Category Archives: Penn State Football

NCAA returning some scholarships to Penn State football is mostly a powerplay

The NCAA just reduced scholarship sanctions against Penn State Football. Starting with the next recruiting class, the Nittany Lions will be able to add five scholarships a year, meaning they’ll be back up to a full class of 25 by 2015-2016. Here’s the breakdown from SB Nation: Penn State’s reduced sanctions a major boost for recruiting: Explaining the math. In short, this is huge for Penn State football moving forward. However, let’s not think for a minute that this is the NCAA being magnanimous — this is a big power play.

By the way, there are approximately three schools of thought on the NCAA’s role in Penn State’s mishandling of Jerry Sandusky. They are:

1.) NCAA has no standing and the sanctions are an gross overreach
2.) NCAA simply had to do something and probably should have enacted the death penalty
3.) It’s BS, but trivial to the mishandling of Sandusky be Penn State employees and really trivial compared to the suffering of children that may have been prevented

I’m in the third camp by the way.

The NCAA, as it did in 2012, is throwing its weight around — this is about POWER and not anything else. In my view the NCAA reduced the scholarship sanctions in order to:

  • Change the conversation about the NCAA — there is a lot of questioning of its role in promoting amateur status while raking in millions if not billions of dollars while the student athletes are getting nothing more than scholarship, room and board, etc. for risking their physical well-being. Johnny Manziel might be pretty excited there is another NCAA issue getting people’s attention too.
  • Remind colleges and universities in the crosshairs that if you just roll over and do what the NCAA tells you, you may get a break if you go along with whatever they propose. Sure, I took all your food away, but if you do what I tell you, I’ll give you some scraps!
  • Takes away the growing sentiment that scholarship reductions put players in the targeted program at greater risk for injury.
  • In a sense, puts the existing Penn State administration and board of trustees in a better position since their compliance to the NCAA yielded something of a return to normalcy. “Hey, playing ball is working, let’s stop fighting.”
  • Undercuts pending litigation against the NCAA by several parties by “giving back” some of what they sought — current students, players, coaches etc. aren’t paying for the price for their predecessors as much.
  • By only giving back scholarships, gives the “move on” crowd some satisfaction, while giving a big middle finger to the “we won’t move on…” crowd who wants wins restored and so on. I dont’ see that happening, but then again, I didn’t see this happening.

In short, the NCAA is better at politics than I thought.

Bowl games may be back on the table, but we’ll have to see about that — Penn State football earns a lot of money for the NCAA and its hard to do that when the program is in shambles. I assign absolutely zero credit for the NCAA’s actions being based on the “right thing to do” when it comes to sanctions, the reduction of etc. I keep coming back to one thing — this is about POWER.

Having seen this happen, I foresee a couple of more half-reversals on previous sanctions:

  • Penn State football wins from 1998-2000 (a total of 23, I believe) could be restored as the program was not yet involved with Sandusky’s really creepy and ultimately illegal behavior. This would probably be more seen vindictive than anything to some parties as it was only a fraction of the vacated wins.
  • A large portion of the $60 million fine that Penn State has to pay to help fight child abuse could be directed to be specifically spent in the commonwealth Pennsylvania. There is a lawsuit insisting that all of it be in the commonwealth, but who know maybe $30 million or more gets that lawsuit out of the way. The NCAA has as much interest in going to court as Penn State does — they expression “they want to make money and not get sued” applies to both institutions.

If there is a lesson here, it is POWER and not rules, is what makes things happen in some many situations. If you have power, use it wisely or you will lose it and somebody or something else is going to use their power recklessly. Specifically, if there is an old man taking kids on campus late on Friday nights and taking showers with them, treat that behavior as extremely suspicious and make sure it gets investigated by police. Use your POWER.. You won’t have to deal with lots of hypocrisy, contradictions, grandstanding, and so on and more importantly HELP SOMEBODY WHO IS BEING HURT.

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Penn Staters, please read this column

Old Main tower
On Culture and #CultureOnward State
About 22 months ago, everything went to hell at my alma mater, Penn State University. We found out that the leadership of the university was aware that Jerry Sandusky was likely engaging in, at the very least, very unusual and suspicious behavior ten years earlier and did not do anything substantive about it. There continues to be debate, disagreement, denial and anger about their roles in the matter and what legal culpability is involved.

The column above addresses part of the reaction all of what has happened since. A lot of it is what I’ve been meaning to write. I may still do so, but until that time, I hope Penn Staters will read that column and think about it.

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Yale now has a better Penn State jersey than Penn State

Last year, two of my posts with highest traffic were about the Yale football uniforms. I was pleased they restored the traditional Y to the helmet, but not thrilled that they added merit decals. This year, Uni-Watch got ahead of me and posted the video below. he changes keep coming and it is a mixed bag:

Fall (football) fashion previewYale Alumni Magazine

GOOD: The Y-Dog logo has been removed from the sleeve, so Yale now has a better Penn State jersey than Penn State, right? Other than the thicker block numbers, the new Bulldogs jerseys have the same trim and nearly the same color as the pre-2011 Penn State jerseys.

BAD: The striping has been significantly changed — gone are the two blue stripes on the helmet, pants and socks. In the place of the classic double-stripes, some weird none stripe thing that Nike has been doing since the awful Denver Broncos redesign of 1997.

Overall, this is “fixing what isn’t broken” which is the trend in football uniforms of late. It is quite unnecessary, especially for an Ivy League program where merchandising is a non-issue.

Meanwhile, for the third season in a row, the Penn State uniform has been altered:

The “big” change is the “chipmunk” logo is now in the middle of the neckline. Combined with the Nike swoosh and the BigTen logo, it gets pretty crowded. I could take or leave the chipmunk, but the “B1G” is just aesthetically bad right there, a conference-mandated patch by the way. We all know the Nike swoosh isn’t going anywhere unless Penn State finds another outfitter.

Of course, I would prefer a return to the jerseys they wore through 2010 with the contrasting trim on the neckline and sleeves — the new Yale jersey. In 2011, Guido D’Elia claimed to be behind the change, but he may have been lying. Additionally, names are going to be retained on the back of the jersey because Coach Bill O’Brien wants everybody to know the names of the players who chose to be a part of the program during this difficult era. I won’t argue that reasoning.

Now, at least neither of the great blue and white football programs have gone the Oregon or Maryland route…yet.

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Independent Penn State football preview on kickstarter

I know I haven’t blogged much about Penn State since IT, but I want to let you know about a project my friend and former colleague Mike Pettigano of Linebacker-U is setting up on Kickstarter — We Are Penn State 2013. Mike has gotten a bunch of Penn State bloggers, past and present, together to put together a Nittany Lions football preview magazine. Remember back in 2010 when I contributed to one?

We Are… back!

At least that’s the plan, but we need your help. In order to free us from the shackles of corporate overlords and give our readers the best Penn State content available, we are calling upon the awesome power of the PSU Web community–those of you who most appreciate and can best recognize original and quality content–to back our endeavor, and bring back your favorite annual publication.

What We Are…

The magazine will be 112 pages, the first half previewing the 2013 team and opponents. We will break down Penn State’s schedule, its new high-power offense, its traditionally stout defense, and shockingly enough, a superb class of 2013.

The goal is to raise $35,000 to print it. Staring at the $15 level, a copy of the magazine is included which is about what the other glossy preseason mags cost these days.

I’m pulling for Mike and that gang and if you are a Penn Stater or just a fan, I hope you will too.

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Penn State gets an old rival back: Maryland to Big Ten; Rutgers likely

Getting B1Gger: Maryland, Rutgers to join Big TenExaminer.com
Look at this! I’ve come out of my Penn State blogging slumber. Sort of. More of that someday, but today the big story is that Penn State has (a) new neighbor(s) in the Big Ten Conference.

The University of Maryland has accepted an invitation to the Big Ten Conference, press conference at 3 p.m. The Terrapins will begin playing in 2014-2015. The Terps used to play the Nittany Lions in football annually. And get beat. Often badly.

Rutgers University is expected to join the conference tomorrow. Another old football opponent/doormat for PSU. Right now, the State University of New Jersey is having a strong season, ranked in the Big East.

These new additions are blatant money grabs for the Big Ten, anything else is secondary. The Big Ten hopes that having these two will get Big Ten Network on basic cable in the Washington D.C., New York and Baltimore television markets. Those are a lot of eyeballs. I don’t think BTN will break into basic cable in New York City, but certainly has a shot in North Jersey which is significant. A good portion of Maryland will likely put BTN on basic cable too. There will be battles over it, but it will eventually be sorted out. Being on the Sports Tier isn’t too bad either and I anticipate greater adoption of that for BTN.

If you are a Penn State fan (or Big Ten fan in the Mid-Atlantic for that matter) this news is bit mixed. Having two “traditional rivals” back on the schedule is good if the Big Ten is too Midwest centric. It is also good news because Penn State dominated those series. Both schools are on the Northeast Corridor and far closer than any of the existing Big Ten schools, especially for all of us who live near Interstate 95. The downsides — potentially and particularly in light of the NCAA sanctions (speaking of blatant power grabs) is that Penn State doesn’t have the argument of a stronger conference than the ones Maryland and Rutgers were in. Also, Maryland and Rutgers may get TV priority, so that could mean fewer Penn State games on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 though I don’t see that being that big a problem. Penn State is a bigger draw, even now, than those and tends to play in the later timeslots. That’s probably not that big a deal.

I anticipate the Big Ten will now break down strictly on geography for divisions, though I was joking they ought to have to divisions:

RED
Indiana
Maryland
Minnesota
Nebraska
Ohio State
Rutgers
Wisconsin
NOT RED
Illinois
Iowa
Michigan
Michigan State
Penn State
Purdue
Northwestern

By the way, if you want to be “subway alumni” here are the directions from the College Park UMd. Metro station to Byrd Stadium:


View Larger Map

A bit of a hike, but doable. Rutgers is not too far from Amtrak Northeast Corridor/NJ Transit either:


View Larger Map

2.8 miles — I don’t know New Brunswick/Piscataway, so I don’t know the practicality of walking from the train station. It is a nice idea though.

Really, I’ll write about Penn State football again sometime before the bowl game

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Guido D’Elia is gone from Penn State!

Penn State Marketing “Guru” Guido D’Elia Let Go Black Shoe Diaries
We found out today that Guido D’Elia, who was in charge of Football Communications and Branding for Penn State football, is GONE! @FightonState tweeted this great news.

Hopefully, this means the end of “theme games” like tie-dye day and piped in music like “Sweet Caroline,” “Livin’ On a Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believin’”. D’Elia may have been a competent video producer with the Penn State Football Story, but his gameday experience was very minor league and not collegiate. I’ll give him credit for doing well with the Joe Paterno Memorial Service, but that’s about it. I got tired of driving for hours and spending hundreds of dollars to hear the same generic piped-in music that he dumbed-down Beaver Stadium with for the last several seasons.

There is only one way to celebrate this news:

Let’s hope whoever takes over respects the traditional Penn State and college football experience overall. Let the Blue Band shine!

UPDATE: This may mean the end of the Penn State Football Story as we know it since D’Elia’s company, Mind Over Media produced it. If that happens, so be it, AND BRING BACK TV QUARTERBACKS. I bet Fran Fisher still has those loud blazers in his closet.

Not his loudest jacket, but you get the idea…

Also, can we get the contrasting trim back on the jerseys? D’Elia claimed it was his idea to make the Penn State football jerseys less elegant and more cheap looking.

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2012 Penn State football recruits

OUR LONG NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT DAY NIGHTMARE IS OVER

I say that every year at this time. Here is the Nittany Lions recruiting run-down from Black Shoe Diaries.

I don’t follow recruiting and doubt I ever will, but there are significant energy in following it. There are 2 major national outfits focused primarily on recruiting. Me, I prefer following the players who are actually on the team and play in games. Oh and read For the Glory by Ken Denlinger about the 1988 Penn State recruiting class if you aren’t convinced that following recruiting is a mostly waste of time.

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R.I.P. Joe Paterno

I am only getting to my obituary for Joe Paterno now because I wasn’t sure what I could add to the thousands of tributes already out there. I’m going to try and fill in something that I think has been overlooked. That aspect was also a little hard to find online until late last week.

Paterno won 409 games, 2 undisputed national championships, had undefeated seasons in 4 different decades, won 3 Big Ten Championships, every bowl game that mattered and more than any one else for that matter. His on-field legacy is secure. His “Grand Experiment” of having football players who were students is unsurpassed in big time college football. Paterno’s football players graduated a rate higher than the Penn State population in recent years and probably over his entire tenure. The praise he gathered for that was well-earned.

An aspect of Paterno that I feel that may have been overlooked was his direct role in shaping the Pennsylvania State University. The fame that his successful football teams brought raise the profile of the university. Paterno would have been a memorable figure for that, particularly the the way he did it. However, Paterno did not settle for that and at the peak of his power and prestige, he decided that the Penn State could not settle for being #1 just in football. Following the 1982 National Championship, Paterno was invited to speak to the Board of Trustees. Instead of a pep talk, he outlined a vision for the university. Here is an excerpt from Paterno’s January 22, 1983 speech to the Board of Trustees, 29 years to the day before died (Google Doc):

So we do have a magic moment and we have a great opportunity, and I think we have got to start right now to put our energies together to make Penn State not only Number One, but I think we’ve got to start to put our energies together to make this a Number One institution by 1990. I don’t think that’s an unfounded or a way-out objective. I think we need some things. I talk to you now as a faculty member. I talk to you as somebody who has spent 33 years at Penn State, who has two daughters at Penn State, who probably will have three sons at Penn State, who has a wife that graduated from Penn State, who has two brother-in-laws that graduated from Penn State, and I talk to you as somebody I think who knows a little bit about what’s going on. Who has recruited against Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, who has recruited against Notre Dame, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard and who has had to identify some things that they have that are better than we have and has had to identify some of our problems. I talk to you as somebody that I think knows a little bit about what’s going on in the other guys, and I think a little bit about what’s going on here. We need chairs. We need money so that we can get some stars. We need scholarship money. We need scholarship money to get scholars who can be with the stars so that the stars will come in and have some people around that can stimulate them and they can be stimulated by the stars. We need a better library–better libraries would be a better way to put it–so that the stars and the scholars have the tools to realize their potential. We need an environment of dissent and freedom of speech and freedom to express new and controversial ideas.

Paterno was vice chair of the first “Campaign for Penn State” the raised $352 million from 1984-1990. He continued to raise money for Penn State for decades and with his wife, Sue, contributed over $4 million. He specifically raised money for the library which now bears his last name. The modern Penn State, a modern research institution with many nationally ranked colleges, schools and departments is his greatest legacy.

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Joe Posnanski also spoke with Joe Paterno in the final days

Paterno’s final days: no bitterness, just marveling at his fortunate lifeSports Illustrated

In the moments after Joe Paterno died, it became common for people to write and say that he died of a broken heart. He did not. Joe Paterno died of lung cancer and the complications it caused. He did not die a bitter or broken man.

Joe Posnanski spent the fall in State College preparing to write a book at Joe Paterno and Happy Valley. It was something that I looked forward to reading, even though I have read countless Paterno biographies. Posnanski is just such a good writer and I was sure he would come up with a great book that would provide additional illumination.

Paterno had said that he would not speak with Posnanski due to the commitments of running the program, but following the dark days that Jerry Sandusky brought to Penn State, Paterno had the time. Aware of his mortality facing lung cancer, Paterno changed his mind and spoke with Posnanski.

I am sure there will be more in Posnanski’s book, but this short article makes it pretty clear that the “died of broken heart” narrative is a false one. All of those books and all that I knew of Paterno suggested this would not be the case and this confirmed it. Cancer (especially diagnosed as late as Paterno’s was) and cancer treatments puts a tremendous toll on someone. I suspect the latter proved to be the specific cause of Paterno’s death.

I am still trying to piece together my thoughts on Paterno’s legacy and it may be a few days yet. I need to give the same consideration to that as I did my post-Sandusky posts that were critical of him. I stand by those, but they are not the whole story by a long shot.

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