? Can we possibly have a BCS Title game without Florida and Tebow hype? Please Santa, make it happen.

I didn't get a chance to cast a blog poll ballot last week, but here's what it would have looked like:

1 Texas
2 Alabama
3 Florida
4 Cincy
5 Boise State
7 Oregon
8 Ohio State
9 Iowa
10 Penn State
11 Virginia Tech
12 Georgia Tech
13 Pitt
14 BYU
15 Miami (FL)
16 Houston
17 Southern Cal
18 Nebraska
19 Oklahoma State
20 LSU
21 Cal
22 Wisconsin
23 West Virginia
24 Stanford
25 Central Michigan