Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Orange ya Glad . . .

We play Alabama this season instead of Syracuse?  Granted, it's probably a loss--a train wreck waiting to happen--but surely more exciting than the last two meetings with Syracuse.

But have no fear. If squeezing oranges is your thing, Penn State will oblige.  According to this press release, Penn State will open the 2013 season with Syracuse at the Meadowlands, and is looking to schedule a two-game series in 2020-21.
"We are thrilled about the opportunity to play Syracuse at the New Meadowlands Stadium to open the 2013 season," Curley said.
Sorry, but thrilled is not the word that leapt to my mind.  Fans being asked to fork out megabucks under the new STEP program will have an OOC slate of such marquee matchups as this, Virginia and Rutgers to look forward to in the nxt five years.  How about that for bang for your buck?  Since we only ever play ONE home and away series every two years, is it really too much to ask for that we schedule teams like Notre Dame (*), USC, Texas, or fill-in whatever Top 20 program you want to like Alabama this year and next?  I don't know about you, but Syracuse just doesn't make up for a steady diet of Kent, Indiana and Youngstown States.   Or maybe the powers that be think that the addition of Nebraska will beef up the schedule enough that fans won't notice the OOC slate?  I guess we should be happy that we can't schedule Temple twice in the same year!

(*) For you astute readers, I fully understand that Notre Dame is not a Top 20 program, but this has always been an exicitng game and we must never pass up the opportunity to beat the Irish.

Penn State Recruiting Update

Monday, June 21, 2010

STEP on up!

Are you ready for the new STEP program at Penn State?  For those of us who have been loyal fans--some for decades--some even remember games BEFORE Paterno!--things are about to change.

Change isn't always for the better.

Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror has an article with quotes by Graham Spanier about this fabulous new program.
Penn State President Graham Spanier understands many fans are upset about the new, more expensive football seating program going into effect in 2011, but he contends the university had no choice but to implement the plan.
"We're overdue on it," Spanier said. "We're especially overdue at Penn State because we're one of just a few universities - you could probably count the number on your fingers - that truly operates intercollegiate athletics on a self-support basis
"This is important to us at Penn State because I don't want to be in a position where I'm taking money from academic budgets to support athletics."
So basically, the reasoning behind possibly alienating one of the most loyal fan bases in sports is because we're OVERDUE.  Seriously?!  Because Ohio State and THEM do this, we should do it too?

Granted, the self-supporting argument and not wanting to take academic money to support athletics is noble and reasonable.  But it is a smoke screen people.

FACT:  Penn State football already supports all the other programs and has done so for years--at a profit.  Extra money has been converted to upgrading facilities like Beaver Stadium, the Museum, and the Lasch building.  Look around you folks!  This is not a program that has operated at a loss before.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.
"Sometimes people criticize us for being focused on money when it comes to athletics," he said. "We have to be focused on money; it's like any other aspect of life. There has to be an income side to match the expenditure side. I assure you, we don't do anything very lavishly at Penn State. We're very working-class when it comes to what we do."
Has anyone seen the training facilities for PSU football?  Have you been in the stadium?  I'm not sure how you can justify saying things aren't done lavish, but then maybe my definition is different than Mr. Spanier's.
Cost of athletics rise [emphasis added]

Why is Penn State implementing this new plan? Simple.

As coach Joe Paterno frequently says, the school has to pay the bills.

And the bills are very expensive.
Again, taken out of context, these are very reasonable points.  But let's look at the economics a bit closer.
A fan with four seats near midfield who has been paying $400 in Nittany Lion Club dues will see that price jump to $2,400.
Let's do the math.  [(2400-400)/400] *100 = 500%.  Those are some very expensive bills at Penn State.  I would hazard to say that if PSU needs to increase funds by 500%, there are very few schools that will be able to continue competing. 
Simply put, this is ridiculous.  Yes, the program will need to generate more money.  I personally think that PSU wants to stockpile for the day when Paterno will have to be replaced, knowing that the price tag will probably be higher than what it is.    At least that sounds honest and makes some sense.  But Spanier, in discussing the next coach adds,
We're not going to pay two million or four or five million. I'm sorry, I don't care who it is. That's just something we're not going to do at Penn State. We want to pay people fair salaries.
So where, God forbid is the budget expanding 500%???  Can't they fly coach instead of first class?  We don't even provide SUV's and rental housing to recruits like some programs.  Are we going to start that as well, since we're obviously overdue???
Eventually, costs may increase.  Soooo, why not STEP up a little more slowly?  Maybe increase seats from $100 to $200 this year, and maybe every fourth year?  Or $50 per year?  The Nittany Lion Club just increased giving levels a couple of years ago!
But this is no place for rational thinking or logic.  The STEP program has been unveiled, and like it or not, we fans will have to live with it.  From the article:
"We can't afford that," said 84-year-old Jim Williamson from Bellwood, a 1946 PSU graduate and season-ticket holder since 1960. "It's just not possible. On our income, we can't do it."

This fall will be the final season, therefore, that Williamson buys his four season tickets.

"I hear a lot of people say, 'I'm not going to renew my tickets,'" Williamson said. "I know there are a lot of people waiting for tickets, but it's going to be interesting to see if they can maintain about 110,000 there for games.
Ah, yes.  The old stand-by.  The infamous waiting list.  Well let me tell you a little about that list.  If you have enough points, you can get tickets when they open up.  To get points, you donate bucks.  So that waiting list is comprised of people who haven't donated enough money to date to get off that list.  And these people are going to afford $600 per seat in addition to the actual cost of the ticket, transportation, etc?  I don't think so. You think you're standing in line for a sold out movie and when you finally get to the box office, you find out the price of a ticket is $600.  It'll come out on DVD.
I have only talked to two people who are definitely planning on renewing.  I certainly won't be getting 12 tickets anymore, as my annual donation jumps from $3000 to $10,000!!!  Sad part is I thought $3000 was too much.  Boy was I wrong.  Hope that waiting list is long.
This is not Columbus, Ohio (pop. 711,000) people.  Or Ann Arbor (pop. 114,000).  Or Madison, Wisconsin (pop. 208,000).  Or Iowa City, Iowa (pop 67,000) for that matter.  This is University Park.  State College (pop 38,000).  Small airport.  Fans travel hours to get here.  That costs money too.  And with so many games being available on TV, especially with the Big Ten Network, the impetus to shell out that kind of money and devote that much time wanes considerably.  Penn State thought they found out how enduring their fans were in 2003-4.  The fall-out of this ill-conceived plan will make a 6-4 loss to Iowa seem like a sunny day at the beach.
I could be wrong, but I think this STEP is too big a jump for most fans, and the days of a full Beaver Stadium for most games will become a thing of the past.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Greatest Living Coach

Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, has dubbed Paterno unofficially as the greatest living coach.

When UCLA basketball coaching legend John Wooden died earlier this month at 99, he left behind a legacy that never will be matched in college athletics. Can we all agree he was the greatest coach of all time in any sport? I won't take no for an answer to that question.

Now, who takes the title of Greatest Living Coach?

It's easy to put together a short list. Don Shula, Chuck Noll and Bill Belichick from the NFL. Sparky Anderson, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox from Major League Baseball. Scotty Bowman from the NHL. Phil Jackson from the NBA. Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden from college football. Dean Smith, Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski from college basketball.
Sorry, Pitt fans.


It's not just his 60 years at Penn State. Or his record 394 wins. Or the two national titles and four other unbeaten seasons. Or the record 36 bowl trips with the record 24 wins. Or the countless millions he has raised for his university by becoming the face of the school. It's all of that.

No coach ever had a bigger impact on an institution of higher learning than Paterno has had on Penn State. The man is 83, still working, still winning, still fundraising and still making a difference in a lot of young people's lives. Here's hoping he keeps the title of Greatest Living Coach for a long, long time.

Ron Cook has never been mistake for a huge fan of Paterno, so this article is somewhat surprising.
In 2001, the same Ron Cook (Beano's brother????) had this to say about Paterno:
Maybe Penn State hasn't fallen that far, but it sure seemed like it last night when Miami blew into Beaver Stadium on Adam Taliaferro night and put a 33-7 licking on the Nittany Lions.

If Joe Paterno isn't embarrassed, he should be.

But what happened also is a reflection of how far Paterno and Penn State have fallen. We're talking about a program that has gone 5-11 in its past 16 games, one that has finished fifth in the Big Ten three years running. With a brutal schedule to come, it's fair to think the Nittany Lions will get Paterno the two wins he needs to break Bryant's record, but precious few more.

Granted, this was after an abysmal game against Miami, and following a pathetic 2000 season.  Taken in context, it seems only natural to be critical at that point.  But then most sports writers and many fans were after Paterno in those days.  Until 2005. 

So let's fast forward past the dark years and see if Cook treats Paterno any better.  In August of 2008, Cook cautions fans to be careful what they root for.
Where and when in college football might a 6-6 record be better than 10-3 or 11-2?

That's an easy one.

At Penn State, this season.

A bad year would make it a lot easier to get rid of Joe Paterno.
There's no reason to think Paterno will be any more eager to leave after a big season this year. He has talked consistently of coaching three, four, maybe five more years. He was practically defiant with Spanier and Curley this spring -- yet again -- when he said he doesn't need a contract to continue coaching.

What's frightening is that Paterno truly believes that.

Sadly, Paterno appears to be that out of touch with reality.

But now Cook annoints him the greatest living coach.  So what is the deal?  Has Cook lost touch with reality, perhaps schizophrenic?  Is he just a shamless hack pandering to the prevailing winds at the time?  Or does he just accidentally hit the nail right on the head some times.  You decide.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nebraska Gives Verbal!

The Big Ten recruiting season has kicked off with a verbal commitment for Nebraska, according to the Omaha World Herald, which should not be confused with Weird Harold of Omaha.

The University of Nebraska football program is about to enter a new era following a vote by the NU Board of Regents Friday afternoon to align with the prestigious Big Ten Conference. Athletic competition is expected to begin in 2011.

Acting on the advice of coaching legend and current NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne and Chancellor Harvey Perlman, the regents voted 8-0 to apply for membership in the Big Ten.

It appears to be a formality that the Big Ten will accept Nebraska's membership quickly, leaving only one more Big 12 season.

Welcome Aboard Huskers!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Expansion Humor

The rumor mill continues to heat up re: Big Ten Expansion.  You can count on me to keep you on top of the latest humor news.  I don't ordinarily link THEM blogs, but sometimes you just got to put petty bygones in the past because it's just too damned funny.

Maize-N-Brew has posted a comical vignette where the Big XII teams are a bunch of high school girls sitting at the same table in the cafeteria.  Colorado is expecting a date with the the PAC-10.  Nebraska and Missouri stroll by flirting with the Big Ten Boys . . .

Colorado: What!? You're not excited?

Texas: Why should I be? I totally dated the PAC-10 a few years ago, but they're lahoosers. I could've gone steady with the PAC-10, or I could hang out with my girls. I totally chose you guys. /smiles fakest of all smiles/
Texas Tech: Don't give us that line of bullshit. They dumped your ass after they found out your were stuffing your revenues bra.

/Iowa State rolls up in motorized wheelchair, dressed in cheerleader uniform/


Colorado: Calm down Iowa State, we just found out about it. Sorry they didn't invite you to party.

Oklahoma State: You know you're not the only one with money Texas. My Uncle Pickens left me some money too. I can get my own car.

Texas: Ha! A lot of good it's done you to. Even with the new practice facility boob job the best you can do is the Holiday Bowl. Ever think that if you weren't hanging out with me you wouldn't even get invited there? You were popular for a minute, but when everyone found out the twins were plastic it all went away, didn't it.

Oklahoma State: I hate you. /fights back tears/

Oklahoma State: So what's up with Nebraska and Missouri hanging out with those Big Ten guys?

A&M: Oh my God, it's like Missouri can't get enough of them. All Missouri does is talk about how great the Big Ten is. All the Big Ten would have to do is say "Big Ten Network" "boo" and her legs would be in the air.

Texas Tech: Not like Nebraska's any different. Nebraska asked me what kind of thong is easiest to get out of. If the Big Ten asks, we'll never see those two again.

Texas: I don't like the Big Ten. A few years ago I thought we were friends but they totally blew me off. Now that my revenues boobs are big, they're all over me again.

And so on . . .