Basketball: Penn State at Virginia on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

Lions gear for ACC foeCDT
Surely the ACC-Big Ten Challenge will fill the void left by no Penn State football right? Well, either way it is a good chance to see the men’s basketball team tonight. They are in Charlottesville (had it been a weekend, it might have been tempting to visit) to take on the Cavaliers. ESPN2 has the telecast with Mike Patrick and Len Elmore.

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Penn State or Iowa likely headed to Fiesta Bowl

Okie State’s loss makes PSU a Fiesta playerPatriot-News
Dave Jones thinks that Oklahoma shutting out Oklahoma State yesterday has changed the BCS bowl picture enough that the Fiesta Bowl will likely grab the Big Ten at large team. That’s bad news if you were hoping for a trip to the Orange Bowl, but as Jones points out, Penn State and the Fiesta Bowl, held in Glendale, Arizona (suburban Phoenix), have a very good history together. That is bad news for Iowa, but I’m not crying any tears for them.

The Nittany Lions are 6-0 in the Fiesta Bowl and won their second national championship there on January 2, 1987 against Miami in the most watched college football game of all time. Even prior to that epic win, Penn State’s previous trips helped legitimize the Fiesta Bowl, a fact not likely lost on soon to retire Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker. Barring any major upsets in conference championships, Jones thinks Penn State will play Boise State (who won a spectacular game against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl) in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, January 4, 2010.

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Rumor: Penn State vs. WVU at FedEx Field in 2011

I’m not big on rumor-mongering, but when it involves Penn State playing close to D.C., I jump. PSUGirl heard on Twitter that West Virginia is being recruited by the Washington Redskins to host Penn State in a 2011 game at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. That would be two seasons in a row that the Nittany Lions would visit the D.C. area — another game we could Metro too!

Penn State is already “visiting” Indiana in 2010 at FedEx Field and that crowd is certain to be predominately a Penn State crowd. West Virginia would send a lot more of its fans and possibly have the majority of the 90,000 seats. Even then, there is a lot to like about this potential matchup:

  • Old rivalry

  • Legitimate non-conference opponent
  • Since it would not be in Morgantown, fewer whiskey bottles being thrown by the Mountaineer fans — they won’t be issued out at FedEx Field like they are in Morgantown.
  • The aforementioned Metro accessibility.
  • Indirectly helps recruiting — Penn State can’t talk to recruits since they’d be the road team, but it can’t hurt.
  • The great John Denver song “Country Roads” is played at WVU games because the lyrics include “West Virginia, mountain mama.” However, the actual inspiration of the song was a drive along suburban Maryland’s Clopper Road. So, in a sense, they’d be coming home or something. It is a weak tangent, I know, but I had to mention it.

I really hope this happens. FedEx Field could become like Giants Stadium was like in the 1980s and 1990s — Penn State’s second home. I would have thought that WVU would have had more pride than to sell a home game to a neutral site.

PREVIOUSLY

Penn State vs. Indiana at FedEx Field in 2010!August 26, 2009
More on Penn State vs. Indiana at FedEx in 2010 August 26, 2009

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Bob Sheppard, voice of Yankee Stadium, retiring

Sheppard gives thanks for place in historyyankees.com
Bob Sheppard, the voice of Yankee Stadium from 1951 to 2008, has officially retired at age 99. He does not believe that he will be able to regain the stamina to handle duties as public address announcer. In addition to the 3+ hours of baseball, he had to travel from his home on Long Island and it is just too much. He retired as the voice of the New York Giants in 2006 for similar reasons.

Sheppard was in very poor health for the last few years, dropping down to 103 lbs at one point. He is doing better, up to 137 lbs, but his doctor will not clear him for a trip to new Yankee Stadium until he hits 145 lbs.

Sheppard’s successor is Paul Olden. A recording of Sheppard’s voice will be continue to be heard when Yankees captain Derek Jeter comes up to bat.

MORE

Bob Sheppard officially steps aside as the public address voice of the New York YankeesNY Daily News
Yankees legend Sheppard retiresNY Post

PREVIOUSLY

Is Yankees p.a. announcer Bob Sheppard retiring? April 2, 2009
No Bob Sheppard tonight- July 15, 2008
Get well, Sheppard April 1, 2008

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Ted Leonsis has right of first refusal to buy Wizards, Verizon Center

Leonsis has the option to purchase franchiseThe Post
Leonsis in line to buy Wizards, Verizon CenterThe Wash. Times
As part of the agreement that Ted Leonsis made to buy the Capitals and 44% of Washington Sports and Entertainment (Wizards and Verizon Center) from Abe Pollin, Leonsis has the right of first refusal to buy the those assets. Let’s hope that he can and does. Leonsis is the best sports owner in Washington if not the country. Getting Verizon Center into his portfolio would greatly improve the Caps situation since their lease is not very good to them.

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RIP Abe Pollin

No more Fun Street
Wizards owner helped transform D.C.The Post
D.C. sports icon, Wizards owner Pollin dead at 85The Wash. Times
Abe Pollin, a juggernaut of Washington D.C. sports, died yesterday at age 85. Pollin was the owner of the Washington Wizards (nee Bullets) of the NBA and Verizon Center. He had founded the Washington Capitals of the NHL and Washington Mystics of the WNBA as well, later selling them to Lincoln Holdings, Ted Leonsis managing partner. He also built the Capital Centre, since demolished, the first of two arenas he financed and built for his teams.

Pollin was a construction magnate who had moved to D.C. as an eight year old. He bought the Baltimore Bullets in 1964 and become sole owner in 1968. In 1973, he opened Capital Centre in Landover, Prince George’s County, Md., moving the Bullets to just outside the Beltway. In 1974, he founded the Capitals, despite never seeing a hockey game. Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder had given Pollin 600-to-1 odds on landing the NHL expansion franchise.

In 1978, the Bullets, led by Wes Unseld won the NBA title for the first and to date only time, beating the Seattle SuperSonics. That would be the high water mark for Pollin’s teams in competition. The lack of championships led a to mixed legacy for Pollin. He was often thought of, by Caps fans in particular, as unwilling to spend the money to win. The marketing of the Bullets was directed drawing fans to see the visitors, rather than the home team. Caps fans felt as though Pollin cared little for that team and those feelings only intensified when Pollin sold busloads worth of tickets to Detroit Red Wings fans during the lone Stanley Cup appearance. The Bullets went a decade between playoff appearances and about two decades between playoff series wins. Pollin also changed the name of the basketball team to Wizards after his friend Israeli prime minster Yitzhak Rabin was gunned down.

In 1999, he sold the Captials to Leonsis’ Lincoln Holdings. The transaction also included 44% of the Wizards and Verizon Center. In 2000, Pollin and Leonsis brought Michael Jordan to Washington to be an executive and for two years had Jordan as a player. After Jordan ended his playing days, Pollin did not retain Jordan’s services as an executive, a shocking move. Pollin rebounded by hiring Ernie Grunfeld who assembled the Wizards into a playoff team. Pollin has also been criticized for the terms of the lease with the Caps and the conditions of the ice.

While Pollin’s legacy is mixed in the management of his franchises, his philanthropy at home and aboard and development of arenas is universally praised. He built Verizon Center with his own money (the District spent millions on infrastructure), setting off a building boom in the old Chinatown neighborhood. His decision to put a new arena in the District will ultimately by his greatest legacy. Gallery Place/Chinatown turned into a bustling neighborhood and led to more building and investment downtown. When Verizon Center (then MCI Center) opened in 1997, 7th Street was barren, now it is thriving along with the rest ofthe neighborhood. The return of baseball to Washington and Nationals Park happened in large part because Pollin proved what a magnet a sporting venue could be. That will be his greatest legacy.

MORE

MICHAEL WILBON – A man who reached out to othersThe Post
COLBERT KING – The endless gifts of Abe PollinThe Post
MIKE WISE – Long-standing loyaltyThe Post
EDITORIAL – Abe PollinThe Post
Knott: Pollin placed his faith in his team, townThe Wash. Times

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Penn State: Daryll Clark is consensus Big Ten QB of the year; Jared Odrick coaches pick for defense

All-Big Ten Conference football teams – complete media and coaches’ listsPatriot-News
QB Daryll Clark was named Big Ten quarterback of the year as selected by both the coaches and Big Ten media. Remember who the preseason pick was Terrelle Pryor. Of course, Pryor quarterbacked the conference champion, so he gets the last laugh.

On the defensive side of the ball, Big Ten coaches picked DT Jared Odrick as player of the year for overall defense and the defensive line.

Other Penn State selections:

FIRST TEAM
QB Daryll Clark (coaches, media)
RB Evan Royster (coaches, media)
C Stefen Wisniewski (coaches, media)
T Dennis Landolt (coaches)
DT Jared Odrick (coaches)
LB Navarro Bowman (coaches, media)

SECOND TEAM
T Dennis Landolt (media)
LB Sean Lee (coaches, media)
LB Josh Hull (media)
DT Jared Odrick (media)
P Jeremy Boone (coaches, media)

Not a bad turnout, though I am not seeing the same thing with Wisniewski and Landolt that they are seeing.

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Penn State bowl picture is uncertain

DAVID JONES – Michigan State win gives some clarity to Penn State’s bowl picture … but not muchPatriot-News
Penn State’s 42-14 win over Michigan State clinched a ten-win season, kept the Nittany Lions in the top 14 of the BCS standings and appeared to help their cause with the Orange Bowl representative in Spartan Stadium. Jones spent some time talking to him and several key points emerged. The Orange Bowl committee’s goals are, in no particular order:

  • Potential tourism and economic impact in south Florida.
  • Success of the candidate programs, not limited to just this year but historically. The programs’ national followings and how strong they are historically.
  • Potential ticket sales of the candidates. For the Orange Bowl, a sell-out is vital.

  • A compelling story about the team is also helpful.
  • Considerations of stakeholders – television (this year, that’s Fox). Fed-ex and other sponsors.
  • Appeal to the fanbases. Travel distance and accessibility from schools. How easy it is for fans to get to Miami.

Penn State fares very well by that criteria, though Iowa is not a slouch. On the television front in particular, Penn State fares very well. Sports Media Watch reported that “Penn St./Michigan St. topped both the SEC on CBS (2.6) and Notre Dame football on NBC (2.5) head-to-head” this Saturday. Also, I saw somewhere, but can’t find it again, that Penn State had much better ratings in the 2006 Orange Bowl than Iowa did in the 2003 Orange Bowl. Penn State should get full consideration from the Orange Bowl officials if they get a chance to pick a Big Ten team. Of course, if the Fiesta Bowl picks Iowa, which Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is apparently lobbying for (@scrappled, AKA RUTS), the Capital One Bowl will almost certainly invite the Nittany Lions. I’m not crazy about Delany doing that but in the end, I won’t begrudge Iowa for getting a BCS bid over Penn State because the Hawkeyes won it.

We won’t know anything until December 6 either way.

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