Wednesday, December 28, 2011

GO TEAM, Air Force and Constipated Birds

Have you picked up your Citizen's Bank Button for the Bowl game?

Were you expecting the usual pun or insightful play on words ala Forrest Thump?

Maybe something like Houston, you have a problem . . .

Well if this football season hasn't been disappointing enough already, prepare yeself for the illustrious slogan for this year's TicketCity Bowl . . .

GO Nittany Lions!

That's it.  That's all folks.  I.  Kid.  You.  Not.

Well, at least GO is capitalized and there's an exclamation point!



Seriously?  Is this the best they can do?  Houston, are we a GO?  Is there that little interest in this game that putting together a decent slogan was too much work for somebody?

But then bad decisions are a part of bowl season apparently.  Just ask Air Force.  After scoring the potentially tying TD with less than a minute to go, they opted for a two-point conversion to "win" the game.  It failed and they lost.

I guess overtime is too much to ask for--or hope for--in a bowl game.  Of course, I'm just pissed because I picked Air Force in the football bowl pool!

And then there was Louisville, losing to NC State.  I actually picked NC State.  But what is with that angry bird mascot for Louisville.  Looks more constipated than mean . . . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Birthday AND Merry Christmas Joe!

We'll have a Blue Christmas without you!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Statistically Speaking: Ticket City Edition

Here are the national rankings for Houston vs. Penn State from the NCAA:



NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.HoustonDelta
Rushing54628
Passing Offense961-95
Total Offense941-93
Scoring Offense1101-109
Rushing Defense487729
Turnovers Gained2816-12
Passes Had Intercepted359-26
Pass Defense54843
Net Punting7860-18
Punt Returns779-68
Kickoff Returns325523
Turnover Margin328-24
Fumbles Recovered295223
Passes Intercepted245-19
Fumbles Lost9242-50
Turnovers Lost6511-54
Passing Efficiency1123-109
Pass Efficiency Defense52419
Total Defense106454
Scoring Defense54136
Fewest Penalties Per Game296435
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game305828
Punt Return Yardage Defense66748
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense6360-3
Offense Third-down Efficiency956-89
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency273912
Defense Third-down Efficiency5247-5
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency324715
Tackles for Loss304-26
Offense Tackles for Loss253
Pass Sacks26359
Pass Sacks Allowed163317
Time of Possession5511560
First Downs892-87
First Downs Allowed196445
Red Zone Efficiency9139-52
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense1192-117
Average NCAA Rank:50.5934.68-15.92
Weighted Avg. Rank:54.0832.5-21.58

Here is Houston's schedule for 2011:



2011HoustonCougars Schedule
DateOpponentResultRecordOpp. Record
Sept. 3UCLAW 38-341-0 (0-0)6-7 *
Sept. 10at North TexasW 48-232-0 (0-0)5-7
Sept. 17at La TechW 35-343-0 (0-0)8-4 *
Sept. 24GEORGIA STATEW 56-04-0 (0-0)3-8
Sept. 29at UTEPW 49-425-0 (1-0)5-7
Oct. 8EAST CAROLINAW 56-36-0 (2-0)5-7
Oct. 22MARSHALLW 63-287-0 (3-0)6-6 *
Oct. 27RICEW 73-348-0 (4-0)4-8
Nov. 5at UABW 56-139-0 (5-0)3-9
Nov. 10at TulaneW 73-1710-0 (6-0)2-11
Nov. 19SMUW 37-711-0 (7-0)7-5 *
Nov. 25at TulsaW 48-1612-0 (8-0)8-4 *
Dec. 3SOUTHERN MISSL 49-2812-1 (8-1)11-2 *
*=bowl

While Houston's national NCAA rankings are impressive (34.68 ranks 6th in the country--PSU's 50.59 ranks 37th), I am kind of underwhelmed by their schedule.  Southern Miss (21st in the BCS) is the only ranked team they have played.  By contrast, Penn State played nine bowl bound opponents and the Owls have already won their bowl impressively, beating Wyoming 37-15.  Five oppoennts play in January. 

Houston's offensive numbers are impressive--their defense is meh.  But how good is that offense?  If you look at the defenses (Georgia Southern not included) they have faced, the best defense was Southern Miss at 31, with an average NCAA ranking of 80 among all the Division 1A teams they faced.

To be fair, I compared the offenses that Penn State's defense has faced to date.  The best was Wisconsin at 15th in the country, with an overall average ranking of 66, not including Indiana State.

Penn State may be without starting QB Matt McGloin.  It is not clear whether Drake and McGloin will face punishment for their altercation, but McGloin will need to be medically cleared to play.  Paul Jones might be eligible if his GPA cooperates.  Bolden apparently will not suffer any team punishment for a prank gone awry, where he stole a $2.00 bottle of Gatorade and then returned it to the store.  What?  No tattoo???  Don't these kids today even know how to get into trouble?

The unknown quantity of coaching may play a factor.  Does Bradley have the job or not?  Honestly, rumors aside, he will not be the coach next season.  Rumors are flying that Larry Johnson, Sr. could be headed to Columbus to head up a defense for Urban Renewal.  Regardless of the outcome of the changes, the situation has to be a dsitraction both for the players and the coaches.

Penn State is currently a 5-6 point underdog.  Take McGloin out of the equation and add a coaching staff that is working on finding jobs elsewhere, and it doesn't add up to a Penn State victory.  Unless of course, the Cougar offense is really over-rated.

Even though this isn't a Joe Paterno-coached team anymore, it would be really nice to send his last team out on a positive note.

But that won't happen unless Houston has a problem.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

No Coach Yet

No white smoke over Old Main . . .

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

That's The Ticket . . . City

Did you hear what Tom Starr, President and CEO of the TicketCity Bowl said about Penn State?
For weeks, Starr had been telling anybody who would listen the same thing: If Penn State was available, the Nittany Lions would be more-than-welcomed in Dallas.

The TicketCity Bowl, being in just its second year, didn't have some of the political issues to consider that the more-established bowls did. It had a chance to take a stand if it could get over the qualms other bowls had with inviting Penn State.
That was the easiest part of the decision, Starr said.
"We had none. We really didn't. I say that in all honesty," Starr said. "All we were focused on is that Penn State has a great football legacy and is a proud academic institution. ... This may sound corny, and I obviously can't answer for the other bowls (that passed over Penn State). But sometimes, in life, you have to be the one to do the right thing. It was important for us not to punish the players. I can't understand why there should be a mass punishment for the act of one man. And it's not just the players. It's the alumni. It's the faculty. It's the student body. What did they do? We thought, 'Why would you want to punish all those people for the horrible acts of one person?' "
Doing the right thing, in Starr's mind, also happened to net Dallas one of the most intriguing matchups of the bowl season.
Only two bowls - the BCS Championship Game and the Fiesta Bowl - feature two teams with fewer combined losses than the four between the Nittany Lions and Cougars in the TicketCity Bowl.
Finally!  Someone not only "gets" it, but isn't afraid of pissing off the politically correct pussies by saying it out loud!  Amen!

Not So Great Expectations

Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, but the stories being written at Penn State would more appropriately be attributable to Greek or Shakespearean tragedies.

Prior to November 5th, the head coaching job at Penn State was perhaps one of the more attractive coaching jobs in the country.  Now, we may be lucky to find a high school coach who will be willing to take this job.

Okay.  That's an exaggeration to some degree.  But the short list of candidates seems to be getting shorter the further we go in this process.  And that's NOT a good thing.  And the rationalization of how these coaches who don't look good on paper but will suddenly be taking us to national championship heights is almost comical. 

I have often said that the problem with electing a president of the United States is that the individuals who are best suited, most capable, and would do the best job . . .  are all smart enough not to want the job.

That describes the Penn State coaching vacancy at this point.

While Urban Meyer may not be the best coach in the country, and may not even have been the best coach for THIS job, he was probably the best available coach given our circumstances.  He would bring in a record of success (although Florida did have its share of off-the-field problems under his tenure) and a name that would bring recruits in immediately.

But whether because of the Sandusky Scandal or in spite of it, he has chosen to sign with the enemy.

The committee to select the next head coach is not rife with football experts.

PSU President Erickson, said this in a USA Today article by Johnson and Whiteside:
President Rodney Erickson told USA TODAY on Tuesday that he is seeking to transform the university's public image from a football school to a "world class research institution."

"We need to refocus the spotlight on those things [academics] and de-emphasize the spotlight on athletics," he [Sims, Penn State's vice president of student affairs] said, adding that a de-emphasis does not equate to "damaging" the program. "I think we also need to understand that there's all this other stuff that's more important to us than football."

One way to demonstrate that, Sims suggested, was the selection of the new football coach.

He said it would be a "terrible mistake" to pay a new coach on a scale equal to other recent football hires, including Urban Meyer at Ohio State where he is expected to earn $4.5 million per year.
So now we are going to try and hire a guy to a position that we are trying to de-emphasize, and at a salary less than his direct competitors.  GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

What is really maddening is that the academic side has never been an issue under Paterno, who has always stressed education as a priority of the Grand Experiment.  There is a library named after him.  And despite his 409 wins, if there has ever been a criticism of Paterno's experiment, it was with the results on the field, not in the classroom.

Exhibit A:  The Academic BCS

New America Foundation 5th Annual Academic Bowl Championship Series
  1. Penn State - 117
  2. Boise State - 107
  3. TCU - 101
  4. Stanford - 100
  5. Alabama - 78.7
  6. West Virginia - 75.7
  7. Georgia - 72.3
  8. Southern Miss - 69.3
  9. Kansas State - 64
  10. Nebraska - 64

Note that the two Big Ten schools are the newest members of the conference. LSU is 13th on this list.

And while most people associate Penn State with the legendary coach and his football program, it is not --and despite this scandal STILL is not --- a "bad" association.  It was a cleanly run program and has never been a football factory like some other programs out there.  The implication that the football program is somehow to blame for the Sandusky scandal or that because there may have been some mistakes made in the handling of that information that the football program has less integrity is simply poor logic and fallacious. 

Just because President Clinton fooled around with Monica Lewinsky does not mean the whole system of American Democracy is disreputable.  Schultz and Curley were part of the football system:  they were NOT the system.  But I digress.

Based on all this to date, I don't see Penn State hiring a "qualified" candidate because basically that would mean that said candidate was not good enough to command more salary elsewhere.  In other words, I don't think there is anyone out there with the right qualifications at the price we seem to be willing to pay.

Is Penn State willing to ink a contract for 4 million dollars a year, say 24-30 million over six years with incentives and the like, when attendance was already down this year, the economy is not improving that fast, and STEP is discouraging folks from getting season tickets when there are so many tickets available at single game prices?

Unfortunately, the football program has educated countless athletes in a wide variety of sports over the years--and it has not cost Penn State one dime from the academic budget.  If football fails, then either student athletic scholarships will be reduced--we educate fewer people--and we offer fewer sports.  That ladies and gentlemen is the harsh reality.

De-emphasizing football does not emphasize academics and research.  You can't build up the poor by destroying the rich.  Socialism fails because eventually you run out of other people's money.  (Paraphrased from Margaret Thatcher.)

So could we end up with a coach like Petersen (Boise State)?  Look where Boise State is in the academic BCS.  But can we match his salary, and would he be interested in the job?  Salary (see below) is not an issue so much.  But I think not.  I hope I am wrong because he is (and was prior to all this) my personal first choice to succeed Joe.

David Shaw at Stanford?  Another nice rumor and fun to debate, but seriously?  Why would he leave Stanford for Penn State?

I couldn't find Shaw's current salary, but my search found this site about coaching salaries on the rise.  Shaw is listed as N/A.

I mean if you were going to go out and get a coach, wouldn't you want someone like a Les Miles or a Nick Saban?  A proven winner.  National Championships.  Recruiting gurus.  Evidence on the field.  Both are in the top 13 of the academic BCS.

If you are--and assuming they would even think about coming to Happy Valley-- the price tag is going to be $3.7-4.8 million per year.

Petersen is a bargain at $1.5 million. 

Mullen (MSU) is at $2.5 million.  London at Virginia--$1.8 million.  Neuheisal was making $1.25 million at UCLA.  Patterson (TCU) pulls in just over $2 million.  Sumlin (Houston) is at $1.2 million.  Despite a great year for Houston, he is 35-17 overall as a head coach.  Petersen is  71-6 in case you are wondering.  Miles is 103-38.  Al Golden is largely unproven, and has as many ties to Penn State as Bradley.  He isn't on that list of salaries either.  I saw some rumors about Mark Richt (Georgia).  That's almost a $3 million price tag.

I have seen some fans excited by Harvard Coach Tim Murphy.  Seriously?  The man is 119-59 at Harvard since 1994.  He is 151-104-1 as a head coach overall including time at Cincinnati pre-Kelley.  He had one winning season (8-3) with the Bearcats.  He originally started coaching as an assistant at Brown, where Joe Paterno came from, so he's got that going for him.  How can you extrapolate from these numbers that this man is going to be a successful coach at Penn State????  He's also 55 years old.  Bradley's resume is better than this!

Bill Cowher?  Gruden?  Tony Dungy?  Great wish list fans, but NFL salaries are even higher.  None of these guys has significant, if any, college coaching experience . . . and if they had been good at it, why aren't they still doing it?  They either want too much money, or don't want to coach college.  Don't get me wrong . . . I'd be excited as hell to see them take a shot at it, and I think any of them would fill the stadium next year.  But the reality is that we fans have a better shot at winning the Powerball, than Penn State has of signing one of these guys.

Mike Munchak (PSU grad and current Titan Head Coach) is in his first head coaching gig and is 7-5.  I've seen fans post that he could be the salvation of Penn State football.  I'm not seeing it.  I'm not feeling it.  It's just wishful thinking.  I don't know what he's being paid at Tennessee, but I kind of think it's more than we'd be able to offer.

In the end, Tom Bradley might be (and in reality is) the best choice.  He is affordable and available.  He loves Penn State.  He is most likely to retain key elements of the staff such as Vanderlinden and Johnson.  All three are great recruiters.  Any new coach is going to need to set up a system and rapport with high school coaches.  These guys are already there.  Our defense will continue to be good, if not great.  The only down-side to Tom Bradley is that he is "part of the system."  He is Al Gore to Bill Clinton.  He coached under Sandusky.  Did he know anything about this scandal?  Can the University afford to continue with a man who might be tainted?

My personal opinion:  Bradley has NO chance, unless the committee absolutely can't come up with a candidate by the bowl game or before LOI day.  Then, he would probably be kept year to year.

But I sense that the BOT and Joyner want to clean the slate and start over.  And depending on how hell-bent they are to clean house, that might mean signing a less than ideal coach just for the sake of moving on.

But I don't think they want to invest the capital they need to keep this $100+ million business running.

And even IF they open up the checkbook and are willing to spend big bucks . . . who is going to be willing to come to Penn State with this scandal hanging over the stadium like a black cloud?  After all, there is more to job satisfaction than money.  And who knows how serious the administration is about "de-emphasizing" the football program and what ramifications that will have in the future.  I actually think the scandal and fall-out thereof would actually take some pressure off the new hire, much as it has endeared Tom Bradley to many Penn Staters who wouldn't have wanted him to succeed Paterno before this scandal--i.e. look how good a job Bradley did under the circumstances, when the reality is that Bradley went 1-3 and didn't make it to the Big Ten Title game.  A new head coach could "buy" an extra year or two claiming that the scandal has hurt his recruiting, etc.  Just a thought if you're considering applying for the job.

Who do I think will be the next head coach?  I haven't a clue.  But we could do worse than Chris Petersen.  I truly expect Penn State to go low budget, lose recruits and season ticket holders and struggle for probably a decade.  But then, I have lowered my expectations.  Maybe this merry band of non-football folks can pull a Paterno out of a hat for a song.  But I'm not going to hold my breath.

And BTW, Dr. Joyner . . . if I were you, I'd be keeping a list of those that don't return your calls or express no interest.  Because the odds are that whoever is selected will be there for only a few years.  That is what history has taught us.  Notre Dame since Lou Holtz.  Alabama after the Bear.  Nebraska after Tom Osborne.  Oklahoma after Switzer.  The jury is still out on Jimbo Fisher, but if F$U doesn't get back into the Top Ten at the end of the season pretty soon, we will likely add the post Bowden era to that list.

Not every coaching change is as successful as the Engle to Paterno transfer was.

So I'd keep a list of those that turn you down now.  They wouldn't get another opportunity down the road when the dust from this scandal has settled, if it were up to me.

And if it were up to me, I'd throw my hat in for a nomination to the BOT.  I'll show them some change.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bowling Season Opens December 17

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trouble With a Capital T?

Well, either you're closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a scandal in your community.
Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in Ticket City. 
Trouble with a capital "T"
And that rhymes with "P" and that stands for Paterno!
--adapted from THE MUSIC MAN

Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, Ticket City said scandal be damned--we want Penn State!  I applaud their testicular fortitude.  For the other bowls . . . Gator on down . . . shame on you.
 
Here are the Big Ten Bowl tie-ins:
Rose Bowl (Wisconsin)
Cap One Bowl (Nebraska)
Outback Bowl (Michigan State)
Gator Bowl (Ohio State)
Insight Bowl (Iowa)
Meineke Car Care (Northwestern)
Ticket City (Penn State)
Litle Ceasars (Purdue)
 
OK.  I don't think for one minute that the Bowl system or the BCS is FAIR.  It never has been, and until a major overhaul occurs, it never will be.
 
Is it fair that Oklahoma State not have a chance at LSU?  Boise State is one missed field goal away from a perfect season and they are relegated to a December 22nd snooze fest against a 6-6 barely bowl eligible Arizona State.  Talk about injustice!
 
And our opponent, Houston, was one game away from a BCS spot, and now they are stuck playing us.  Thank Heavens I ain't a Cougar fan.
 
Don't even get me started about West Virginia.  The Big Least needs to lose that automatic bid and fast.  Hell, you have to be in the top 14 I think just to be eligible for an at-large bid, and they couldn't even manage that.  I hope Clemson clobbers them.
 
But we fans have no say in the bowl system--and probably shouldn't have any say.  Otherwise, it becomes a popularity contest rather than a match-up of competitive teams.
 
And in the final analysis, the LSU-Bama match-up will be competitive.  Unfortunately, we've already been there and done that.  If I were overhauling the BCS system, one change I'd make is to eliminate rematches.  If the teams have already played, then the team that previously lost is skipped and you match up the next best team.  But that would make too much sense.  And I digress.
 
The system also gives us some interesting matchups to look forward to:  Oregon-Wisconsin, Georgia-Michigan State, and Stanford-Oklahoma State, to name a few.
 
The problem I have with the system is the Big Ten tie ins.  Penn State tied for first in their division (so came in second at worst) and maybe fifth overall behind THEM, Nebraska, MSU and Wisconsin.  We lost to three of those teams and I have no problem seeing them get good bowls.  I hate THEM, but they have a better record.  I personally think MSU should have gotten their bowl bid, but I'm not going to go there right now.
 
But for Ohio State to go to the Gator Bowl when we beat the Buckeyes and they are only 6-6 is simply unacceptable.  Likewise for Iowa and Northwestern whom we beat.  We have a better record on the field overall and won the head-to-head games against them, yet the bowls selected them ahead of Penn State.
 
Why?  Well, we don't need to mention that here, but if you have been living under a rock, you can save 15% on your car insurance AND the reason is Sandusky.
 
But how do the players on this team and we ardent fans of the game have any blame in this?  Why are the players and fans being penalized because of this?
 
Because life isn't fair.  Thank you Mr. Obvious.
 
On the other hand, the match-up with the cougars is not a bad opportunity to challenge our defense.  We are playing a team with only one loss, and a team ranked 19th in the BCS.  Only Iowa is playing a higher ranked bowl opponent (Oklahoma at 14.)  The Gator bowl would be a Florida rematch, which quite frankly doesn't excite me.  Northwestern can have A&M.  It would be nice to play a team like Oklahoma, but who wants to play a bowl game on December 30th?
 
It sucks that the game is on ESPNU.  Who?  The U?  Give me a freaking break.  Why????  (Because all the other "better" games are on the other channels.)  It's also a noon start--but it is the day after the first, so maybe the hangover won't be so bad.
 
All in all, things could have been worse.  I hope our guys give Houston a problem.
 
We're Bowling!  Strike up the band and strike down the Cougars!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bowl Lineup



Bowl/TeamsLocationDate/TimeTV
Gildan New MexicoAlbuquerque, NMSat., Dec. 17ESPN
   Temple vs. WyomingUniversity Stadium2:00 p.m. ET
Famous Idaho PotatoBoise, IDSat., Dec. 17ESPN
   Ohio vs. Utah StateBronco Stadium5:30 p.m. ET
R+L Carriers New OrleansNew Orleans, LASat., Dec. 17ESPN
   La.-Lafayette vs. San Diego St.Mercedes-Benz Superdome9:00 p.m. ET(3D)
Beef O' Brady's St. PetersburgSt. Petersburg, FLTue., Dec. 20ESPN
   Florida International vs. MarshallTropicana Field8:00 p.m. ET(3D)
San Diego County CU PoinsettiaSan Diego, CAWed., Dec. 21ESPN
   Louisiana Tech vs. TCUQualcomm Stadium8:00 p.m. ET
MAACO Las VegasLas Vegas, NVThu., Dec. 22ESPN
   Arizona State vs. Boise StateSam Boyd Stadium8:00 p.m. ET
Sheraton HawaiiHonolulu, HISat., Dec. 24ESPN
   Nevada vs. Southern MissAloha Stadium8:00 p.m. ET
AdvoCare V100 IndependenceShreveport, LAMon., Dec. 26ESPN
   Missouri vs. North CarolinaIndependence Stadium5:00 p.m. ET
Little Caesars Pizza Detroit, MITue., Dec. 27ESPN
   Purdue vs. Western MichiganFord Field4:30 p.m. ET
 BelkCharlotte, NCTue., Dec. 27ESPN
   Louisville vs. NC StateBank of America Stadium8:00 p.m. ET
MilitaryWashington, DCWed., Dec. 28ESPN
   Air Force vs. ToledoRFK Stadium4:30 p.m. ET
Bridgepoint Education HolidaySan Diego, CAWed., Dec. 28ESPN
   California vs. TexasQualcomm Stadium8:00 p.m. ET
Champs SportsOrlando, FLThu., Dec. 29ESPN
   Florida State vs. Notre DameFlorida Citrus Bowl5:30 p.m. ET(3D)
Valero AlamoSan Antonio, TXThu., Dec. 29ESPN
   Baylor vs. WashingtonAlamodome9:00 p.m. ET
Bell Helicopter Armed ForcesDallas, TXFri., Dec. 30ESPN
   BYU vs. TulsaGerald J. Ford Stadium12:00 p.m. ET
New Era PinstripeBronx, NYFri., Dec. 30ESPN
   Iowa State vs. RutgersYankee Stadium3:20 p.m. ET
Franklin Amer. Mort. Music CityNashville, TNFri., Dec. 30ESPN
   Mississippi State vs. Wake ForestLP Field6:40 p.m. ET
InsightTempe, AZFri., Dec. 30ESPN
   Iowa vs. OklahomaSun Devil Stadium10:00 p.m. ET
Meineke Car Care Bowl of TexasHouston, TXSat., Dec. 31ESPN
   Northwestern vs. Texas AMReliant Stadium12:00 p.m. ET
Hyundai SunEl Paso, TXSat., Dec. 31CBS
   Georgia Tech vs. UtahSun Bowl2:00 p.m. ET
Kraft Fight Hunger San Francisco, CASat., Dec. 31ESPN
   Illinois vs. UCLAAT&T Park3:30 p.m. ET
AutoZone LibertyMemphis, TNSat., Dec. 31ABC
   Cincinnati vs. VanderbiltLiberty Bowl3:30 p.m. ET
Chick-fil-AAtlanta, GASat., Dec. 31ESPN
   Auburn vs. VirginiaGeorgia Dome7:30 p.m. ET(3D)
TicketCityDallas, TXMon., Jan. 2ESPNU
   Houston vs. Penn StateCotton Bowl12:00 p.m. ET
Capital OneOrlando, FLMon., Jan. 2ESPN
   Nebraska vs. South CarolinaFlorida Citrus Bowl1:00 p.m. ET(3D)
OutbackTampa, FLMon., Jan. 2ABC
   Georgia vs. Michigan StateRaymond James Stadium1:00 p.m. ET
Taxslayer.com GatorJacksonville, FLMon., Jan. 2ESPN2
   Florida vs. Ohio StateEverBank Field1:00 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl GamePasadena, CAMon., Jan. 2ESPN
   Oregon vs. WisconsinRose Bowl5:00 p.m. ET
Tostitos FiestaGlendale, AZMon., Jan. 2ESPN
   Oklahoma State vs. StanfordU. of Phoenix Stadium8:30 p.m. ET
Allstate SugarNew Orleans, LATue., Jan. 3ESPN
   THEM vs. Virginia TechMercedes-Benz Superdome8:30 p.m. ET
Discover OrangeMiami Gardens, FLWed., Jan. 4ESPN
   Clemson vs. West VirginiaSun Life Stadium8:00 p.m. ET
AT&T CottonArlington, TXFri., Jan. 6FOX
   Arkansas vs. Kansas StateCowboys Stadium8:00 p.m. ET
BBVA CompassBirmingham, ALSat., Jan. 7ESPN
   Pittsburgh vs. SMULegion Field1:00 p.m. ET
GoDaddy.comMobile, ALSun., Jan. 8ESPN
   Arkansas State vs. Northern IllinoisLadd-Peebles Stadium9:00 p.m. ET
Allstate BCS National ChampionshipNew Orleans, LAMon., Jan. 9ESPN
   Alabama vs. LSUMercedes-Benz Superdome8:30 p.m. ET(3D)

Coming to a Blog Near You

Football Finale

As we anxiously await the screw Penn State bowl selection process, here's a brief and irreverent (and more likely irrelevant) recap of Championship Saturday, which I guess technically began Friday night with the PAC-12 Championship game between UCLA and the Mutant Ninja Turtles of Eugene.

UCLA lost.  Oregon  outquacked them 49-31.  Neuheisal is now available for the Penn State position.  Wasn't he seen at the Tavern a few years ago?

Northern Illinois won the MAC Championship, defeating Ohio University 23-20.  Penn State opens with Ohio next season.  Maybe Frank Solich would want to be our next head coach? Wait a minute, Ohio was ahead 20-0 at the half.  I guess we can cross him off the list.  Not that he was ever on it.

My second favorite team, Boise State, beat New Mexico 45-0.  Go Broncos!  Man, I'd like to see what that coach could do with the facilities and tradition at Penn State.  But I guess some recent NCAA infractions at Boise and our own little off the field diversion have made that possibility a no-go.

Speaking of a No-Go. . . Houston . . .  we have a problem.  The Cougars went from BCS buster to bust in one game, losing to Southern Miss 49-28.  On the other hand, I've heard we might match up with Houston in the Nobody Else Wants You Toilet Bowl.

The Va Tech Chokies were in big game form, as the Clemson Tigers pounded them 38-10.  Don't be surprised if they still end ranked in the top 10.  The Chokies are almost as over-rated as Notre Dame.

Speaking of taking a pounding, Oklahoma was crushed by Oklahoma State 44-10.  Has Stoops been mentioned as a possible candidate for Penn State?  Who hasn't?  I was wondering how they could stage the Big XII championship on the same day that Texas played Baylor--granted, neither of the latter teams were in the running at this point, but you wouldn't have known that when the Texas game was scheduled.  But then I realized, the Big XII is really the Big X, and thus doesn't have enough teams to stage a championship.  My, how the tables have turned.

LSU looked mortal, falling behind Mark Richt's Bulldogs 10-0 (isn't Mark Richt on the list of potential head coaching candidates as well?), but then LSU woke up and scored 42 unanswered points to seal the SEC Title and the BCS Title game rematch with the red elephants.  The SEC is 7-0 in BCS Title games . . .they will lose one this year, since 8-1 is the best they can hope for.  Or, maybe the computers will suddenly hate Alabama.  Stranger things have happened, but I think ESPN has scheduled this rematch and nothing short of armageddon will stop it.  Go Bama . . . just for the hell of it!

And in the Big Ten's inaugural title game, the Badgers managed not to make the last mistake this time, and MSU cooperated with a running into the punter penalty that sealed their doom.  Mark Dantonio hates rematches.  I hate rematches.  I think LSU will hate them as well.  For that matter, Okie State probably loathes the rematch.  And, for what it's worth, Wisconsin won 42-39.  LSU and Bama played to a six six tie in regulation.  The Big Ten scores 81 points.  What is this world coming to?

And now we sit back and see how many teams with worse records get better bowls than Penn State.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mullin' Over Mullen

One of the potential candidates for the Penn State coaching position is Dan Mullen of Mississippi State.

A news source WAPT is reporting:
Sources close to Mississippi State University's program have said that football coach Dan Mullen is close to signing a deal to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.
Here is a YouTube Video of Mullen:
What are your thoughts, Nittany Nation?

Here is a man who has composed a most unimpressive record of 20-17 in three seasons at Mississippi State.  The only jewel I can see is the pounding of the wolverines in the Gator Bowl, 52-14. 

This season, his team is 6-6 with losses to Auburn, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas.  The Bulldogs don't have a victory over a ranked team.  In his best season, 9-4 in 2010, the team lost to the usual suspects:  Auburn, LSU, Alabama and Arkansas, but did beat Florida 10-7 and then spanked the wolverines silly in the bowl game.  The win over Florida, and a win over Ole Miss ranked 25th in 2009 are the only wins over a ranked team in that period.  Miss State's best conference finish was fourth in a division with six teams.

Am I missing something here?

Of course, you probably could say the same thing about Penn State over the past three seasons, albeit we did tie for first in our division this year.  But beating ranked teams is not something that Penn State seems to do anymore.  At best, we appear to be aspiring to the status quo.

Hypocritical Media

Should we be surprised that the media is hypocritical?  Do as we say. . . not as we do?



Tom In Paine talks about this in his blog:
Two major events have occurred since the firing of Joe Paterno which prove that the news media are not only incompetent and dishonest but hypocritical beyond anything anyone would have thought possible.
The first revelation concerns the molestation charges against Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine.One of Fine's accusers secretly tape recorded a phone conversation he had with Fine's wife in 2002 in which the sexual contact with Fine was discussed and where Fine's wife admitted she knew everything her husband had been doing. Fine's accuser says he took the tape to the Syracuse Post Standard in 2002 along with his allegations against Fine and played the audio tape for them. The newspaper declined to report the allegations saying that, even with the tape they wanted more corroborating evidence before they would report it. In other words the Syracuse Post Standard gave more of the benefit of the doubt to an accused child molester than the news media in general gave to Joe Paterno, a man with a polished solid gold reputation for 60 years. And there has been no outcry by any of the sanctimonious self-serving members of the media who railed against Joe Paterno focused on the Post Standard for "having knowledge of" sexual abuse and not reporting it.
It gets a lot worse. It has also been revealed that the victim took the same audio tape to ESPN more than ten years ago with his allegations against Fine and played the tape for them, No one at ESPN did a thing. For ten years. They didnt talk to their own lawyers.They didnt refer it to any child protective agency. They didnt refer it to any law enforcement agency. They did nothing.
This is the same ESPN whose commentators called for Joe Paterno's firing immediately for, in their factually challenged hypocritical world, "not going to the authorities". The same ESPN whose commentators said Joe Paterno going to the administrative head of campus police the next day with McQueary's non-specific report wasn't enough. The same ESPN who accused Joe Paterno without a shred of proof, of being aware of child sexual abuse and "not doing enough". The same ESPN that had an audio tape confirming from the mouth of the abuser's own wife, the sexual abuse of a ball boy at Syracuse university. And did nothing.
And are the same sanctimonious self-righteous group of journalists insisting that anyone at ESPN who had been aware of those tapes for the last ten years and who is still with ESPN be fired? No. Of course not.
 
Unfortunately the second set of revelations makes it even worse for the media.
 
According to the mother, in a piece that can be read here, the principal of the high school her son attended, Karen Probst, was present in 2002 when her son openly accused Sandusky of molesting him and not only did the the school principle do nothing, according to the mother the principle actually tried to talk her and her son out of reporting it.
Additionally, according to the mother, Steve Turchetta, the boy's high school coach in 2002, repeatedly allowed Sandusky to come to the school and take the boy out of school not only without parental consent but without even any parental notification. And Turchetta continued to allow Sandusky to take the boy out of school even after the mother found out and protested.

It was Joe Paterno's picture that sold newspapers and got web hits, not Karen Probst's. It was going after Paterno that made the very small and sanctimonious feel very big.
The irony is, that in the end, Joe Paterno did more and with less knowledge, and did it faster than anyone connected to either the Sandusky allegations or the Bernie Fine allegations, all of whom had more knowledge that he did.

So what will ESPN do now? Will they accuse themselves of "not doing enough"? Will they accuse themselves of allowing a sexual predator to remain free? Will there be any media condemnation by others of ESPN? Anyone hear any media condemnation? Anyone demanding people at ESPN be fired? Or will they all hide under their sheets?
I don't think I'll live long enough to see something like that happen.

And unfortunately for Joe, I don't think he'll live long enough to see his name restored.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Searching for an Answer

Fear not, beleaguered Penn State fans.  Help is on the way.  Penn State has organized a search party committee to find us a new head coach.

Yaaaaaaay!  Are you tingling like I am?

From the Penn State release:
Penn State President Rodney Erickson appointed Joyner to head the search committee, which is comprised of:

- Linda Caldwell, Penn State Faculty Athletics Representative;
- Charmelle Green, Penn State Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator;
- Ira Lubert, Chairman and co-founder, Independence Capital Partners and Lubert Adler Partners;
- John Nichols, Emeritus Professor, Penn State College of Communications and Chair, Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics;
- Russ Rose, Head Coach, Penn State Women's Volleyball Team

Joyner said the search committee will meet this week.
Let's analyze this line by line, just for $hits and giggles.

The committee is appointed by the cyborg Erickson--the stiff doing the commercials now for Penn State during the football games.  He's also president, so he's got that going for him.  Why are we still playing that?  Is it because all our other commericials are forever tainted with  JoePa or Spanier stink?  Could we pay LSU Freek to paste Erickson's head over top of Spanier and Tom Bradley over Joe in the old commercials???


Ok.  So then we have the list of party committee members, starting with Joyner at the top.  At least he comes with football experience, and is the ONLY committee member with any football experience.

Here is his bio:
Dr. David Joyner received his B.S. in Science from Penn State in 1972 and his M.D. from Penn State's College of Medicine in 1976. Following residencies in general and orthopedic surgery at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and a brief stint in the World Football League, Dr. Joyner began a medical career with a sports medicine emphasis.
Dr. Joyner is a health care and business consultant as well as an orthopedic physician.
As a physician, I suppose I should be happy with a colleague in control, and a brief stint in the World Football League looks great on any resumé, I'm just not really sold that Dr. Joyner has found what makes him happy in life yet. 

Dr. Caldwell was appointed by the devil GRAHAM SPANIER.
Penn State President Graham Spanier has appointed Dr. Linda Caldwell, professor of recreation, park, and tourism management, to serve as Penn State's faculty athletics representative to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

A 1976 graduate of Penn State, Caldwell earned a master’s degree in recreation resources administration in 1982 from North Carolina State University. She earned a Ph. D. in recreation in 1986 from the University of Maryland.
She will bring a lot of recreational influence to this committee.

Charmelle Green was hired by Beelzebub Tim Curley, to "bring a broad combination of professional experience from Notre Dame."  And we all know how successful the Irish are at hiring coaches!
Most recently the head of the Office of Student-Athlete Welfare & Development and the sport administrator for women's swimming & diving, Green has spent the past six years in Notre Dame's athletic administration. During that time, she oversaw the student development program, with the mission of providing a balanced Notre Dame experience for student-athletes by focusing on five key areas: academic excellence, athletic success, career preparation, community involvement and personal development.
 
Prior to joining athletic administration at Notre Dame, Green was an assistant softball coach from 2001-05. During her tenure on the coaching staff, the Fighting Irish were selected for the NCAA Tournament four times and won four Big East Conference regular season championships.
 
An All-American softball player at the University of Utah, Green spent time in Salt Lake City after graduation working as a recreation program coordinator from 1995-98. Among her notable achievements was raising more than $700,000 in annual revenue. She was also an integral part of developing an advisory board for the development of an inner-city school for the arts.
Hopefully she can improve on that fund raising ability to put the down payment on a coach for Penn State.  Don't look too hard, but you won't see the word football in any of these other bios.
 
Ira Lubert sounds like he should have been a linebacker.  Lubert Trophy winner? 
Mr. Lubert has thirty years experience in the real estate investment sector. . . Mr. Lubert holds a B.S. in human development from Pennsylvania State University and currently serves on the board of directors for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, The Franklin Institute, and PREIT (NYSE: PEI).
Mr. Lubert also serves on community boards, and is currently on the Board of Trustees of Pennsylvania State University.
I wonder how he got this gig?  What more could you want from someone trying to pick a football coach?  He probably drew the short straw, or he was absent from the last meeting whereupon they nominated him as punishment.
 
John Nichols completed all his education in Minnesota, and by virtue of that fact, is a football connoisseur.
John S. Nichols, a member of the Penn State faculty since 1977, is a professor of communications and a specialist in international communications, comparative media systems and telecommunications policy.
He is the co-author of "Clandestine Radio Broadcasting," selected as a Choice "Outstanding Academic Book," and a contributing author to 18 other books in the fields of international communications and foreign affairs, two of which also won Choice awards. Books to which he contributed include: "Telecommunications in Latin America" (Noam), "Nicaragua in Revolution" (Walker), "U.S.-Latin America Policymaking" (Dent), "International Communication" (Anokwa, Lin and Salwen) and "Communications in Latin America" (Cole).
He reportedly watched a football game one time, and has stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.  How is a background in telecommunications in Latin America going to help us find a head coach?  Is our next coach even going to speak English?

Russ Rose.  At last!  A head coach!  Not in football, but at least we're getting warm here.
Record-breaking. History-making. Unprecedented. All of those words can be used to describe the tenure of Penn State women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose's career in Happy Valley. After 32 seasons leading the Nittany Lions, his name has become synonymous with the pride and tradition of the program. At the helm of arguably the most successful program in the country, Russ Rose continues to pass along the confidence and character he has gained during his career.
In 32 seasons at Penn State, Rose has collected wins at a staggering pace. Never having posted fewer than 22 wins in a season, he enters the 2011 season as the NCAA leader in career winning percentage, having won more than 86 percent of the matches he has coached at Penn State. He is just the third active Division I head coach to reach 1,000 career wins, having reached the milestone with an NCAA National Semifinal victory against Hawaii in 2009. A victory which earned the Nittany Lions a spot in the NCAA Championship match.
I like Russ.  I'm glad he's on this committee, even if he doesn't have any direct football ties.  He is a successful head coach himself, and of all the people on this list, he probably has the biggest vested interest in the next head coach at Penn State.  Why?  Because the football program underwrites all the other sports (with the possible exception of men's basketball, and let's face it . . . this program wouldn't be playing in the Bryce Jordan Center if Beaver Stadium wasn't next door.)  In other words, his salary depends on football and the success of that program.  Volleyball probably wouldn't be the first to go if cuts have to be made, but how far down on the list will the pain go if football falls apart???

Joyner said the committee will meet this week--over coffee and donuts.  Maybe they'll meet at the Tavern and see which big time football coaches are hanging out there!

Maybe they should have organized a committee to select the committee to search for the next head coach? 

I guess I'm just pissed they didn't ask me!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wrecking Ball

Lions have "CHEESE TOUCH!"
Monte Ball rolled all over Penn State en route to scoring 4 touchdowns and leading the Badgers to a 45-7 victory over the Nittany Lions in Madison.  Ball brought his season TD total to 34, five behind all-time leader Barry Sanders.  And while the offensive output against this Penn State defense was impressive, the key to the Badgers success was four turn-overs.  Three fumbles--two on punts--and an interception gave the Badger offense great field position and kept our defense on the field a long time.  The Badgers had the ball almost twice as long as Penn State and they ran 36 more offensive plays.

I don't need to tell you how big this game was.  Although the Lions can claim a "share" of the Leaders Division title, the claim is hollow and meaningless, as Wisconsin will head to Indy to face Michigan State again.  But don't worry, football fans.  Rematches are in this season as it appears we will have to endure another LSU-Bama bore fest for all the marbles.

I could dissect this game in detail, but you probably watched it and you don't want to hear about it again.  In a capsule, we played sloppy and unfocused.  We lost time of possession by the largest margin since probably 1994, when Penn State's average scoring drive was around two minutes on the season.  Throw in a few turnovers and we never stood a chance.

It was a whine and cheese party in Madison.  They brought the cheese, and I will provide the whine.  Yes.  I'm going to say it.  I am going to go there.  The officiating sucked.  IT DID NOT COST US THE GAME--Wisconsin was too good for that.  But that makes the piss-poor officiating all that more egregious.

The night before the game I was talking with a friend about this.  I knew that Penn State could not hope to blow-out Wisconsin.  Our only hope was a close game.  But in a close game, the referee can make the critical call that swings things.  I told my friend that the Big Ten had already decided that Penn State could not be in this title game.  They did not want that kind of publicity.  Who am I kidding?  They never wanted us in any title race.  But the point I made to him was that the referees would favor the Badgers at all costs.

Not even half way through the game--at 4:30 PM--he texted me saying I was right about the referees and he bows to my greatnesss.  There are times when I hate to be right.

Seriously.  Wisconsin did not need the help.  And the bad calls--like the blatant PI on Haplea that wasn't called and the unsportsmanlike penalty on McGloin for throwing the ball incomplete after the play was whistled dead for a penalty--only kept Penn State from ever having a chance to climb back into this game.  Again, the calls did not keep us from winning--we weren't good enough to win this game.  But they made an uncompetitive game even more lopsided.

And why was Russell Wilson still taking snaps in the fourth quarter?  You never want to see a player injured, but there would have been some poetic justice to watch Bielema's face if his star QB suffered an injury slipping on the wet field when he didn't need to be out there.

In the end, the game was disappointing beyond words.

And now the fate of this program is in the hands of the Board of Trustees and David Joyner (who was on the board!)  The list of potential candidates has shrunk due to circumstances beyond the football field.  Will they rush to fill the position, perhaps making a bad choice just to make a choice?  The precedent has been set:  they rushed to fire Paterno before they even investigated the situation.

My how the tables have turned.  At the beginning of this season, a large number of PSU fans were hoping Paterno would retire and that Penn State would direct a national search for a replacement instead of staying in house like Paterno wanted to do.  Now, just months later, we miss Paterno and would prefer to see Tom Bradley take the helm, rather than a second-rate coach with no proven ability.

Think about it.  Who do you want to coach this team?  Al Golden does not have the experience.  London at Virginia?  Did you see that Virginia team against Va Tech?  Meyer might be a good temporary choice, but it doesn't look likely that will happen.  He's either a liar and he is going to Ohio State, or he's not going there.  I've heard rumors of Tony Dungy, and of all the candidates I've heard so far, that might be the best.

Unfortunately, the buffoons on the BOT either don't realize how importnat this football program is to the University--or they don't care.  Either way, I fear a knee jerk move to erase Paterno completely from the picture and anyone ever associated with him.  They will act too quickly in the name of wanting to do something, to start the healing, and to move forward.  But making a bad decision is worse than making no decision in this case.

Say what you will about Paterno.  Maybe he knew more about Sandusky than we know.  Maybe he should have done more.  But he still built this program to what it is today--or at least to what it was before November 5th.  He graduated students.  He cared about the athletes under his supervision.  He spurned changing uniform designs to make a buck or show off.  He benched players for celebration.  He did football the way it was meant to be done, even if he didn't always win and didn't always make us armchair quarterbacks happy.

But in its time of need, Penn State has seen fit to expel the strongest moral compass in collegiate football--EVER--just when we need morality the most. 

We can only pray that his replacement is a fraction as noble and successful as Paterno, while still doing football the right way.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From the GoPSUsports site:

Team Totals PSU WIS
FIRST DOWNS 1227
Rushing 613
Passing 413
Penalty 21
NET YARDS RUSHING 114264
Rushing Attempts 2749
Average Per Rush 4.25.4
Rushing Touchdowns 04
Yards Gained Rushing 114279
Yards Lost Rushing 015
NET YARDS PASSING 119186
Completions-Attempts-Int 11-25-119-29-0
Average Per Attempt 4.86.4
Average Per Completion 10.89.8
Passing Touchdowns 12
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 233450
Total offense plays 5278
Average Gain Per Play 4.55.8
Fumbles: Number-Lost 4-31-1
Penalties: Number-Yards 7-584-35
PUNTS-YARDS 5-231 5-203
Average Yards Per Punt 46.240.6
Net Yards Per Punt 41.429.8
Inside 20 31
50+ Yards 21
Touchbacks 01
Fair catch 10
KICKOFFS-YARDS 2-127 8-457
Average Yards Per Kickoff 63.557.1
Net Yards Per Kickoff 39.541.1
Touchbacks 00
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 4-34-0 2-24-0
Average Per Return 8.512
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 6-128-0 2-48-0
Average Per Return 21.324
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 1-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 1-6-00-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 00
Possession Time 21:4338:47
1st Quarter 3:3711:23
2nd Quarter 4:2910:31
3rd Quarter 7:447:16
4th Quarter 5:539:07
Third-Down Conversions 4 of 13 9 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 2 0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 0-1 6-6
Touchdowns 0-1 5-6
Field goals 0-1 1-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards 2-120-0
PAT Kicks 1-16-6
Field Goals 0-0 1-1

Again, time of possession and turnovers absolutely killed us.  The interception by McGloin occurred right after the Badgers had kicked out of bounds and we had good field position at the forty.  Bad pass.  Killed us.  The fumble by Redd on the opening drive of the second half was a killer too.  No chance to get back in the game.

INTANGIBLES:

The only thing we won on Saturday was the coin toss.  We deferred.

A wet crowd of 79,708 jumped around Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin leads the all-time series 6-9.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Michigan State and Wisconsin will square off AGAIN for the Big Ten title.  Personally, I think the tie breaker system sucks.  Why send Wisconsin back to face the Spartans.  Been there done that.  Head to head competition ought to play a rule in who they face, not just in the division.  Wisconsin had their shot and blew it.  The next ranked team in the division should have shot.  Otherwise, why did they even play the first game in the first place?

Illinois has fired Ron Zook, after becoming the first school to win their first six games, and then lose the last six.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  For college football fans--who will be forced to watch a rematch between LSU and Alabama in all likelihood.  See BIG PICTURE above. Oh yeah, like Georgia might win.
2.  Arkansas--pounded by LSU
3.  Pitt--WVU wins the backyard brawl by one point
4.  Notre Dame--LUCK is with Stanford, not the Irish
5.  Clemson - lost to South Carolina; must face Va Tech in the ACC championship

LOOKING AHEAD:

I'm not going to speculate on the bowl here.  We'll preview that after the picks are made.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Microphone Man #2

Hey!  It worked last week. . .

All right, Penn State!

This half of the Internet yells BEAT. The other half yells WISCONSIN.

BEAT.

WISCONSIN.

BEAT.

WISCONSIN.

I can't hear you!


BEAT . . . . WISCONSIN!



BEAT . . . . WISCONSIN!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Celebrate Thanksgiving . . .

Baste a Hokie!



And my favorite Thanksgiving clip . . . again:

Statistically Speaking: Monte Ball Edition

What IS behind curtain number 3?


The NCAA rankings don't favor Penn State well this week in the match-up with Wisconsin.



NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.WisconsinDelta
Rushing4510-35
Passing Offense9557-38
Total Offense8912-77
Scoring Offense1065-101
Rushing Defense344410
Turnovers Gained146147
Passes Had Intercepted362-34
Pass Defense63-3
Net Punting9270-22
Punt Returns805-75
Kickoff Returns269165
Turnover Margin237-16
Fumbles Recovered2710881
Passes Intercepted14195
Fumbles Lost701-69
Turnovers Lost492-47
Passing Efficiency1102-108
Pass Efficiency Defense4106
Total Defense86-2
Scoring Defense363
Fewest Penalties Per Game203212
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game23252
Punt Return Yardage Defense6155-6
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense668014
Offense Third-down Efficiency923-89
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency1710-7
Defense Third-down Efficiency4139-2
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency356934
Tackles for Loss22297
Offense Tackles for Loss51611
Pass Sacks254217
Pass Sacks Allowed214726
Time of Possession4027-13
First Downs8322-61
First Downs Allowed124-8
Red Zone Efficiency863-83
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense11569-46
Average NCAA Rank:45.8129.54-16.27
Weighted Avg. Rank:51.2519.33-31.92

The Badgers are better than Penn State in almost every category.  Wisconsin's 29.54 average NCAA rank is good for FOURTH in the nation, behind LSU, Alabama and Stanford in that order.  In case you are wondering, PSU's 45.81 is ranked 20th in the Nation.

Even in the categories where PSU has an "edge", that edge is thin.  Kickoff returns and fumbles recovered is where it is at.  We need to recover fumbles and run back kicks to win this game.

Penn State is a 15 point underdog.

Well, throw out those stats.  Stifle Edith.  Come on Eileen.  Good Night Irene.

This game is going to come down to the team that wants it the most.  Penn State has overcome incredible tragedy and odds to even be in this position.  Yeah, they've won a lot of close ugly games against less than marquee opponents.  In fact, the two marquee opponents to date--Nebraska and Alabama--beat us.

But Ohio State beat the Badgers (in Ohio Stadium.)  And in case you forgot, Penn State beat those same Buckeyes (actually a better Buckeye team because they had Posey back) last Saturday in Ohio Stadium.  Michigan State needed a Hail Mary pass to beat the Badgers, but again, that was not in Madison.  The guys with a W on their helmet are averaging about 52 points per home game.

Make no mistake about it.  Penn State will be lucky if they are still in this game going into the fourth quarter.  But if they are still in the game--watch out.  This team is on a mission, and that mission is not to lose.

In my preseason assessment, I ranked this game as the second most difficult game to win behind the Alabama game.  It still is.  Here's what I said:
After I put this list together, I found out that Jon Budmayr, who was supposed to start for the Badgers at Quarterback, has been injured. NC State transfer Russell Wilson is going to be thrust into the job early on, according to the ESPN Big 10 Blog. Of course, he may be back by the last game of the season, but who knows if he can win his job back (ala Bolden last year) or if he will mentally and physically be able to manage the team.

Had I known this, I might have dropped the Badgers down to 4th. But maybe not. Does it really matter who is the quarterback? They are going to line up a herd of cattle across the field and pound the ball at you come hell or high water. They have depth at running back--Montee Ball (are you kidding me!), James White and Zach Brown. Despite losing two all-Americans on the line, the Badgers are expected to reload. That's what they do. Big. Offensive. Linemen.

Prediction: We lose. We might win, but I just don't have the confidence (stupidity) that I used to have. I think a lot will come down to how banged up these teams are after the Big Ten season. It should be an interesting finale, and hopefully will have some championship implications.
Well, well, well.  I wasn't far off.  But who knew a reject from NC State would end up being a star QB for the Badgers?  And while I'm not sure there's enough Kool Aid to really make me think we can or will win this game, I just can't shake the feeling that this team, these players, these coaches--won't find some way to pull this out and head to Indy for the Big Ten Championship.

And perhaps the stars are aligning.  Apparently, the starting center for Wisconsin is out due to an injury.
The Badgers are known for their outstanding offensive lines, but they are dealing with a key injury as center Peter Konz is out with a bad ankle. That has led to some shuffling on the line, which could be a break for Penn State's defensive front.
Tom Bradley has gone on record saying he wants the PSU head coaching job.  This is a big test, but if he brings home a win--and perhaps a Big Ten Title--can the Board of Trustees really look past him?

GO STATE!  BEAT BADGERS!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Might Have Been

From ESPN:


If only we had found a way to beat Nebraska!    Every one loss team is in the Top 10!  Oh, well.  With the benefit of hindsight, maybe we wish we'd have done more!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nuttin' to It

WE BEAT THE BUCKEYES!!!!!!

The mighty Nuts of Columbus fell to the Nittany Lions 20-14.  What many expected to be a defensive struggle turned into a plethora of points in the first half, but in the end, defense was the name of the game in the second half.  Ohio State withstood a goal line stand, turning the men in white away with no points, while the Lions managed to recover two fumbles that helped keep the Buckeyes off the board.

The Penn State offense looked like it had found new life with the wildcat formation but in the end, we scored one less point than our season average of 21.  The addition of Belton and Drake seemed to spark the offense in the first half, but couldn't produce points in the second.  It was particularly disappointing and frustrating to see Penn State fail to convert on first and goal from the two.  It was like the 1979 Sugar Bowl all over again, sans Joe Paterno.

The play calling on that series was baffling.  Two fullback dives up the middle?  An ineffective QB sneak?  Another dive up the middle by Green?  Joe must have been on the phone calling plays!  Perhaps it's just easy to second guess from our armchairs, but seriously?  As imaginative as the offense seemed elsewhere on the field, the anal sphincter still squeezes tighter than a boa constrictor inside the red zone.

I said in my statistical analysis this week that the game would be won by the team that made the fewest mistakes.  They had two fumbles.  We threw one pick.  But it was not a pick six, so we had that going for us for once.  So we won by one score and one turnover.

And a win is sweet.  This is the first victory in the post-Paterno era.

The Lions advance to 9-2 on the season, 6-1 in the conference and they still control their own destiny.  Of course, so does Wisconsin.  Next week's battle in Madison will decide the Big Ten Leaders division.  Ohio State falls to 6-5 (3-4) and are still bowl eligible.  Perhaps they can salvage their season with a win over THEM next week.

After seeing our "new" offense today, I am more optimistic about our chances.  Consider this:  this was the first game we use Belton and Drake like this.  It now gives the Badgers something else they have to prepare for this week.  And it gives our coaches some options we didn't have before.  I am going to assume another week of practice will produce another wrinkle and better results.

Anthony Fera hit two field goals.  I was a little concerned about the kicking game, but he came through.

After watching Nebraska today, I can only wonder why that team didn't show up last week in Beaver Stadium.  With teams in the top ten falling right and left, who knows how far this team could have gone?

But, the still have another Big test next week.

This coaching staff is doing an amazing job of keeping this team focused and playing well.  I have been on record as saying I wasn't sure Bradley was "head coach" material.  I was wrong.  And if there is some way he can be the next coach--not just the interim coach--I am okay with that.



BY THE NUMBERS:

From the GoPSUsports site:



Team Totals PSU OSU
FIRST DOWNS 1615
Rushing 910
Passing 54
Penalty 21
NET YARDS RUSHING 239206
Rushing Attempts 3943
Average Per Rush 6.14.8
Rushing Touchdowns 21
Yards Gained Rushing 241235
Yards Lost Rushing 229
NET YARDS PASSING 8883
Completions-Attempts-Int 10-18-17-17-0
Average Per Attempt 4.94.9
Average Per Completion 8.811.9
Passing Touchdowns 01
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 327289
Total offense plays 5760
Average Gain Per Play 5.74.8
Fumbles: Number-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties: Number-Yards 5-406-32
PUNTS-YARDS 4-144 4-153
Average Yards Per Punt 3638.2
Net Yards Per Punt 3630.8
Inside 20 30
50+ Yards 00
Touchbacks 01
Fair catch 11
KICKOFFS-YARDS 4-277 3-203
Average Yards Per Kickoff 69.267.7
Net Yards Per Kickoff 46.249.7
Touchbacks 11
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 2-10-00-0-0
Average Per Return 50
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 2-34-0 3-72-0
Average Per Return 1724
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 1-15-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 00
Possession Time 30:0829:52
1st Quarter 8:026:58
2nd Quarter 7:587:02
3rd Quarter 8:426:18
4th Quarter 5:269:34
Third-Down Conversions 6 of 13 7 of 13
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 1 0 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 1-21-1
Touchdowns 1-21-1
Field goals 0-2 0-1
Sacks By: Number-Yards 3-170-0
PAT Kicks 2-22-2
Field Goals 2-20-0

Time of possession is equal.  In fact, nearly every category is equal except for the fumbles.  Neither team passed well, and Penn State logged three sacks.

INTANGIBLES:

Ohio State won the toss and deferred.

Ohio State leads the all-time series 14-13.

Tom Bradley notches win #1.  408 more to go . . .

Attendance was listed at 105,493.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Michigan State locked up the Legends division, throttling Indiana 55-3.

The Ann Arbor Aholes ran the score up on Nebraska 45-17. Welcome to the real Big Ten, Huskers.

Iowa beat Purdue 31-21.

Northwestern beat Minnesota 28-13.

Wisconsin forces game seven by beating Illinois 28-17.

Thankfully, the inaugural Big Ten Championship won't include O$U or THEM.  Hallelujah!

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Okie State--missed a field goal (maybe!) and threw an INT in OT to lose to ISU.
2.  Clemson--locked up ACC title game, but lost to NC State 37-13
3.  F$U--amazing loss as time expires on clock mismanagement, but then a review calls the play incomplete which stopped the clock.  A defensive penalty moves it five yards closer, but then the kicker misses anyway.  Virginia's first win ever in Tallahassee.
4.  Oregon falls to USC on a missed FG that would have tied them in regulation--doesn't anyone want to face LSU in the title game???
5.  Oklahoma lost to Baylor 45-38--doesn't anyone want to face LSU in the title game???

LOOKING AHEAD:

Okay, be honest.  Did you expect PSU to be playing for the Big Ten Championship game at this point?

Did you expect to see Wisconsin lose after the Badgers manhandled Nebraska?

But here we are.  One game away from Indianapolis.

And the Badgers are beatable.

Here is their season to date:

W  UNLV 51-17
W  Oregon State 35-0
W  Northern Illinois 49-7
W  South Dakota 59-10
W  Nebraska 48-17
W  Indiana 59-7
L  @ Michigan State 37-31
L  @ Ohio State 33-29
W  Purdue  62-17
W  @ Minnesota 42-13
W  @ Illinois 28-17

Wisconsin did not play an away game until OCTOBER 22.  Both losses are on the road, and were close.  But they struggled early against the Illini.  Penn State may be the best defensive team they will face all year.

And let us end with this thought from "not so fast" Lee Corso: