Monday, January 31, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Loyal Fans

In case you haven't heard, Pittsburgh's going to the Super Bowl!

They are climbing the stairway to SEVEN.

They are knocking at SEVEN's door.

Genaro Armas of AP looks at the phenomenon of Steeler Fever:
Proud, tough and resilient. The same adjectives that could describe the Pittsburgh Steelers could also apply to their large and fiercely loyal fan base.

"It's in your blood. I have the Terrible Towel that I was wrapped in as a baby," said Rob Mowry, 35. The Pittsburgh-area native manages a trading company and owns a restaurant in Chicago, but still flies back to western Pennsylvania at least four times a year to watch Steelers games.

A yellow placard taped to a car window in a hotel parking garage offered a reminder through a new signature phrase: "Knocking On 7's Door."

After another AFC title trophy presentation at Heinz Field, team president Art Rooney II spoke Sunday night of "finishing the job."

"Steeler Nation, we're going to Dallas," he proclaimed. The Steelers, known as a model NFL franchise, have been run by three generations of the Rooney family.

It's the organization's mom and pop-type feel that resonates with its fan base, even if the Steelers are a big business and one of the top-selling teams in the NFL. The franchise's sense of loyalty appeals to the blue-collar sensibilities of western Pennsylvanians.

Many of those who departed [Pittsburgh] took their Steelers allegiance with them and passed it on to children and grandchildren. Those who stayed viewed the team as the common bond that offered a brief distraction from the economy's harsh realities.

"It's our way of life," Coen said. "If you're in this town, and you're not a Steelers fan, you're almost not accepted."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just Ended Their Season

From LaMarr Woodley's Facebook Album:


Cooled the Jets!

Now Pittsburgh's Going to the SUPER BOWL!

Stairway to Seven

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fans: Born or Bred?

It is the off-season for Penn State football, recruiting notwithstanding.  And the Steelers don't play until tomorrow night.  I am bored.  So I thought perhaps I would blog to pass the time, but what pray tell should I blog about?

Penn State wrestling is hot right now, but to be brutally honest, I simply cannot get into that sport.

The men's basketball team is not as bad as usual--winning a couple games against ranked Big Ten opponents, and coming up just points short of upsetting OSU and Purdue.  But alas, basketball is a sport I cannot sink my teeth into, at least not without double dribbling all over my self.

So a friend of mine from high school sent me a link to his blog today, imploring me to read it.  It was titled Steelers Fans, My Family and Friends.  I can sink my teeth into that.

Basically, he attempts to explain that while he doesn't loathe the Steelers, he isn't a die hard fan.  He struggles to find an explanation to such a simple and easy question as, Are you a Steeler Fan?
This dilemma has nothing to do with whether or not I will be rooting for the Steelers. It has to do with … ‘The Question’! What is the question? It goes something like this, “Ready for the Steelers’ game, George?” OR the ‘other question’, which is worse … “So, are you a Steelers’ fan?”

When answering the first question, I can (and at times do) take the easy way out by responding with something to the effect of, “Sure, always ready for football!!!” And yet, there are times when for whatever reason I feel that I must elaborate and add, “But, I am not a diehard Steelers’ fan.” It is during these times that I see some of the dirtiest, confused looks on people’s faces. What can be worse are the situations when I must answer the second question. I will share my polite answer, but you must know that it does not always get me very far. When asked if I am a “Steelers’ fan”, I most often choose to respond with, “Not the way most people around here are. But I respect the team, everything that they have accomplished as a franchise, the Rooney family, and they way they seem to have done it with as much class as possible in an ever changing societal atmosphere.” As you might imagine, that answer often gets me out of further explanation.
To be perfectly honest, had you asked me before I read this blog if my friend was a Steeler fan or not, I would have said most certainly he was.  Why wouldn't he be?  But I am surprised.  Just like when I found out my neighbor was a Pitt fan.  Honestly, they look so normal sometimes it can be very deceiving.

My friend goes on . . .
“I am a HUGE NFL fan, but I just don’t have a favorite team. I tend to root for teams who have players or coaches whom I like and enjoy watching.” Most of the time, that type of answer will do it, especially if I immediately turn and walk away. It is simply not a very satisfying ending for me.
I can live with an answer like that.  I don't understand it, but I can live with it.  This is a very common fan type as I will discuss below.  But then he drops this bombshell:
The true response is that I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, bleeding silver and blue all over the place, crying my eyes out at 14 years old IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE when they lost yet another Super Bowl to the ‘Stupid Steelers’.
OMG.  This is akin to finding out your first grade teacher was really a satanist.  You suspected it back then, but would never have believed it years later when she was caught sacrificing animals on an altar in her livingroom, even if it had been posted on Youtube with several million hits.  This is simply shocking. 

Just in case my first grade teacher is still alive and has taken time from her satanic rituals to read this blog, let me just say I made all that up.  But it would be shocking, wouldn't it?

My friend and I grew up in Altoona, Pa., the very heart of Steeler country, (and Penn State for that matter!)  In the 1970's, during our young formative years, the Steelers were the dynasty in the NFL.  Dallas was the Evil Empire, although the Raiders were worse, by virtue of having to face them in the play-offs so often.

So how is that a normal healthy boy in central Pennsyltucky grows up to be a Dallas Cowboys fan?  How can you not like Art Rooney, Chuck Noll, Terry Bradshaw and the Steel Curtain???  It's obviously not something in the water.  And this is not an isolated finding.

People who have never gone to Notre Dame, are not Irish, Catholic, or Irish-Catholic, and live nowhere near Indiana nor have ever been in Indiana root for Notre Dame.  People who can't even spell Notre Dame, root for that school.  These people also shop at Walmart at 3 am, but the significance of this information deserves more study than I can devote here in this blog.

Is it genetic?  Was his dad a Cowboy's fan?  Is there a gene with the lone star embedded on it?  I would like to believe that there is some explanation beyond just free rational choice to explain such a poor choice.  After all, if we can blame drug addiction as a medical disease and exonerate the individual of all personal responsibility, can we not do so for decisions like these???

But alas, I fear some of this may just be youthful rebellion.  I have a friend, who was once a cheerleader for Penn State, whose son now wears Notre Dame shirts as if that is a perfectly acceptable thing to do in public.  Another friend, who had seats right behind the Penn State bench (and lost them due to relocation for disability seating) has a son who wears . . .please forgive me God . . . an Ohio State shirt.  I KNOW!  I strongly suspect he does it just to irk me, but his parents don't know how to handle it either.

My own son, flesh of my loins, is a Flyers fan.  We are (Penn State!) Penguins fans.  This just dumbfounds me (and embarrasses me to no end in public.)  I don't know how to handle the situation either.  I do blame this on genetics, though, as my wife's family is from Quakertown and they are all Flyers and Eagles fans down there.

Now we are talking real fans here.  I am not talking about fans who "claim" to follow and support a team, but then allow life to go on normally after "their" team loses.  How can that be?  If you are a properly and emotionally invested fan, you simply can't shrug and say, "better luck next time." 

YOUR TEAM JUST LOST!   THERE MIGHT NOT BE A NEXT TIME! THE FABRIC OF THE UNIVERSE MIGHT UNRAVEL BECAUSE OF THIS!  DON"T THEY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF WINNING?

Would we be here today if God had lost to chaos and the earth was never created?

Who lost to Polk in the presidential election?  If you know, big deal.  You are probably a history teacher, an idiot savant, or a seriously deranged intellectual.  Or you just Googled it, cheater.  Normal people don't know that!  Heck, normal people might not even know Polk was a president--I don't know, somehere back in the 1600's--but I know he must have won.  And no one cares about the LOSER except the LOSER.  In the case of Polk, we barely even give a hoot about the winner.

What in the bloody hell was I talking about before I digressed?

Fans?

Fans.

They are a nice alternative to air conditioning on a hot summer day.  Thank you for your participation.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Here We Go!

Pittsburgh's going to the AFC Championship Game!  Fourth time in seven years.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's Not as Funny

Apparently, UConn is NOT hiring Mr. "Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin" Whipple.  Instead, they have gone with Paul "I already squeezed the orange" Pasqualoni.  You heard me.  Squeezed.  The.  Orange.

So here is the updated Whipple photo.

From the ESPN article:
Pasqualoni was chosen over former University of Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who had been in negotiations for the job earlier this week, according to a source in the athletic department.

Pasqualoni compiled a 107-59-1 record in 14 years at Syracuse before being fired after the 2004 season. He took the Orange to nine bowls, won three consecutive Big East Conference titles from 1996 to 1998 and shared the title with West Virginia in 2004.
I'm sorry, but Pasqualoni isn't as funny as Whipple. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Dust is Settling

THEM has hired Brady Hoke, much to the chagrin of mgoBlog.
This is a stupid hire. It will always be as stupid hire and David Brandon just led the worst coaching search in the history of Michigan football. He managed to chase off half of an already iffy recruiting class, hired a Plan C coach on January 11th, probably ensured the transfer of the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and restricted his "national search" to people who'd spent at least five years in Ann Arbor. Michigan just gave themselves a year of USC-level scholarship reduction voluntarily.

What are the chances that the best available coach is a 52-year-old with a 47-50 career record and no experience as a coordinator?

I'd rather have Rich Rodriguez entering year four with a new defensive staff than this, a total capitulation.

A completely average coach should be able to take 20 returning starters on a 7-6 team that sees the schedule ease considerably and get to 9-3. That's good, because that's probably what we hired. If Denard's out the door all bets are off except "will Brian cut down or across?"


I have to be careful here, as Penn State could very well be in this situation in the foreseeable future.  For the Penn State optimists, that means the end of next season.  For Paterno, well, that could be another 4-5 years, since, well, he hasn't really thought about it.  Seriously?  How can you be 84 years old and NEVER really thought about retirement?  If they ever teach him how to download a jar of peanut butter, he may live forever.

But since we are not in this situation in the foreseeable present, it is rather funny to watch the names like Miles and Harbaugh basically pass--thanks, but no thanks--on what should have been a dream job for them.  But sometimes dreams become nightmares.

And for Tom Bradley, things have gotten no better.  No job at Temple.  No job at Pitt.  And now UConn is in the final stages of securing Mark Whipple.  Mr Whipple????

Steeler Defense

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bradley the Bridesmaid

But not the bride, as Pitt settles on Tulsa Coach Todd Graham, according to ESPN.
Graham made $1.3 million at Tulsa, about $300,000 more than Wannstedt was paid from 2005 until this season, but is expected to be paid about $2 million per season at Pitt. Graham's salary is believed to be one reason he was bypassed during Pitt's initial search, but the school subsequently decided to pay more.

Penn State assistant coach Tom Bradley was among the first to be interviewed by Pitt, but he apparently did not have a second interview despite being pushed by some prominent Pitt boosters.


I can't say I'm surprised.

Although I like Tom Bradley as a defensive coordinator, I have never been able to picture him as the head coach, even when he acted in that capacity when Paterno was injured.  He is a player's coach and a great recruiter (think Wannstedt) but I don't know that I have seen the qualities--whatever they may be--of being a great head coach.  I just don't get that vibe from him, and perhaps those who have interviewed him have gotten the same feeling.  He is also older than a lot of the "hot" coaches out there, and that may work against him.  He has also only ever coached in one system and it remains to be seen whether he could be successful outside that system.  I could be wrong, and perhaps he will head to Connecticut to prove me wrong.

Or maybe, he'll stay at Penn State.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Todds and Ends

It appears the Rich Rod era has come to a close in Ann Arbor.  Early reports on ESPN indicate that he has been fired, but later reports are now hedging.
Michigan has fired football coach Rich Rodriguez after his third season ended with a school-record 38-point loss in the Gator Bowl, Fox 2 TV and the Detroit Free Press are reporting.

The report comes as Rodriguez is meeting with athletic director Dave Brandon on Tuesday. Members of the football team are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Rodriguez traditionally holds the meeting the night before classes resume each semester.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who played quarterback at Michigan, has been cited as a potential candidate to replace Rodriguez. But a source with direct knowledge of Harbaugh's thinking said Harbaugh is "highly unlikely" to accept the Michigan job if offered, the Detroit Free Press reported.

I miss him already!  Check out the InSider list RUMOR about Rich Rod to Pitt.  I'm not an ESPN InSider, so I don't know any details, but the thought is entertaining anyway.

In a strange twist of the Bolden Saga, Joe Paterno has apparently refused to release Bolden, per Ron Musselman.
Bolden and his dad, Robert, met today with coach Joe Paterno and his son Jay, the Nittany Lions' quarterback coach.

Bolden's mom, Tonia Williams, told The Post-Gazette that Joe Paterno did not grant her son his release.
Williams said she is happy her son was denied his release, but worries about his future at Penn State.

"I didn't want Rob to leave," Williams said. "I think he should stay there. I just told him that I thought he was making the wrong decision. I really felt that he moved just a little bit too quick and too fast."
Well at least Mrs. Williams cares about the values of her son.  Granted, Bolden may not have gotten the playing time he wanted, but as a freshman at Penn State, the fact that he got ANY is simply amazing.  And I am surprised at how willing his father is to have him transfer.  So the message he wants to send to his son is this . . .  when the going gets tough, just quit?  And the decision was supposedly "made" BEFORE the bowl game.

I can give Paterno the benefit of the doubt on this one.  He may just want to give Bolden and his dad time to cool off and look at things again before making a rash decision.

ESPN fires Ron Franklin for calling a female co-worker "Sweet Baby."  Come on, Ron.  Everyone knows the proper term is "Sweet Mama."

And thank heavens you're not in the Stanford band
Orange Bowl administrators, determined to make tonight's matchup between No. 5 Stanford and No. 12 Virginia Tech less entertaining, have decided to bar Stanford's irreverent band from performing at halftime.

The move comes after the band announced its show was entitled: "Recent Events in the Pro Sports World in Miami."

Apparently bowl officials were concerned that the band might mock LeBron James and hurt his feelings.
I'm with Ed Rendell (just this once and very likely the ONLY time ever.)  We're becoming a nation of wussies.  And that includes you, Dick Foust.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Coming to Stadiums This Year

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Swamp Thing

Like some horrendous creature in a bad B-movie, the Florida Gator rose from the swamp and scared the cast of Nittany Lions into a litany of poor decisions like leaving the knife within reach and turning our backs on the supposedly dead psychomaniac, not protecting the punter, swimming too soon after eating, and throwing interceptions with rash abandon.

With five interceptions in the game and a blocked punt that was returned for six, this game was given away by the Penn State offense and special teams.

Penn State actually outgained Florida 350 to 279 yards and won time of possession by almost 5 and a half minutes.

After a dismal three and out to start the game, the Penn State D took charge and picked off QB Brantley on Florida's first offensive possession.  Penn State then moved the ball 61 yards with relative ease to go up 7-0.  We mixed things up and looked like a great team.  Looks can be deceptive.

The defense followed this up by holding the Gators to a three and out and PSU took over after the punt.  And that was when things started to go awry.  On a third and long, Black intercepted McGloin and returned the ball to the PSU 15 yard line.  The Gators, now with good field position and momentum, were able to capitalize and tie the game.

Both teams would bog down for awhile until the 6:48 mark in the second quarter.  Penn State tried to punt, but Patton for the Gators marched through Europe and the Penn State line and blocked the punt--the Gators recovered and scored to take the lead.

To our credit, the Lions did not unravel completely at this point and managed to tie the score thanks to a shanked punt by Florida, and added a late field goal to take a lead into the locker room.  Unfortunately, the field goal was from the three yard line and should have been six, but the offensive impotency that has plagued this team in the red zone most of the year reared its ugly head once more.

And, just like so many times this season, Penn State only played one half the game well, managing only seven more points in the final two quarters and throwing four more INTs including a pick six to sink their ship.  We made no adjustments in the second half and we did not adapt to Florida's adjustments.

More shennanigan's occurred on the sideline with McQueary trying to send in a play, Joe questioning him, he flips the mike down and says something upstairs, listens, he tells Joe, and Joe shakes his head and insists in doing something else.  A timeout is needed to prevent a penalty.

I have come to believe that having two people upstairs calling plays--Galen the running and Jay the passing--is simply a recipe for disaster.  It works once in a while.  Every blind squirrel finds an acorn.  But more often than not, it results in an offense with no consistency and no identity.

I thought the defense played a decent--but not great--game.  Let's face it, though.  This was not a very good Florida team.  This was a bowl game that matched two mediocre 7-5 teams and one of them was more mediocre than the other.

I can't lay blame entirely on McGloin, but his 5 interceptions did not help the cause.  Should the coaches have made a change?  Probably.  Ya think?  But are we really surprised that Joe stuck with McMorelli?  Loyalty is a cherished quality and an asset.  Loyalty to a fault, though, can be a problem.

Newsome didn't even come to the game and will likely leave.  Just like Pat Devlin who has led his team to the Division championship.  There are now rumors that Bolden will transfer.  This is clearly a coaching problem.  We are not managing our resources properly.  I have never been a Jay Paterno fan and I really wonder how much damage is being done.  Maybe that is the problem--he can't handle this many QBs at one time.  Every QB I see at Penn State regresses.  Michael Robinson thankfully had only one year at the position, and he had more talent and athletic ability than the subsequent QBs since him put together, and he overcame the cockamamie idea of forcing him to stay in the pocket. 

But if a coach is willing to stick with a guy who played like McGloin did in this bowl game, how likely is it that anyone will have a chance to pass him in Spring/Fall practice?  I must admit, though, I never thought Bolden would have had a shot last year, and he did.  Is he willing to take the chance?

I am actually genuinely worried about the future of this program right now.  The problems are mounting and I am losing faith that Coach Paterno can avoid the iceberg as the Titanic cuts through cold and unchartered waters.  Recruiting is down.  Talks of transfers are getting louder.  It's not like this has never happened before.  Jeff Hostetler left so as not to be stuck behind Blackledge.  But that worked out for Penn State.  The Devlin transfer--not so much.  A senior QB this year would have been very helpful.

And I'm not convinced that the future is any better.  We might return only two signal callers next year.  McGloin and Jones.  And while McGloin has shown he is capable coming off the bench to spark this team, he has not shown that he can win the big game yet.  And there are a LOT of big games on the schedule next year.  Throw in the usual revamping of the offensive line and the loss of Royster, and the slate of games which includes Alabama, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Ohio State looks daunting.

If Joe doesn't want to step down, so be it.  But some changes need to made.  We need a special teams coach.  Our kick-off returns are always bad.  Wouldn't it be nice to set up some field position once in a while and take some pressure off the offense?  How about blocked punts?  Iowa last year.  Florida this season.  That's a game a year that such gaffes are potentially losing the game for us.  Great teams can overcome these things.  We don't field great teams more than once every five years.  We need to maximize our strengths and reduce mistakes on special teams.

We need an offensive coordinator.  Not someone who was great thirty years ago coupled with unproven nepotism.  We need one mind planning out an entire game, reacting to what the defense is doing and making adjustments without having to play rock-paper-scissors to determine who gets to call the next play and "mother may I" with the sideline.

It would be nice to have a better offensive line coach--someone who can get these kids ready to play in one year, not three or four.

Don't get me started about strength and conditioning, because in the final analysis, this is the least of the problems and won't do anything if the above problems aren't fixed.

It's too easy to say that McGloin just had a bad day.  He did.  But the coaching staff did absolutely nothing to correct that problem.  And such blame ignores the other issues such as a lack of in-game adjustments, red zone play calling, and special teams play.

This loss was a team effort.  And the leader of that team is Joe Paterno.  I anxiously await seeing how these issues will be addressed next season.  Anxious.  Nervous.  Not very optimistic at all.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Ohio State plays Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

Wisconsin failed on a two-point conversion and fell to #3 TCU, 21-19.

Iowa won their bowl game against Missouri, 27-24.

Illinois also won against Baylor.

But the Big Ten went 0-5 on New Years day with blowout losses to Alabama (49-7) and Mississippi State  (52-14) by the teams from the state of Michigan.  Northwestern made a valiant comeback, but lost 45-38 to Texas Tech.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Logo Revised