Sunday, September 30, 2012

410 Fund

Apparently, a fund is being set up . . . 410 for Joe's next win . . . to help football players pay back any debt after graduating.  This is a response to sanctions at Penn State that limit the number of scholarships by the NCAA.

According to Aaron Cheslock on
The "410 fund" looks to help Penn State football players repay their student loans after they graduate. Faith Lucchesi-Deboef, the organization's President says it was partly formed in response to the NCAA sanctions against Penn State handed down in July. 
"It doesn't have quite the same appeal as maybe curing cancer does, but sports and athletics and education go a long way into creating a good citizen."

Lucchesi-Deboef is the founder of the 410 fund. She's a mother of three football players, and says future football players shouldn't have to pay for Penn State's past problems.

It's not just for Penn state, Lucchesi-Deboef says donations can get sent in for any student-athletes leaving any D-1A football program in the country.
I have no idea if this violates any NCAA rules, but I don't think the NCAA can regulate what happens after a student graduates.  But then again, the NCAA apparently doesn't limit themselves to matters it has no business to regulate.  The part about not limiting it to Penn State football players may be a way around the NCAA, ala the NC academic fraud that is being dismissed by the NCAA because any student could have taken those courses.

What's a Mauti?

I don't know.  What's a Mauti with you?

Michael Mauti will likely go down as one of the best senior leaders in the history of Penn State football.  Before the season began, he was outspoken about the NCAA's decision to allow PSU players to transfer for any reason (even no reason) whatsoever, and he was upset by conference brethren coaches (well, one school anyway) who stalked PSU players on campus to recruit them away.  On Saturday, Mr. Mauti put his words into action as part of a good old ass whoppin' of Tim Beckman's floundering Illini.

Penn State beat Illinois 35-7 but should have scored more.  Oh, my kingdom for a kicker.

Mauti had two picks and returned one 99.5 yards for what could have been a touchdown but was just that much short.  Replay kept 7 points off the board, but gave PSU one second.  The lack of a kicking game kept three points off the board.  But you can't fault Mauti's heart or his effort.  He is all in.  He is all Penn State.  He may likely become one of my all time favorite players, and he may be now, though I'm not sure I can part ways with Michael Robinson.  MRob led the Lions to a fantastic 2005 season marred only by bungling refs and 2 freaking seconds, at a time when many had lost faith in Joe Paterno and Penn State football.

That's not so different from now, come to think of it.  Maybe there will be a tie at the top of that list.

I won't dwell too much on game details now, since I live-blogged the game in other entries.

And while Illinois is no Nebraska or Wisconsin, or USC or Alabama, this win was so huge to these kids that have stuck by Penn State and Coach O'Brien.  While the recruiting that Beckman did was not illegal, it was unethical and quite frankly, classless and unsportsmanlike.

Now, just to be fair, this Penn State team won't be mistaken for Alabama or Oregon either.  But I am encouraged by what I am seeing, the kicking issue notwithstanding.  We seem to be getting better every week.  McGloin has shocked a number of football fans, but he still has his moments.  I thought his performance against Illinois was a little below what he had been doing--missed some open guys, and took a sack with a ton of negative yardage.  On the other hand, he didn't throw the ball up for grabs and an INT or fumble it either, both of which would have been worse outcomes.

The secondary is still a little suspect.  We bit pretty easily on the trick play.  Our pass rush still doesn't consistently put pressure on the QB, and I am concerned that a strong offensive line giving a QB a lot of time could spell disaster. 

Yet, I remain cautiously optimistic.  Most people I talk to feel that O'Brien hasn't fully explored the offensive play book yet.  Could it be that we haven't unveiled all our defensive power yet?  Could there be some blitz packages we are saving for bigger games?  I certainly think that is possible.

And each week shows that the remainder of the schedule is not as daunting as we initially feared.  The Spartans showed that Ohio State is not invincible.  Nebraska looked really bad the first half of their game against the Badgers . . . and Wisconsin looked equally unimpressive in the second half as Nebraska overcame the shock of all those ugly uniforms on one field to come back and win impressively.

All in all, I am ectstatic over this win and looking forward to heading to Beaver Stadium next week to shock and awe the Northwestern Wildcats.

But I wonder . . . did Beckman tell his team in the locker room after the game that they could have won that game if he had replaced more of them with Penn State players?


Penn State won time of possession with 32:55 minutes of offensive control, thus giving PSU an edge in plays of 82 to 69.    The Lions only beat Illinois in total yardage by 18, but gained 173 on the ground to only 74 for Illinois.  Illinois had more passing yards, but also suffered 2 interceptions.  The Illini missed two field goals making Ficken not look so bad.  Ficken actually kicked a FG, but the points came off the board due to a roughing the kicker penalty that kept the PSU drive alive and enabled us to score a touchdown instead.

Mauti's 99 yard interception return was reminiscent of Harrison's return in the Superbowl for the Steelers, except for the fact that Harrison scored.  But the points weren't needed and Mauti made his statement.  I still wish he had gotten the score, though.

Penn State righted its penalty issues, logging only 2 flags for 17 yards.  The Illini were penalized 8 times for 69 yards, and had a player ejected.


The Blue Band made its one trip to an away game.  Not sure why they chose this one, as their audience was a meager 46,734 fans, and one sportswriter felt this number was "heavily inflated" (Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror.)

Illinois won the toss and deferred.  That worked out well for them, didn't it.

O'Brien won his debut Big Ten game.  I'm not sure why ESPiN had to keep reminding us that Urban Meyer won his debut conference game at Ohio State, even running it along the ticker all night during the Wisconsin-Nebraska game, while not even mentioning that Bill did the same, but whatever.  It's not like Meyer never coached against a Big Ten team before.

Our uniforms are uglier than yours!

Purdue was still out of conference, but beat Marshall 51-41.

The Buckeyes beat Sparty 17-16.  Did you know that was Urban Meyer's Big Ten debut?

Northwestern defeated Indiana 44-29.

Iowa mirrored Minnesota 31-13 for the Gophers first loss of the season.

Nebraska trailed most of the game, but came from behind to defeat Wisconsin 30-27.


1.  Baylor.  Scored 63 points, but fell to WVU 70-63.  That's some fine defense there in the Big XII.  The 'Neers should fit right in.
2.  Ga Tech--beaten by Middle Tennessee State 49-28.
3.  Va Tech--beaten by Cincinnati 27-24 in a wild finish.
4.  Arkansas--lost to Texas A&M 58-10.  Wow.  Just.  Wow.  And they started out the season ranked 8th!
5.  Idaho--beaten 66-0 by North Carolina.  At least the Vandals scored 14 against LSU (63-14.)


The undefeated Wildcats bring their game to Beaver Stadium for a nooner next week.

The Mildcats are 5-0 with such impressive wins as these:

W Syracuse 42-41
W Vanderbilt 23-13
W Boston College 22-13
W South Dakota  38-7
W Indiana 44-29

They are ranked 22nd in the USA Today and 24th in the AP.

On the flip side, our wins are not any more or less impressive, and we could have/should have won the two that we lost.  It will be interesting to see the opening line on this game (and we know how much that means after thumping a 1.5 point favorite this weekend) but I suspect we might be favored, even though NW is ranked.  I also think we will win this game.

And for Mr. Beckman . . . (to Drive By by Train)
On the other side of a field I knew
Stood a coach that looked like you
I guess that’s déjà vu
But I thought this can't be true
Cause you coach out in Champaign, not  here in mid PA
Now you can’t ever get away from me
Oh but those recruits
We could not dispute
They didn't leave me
Cause  they could all see
That you were overwhelmed, and frankly scared as hell
Because we really beat you too
Oh I swear to you
I'll be there with you
This is just a drive by

We Need THIS Guy

Big Shout out to Tim for emailing me this video!

Now, I don't think any of those field goals were very long (strange that the yard lines were perpendicular to the goal posts rather than parallel, but even if he doesn't have the "leg" for 45 yarders, he certainly looked good for extra points and inside the 20.  And, it at least gives O'Brien a reasonable option on fourth down in the red zone.  (I must admit, though, I am secretly loving the going for it on fourth down philosophy--I just don't want it to cost us a game!)

And if this guy's already on a soccer scholarship, Ficken wouldn't have to lose his scholie and could still handle kick offs.

Maybe we should email this video to O'Brien?  What do you think?????

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Illinois In-Game: Second Half

Did Mark May really praise Penn State and Coach O'Brien?  Head to your bunkers, kiddies.  The apocalypse is close at hand.

Illinois deferred and gets the ball first to open the second half.  But the defense came out fired up.  Big hit on Scheelhaase followed by a sack and Illinois has to punt.  Freakin ball rolled around inside the five but not into the end zone.  PSU takes over in their own end zone.

The offense stalls and must punt from the endzone, with Illinois taking over with good field position at the PSU 42.

R U Kidding Me?  A backward pass and the guy is wide open?  In the end zone?  Holy Red Roof Inn, Batman!

Well, that didn't look pretty.  A great drive stalls and with no kicker, a botched fourth down play gives the ball right back to the Illini.  Don't like the feeling I'm getting now.

The defense held, but more confusion.  Time out Penn State.  Better than a penalty, but come on.  FOCUS!  FOCUS!

Mediocre punt to the PSU 44.  We need to mount a sustained, scoring drive.  Now.

Illegal shift and 5 yard penalty doesn't help.  FOCUS!

OK.  Moseby-Felder has his head in the game.  Good for a Penn State first down!  Then, Zwinak to the five--first and goal!  McGlion sneaks for the TD!  (Should have done that at the end of the first half.  Just sayin'!)  Oh wait.  We need to further review.  Can we use X-rays to see exactly where the ball is?  The radiologist in the booth states the play stands as called.


Illinois finally got a third down conversion and moved the ball into PSU territory, but Mauti comes up with his second INT of the game.  Again, he didn't score.  But I'm not complaining on this one.

McGloin is back firing.  The Illini defense is slow getting up off the field at the end of plays.  Drive that ball down the field, baby!  Zwinak powering to the 17!  Oooh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oooooh!  Oooh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oooooh!

Is that a bag of Tostitos?  I guess that's the end of the third quarter.


Zwinak pushes across for the score.  Cue the Blue Band.  Fight on State, strike your gait and WIN!  And the extra point is good before any official review.

PENN STATE 35-7!  Who was a 1.5 point favorite in this game?

Middle Tennessee State is beating Georgia Tech.  GO MTS!

Wow.  Kick-off coverage looks good.  Illinois starts around the fifteen.  Let's Go D!  They heard me!  Scheelhaase sacked at the TWO!  Punting time, baby.  PSU looks to get good field position.

Sure enough, the punt rolls out at the Illinois 44.  Keep.  The.  Accelerator.  Down.  Show no mercy.  We are not a dead Lion and these Vultures need to be taught a lesson.

Illinois takes over on downs near the Illini 10.

The remainder of the game was anti-climatic, but the Illini did push downfield and threatened to score with a first and goal on the one yard line with five seconds remaining.  The ensuing play was stuffed by the Penn State D to preserve the 35-7 final score.  Beckman could probably have called a time out with a second or two left, but in his favor, he chose to not prolong the agony for a pointless score.


Illinois In-Game Blog

I missed the opening of the game due to unforeseen circumstances, but as I tuned in, we had the ball already deep in Illini territory.  Unfortunately, we bogged down and Ficken successfully kicked a field goal!  But thanks to an Illini running into the kicker penalty, PSU converted those 3 points into 7 after two running plays.


PSU then held Illini and forced a punt.

So PSU is on the move and the Illini are helping out with a personal foul hit to the head.  Thank you very much.

Is that an Illini coach on the PSU sideline recruiting?

The PLAY is UNDER FURTHER REVIEW.  It certainly looks like Belton got in on the second effort, but alas, the video evidence was insufficient.  Doesn't matter.  McGloin sneaks for his third rushing TD of the year!  But wait.  There's more.  Let's REVIEW IT FURTHER.  Hell, the refs couldn't tell until they unpiled players.  How in the wide, wide, world of sports can TV replay add anything to that????  Moot point.  Play stands.

PENN STATE 14-0.  Ficken 3-0, counting the field goal that didn't count.

My God!  Even our return game is looking good!  I think Illinois should work at halftime to recruit a few more players over to their side.  It's not moral, but it's probably legal.  I'm sure the NCAA will allow them to change uniforms in mid game.  And maybe they could recruit some fans to fill their stadium while they're at it!

How the tables turn so quickly.  A couple of almosties by McGloin turned the ball over on downs, and the Illini burst a run deep into PSU territory.  I hate momentum swings.  Well, when the swing against us.  I still like going for it on fourth rather than a long field goal or a punt.  Defense needs to tighten up now.

ILLINOIS MISSED THE FIELD GOAL!  (Did they convert Ficken?--Just Kidding, Sam!)

Penn State took over on the 20 after the miss, but couldn't overcome a chop block penalty and were forced to punt when McGloin took a rare sack on third down.  Great punt by the Butterworth and a fantastic stick by Mauti to plant the receiver in his tracks.  PSU back on D.


Mission accomplished, although we couldn have been flagged for a helmet to helmet hit.  I like the defensive aggressiveness, though.  No running room on the punt.

PSU takes over and starts with a nice 20 yard run by Beltin' Belton.

Alex Kenney for the Penn State First down!  Oo, Oo, Oo, Oo, Oo, Oooooo.  Oo, Oo, Oo, Oo, Oo, Oooooo.  That quickly turned into Oo, No, No, No, No, Nooooo as McGloin took a huge sack and PSU tried a 47 yard field goal that is missed.  Ficken now 3-1 on the day.



Zwinak's the hot knife.  The Illini D line is butter.  Penn State is moving the ball in big chunks on the ground.

Lehman for the TD off of play action!  Helmet to helmet hit brings the flag against the Illini!  15 yards enforced on the ensuing KO and #9 was ejected from the game!  Bring it on, Illini babies.  BRING.  IT.  ON.   Recruit that, losers.  I hope we hang another 50 on Beckman and his merry little band of poaching recruiters.  Douche bag.

But Todd, how do you really feel about them?


Penn State D being challenged again.  Illini have moved the ball inside the PSU 10 with half a minute to go.  Fourth and goal at the four, and they already missed a field goal.  Can PSU rise to the occasion, or will Illinois opt for the FG?  Only the shadow knows.

YOU HAVE TO BE F'N KIDDING ME!  SERIOUSLY?  Illinois really deserved to have that shit shoved so far down their throats a gastroenterologist would have to come in to get it back.  Either way, it was a great play by Mauti and an in-your-poaching-face moment for Mr. Beckman.

Well, well, well.  One second left.  Sucks to be you Beckman.  Unfortunately, PSU took their foot off the accelerator and opted for the FG which was blocked.  There were more ups and downs than an elevator in the Empire State Building in that final minute.  This was the first really questionable call for O'Brien.  One yard.  McGloin has been gold on the sneak from there.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Game Guide: John Paul Jones Edition

I have not yet begun . . . to pick who to root for in this week's games.  So I guess I'd better get started.

As you probably already know, Paul Jones joins Kevin Newsome and Rob Bolden as Penn State's most recent QB to leave the program.  Originally a walk-on, Matt McGloin continues to outlast his competition.

Many fans have noted the remarkable improvement in McGloin at the helm so far this season, albeit against less than top caliber opponents.  He certainly does look more poised and capable and indeed seems to improve with each and every game.  Is that his natural progression, or is it the coaching.  Perhaps it's the shoes?  But if this is what QB coaching can do, we can only wait in anticipation to see what they will mold future recruits into.

So Stanford and Washington are tied at 3.  I guess Washington is no USC.  I've got no problems with Stanford, but who wants to root for a tree?  (See what I did there?  Root.  Tree.)  Whatever.  GO HUSKIES!

Penn State takes on the Poachin' Illini on Saturday in Champaign.  The pesky poachers are 1.5 point favorites even as of this morning.   GO STATE!

In the Big Ten:

Minnesota opens as a 7 point prairie dog to Iowa.  We play Iowa, but not the goofy gophers.  Gotta go with the Hawkeyes on this one.  GO HAWKS!

Indiana gets to open its Big Ten season against the Wildcats of Northwestern.  The purple are favored by 13.5  GO WILDCATS!

Purdue is still out of conference and favored over Marshall by 15.  GO BOILERS!

The Spartans have angered the football Gods and must travel to Columbus to open the season against Pope Urban I.  Michigan State is favored by 2.5.  It would be better for Penn State if the Buckeyes win since they are in the Leaders Division, but it's never a bad thing when the Buckeyes lose.  And it's not like we can play for a championship or anything.  GO SPARTY!

And in the grandaddy of them all, the Badgers travel to Lincoln to take on the Cornhuskers.  Nebraska is favored by 12.5.  GO HUSKERS!

Denard Robinson has the week off.

Around the nation:

Texas is favored by 2.5 over Okie State.  Fera defected to Texas.  GO COWBOYS!

Ohio is favored over UMass by 25.  GO BOBCATS!

Navy takes on San Jose State, which is favored by 2.5.  GO MIDDIES!

Temple is off this week.
Quarterback wasn't in the cards for Paul Jones!

Monday, September 24, 2012

McGloin Named Player of the Week

Matt McGloin was named the B1G Ten Player of the Week despite not taking the NCAA free ticket to anywhere but State College.  Does that make him a B1G Mac?
McGloin has looked like a different quarterback this season under the leadership of new head coach Bill O'Brien, and he turned in his best performance Saturday in Penn State's 24-13 victory against Temple at Beaver Stadium. He completed 24 of 36 passes for a career-high 318 yards and accounted for three touchdowns (2 rush, 1 pass). His yards total ranks ninth in team history, and he tied predecessor Daryll Clark for the second most 300-yard passing games in team history with his third. McGloin spread the ball to nine receivers, a season high for him, and found top targets Allen Robinson and Kyle Carter five times each. He also matched his career total for rushing touchdowns in the game, recording his first since 2010. "I definitely think it was one of the better games of my career," he said afterward.

Congratulations Matt!

Payback the Poachers!

According to DeadSpin:
The NCAA's sanctions allow PSU players to transfer without having to sit out a year, and the schools must inform Penn State of their intention to pursue players, which has resulted in a flurry of faxes and emails to Penn State's compliance office.

"Our players are in our building right now and they don't want to leave the building because there are coaches from other schools in the parking lot waiting to see them," said O'Brien, who spent the morning at ESPN's Bristol, Conn., campus.

As they boarded a plane Wednesday morning to go to Bristol, O'Brien and his colleagues walked past a group of six coaches carrying University of Illinois bags and suitcases. A Penn State official told that no words were exchanged between O'Brien and the Illinois contingent. ... Illinois assistant athletic director Kent Brown acknowledged a group of Fighting Illini coaches are on Penn State's campus to recruit "a player or two — maybe more."

Well isn't that special?

Illinois opened as a 1.5 point favorite.  I hope the Penn State team pays back the Illini for their little hunting trip in State College.

Coach Beckman's Favorite Home Away From Home
Although, I guess it isn't really poaching or stealing since this new practice of "recruiting" is fully ordained (encouraged) and blessed by the NCAA with the full authority of the Gospel According to Freeh.  But you can call it what you want . . . it's sleazy and despicable and I hope we kick some Illini ass for even showing up in State College like a bunch of hungry, desperate vultures.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Temple In Ruins

The Nittany Lions took care of business, defeating the Temple Owls 24-13.  Stormy weathered threatened the day, but never materialized beyond a light drizzle now and then.  In fact, the westering sun came out late in the second quarter as Penn State wisely used its time outs to get the ball back and score a touchdown as time ticked away.  A rainbow appeared over the south deck and the Lions were walking on sunshine.  For Temple, there was no pot of gold to be found.

Attendance was down--93,680--and I don't know whether that is due to fading interest by the fans, the threat of wet weather, or a lack of enthusiasm for playing an opponent who has not beaten Penn State in 71 years.  I applaud those fans that joined me in supporting this team and the players who chose to stay.

In fact, I couldn't even give tickets away this week, and one of my tickets went to an old friend of mine from Williamsport . . . who also happens to be a Temple fan.  I recommended he wear blue . . .to fit in.  He did not.  He wore a red Temple shirt, but he called it cherry.  I didn't know he was an interior decorator or a hair stylist, if you know what I mean.  Men call it red.  Women call it cherry.  Let's just leave it at that.

But his son wore Penn State gear, embarrassed by his father.  His dad said this was payback for when he took him to a Phillies game wearing a Mets shirt.

"I will not harm you friends of Lions Den, but I cannot deny 100,000 of our fans fresh meat"

At least he brought a jacket.  A Flyers jacket.  I'm a Penguins fan.  I'd rather see the Temple shirt.

Anyway, the hapless Owls were unable to mount any significant threat against the Lions.  Matt McGloin put together a career high 318 yards passing, scoring two touchdowns on sneaks, and even Sam Ficken, the Ficken Foot of Fate, kicked in with a 31-yard field goal late in the fourth.

While the kicking game is still shaky--the punting was actually worse than the place kicking this week--this team is showing improvement offensively and defensively each week.  Whether this will translate into being competitive in the conference remains to be seen, but aside from the Huskers, there doesn't appear to be a game left that the Lions couldn't win.

I am a little concerned about the number of penalties.  The late hits out of bounds were borderline at best, at least without the benefit of slow motion replay.  But let's be honest . . .if you need replay to be sure, then it was a call that could have gone either way.  And no--the refs don't always flag those so don't even try to use that lame justification.

Penn State had 9 penalties for 100 yards.  An entire football field of basically offense for Temple, moving the ball the other way.  And that doesn't take into account the loss of yardage on a couple of those plays which was significant.  A Penn State fan complaining about the refs?  Some things never change!

O'Brien has made his way down the roster and has nothing but Z names left at running back, but Zordich is playing his heart out and Zwinak led the team with 95 yards and a 5.2 yards per carry average.


Penn State won time of possession 36:52 to 23:08.  The Lions out gained Temple 491 yards to 237.  On the ground, the Owls were held to 113 yards.  The Owls were 3 of 12 on third down conversions while PSU was 8 of 15.  McGloin threw one pick, the only turn over in the game.


The drum major stuck both flips.

Temple won the toss and deferred.

Win #2 for O'Brien.  407 more to go.


Let's start with the BIG losers:

Iowa lost to Central Michigan 32-31.

ND defeated Denard Robinson 13-6.

Illinois fell to La Tech 52-24.

Among those teams in the conference that won . . .

Ohio State beat UAB 29-15.

Wisconsin defeated UTEP 37-26.

Nebraska made mashed potatoes of Idaho State 73-7.

The Spartans slapped EMU silly, 23-7.

The Gophers squeezed the Orangemen 17-10.

Northwestern tromped South Dakota 38-7.

Purdue and Indiana were both off.  Do you think there might be something going on between them?


1.  Clemson fans--tomahawk chopped 49-37.
2.  Oklahoma lost to Kansas State 24-19.  Justin Brown .  More schadenfreude, baby.
3.  La-Monroe--nearly upset Baylor after defeating Arkansas in OT and losing to Auburn in OT.
4.  Speaking of Arkansas, they lost to Rutgers.  Razorbacks are 1-3.  Thank God for Jacksonville St.!


Penn State will start Big Ten play on the road against Illinois.

The season to date for Illinois . . .

W Western Michigan 24-7
L  Arizona State 45-14
W Charleston Southern 44-0
L  La Tech 52-24.

So basically they have two wins against unimpressive teams, and any team with a pulse has resulted in a rather lopsided loss.  Does Penn State have a pulse?  Of course we do.  It's a kicker we lack.  And depth at running back.  And our secondary.

I think this is a very winnable game for Penn State, even on the road.  A two-game win streak with some confidence against a team that was just taken out to the woodshed by an unranked team from Louisiana that is not located in Monroe, should spell a victory for the Blue and White.  But I have been wrong before.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Weekly Game Guide

Boise State is playing BYU on a Blue field in Idaho as I type.  The Broncos are ranked 24th and favored by a touchdown.  They are scoreless at the half.  GO BRONCOS!

Penn State takes on the Angry Birds of Temple this Saturday as a 9 point favorite.  Rumnor is that there may be rain, which could keep the scoring down, and might favor the under dog.  GO STATE!  BEAT OWLS!

Let's see what other games of interest we have this weekend . . .

Pitt is playing Gardner-Webb.  Who?  What?    The hyphenated Runnin' Bulldogs, winless in the Big South conference will hope to catch the panthers napping after what was probably an emotional win over the Turkeys last week.  I don't see Pitt losing this game, but I like bulldogs.  GO BIG SOUTH!

Michigan State will take out their Irish frustration on Eastern Michigan.  Sparty is a 32.5 point favorite, which is about fifth as favorites go.  Bama is 51 over Florida Atlantic, Ohio State is 37.5 over UAB, Tennessee is 35 over Akron, and  Mississippi State is 34.5 over S. Alabama (also known as "not-the-Crimson-Tide!")  I don't care much for old "time-out, ice the crowd" Dantonio, but what the heck, Go Sparty!

Wisconsin is a 16 point favorite over UTEP.  Like Bielema even less.  GO UTEP!

Iowa is picked by 17 over Central Michigan.  You know, no matter how much Iowa plays like crap early in the season, they always play like the friggin Pittsburgh Steelers against us.  GO Chippewas!

Illinois is favored by a mere point over La. Tech.  I really don't care.

Minnesota is picked by 2 over Syracuse.  I don't like orange.  GO GOPHERS!

Northwestern plays South Dakota.  GO WILDCATS!  No reason at all.  Just trust me on this one.

Nebraska plays Idaho State.  I-dy, I-dy, I-dy, O!  Oh, what the heck.  GO HUSKERS!

And then there's that little game between Notre Dame and THEM.  This is stressful.  Who do you root for?  Beelzebub or Satan?  It's always the lesser of two evils in this game.  And THEM might just be the greater of those.  GO IRISH.  No!  Wait.  Can we root for a cancellation?  Natural disaster?  Whatever.

Purdue has a bye.  Ain't that special?

Navy plays VMI (no line.)  GO NAVY!

Ohio plays Norfolk State (no line.)  GO BOBCATS!

Virginia is a 17 point under dog to TCU.  GO CAVALIERS!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Penn State is Credible

This conclusion is drawn by Temple Football Forever.  Truth be told, there aren't many blogs about Temple football (and there is probably a really good reason for this.)  Doesn't forever seem like a terribly long time?  Almost reminds one of purgatory, only it lasts longer.  But I digress.

According to TFF:
Penn State is largely an outsider getting insider treatment. [from the Philadelphia media] 
I have a feeling Penn State will be an afterthought very soon, but the Lions' 34-7 win over a solid Navy program gave them some credibility that it did not have after losses to Ohio and Virginia. 
Penn State is credible now. 
I don't think they will be by the time the Owls next face them on Aug. 30, 2014. Two years of 15 scholarships will do that to a program. 
So this is the year to beat Penn State.

Get your after-thoughts here!  I would think that 2014 would be the year, since PSU will supposedly be less credible then, but I guess that won't be a marquee victory for the Hooters like this year should be.  Either way, I think the plan is to kick us when we're down.  Reading on confirms their evil plan--win now while we're on the way down, not after we've crashed at the bottom . . .
The Lions can still lose to Temple this year and finish with a respectable season in the Big 10.

Despite the defections, they have enough talent leftover to be dangerous the rest of the way.

More defections and lack of scholarships will take a larger toll in ensuing years.

The next time they lose to Temple, they will be struggling to 1- and 2-win seasons.

If the Owls want a win over Penn State to mean anything, they better take advantage of the opportunity now.
This is pretty heavy prognostication from the supporter of a team that just returned to the Big Least conference in time to celebrate its demise.  Temple is like the stranded castaway being saved by a boat that ultimately crashes on the reef as it leaves the island.  They'll be sitting in the dust watching the tail lights as Pitt and Syracuse move on as fast as they can get out of Dodge.  But do you see what I've done here again?  I've gone and digressed.

And don't think I didn't notice that little gem about PSU having a respectable season in the Big Ten even if they lose to Temple.  While Temple might be able to handle Indiana with no problem, I don't see any other Big Ten team that would consider the Mighty Owls a threat to their season.  If Penn State can't beat Temple, I don't think it follows that we could have a good Big Ten season.  If I can't beat my amateur neighbor at golf, I surely wouldn't have a good season on the tour against the likes of Tiger Woods if you catch my drift.

My faith in my football team is my weakness.  His overconfidence is his.

In his Monday post, he writes about their "secret weapons."
Temple travels to Penn State on Saturday afternoon (3:30, ABC Regional) and brings with it a couple of "secret" weapons in Kevin Newsome and Montel Harris. 
Secret to Temple fans because they only saw Harris play a couple of downs against Villanova and Newsome hasn't played a down yet on offense or defense. 
Both, though, are great athletes and potential playmakers who can make a difference against Penn State.

So that's where Newsome ended up.  I guess it was a secret.  Or I didn't care.  If he hasn't played defense since high school, I really can't say that I am concerned about him becoming an All-American safety by this Saturday.  In fact, that might work to our benefit.  Can they also convert a punter to defensive back?  But shhhh.  I'd keep that a secret too.

So did Penn State's win over a solid Navy team lend it credibility, or is that just rhetoric for "I'm worried about Temple having a chance now?"

One Team?

The mantra entering this season was ONE TEAM, ONE PURPOSE, ONE MISSION, ONE FAMILY.

In some articles leading up to last week's Navy game, there were recaps of the 1974 Navy game played in a rain storm where PSU fumbled five times and Chris Bahr missed four field goals.  I vaguely recall stories about Joe recruiting kickers from the soccer team, and one source  noted that Bahr had been recruited by Joe from the soccer team and still played soccer, missing a game against Air Force so he could play soccer.

This got me to thinking, which is always a dangerous thing.

With the upcoming sanctions and scholarship limits, should or could Penn State be looking to recruit multisport athletes?  While it's easy to knock Ficken based on his performance so far, wouldn't it be better for the team . . .ONE TEAM . . .if Penn State could recruit a kicker from the soccer team?  The kid would have his soccer scholarship, and PSU would have a kicker (with presumably a strong leg) and not a lose a valuable scholarship?

Perhaps a sprinter or two from the track team as running back or kick off/ punt returner?  Perhaps there's a wrestler that can tackle?  Or a tall basketball player who can cover wide receivers?  A lot of these kids played multiple sports in high school.

The possibilities are not endless, but a handful of athletes playing more than one sport could bridge or dampen the loss of scholarships temporarily.

Obviously, the soccer and track coaches would not be overly thrilled with the prospect of one of their scholarship athletes potentially getting injured on the gridiron.  For overlapping sports (ie sports that are both played in the fall) some leeway would have to be made so that full practice schedules would not be requisite for both sports and perhaps players/coaches could select which games athletes could participate in.  It would be a sacrifice, though, for the other sports teams to make.  But does ONE TEAM apply only to the football team, or to Penn State sports as a whole?

How long has the football program supported these other teams?

Wouldn't this be a remarkable opportunity to thank the football squad for years of financial underwriting and contribute to keeping Penn State competitive in the next few years on the football field, if nothing else by at least providing some depth to the football scholarship players?

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't know how the NCAA actually handles scholarship athletes that compete on more than one team.  For all I know, that damned Consent Decree expressly prohibits such cross-over athletes.  It seems to be the only legal document I know of that can't be challenged in a court of law.  But I digress.

Maybe I should just worry about Temple for now.  That's what O'Brien is doing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Penn State Makes Navy Blue

The Midshipmen of Navy, coming off a disastrous first game loss to Notre Dame (50-10,) were looking to sail into Beaver Stadium and maneuver a win against the struggling Nittany Lions.

But O'Brien's Liens would have none of that, sinking Navy's battleship by forcing an interception and three fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Mike Hull.  When he first scooped the ball up and took off, he looked like a lumbering lineman that would be gassed before he reached the 50.  But Hull picked up speed and a cadre of Lion defenders en route to a 74 yard touchdown return.  There was not a Navy player within a nautical mile of Mike's Hull.

Offensively, Navy out gained the Lions by 50 yards, won time of possession by 13 minutes and ran 83 plays to PSU's 49.  The difference (aside from the aforementioned turnovers):  Penn State gained 7.0 yards per play to Navy's 4.7.  Navy won most categories except for the score.  So Penn State has lost a game it could have won, lost a game it should have won, and won the game it statistically shouldn't have.

Penn State did not miss a field goal . . . but did not attempt one.  With time ticking away in the second half, and faced with a fourth and goal at the Navy eight yard line, O'Brien elected not to miss the field goal and went for it.  The pass was incomplete and left some fans muttering that he should have taken the three points, or stood impotently on the sideline while Ficken missed again.  Hell, it would practically be an extra point, but we've missed two of those in the last two weeks.  I can't fault O'Brien for being aggressive with a 20-0 lead, and knowing his kicker is struggling. 

But we must wonder about the psyche of Sam Ficken right now, because there will be games in the future where his foot will be called upon to generate points.  You could easily argue that we didn't need the three (although there was still a whole half of football left to play) and it might have given Ficken some confidence in a relatively low pressure situation.  And there in lies the rub.  What if he had given Ficken the chance . . . and he missed again.  More harm than good.  Maybe it's best to put some space between last week's flurry of missed opportunities and wait for the right moment for the young man to redeem himself.

Zordich had a great day, and I really like Curtis Dukes.  He seems to have a little something more than Belton or Day, and it may be his size.  He almost always gets positive yardage.  The loss of Kersey was barely noticed as Allen Robinson stepped in with a career day at receiving.

Paul Jones was sighted on the field, but not as a QB.  He came in as a receiver and has one reception for seven yards.  Do you think there may be a play in there somewhere to throw a pass???

Overall, it was a positive performance against an opponent that has the capability of beating a good team.


The Blue Band Drum Major stuck both flips.

Penn State won the toss and elected to take the ball first.  I think scoring early on that opening drive was a key to this victory.

The Navy Band performed to a gracious Beaver Stadium crowd of 98, 792.  I think the crowd was larger than the first game, but can probably be attributed to the crowd of Navy fans that came to the game.  Our tailgate was near where the Navy Band marched in.  I got to see the stream of seamen for myself.

Bill O'Brien notches his first win as Penn State's head coach.

Penn State leads the all-time series 19-17-2.  The teams last played in 1974 when Navy snuck away with a 7-6 win in a rainstorm where PSU fumbled like 5 times and missed four field goals by a guy named Chris Bahr.  How the tide has turned against Navy!

Both teams met on the field after the game for post-game tributes.

Take notice Rich Foust of Troy, OH . . . no urine bags.  When you are respectful, you earn respect.


Ohio State edged Cal 31-28.

MSU fell to the Irish in East Lansing, 20-3.

Denard Robinson crushed UMass 63-13.

Purdue steamed over EMU 54-16.

Nebraska rebounded over Arkansas State 42-13, but Coach Pellini went to the hospital by ambulance during the game and apparently checked out fine.  Or maybe they didn't take his insurance.

Iowa beat Northern Iowa 27-16.

The Badgers survived a scare as Utah State missed a field goal late and ultimately lost 16-14.

Northwestern is 3-0 after beating Boston College 22-13.

Minnesota out lasted Western Michigan 28-23 to go 3-0 on the season as well.

Illinois blanked Charleston Southern 44-0.

And Indiana lost to Ball state 41-39.


1.  The Va Tech Chokies--I quipped on the preview about taking Pitt out behind the woodshed, but it was the panthers that did the beating and done it good.  Tech fell 35-17 to future ACC member.

2.  USC--lost to Stanford.  Silas Redd.  Schadenfreud baby.

3.  La-Monroe--took Auburn to OT but couldn't take the win.

4.  Arkansas--pasted by Bama 52-0. 

5.  Three teams in the AP Top 25 scored 63 points:  THEM, LSU and Oregon.  Pity the fools that had to play these scoring machines.


The Temple Owls come to Beaver Stadium for a BLUE OUT (that means you are to wear Blue.  Yes, I'm talking to you over there with the white shirt.  Blue means blue, buddy.)

So far, Temple has done this:

W  Villanova 41-10
L   Maryland 36-27

This is a must win game for Penn State.  We're not going to a bowl.  The game means nothing in the Big Ten.  Penn State is playing for PRIDE right now.  And Temple has not beaten Penn State since 1941 and our 30 game win streak over them is the longest such active streak in the NCAA.  (Unless they made us vacate that too!) We cannot let Temple take advantage of this situation.

Let's face it.  I'm ecstatic we won over Navy, but that's not like we beat a top 30 team or anything.  Navy isn't likely going to a bowl game the rate they are going.  Neither are we, but that is more a product of consent decrees as it is talent.  The win against Navy is a stepping stone, not a milestone.  Yes, it is O'Brien's first victory as head coach, but for this team, it is just one step forward.

I am impressed that we do seem to be improving each week (except for the kicking game which does concern me.)  I was particularly happy with the defensive performance this Saturday.  Navy has that kind of offense that when they get things rolling down hill, they can be hard to stop.  We stopped them.  The stats weren't pretty, but the result was sweet.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Weekly Game Guide

Tonight's feature game is Rutgers v. South Florida.  So much for features.  Oooh, there are reruns of The Big Bang Theory!

Let's look ahead to this weekend's games, when real football is played.

Penn State takes on the Midshipman of Navy.  Now normally I do my best (and sometimes my best isn't good enough) to make fun of an upcoming opponent.  But this is NAVY.  These men are part of our armed forces.  I can't make fun of them.

But Army can.

Penn State is about a 6.5 point favorite at home against the Middies.  Navy's only game was a 50-10 drubbing by the Irish in Ireland.  Where else would the Irish be?

In that game, Navy was out-rushed by Notre Dame 293 yards to 149 yards.  The Irish almost doubled the yards per carry average of Navy.  While known for it's triple option running attack which can grind even quality opponents down, the Midshipmen passed for 192 yards, nearly matching Notre Dame's 197 yards in the game.  Of course, that stat may be skewed by the fact that Navy was so far behind and had to move the ball quickly to have any chance of staying in the game.

Can Goats even swim???
 Penn State is coming off an emotional loss to Virginia, and is still searching for it's first NCAA sanctioned win since 1999, not to mention Coach O'Brien's first victory.

I think PSU gets win #1 for the O'Brien.

In other games:

Can Arkansas recover from an embarrassing loss to La.-Monroe to match up with Alabama?  The Magic Eight Ball says doubtful.

Can La.-Monroe continue their winning ways against Auburn?  Ask again later.

Can Pitt beat Virginia Tech?  If they didn't look so bad in their first two game, we might give them a chance, but let's face it, this has woodshed beating written all over it.

Tennessee and Florida?  Odds makers have this a pick.  Game is at Tennessee, so I guess we gotta give the edge to the Volunteers.

Denard Robinson is favored over UMass by 45.  Don't expect UMass to go all App State over the wolverines. 

The Spartans are favored by 4 at home against the Irish.  GO SPARTY!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pigskin Postgames: Week 2

Aren't you glad you're not an Arkansas fan?

The Razorbacks, previously ranked 8th in the nation in the AP poll fell in OT by a score of 34-31.  To Louisiana.  Monroe.  Not the LSU Louisiana.  That's almost as bad as losing to Youngstown State!

Speaking of which, the panthers have provided some relief for Penn State fans this season opening 0-2 as we have.  On Thursday night, the panthers lost to Cincinnati 34-10.  Can you imagine the message board trolls from Pittsburgh (all three of them) if they were 2-0?  Thankfully, we have been saved from that so far.

Wisconsin fell to Oregon State by a score of 10-7.

Nebraska lost to UCLA 36-30.

I guess that means the Big Ten is down this year.  It's funny, but every year since we joined this conference and Penn State was in the hunt for the conference title, the Big Ten was "weak."  But if Ohio State or THEM are leading the conference, then the conference is "strong."  Have you noticed that?

Speaking of THEM, they survived Air Force 31-25.

Notre Dame was almost upset by Purdue 20-17.  Close only counts in horseshoes, Boilermakers.

Iowa lost to Iowa State 9-6.  With the offensive production we showed against Virginia, we could be looking at another 6-4 game here.  I.  Hope.  Not.

After getting beaten by Okie State 84-0 last week, Savannah State lost to F$U 55-0.  Amazing how much money that program just earned without even scoring a point!

I wish we had an extra point.  Or three.  I'm still in disbelief.  There is definitely something messing with the feng shui of this Penn State team.

And Okie State probably wishes they had some of those points rolled over, as they got pounded 59-38 by Arizona.

BTW, Ohio beat New Mexico State 51-24.

And checking in on future opponents, Temple lost to the Terps 36-27.    Navy had the week off to prepare for the Penn State prevent offense.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Yes, Virginia

There is a Santa Claus.

Every Who Down in Hoo-ville Liked Cavaliers a lot...
But the Blogger,Who lived north of Hoo-ville, Did NOT!
The Blogger hated Cavaliers! The whole Cavalier season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be the NCAA stabbed his team in the back.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too black.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
Was Paterno being treated as if he never existed at all.

"Pooh Pooh to the Hoos!" he was grinchishly blogging.
"They're finding out now that no victory is coming!"
"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!"
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
Then the Hoos down in Hoo-ville will all cry Boo Hoo!"
"That's a noise," grinned the Blogger, "That I simply MUST hear!"
So he paused. And the Blogger put his hand to his ear.

But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Hoo-ville! The Blogger popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Hoo down in Hoo-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any loss at all!
He HADN'T stopped Victory from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Blogger, with his Blog-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came with out field goals! It came without kicks!"
"It came without extra points, or moving the sticks!"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Blogger thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Success," he thought, "doesn't come from a score."
"Maybe Success...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

I was spared the frustration of watching this game.  And after seeing the score, the stats and reading about it, I have no intention of ever watching a replay.  After all, there are just so many things you can throw at a TV until it breaks, and then you still have the game frustration added on to the expense of fixing or replacing your TV.

Fortunately for me, I was sitting in the rain, perhaps monsoon would be a better word, at Saint Francis University as they defeated Bryant University (don't ask--I have no idea from whence they come) 39-28.  My daughter is a freshman and marches with the Red Flash Band, the first marching band at the University since the 1940's!  This was their first official performance.

And as I listened to the crowd support their team--all one thousand or so fans in the stands--I realized that football could be fun without Jumbo TVs, TV timeouts, replay officials, the wave (although they actually tried to get one going but it was an epic fail,) an upper deck over my head to protect me from the torrential rain, $5 programs and $3 bottles of water, and Sweet Caroline sung by an exuberant and possibly mildly intoxicated crowd because they enjoy it and not because the lyrics have some hidden, diabolical meaning.

It was fun.  (Although Frankie the Friar was just a little too creepy if you know what I mean!)

And it got me to thinking about when the last time I had FUN at a Penn State game.

I was there for Joe Paterno's 409th (and final) game.  We won, but I can hardly call the experience fun.  We needed a miss by the Illinois kicker to sneak away with a win on a cold night.  We were Virginia that evening--we didn't deserve to win, but somehow managed to notch a record that would stand a few whole months before the swift pen of the NCAA decreed it not so.

Oh, there have been memorable--and fun--games.  Beating OSU in 2005.  Nebraska 2002.  Any game we beat THEM.

But somewhere along the line, I forgot what it takes to make the game fun.  Players, playing their hearts out.  Fans cheering on the players.  And in the case of college football, that unique combination revolving around the student athlete, not a paid professional.

We can look at this game and the countless mistakes--a missed PAT, 4 missed field goals, the inability of the D to hold a lead etc. and analyze it till we are blue and white in the face.  Virginia turned the ball over four times giving PSU great field position, and the Lions couldn't capitalize on it.  Even the old tried and true excuses of clock mismanagement reared their ugly heads as 5-6 seconds disappeared off the clock in the fourth quarter and O'Brien complained that the play clock kept running while officials explained penalties to him, forcing his team to take timeouts.

The easiest answer:  this isn't a very good football team.  But that denies the stats that PSU out gained the Cavaliers 121-32 yards on the ground, and overall production of 330 yards to 295.  This was a game for the taking.  Penn State let this one slip away.

We could blame it on bad luck.  This isn't a bad team, just an unlucky one.  And with the events of the past 10 months, that could certainly be argued easily.

Is it the coaching?  It's not like Paterno never had problems--fourth and goal in the '79 Sugar Bowl, 2 seconds in Michigan, a late rally by Iowa in 2008, and he was the last PSU coach to lose in Charlottesville, since I guess losses aren't vacated.

Is it the kicking game?  Would it have made a difference if Fera hadn't left?  Or Justin Brown?  Or Redd?  Who knows?

But I am starting to wax philosophically and perhaps spiritually on this issue.

Something is missing.  Something is not quite right.  And maybe it is physical (the players aren't good enough or the coaching isn't good enough.)  But I am beginning to think it is that we have strayed away from what made Penn State football great.

And if you are thinking the answer is -- Joe Paterno -- then you are partly right.  Rather, it was Paterno's vision for the Grand Experiment.  Student athletes that not only were able to compete on the field, but were able to graduate.

Now I am not accusing this team of not performing well in the classroom, or something so mundane as suggesting PSU has lowered their standards to win at any price.

To be honest, I am not sure what I am suggesting.  But Penn State went into a funk in 1999 (coincidentally, Sandusky's last season) that lasted until 2005.  But it was around that time that the decision to expand the stadium and construction began on the luxury boxes and south deck, which finally closed out the view of Mount Nittany from inside the stadium.  Older fans can remember her majesty in the distance.

Greed and expansion were chosen over tradition.  And perhaps some of that comes into play with the current situation, including the recent STEP program.  An entire generation of older fans have been disenfranchised by a system that places economics over loyalty.

Penn State has very few sell out crowds anymore.  Nebraska, on the other hand, has sold out every game since 1962.  And they used to play Pacific!

So what was different in 2005?  His name was Michael Robinson, and he BELIEVED in Joe.  I think Daryll Clark did as well.

I looked in the Beaver Stadium Pictorial from the Ohio game, and their are only two pictures of Joe Paterno, one amidst former coaches on page 28 and one with John Cappelletti on page 30.  And I would be willing to bet that someone questioned whether to include even those and that some discussion entertained the possibility of omitting those images.  His name is mentioned in passing on page 8 . . . "Like his predecessor, Hall of Fame Coach Joe Paterno, O'Brien graduated from Brown University."

Some fans were upset that no memorial video of Joe was shown and no moment of silence.

Joe's spirit is missing.  And maybe that has nothing to do with the fate of this team on the field, but I am beginning to believe that you can not move on, until you have accepted the past.  And Joe Paterno is, like it or not, a BIG part of Penn State's past.

Success is more than just winning.  It is doing it the right way.  And I am firmly in the camp that Paterno was wronged in this whole scandal.  And until the University accepts that fact, I fear more bad luck will follow.

You reap what you sow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Who's Afraid of Virginia?

Hoo?  Hoo?

The Virginia Cavaliers (is that a car or a sports team?) are favored by 10 points over the NCAA down-trodden Nittany Lions of Penn State.

Notable Virginia Alumni include Edgar Allen Poe and Tina Fey.  Wahoo!
The Virginia Cavalier
Which makes me think of . . .

Which basically makes me hungry . . .
The Cavs opened their season against the powerhouse of Richmond, soundly defeating the Spiders 43-19  They amassed 545 yards of total offense with 361 coming through the air.  Of their 28 first downs, 13 were rushing and 15 were by pass, suggesting a balanced offense, confirmed by 42 rushing plays and 43 attempted passes.  They controlled the ball, winning TOP 37:29 to 22:31 for the Spiders.  They were 50% on third down conversion and 2 of 3 on 4th.  No interceptions and no lost fumbles on an opening day suggest a focused game, but maybe Richmond is really just bad.

In short, they appear better on paper than Ohio.  And we all know how that went.

Personally, I blame Sue Paterno, who according to this article left in the fourth quarter to watch her grandson play elsewhere.  Had she stayed, we probably would have won!  JK.

But there is no doubt that Penn State will have to improve to have any chance in this game.  Perhaps without the distractions of a home game, a chance to review things and make some changes, and with a little luck (aren't we DUE for some luck here sometime?) PSU can find a way to turn things around against Virginia.

I thought we'd be 1-0 at this point.  I'm still going to predict a close win by PSU over these Hoos.
And you thought things were bad at Penn State!  Does Mark Emmert know of this?

Is NCAA Membership REALLY Voluntary?

This is a question I throw out there for people with some training in the legal profession.

Throughout the course of this NCAA assault on Penn State--reaching beyond its jurisdiction to include criminal law enforcement--I have seen the phrase repeatedly thrown out that the NCAA is a voluntary organization.

Penn State CHOSE to be a member.  No one held a gun to their head (or apparently threatened to kill their football program if we are to believe the NCAA's side of the story.)

The NCAA Wants U!
So can Penn State choose not to be in the NCAA?

What happens if they don't join or participate?  Can they still be a member of the Big Ten?  Can they play other NCAA member teams?  Can they participate in NCAA championship events and bowl games?

My guess on these latter questions is that the answers are no.

So what it sounds like to me is that you have the "choice" to be in the NCAA, but if you are not, you can't play football (except maybe as a club sport or intramural).  Which basically means you have no real option other than to be a member, since you could not sustain the current sports program without the NCAA membership.

As a physician, I am well aware of this Communistic "freedom of choice" (such as Russians having the right to vote but there is only one name on the ballot to choose from.)  Doctors don't have to be Board Certified--it is a "choice," but Board Certification is often required for hospital privileges and participation in Insurance contracts.  Likewise, Medicare is a "choice," but if I don't participate in the program, my waiting room will be empty.  80-90% of my practice is Medicare, and in Central PA, there are not enough independently wealthy Medicare patients that can afford to pay me without the help of Medicare.  But I digress.

The NCAA has 1,281 member schools.  That's a lot.

I tried to Google a list of non-NCAA football schools, but found instead a list of basketball schools not in the NCAA a list which includes such powerhouses as the Alaska Nanooks, the California Maritime Keelhaulers, and the Washburn Ichabods.  Those would make for some interesting Citizen's Bank button slogans, but would not hardly fill a stadium of 108,000 fans on a regular basis.  And who wants to go to Alaska for a road trip?

So again I ask . . . is NCAA participation really voluntary?

It would appear to be so, if you have no interest in financial success at the level Penn State is at currently.  But is that really a choice then, or is it the appearance of a choice at gunpoint, where there is really only one fiscally viable option?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pigskin Postgames

While I still haven't recovered from yesterday's loss to Ohio (as if we needed another reason to dislike that state!) I guess we should look on the bright side of things.

At least the NCAA still allows us to field 11 players.  Of course, if Emmert had thought about it sooner, he could have included restricting us to 9 or 10 on the field at a time as part of the Consent Decree.  Maybe I shouldn't even give him the idea . . .

From around the nation . . .

The top teams in the AP handled their opening days in impressive fashion.  Of note, the Tide rolled mightily over Denard Robinson en route to a 41-14 shellacking.

The Spartans rolled out a "Rose Bowl defense" without a "Rose Bowl offense" if you believe the ESPN announcers.  They narrowly defeated Boise State 17-14.  The Broncos, without Kellen Moore for the first time since like the Clinton administration, did not score an offensive touchdown.

Can Penn State fans still say the word "touch-down?"

Future opponent Temple took out Villanova  41-10.  Is Temple really back in the Big East?  That's like an abused woman going back to her drunk boyfriend because "she still loves him and he promises to change."  Good luck with that move.

The Irish, in Ireland of all places, sank Navy 50-10.

Florida struggled against Bowling Green, but BG couldn't pull off the win like the Bobcats did.  The Gators prevailed 27-14.  I'm feeling some reptile envy right now.

Wisconsin survived Northern Iowa 26-21, while Iowa eked out a victory over the powerhouse of Illinois 18-17.  But don't worry, no matter how much they look like crap early in the season, they will have their best games against Penn State.  Mark it down!

Hey, it worked for getting rid of the statue . . .
Wake Forest beat Liberty by 3.  Interesting, but who really cares?

Indiana crushed Indiana State 24-17.  Well, that's crushing for Indiana.  In football.

The penguins beat Pittsburgh 31-17.  Kind of freaking ironic ain't it?  Pittsburgh.  Penguins.  Whatever.

Clemson prevailed over Auburn 26-19.  Southern speed versus southern greed.

And the most lopsided victory goes to Okie state, taking Savannah State out behind the woodshed to the tune of 84-0.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labor (Day) Pains

After enduring ten months of suffering, pain, humiliation and frustration, anxious and eager 197,186 Penn State fans descended on Happy Valley in the hopes of finally moving on.  But instead of kicking off the O'Brien Era in grand style, PSU fans suffered more pain, humiliation and frustration as they watched a 14-3 lead fade into a dismal 24-14 loss to the not-the-Ohio-State Ohio team.

As I slowly walked out of Beaver Stadium, my mind was filled with mixed emotions.  My first reaction:  I thought about closing down the blog.  Maybe I'd just never post again, leaving you to keep checking back and wondering if I were still alive.  Or I could construct some good bye post.  The very fact that you are now reading this is testimony to the fact that I discarded that idea.  Discarded.  But not quickly.

I am not a fair-weather fan.  I will be back to Beaver Stadium in two weeks to cheer this team on against the midshipmen.  I supported this team through the dark years.  And I have blogged ad nauseum about the injustice and rush to judgment against Penn State by the media and the NCAA.  And while blogging about games like this may not be fun, it is the price we pay for all the good times we rejoice in.

You are defined in this life by how you respond to defeat.  (Dick's Sporting Goods commercial.)

In blogging, and in football, as in life itself.

Let's face it.  No one truly believed that things would be easy for Penn State.  Not since the Grand Jury presentment through the infamous Consent Decree.  The search for a replacement coach was arduous.  And while Bill O'Brien just might be the best choice, he has some work to do as far as coaching to prove he is the right man for the job. 

Unfortunately for O'Brien, he has to face some monumental challenges.  A handful of key, experienced players jumped ship on him.  NCAA sanctions will handcuff him in the future in terms of depth and recruiting ability.  The cupboard was not left overstocked.  And all of this is on top of the usual challenges facing new coaches implementing new systems.

The transition from the Paterno Era to this new chapter is a process.  And there will be growing pains.  What we witnessed today was the birth of a new Penn State football program.  And like most natural births, there was pain.  It was bloody and messy, and the end result will keep us ardent fans awake for many nights as this baby cries.

What if Redd and Brown hadn't left?

What if Penn State made the INT instead of tipping the ball into the hands of Ohio for a touchdown that not only ignited the Bobcat team, but may have been the turning point in the game?

Why is it ONE TEAM, but we now put individual names on the jerseys?

I really wanted to see these players and coaches do well this season (and they still may, this loss not withstanding.)  I wanted them to rise above the adversity.  But part of me also wanted to shut up idiots like Mark May (by the way you damned fool, Pitt lost to Youngstown State,) and just about every other ESPN talking head.

Then there are douche bag fans like these: 
I am glad you guys lost. You deserve it.  Hopefully many more to follow. In all honesty they should have burned your program to the ground. Most disgusting scandal in the history of sport.

Seriously?  Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.  I just don't understand how these young men playing today had ANYTHING to do with this scandal, but then I still fail to see how any of this is Penn State's fault to begin with.  Either way, the trolls will be out in force.

Aside from the punt block, special teams still seem dismal.  Can we recruit a sprinter from the track and field team to return kick offs?  We muffed a punt which kind of negated the block, although Ohio settled for three while we cashed in for seven.

I was rather disappointed with our defense, which gave up almost 500 yards.    But that is somewhat deceptive as well, as Ohio won time of possession by 8 minutes, and Penn State had the ball for a mere 3:41 in the fourth quarter.  Couple that with a hurry up offense that prevents a defense from substituting on a hot, humid day, and you can easily see how most defenses would have problems with that.

And let us not overlook Frank Solich's team.  They played tough in a loud, hot environment.  They made plays and we did not.  They looked prepared and made halftime adjustments.  They had no turn-overs as the punt block was on a change of possession anyway.

Bill O'Brien certainly has his work cut out for him.  But I'm not ready to throw him or his staff under the team bus just yet.  I expect Ohio to be in the hunt for a MAC title and probably match or better their 10 win season of a year ago.

At least we didn't lose to Youngstown State.

And apparently, we still haven't won a game since 1998.