Shoop! There It Is!

Having been blogging about Penn State football since the mid 1990’s, you’d think I would finally be able to post a game recap without forgetting something.  As if!

But while thinking back over the game notes, I realized I hadn’t mentioned how great a job Bob Shoop did as defensive coordinator.  The second half was tarnished a bit by the performance of Holman at QB, but then those things happen.  When you prepare for one type of QB, and then suddenly face another, it’s not always easy to adjust for that.  And Holman certainly looked like a better passer.

So here are some more thoughts that I forgot to hit yesterday:

* Zettle is a FORCE.

* Penn State played the 1st quarter with no headset communication.  Maybe that contributed to the disparity between the stats and the points.  Apparently, the NCAA doesn’t have rules like the NFL, which would have equalized the situation by not allowing UCF to use their headsets.  Despite the set back, we prevailed.

* Penn State had TWO receivers over 150 yards on the day.  That’s the first time in school history!

* Ficken Kickin Good–we all know he hit the game winner, but he was 4-4 on the day!

* Forgot to mention the parachutists–the PSU guy hit the stadium, but the UCF rep landed along some train tracks off the mark!  Talk about your omens from the sky!

* Did anyone notice how well we did on first downs?  I meant to look back on this but forgot.  Especially in the first half, we kicked butt on first down, leaving a LOT of 2nd and short situations.  If you look at the second down situations in the first half, Penn State had 5 second and one’s, 2 second and two’s, and was second and six or less 11 out of 14 second downs.  (One second and six was actually a second and one that became a second and six after a five yard penalty.)  In the second half, there were 11 second down opportunities, and PSU was 2nd and five or less 5 of those times with three second and one’s.

* The running game didn’t generate much yardage, but as you can see above, it didn’t have to in order to keep the sticks moving.

* Hamilton and Ficken pulled in Big Ten Players of the Week Honors–not something I forgot, but worth noting at this juncture.

Some great articles were written across the pond.  Johnny Watterson of The Irish Times writes:

But first the cast and inventory: two parachutists, one on the pitch the other on the railway track; a choir of 17; two three-storey sized flags; two marching bands; three Irish Army soldiers and four marines, all bearing flags; a team of Penn State dancers and two teams of cheerleaders; soft drinks engineers; chair arranging executives; four lieutenants of the tape measure; two team rosters of 100 players each; eight team captains; 24-ish coaches and two F16s drowning out the Star Spangled Banner. Gridiron loves its hardware.   

But Penn State had a quarterback called Christian Hackenberg. “Hack”, a young man in just his second season, threw for 454 yards on Saturday, breaking Zack Mills’s single-game school record of 399 yards. 

The most important of those yards came in the run-up to Ficken’s winning field goal as “Hack”, with composure beyond his years, engineered the territory and kept the ball in Penn [State] hands.  

As it sailed over the posts at the Hill end on a trajectory towards Nally, Croke Park became the Bull Run in Pamp lona. The Penn State bench burst on to the pitch and cheerleaders were thrown in the air.

Aisling Crowe describes it as theater and sport colliding:

It was a jaw dropping, awe inspiring sight when first glimpsing the transformed interior of the stadium before the University of Central Florida clashed with the Penn State University. It was Croke Park but not as we know it. The surreal panorama spread out before your eyes. A shrunken pitch surrounded by athletic cheerleaders, acrobatically somersaulting into dangerous positions, marching bands putting a brass spin on some classics including the theme tune to The Sunday Game and flagbearers, mascots and whatever else was needed in the way of support.
The truly awesome scene was in the middle of the pitch where 200 athletes prepared to begin their college season, hopes and dreams spread out before them and the glory of last season behind champions University of Central Florida. 

The clock counted down the minutes to kick off, and a parachutist clad in the Penn State blue and white landed in the middle of the pitch. The UCF Knights parachutist went missing in action, his radar slightly wonky. He came up a little short of the pitch and landed on the train line behind Hill 16. Saturday afternoon shoppers suffered the convenience that shadows the commuter daily as trains were delayed while the errant knight was rescued.  

The NFL may be America’s game but the college version is giving it a run for its money.
This may have been a spectacle but it was also a serious sport. Every tackle, every intercept, every pass that found a runner was greeted with a roar the like of which is usually only heard when the referee blows the final whistle in an All-Ireland final. 

Anyone with dismissive attitudes towards American football would have had their prejudices seriously challenged by the on-pitch action. The first collision from the opening kick off saw the helmet of one of the Nittany Lions fly through the air, knocked from a head with the force of the impact. 

They followed Flynn’s advice to the letter in Croke Park with razzle dazzle to beat Banagher but the sequins were not some frippery tacked on as a distraction. Sport and theatre collide with spectacular results in American football. The sparkle and the show are an integral part of the spectacle but there is real steel behind the stardust that was sprinkled on Dublin yesterday. 

The author had Sam Franklin kicking the winning field goal, but otherwise it was a good report.

And if you are really bored, here is an Irish message board with some locals regaling their thoughts such as these:

That’s was a great game! My first time ever seeing live football, only got sucked in in the last few years. Now I reeeeeally want to see if I can get tickets to one of the Wembley games! The Penn State support was great, really cool to be in the thick of it. 

Fantastic game. Made a converted out of my brother who begrudgingly came along, moaning right up to the start about how ****e AF is. He was screaming at the pitch at the end and has just called me to find out when the next one is.. 

The Penn State head coach stayed for a little while by the tunnel to start up chants with the fans as he left the field, crazy guy  [He's a WILD and CRAZY guy!]

Just home from a thoroughly enjoyable day. Went with Penn State in all our bets, all came in, Outright win, 1st Touchdown and over 43.5. Some show, great entertainment and at least the rain stayed off. Managed to get a vid of the National anthem and the F-16’s too. 

Fecking savage day. 8th game I’ve been to (3 college, 5 NFL) and first I’ve seen settled by the final play. Had the over backed too so happy out. Pity it wasn’t in the Aviva, looked silly looking down on an empty hill all day, mind you, the ESPN crew did a great job of avoiding that. Jesse James is a legend, plus that WR, thing he was number 7 for Penn. Great day out. Penn state fans were a credit. Really, really great day. 

Apart from the empty stand and rip off programme, great day. Sat with some Penn State fans amongst the UCF hoarde in a great spot. Wife very pregnant and we had planned to ship a few mins before the end. Glad I didn’t, what a finish! Super atmosphere, some slick game play from QB#14 and WR#7 for Penn. The Wife got right into it too but was puzzled why the game, apart from stoppages, just seem to pause quite often? When I told her it was for commercial breaks she cracked up 😁 The noise was cool, the F16s very cool, mexican wave fun and I cannot wait for the NFL reg season to K.O!!! 

Really enjoyed that yesterday. Penn State fans were great even if I was cheering for UCF. Great second half of football. Not sure what it looked like on TV but looking around, it felt quite cavernous. My mate was more interested in the gargle but I really got into it.  [Gotta love the gargle!]

Great day out – great game. First time to go to a game “in the flesh” – absolutely loved it. First two qrts I thought Penn State were gonna walk away it (despite only leading by a single score). UCF’s rushing game was poor and the passing game was non-existant – only for their defence , they would have been buried. 3rd & 4th Qrt’s – UCF’s Qrtback remembered he could throw and the drama went up a notch. To have the game decided on the final play with 3 secs left on the clock – just brilliant (even if I was a tiny bit gutted for UCF).   Will definitely go to the next one (if/when it happens). 

Good day. One of the closest games I’ve seen live, score wise. Atmosphere was okay were I was sitting . Wish I had a chance to do this every week. 

Great game. Really enjoyed it, and was a bargain for e20. My seats were great. Very happy that it was close, as it was a good way to show my friends from here the sport. A blowout would have sucked. . . .A few small things about it did bother me though. The quality of the replays was shocking. I remember a big important offensive PI call happened, and I looked up to see the replay of it, but all they showed was the QB throwing the ball… Hill 16 being closed was also odd and looked awful behind the goal. That last field goal was one of the most exciting finishes to a game this weekend, and will have been all over sports highlight reels in the states last night, and the backdrop is an awful, empty terrace, which is a little embarrassing. The PA system was also terrible, especially for the ref. Could barely make out what was being said half the time. [Sounds like a "true" PSU fan--c/o replays, empty seats and the sound system!]

I have yet to read any reports of “bad” PSU fans.  And the reports from Penn Stater’s sound like they were treated exceptionally well by the locals.

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Old, New, Borrowed, and BLUE

The Old.

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.  I saw several pundits predicting a close game between PSU and UCF–even going so far as to say the difference could come down to a field goal.  Freaking psychotics psychics!

My first thought–God I hope it doesn’t come down to a Sam Ficken field goal.

I know it was James Franklin on the sideline, but seeing what happened on the field–a clearly better team missing and wasting opportunities, letting an under-matched opponent hang around to take advantage of mistakes and penalties, and then depending on a last second field goal to pull out a win in a game that you led for all but 1:13 on the clock–made me think JOE PATERNO.  Somewhere, he is smiling at the old school outcome of this Croke Park Classic.

I know it gets old–Penn State fans bitching about the refs and bad calls, but for the love of God, can you stop giving us so much fodder to chew on????  And the worst part?  This wasn’t even a crew of inept Big Ten refs.  Offensive PI?  Give me a break.  You know it’s bad when even the inept and anti-PSU biased announcers don’t think there was a penalty.  Granted, the roughing the kicker penalty was probably a gift for PSU, but YOU KNOW that call goes either way, and I personally think it was a make-up call for the unsportsmanlike conduct on the kick-off.  Yeah, mouthing off after your helmet was torn off was definitely in poor taste and a bad decision, but a 15-yarder?  How about a warning, officer?

“That ain’t holdin.  I just giving you a big ole hug.  I love you man!”

The New.

James Franklin’s debut was not illustrious or overly impressive, but we must temper our criticism against the back-drop.  It was the first game of the season.  Mistakes will be made.  He seemed to mismanage the time clock at the ends of both halves, but the final result was still a win.  And while the gaffe at the end of the first half didn’t cost us any points, you would like to believe that had we been playing Ohio State or Michigan State, that he would have chosen to punt.  But given that UCF was offensively inept (at that point), and he had a chance to put some more points on the board, I don’t know that his decision was actually a bad one.  Could have been.  Wasn’t in the final analysis.

None of Franklin’s bad choices were as bad as O’Leary’s decision to start de novo with DiNovo at quarterback.  Thank God for that!  It was a tale of two different halves, as Holman came in and almost stole this game away from Christian Hackenberg.

Speaking of Hack, he notched a new PSU record with 454 yards, going 32 for 47 on the day.  Part of this was due to the lack of a running game.  But defense was supposed to be a strength of this UCF team, with most of the D back from last year and almost the entire secondary intact.  Our offensive line looked shaky in the early going, but seemed to get better as the game progressed.  Hack was a little gimpy late in the game, and hopefully those are just minor growing pains.

We seemed to have some trouble maintaining footing.  I blame this on Spider retiring.  Not sure who replaced him, but that dude has some work cut out for him.

The Lions won the Dan Rooney Trophy . . . a new piece of hardware to add to our collection, and much nicer than the hideous Land Grant Monstrosity that will up for grabs at the end of the season.

The Borrowed.

Thank you Dublin for allowing us to desecrate your hallowed “football” sod with our American form of soccer.  I liked the use of pitchforks to replace our divots.

The Blue.

Although they sported the away game white unis, the BLUE and WHITE prevailed in a 26-24 thriller that was much closer than it should have been.  Penn State really dominated the first half, but had only a 7 point lead to show for it.  Poor refereeing, players tripping on divots, and turnovers seemed to keep the knights in the game.  Holman sparked their offense in the second half, and that may also hint to the lack of depth we have due to sanctions.  This game could have been a disaster had we played in the heat and humidity of Orlando.

James Franklin sported a blue ball cap on and off, early in the game.  I’ve never seen a picture of him wearing a hat on the sidelines, but come November, he may need that.

The PSU website has this quote:

“There was only a minute or so left in the game, and I looked across the sideline and there wasn’t doubt in anybody’s eye. Everybody believed. They believed in Hack. They believed in Ficken,” Franklin said.

I have to admit I teared up when he kicked that final field goal.  Way to go, Sam!


Team Statistics


 Team Totals  PSU  UCF 
FIRST DOWNS  24  11 
   Passing  14 
   Rushing Attempts  28  29 
   Average Per Rush  2.0  0.8 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  86  51 
   Yards Lost Rushing  29  27 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  32-47-2  12-22-0 
   Average Per Attempt  9.7  10.1 
   Average Per Completion  14.2  18.5 
   Passing Touchdowns 
   Total offense plays  75  51 
   Average Gain Per Play  6.8  4.8 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  1-1  1-1 
Penalties: Number-Yards  9-90  8-47 
PUNTS-YARDS  1-41  4-185 
   Average Yards Per Punt  41.0  46.2 
   Net Yards Per Punt  21.0  44.0 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  6-366  5-306 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  61.0  61.2 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  33.2  35.4 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  2-9-0  0-0-0 
   Average Per Return  4.5  0.0 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  5-129-0  5-142-0 
   Average Per Return  25.8  28.4 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  2-0-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Miscellaneous Yards 
Possession Time  34:07  25:53 
   1st Quarter  9:49  5:11 
   2nd Quarter  8:02  6:58 
   3rd Quarter  8:04  6:56 
   4th Quarter  8:12  6:48 
Third-Down Conversions  10 of 18  5 of 13 
Fourth-Down Conversions  1 of 2  1 of 2 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  5-5  4-5 
   Touchdowns  1-5  3-5 
   Field goals  4-5  1-5 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  2-17  2-17 
PAT Kicks  2-2  3-3 
Field Goals  4-4  1-1 
Points off turnovers  9 

As you can see, PSU clearly dominated the stats, more than doubling the total yardage of the Knights, winning time of possession by 9 minutes, and better third down conversion percentages.  What kept the Knights in the game was the 9 points off turnovers, and the two INTs.  Both teams exchanged fumbles.

Neither team did well in the first half, and the Knights had under 100 yards total in the first half, with most of their production and points coming after the switch to Holman.


The crowd of 53,304 was heavily in favor of the Nittany Lions–I heard by as much as 7-1 or more.

James Franklin is 1-0 as coach at Penn State, 25-15 overall.

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

“I’m not so fast, you know!”


Rutgers came from behind to defeat Washington State 41-38.

Indiana defeated Indiana State 28-10.

Purdue overwhelmed Western Michigan 43-34.

THEM managed to win and avoid pulling a second Appalachian State, defeating the Mountaineers 52-14.  So take that!

The Buckeyes were down to the midshipmen 7-6 at the half, but managed to pull away with a 34-17 win.

Illinois beat Youngstown State 28-17.

The Hawkeyes beat Northern Hawkeyes 31-23.

The Maryland Twerps dominated James Madison (and a couple of other old presidents) 52-7.

Meanwhile the Cornhuskers stormed the beaches of Florida Atlantic 55-7.

The Spartans spanked Jacksonville State 45-7.

Minnesota beat Eastern Illinois 42-20.

The Wildcats lost to Cal 31-24.

Wisconsin, not wanting Northwestern to be the only loser, fell apart against LSU, losing 28-24 after a 17 point rally by the Tigers.


1.  South Carolina–#9 taken to the woodshed by the Texas Aggies, even without Johnny Football.

2.  Delaware–lost to Pitt 62-0.  Maybe Pitt can schedule Rhode Island and Alaska too!

3.  Vanderbilt–lost 37-7 to Temple.  I do feel bad.  Just not THAT bad.

4.  Clemson–bitten by the Bulldogs 45-21.

5.  Okie State–Cowpokes come up 6 short against #1 F$U.


The Akron Zips come to Beaver Stadium next week for a NOON kick-off.  The Zips pasted Howard 41-0 this past weekend.

The Lions opened around an 18 point favorite but that line has already dropped a few points depending on which betting service you look at, but I imagine will stay somewhere just north of a two score margin.

The Zips were ranked preseason by USA Today at #94.

Did you know that Terry Bowden is their coach?  I did not know that!  Unfortunately for him, he ain’t in Auburn anymore.

This should be another good day for Hack, and perhaps a chance for his back-up to get some reps.


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Dublin or Nothing

With the college football season already started, and Penn State’s first game of the James Franklin Era literally hours away from kick-off, I realized that I have not officially prognosticated in public.

My emotions swing from 5-7 to 11-1.  There was that one moment when I toyed with the idea of predicting a 12-0 season (which flashed through my mind when I read that Braxton Miller was out for the season), but I am officially going to settle on 10-2.

Don’t ask me why.  Don’t ask me which two games I think we will lose.

There is no more merit in my forecast than any weatherman out there right now.

But with kick-off nearing in Dublin at Croke Park, I will predict a victory for the blue and white over George O’Leary’s Golden Knights.

And here are my reasons, in no particular order.

1.  Lee Corso picked UCF to wax Penn State.

2.  No Bortles.

3.  James Franklin.

4.  Christian Hackenberg.

5.  Come on people, it’s UCF.  Sure they went 12-1 last season, but this ain’t Florida State.  I think people are underestimating how important Bortles was to the offense, and are over-estimating what kind of defense the Knights will have this year.

6.  James Franklin

7.  Clucko the Chicken picks Penn State.

8.  Five of six Harrisburg writers pick UCF

9.  James Franklin.  Seriously.  This man is a dynamo.  And he brings with him a complete staff that he has already worked with and developed chemistry with.  THIS IS CRUCIAL.  This is not Bill O’Brien parachuting into a war zone with a rag tag team of old friends assembled at the last minute.  This is a well oiled machine that managed to post back to back 9 win seasons at Vanderbilt, a school that had not had a 9 win season since 1915.

10. George O’Leary, undefeated ND head coach, who will be toasted to no end at every pub in the country and pickled in free drinks by the time kick-off rolls around.

11.  Because WE ARE . . .


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No TailGreating Allowed


Apparently, Penn State Athletics has decided not to continue the tradition of TAILGREAT at the Bryce Jordan Center.  This was a pre-game pep rally of sorts featuring the Blue Band and cheerleaders at the BJC before each home game.

According to WJAC:

“We [were] notified that the Tailgreat would be no more due to some budgetary concerns,” Blue Band director Richard Bundy said.

It was the plug being pulled on Penn State Blue Band’s Tailgreat show, a free pep rally before every home game.

“I think it was an event that was rather unique in the way it was presented so we are working on trying to see how that will affect our game day activities for the Blue Band,” Bundy said.

I think the BOT notified the Blue Band by a note delivered by a messenger in the dark of night.

A statement from Penn State Assistant Athletic Director for Football Communications Jeff Nelson said Tailgreat wasn’t giving the Blue Band enough exposure. “We did not feel that Tailgreat was accomplishing the level of interaction among our more than 100,000 fans and exposure for the Blue Band that is deserved,” Nelson said.

Onward State provides more specific speculation on the costs . . .

A Blue Band source tells us that the reason for this cut given by the Athletic Department was primarily financial. Tailgreat costs approximately $70,000 to put on each year, most of which goes to BJC staffing and rental, and the Athletic Department decided that this cost was too great. This comes just days after the Athletic Department purchased more than 800 iPads for student athletes, which, even conservatively at $300 each (much less than retail), still runs more than three times what Tailgreat cost.

The source also indicated that the Athletic Department says it’s working on a “new event” for the Blue Band to participate in during the pregame hours.

Opponents of cancelling the tradition cite the ability of band parents to see their son or daughter perform when they might not be able to afford the cost of a Penn State football ticket.  Others liked being able to hear the band’s halftime show, which they might not be able to do as well or as clearly inside the stadium.

What I found interesting in the whole bit was the allegation that the price tag was a problem.  Granted, $70,000 looks like a huge figure (and considering what we are now paying our head coach, the sanction costs, and those darn iPads it is certainly not a negligible amount) but that works out to $10,000 or less per game depending on whether there are 7 or 8 home games in a season.

And weren’t there corporate sponsors at one time???

A little googling found me this excerpt from a book about the Blue Band, A Century of Pride and Precision, where on page 169 it talks about this “new tradition” in 1996.  The book notes that the event was a joint project sponsored by AT & T, Wal-Mart, the Alumni Association, and the Nittany Lion Club.  The original TailGreat charged an admission fee that was dropped in it’s second year to promote better attendance.

I would think Penn State, even in this sanction-era, should be able to find a half-dozen or so sponsors to pony up $8000-$10,000 to keep the show going if they wanted to.  Which makes me wonder if they don’t want to.

I have to be honest here.  I’ve never been to a TAILGREAT.  Talked about going to it.  Thought about going to it.  Had it on my Penn State Bucket List, so to speak.  Alas, I will never have that chance, barring a change of heart by the athletic department.

Maybe attendance and interest has waned in recent years.  Maybe they will come up with a new tradition that is even better.  Maybe no one will even notice.

Have you ever been to a TailGreat?  How do you feel about losing this gameday event?

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The Game Will Love You Back

Maybe THIS is why I’m really looking forward to this season!

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Life (and football) Goes On

I want to apologize to my faithful legion of readers, small group of readers, some guy in Quincy, MA who actually reads this blog, for the paucity of posts this summer.  I posted a guest column a few weeks ago, but I have not actually posted since May!

In my defense, my dad passed away on July 27th. after suffering multiple strokes.  I have not felt like blogging much.  You can read about my amazing golf ball story on my other blog.

My dad won’t be attending games with me for the first time in my life.  He has missed a few games the past couple of years for various reasons.  He pretty much gave up the 8pm games since 2005.  But I always knew he COULD go.  There was a game against Michigan State back in the mid-1990’s when we had travel plans to go to Disney.  My dad and I went to the game anyway.  We had to leave before the game was over to make our flight out of University Park Airport.  My daughter asked my wife what would happen if I didn’t make it to the airport in time.  She answered, “We’re going without him.”  When she asked my mom what would happen if Pap Pap didn’t make it, my mom replied, “We’re going without him.”  We did make it.  Barely.

And while I know he will be there in spirit, any son who has lost their dad will tell you it is not the same.

Yet, I find myself looking forward to this season starting.  Perhaps it is the anticipation of James Franklin and the opportunity to see what he can do with this team that many have written off as the “worst year of the sanctions.”

Or perhaps it is this article about James Franklin leading Penn State back to glory.

Brick by brick. This is how one of the nation’s premier college football powers will be resurrected. It won’t happen today or tomorrow or even next year, but it will happen. It’s only a matter of time before a small, power-packed foundation grows into something more.

You see a family, 16 grown men functioning as a unit. And it’s not just these men. It’s the wives and children who have celebrated the highs and lows in football and in life, at schools and at barbecues.

You see this same family expanding, embracing open wounds with open arms, listening to those who have endured unspeakable change before worrying about more pressing football matters.

You see a staff that was crafted to work in this very location. It’s as if this group were constructed for this purpose and this purpose alone, and the geographic familiarity is already paying dividends.

You see a quarterback with a golden arm, an enormous Band-Aid at a time when it’s needed most.

And you see why, eventually, this will all be so much bigger than it is now. You can’t help but admire the bricks being laid, one strategically placed block at a time.

Perhaps it is the news that Braxton Miller will be out for the season.  As if we needed any more of an advantage over those Buckeyes ;)!

Perhaps it is the news that the Holier-Than-Everyone-Else Notre Dame is investigating 4 football players for academic fraud.  Slightly amusing.  Probably deserved.  But after the glass house built by the media and Jerry Sandusky, it’s really tough to pick up a stone right now.  But maybe I’ll have some fun with this later.

Perhaps it is Penn State’s 6th ranked recruiting class (according to Rivals) which beats the nearest Big Ten competitor by 10 slots.  If Franklin can coach half as good as he can recruit . . .

Perhaps it’s the report that an Icelandic Volcano could threaten the travel plans for the match-up in Ireland against UCF.  I blame this on Joel Myers.  It’s weather related–volcanic ash or some sort of excuse.

Or maybe it’s this copy of a letter supposedly written by Peggy Bauer Glaser to Dr. Barron:

Whereas in 2012 the NCAA, based on the flawed Freeh report, criticized Joe Paterno and others for not investigating the allegations of Sandusky’s sexual abuse of a child, now the NCAA is saying that no members of athletics should attempt to direct or intervene in a sexual abuse investigation. So now, they have concluded that Joe Paterno was correct in reporting the allegation and then stepping aside. If you will read my letter from 2012, that is exactly what Joe Paterno should have done–and what he did.  So Joe Paterno was fired for doing what he should have done from an HR policy position and from the ultimate position of the NCAA.

Whereas in 2012 the NCAA, based on the flawed Freeh report, criticized Joe Paterno and others for allegedly covering up Sandusky’s abuse, the Pennsylvania state prosecutor Frank Fina addressed the question of whether or not there was any evidence of the involvement of Joe Paterno in a cover up and he replied that no such evidence was found.So Joe Paterno was fired even though there was no evidence of a cover-up.

Now is the time to formally recognize Joe Paterno. Recognition can be achieved by such actions as: return the statue, name the stadium field Paterno Field, seek the rightful return the 409 record built by success with honor, seek to overturn the sanctions, adopt a culture of standing up for the University, and let the alumni community know the University also believes in success with honor.  Do the honorable thing. . .

Not going to hold my breath on this, lest I turn bluer than I already am.

I don’t know what it is, but I am really looking forward to this season!

What think you????

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Paterno to O’Brien to Franklin. Is history on Franklin’s side?

It is hard to believe that I haven’t posted since May 27th, but such is life.

A few weeks ago, a sports writer/historian sent me an article musing that Franklin may be in a better position than O’Brien if sports history has anything to say about it.

The article is reprinted below. I thought I was pretty special, having a guest contributor, but alas, my site is not the only one Mr. Baranowski contributed.

Unfortunately, while the concept and comparisons are interesting, the situation at Penn State is unique. None of the other programs discussed–Nebraska, Notre Dame, Alabama or USC–faced the near-death penalty and crippling sanctions that Penn State faced. O’Brien’s tenure must be examined from that perspective. Hunk Anderson, Ron Zook, Ray Perkins nor Frank Solich faced the uphill battle that O’Brien faced. And the fact that Bill was modestly successful despite those odds only argues to success rather than failure. Moreover, the University did not “part ways” with Bill O’Brien nor was the fan base viewing his efforts as being “not good enough.” Bill O’Brien chose to leave. That is not to say that there weren’t some rumblings amongst some alumni, but most of Penn State’s dissatisfaction was aimed at the NCAA, the sanctions, and the Board of Trustees that enabled that situation.

While I certainly was not happy to see O’Brien leave, I cannot understate how important his tenure was to the Penn State football program. He held the ship together with some duct tape and a couple guys like Mike Mauti. I think there are more than a few “successful” coaches out there who would have been unable to keep things together or who would have jumped ship altogether after the sanctions came down from Emmert Almighty and the Gospel According to Freeh.

That said, I do think James Franklin will benefit from being the next hire. The situation is less “toxic” and the sanctions have already been reduced with whisperings of perhaps a reduction in the bowl ban to come in the next month or so, although I ain’t holding my breath on that one.

But any success that Franklin has must be measured in terms of what he would be able to do if someone other than Bill O’Brien had been at the helm. I don’t think many coaches could have survived or done as well as Bill. To call O’Brien’s tenure less than a success because you measure him against Paterno is unfair.

But you may draw your own conclusions . . . read on:

Paterno to O’Brien to Franklin. Is history on Franklin’s side?

There is an axiom in sports that it is better to be the coach who follows the coach that followed a coaching legend rather than the coach that followed the coaching legend. I would venture to guess that Bill O’Brien and Lane Kiffin would concur with that notion.

There was no doubt that whoever followed Joe Paterno as Penn State head coach at Penn State would certainly have big shoes to fill. O’Brien went 15-9 in two seasons and bolted for the NFL. Kiffin at USC had a 28-15 record following Pete Carroll’s record of 97-19. Kiffin’s .651 winning percentage wasn’t enough to keep him from being fired not after losing nearly as many games in less than four years than Carroll did in nine. Beginning this season, Penn State’s new head coach James Franklin and Steve Sarkisian at USC will have the opportunity to test that coaching axiom. But how true is it really?

Looking at examples that support the axiom, in 1931, Hunk Anderson had the unenviable task of following Knute Rockne as head coach at Notre Dame. Anderson’s 16-9-2 record with a winning percentage of .630 at many schools would be welcome but not following Rockne’s coaching record of 105-12-5. In three seasons, Anderson lost nearly as many games as Rockne did in 13. Rockne’s winning percentage of .881 just happens to rank first among Division I coaches all-time. Good luck following that. Elmer Layden, the coach who took over after Anderson, had a 47-13-3 record. This was more to Irish fans’ liking.

At the University of Florida during the ‘90s, the Fun ‘N Gun offense was in full force as Steve Spurrier won 122 games in 12 seasons and racked up a winning percentage of .817. His successor, Ron Zook, lasted only three seasons going 23-14 and that set the stage for Urban Meyer. Meyer in six seasons as Florida’s head coach won 65 games and two national championships and had a winning percentage of .813.

The situation at the University of Alabama was slightly different. One can say that the shadow cast by Bear Bryant affected the next two men that succeeded him or at the very least set a near impossible standard to follow. In 25 seasons, Bryant won 232 games with a winning percentage of .824. Ray Perkins could relate to Anderson at Notre Dame as Perkins lasted only four seasons as his teams compiled a 32-15-1 record for a .677 winning percentage. That is not nearly good enough at Alabama, particularly after following the Bear.

Bill Curry followed Perkins and even with a 26-10 record and a .722 winning percentage, Curry lasted only three seasons. Gene Stallings followed Curry and despite having a slightly lesser winning percentage than Curry, .713 to .722, Stallings lasted seven seasons, no doubt aided by winning a national championship in 1992.

At Michigan, it was an interesting situation as well. Following Lloyd Carr proved to be more difficult than following Bo Schembechler. Schembechler paced the sidelines in Ann Arbor for 21 years and amassed a 194-48-5 record for a winning percentage of .796. Following Schembechler was not going to be easy. Gary Moeller did so for five seasons, winning three conference titles, and had a winning percentage of .758. Moeller resigned in May of 1995 and the head coaching job now belonged to Carr. Carr won five conference titles in 13 seasons and a national championship in 1997, Michigan’s first since 1948. Carr’s head coaching record was 122-40 for a .753 winning percentage.

Rich Rodriquez, “a non-Michigan man” succeeded Carr. Rodriquez brought a radically different offensive mindset to Ann Arbor and some might say a non-defensive mindset as well. After three seasons and a 15-22 record, Rodriquez was replaced.

There are numerous examples where a coaching legend’s successor did well but the following coach did not.

Perhaps a long-time successful coach creates such a well-oiled machine that it helps facilitate success for his immediate successor but by the time the next head coach comes along, significant fall-off begins.

John McKay at USC compiled a 127-40-8 record for a winning percentage of .749. One would think trying to match McKay’s winning percentage would have been very difficult. However, John Robinson nearly did just that succeeding McKay. Robinson’s record was 104-35-4 for a winning percentage of .741.

The fall-off at USC came following Robinson under Ted Tollner. Tollner, in four seasons from 1983 to 1986, went 26-20-1 for a winning percentage of .564. That is not going to cut it at USC.

Another example was at the University of Texas where Darrell Royal became a coaching legend winning 167 games losing 47 with five ties for a winning percentage of .774 over 20 seasons. His successor, Fred Akers, was 86-31-2 for a .731 winning rate over the next

The fall off in Austin came following Akers. David McWilliams managed only a 31-26 record over the next five seasons for a .544 winning percentage.

Meanwhile in Norman, Oklahoma, Chuck Fairbanks won 77% of his games compiling a 52-15-1 record. His successor, Barry Switzer, took that to an even higher level winning nearly 84% of his games with a record of 157-29-4. Switzer’s successor, Gary Gibbs, managed only 44 wins over the next six seasons going 44-23-2 from 1989-1994.

At Notre Dame, Ara Parseghian’s .836 winning percentage from 1964-1974 was followed by Dan Devine who produced a .764 winning percentage. Following Devine, who was under a hot seat following Parseghian until he won a national championship in 1977, proved too much for Gerry Faust. Faust’s 30-26-1 record just was not good enough for Notre Dame.

Then enters Lou Holtz, the last head coach to lead the Fighting Irish national championship in 1988, and his coaching record at Notre Dame was 100-30-2. Succeeding Holtz was Bob Davie and then Ty Willingham, and each had an identical .583 winning percentage in their short tenures as Notre Dame’s head coach.

Tom Osborne roamed the sidelines as Nebraska’s head coach for 25 years compiling a 255-49-3 record and a winning percentage of .836. Following the legendary Osborne would not be easy. Keep in mind that Osborne followed Bob Devaney who won national titles in 1970 and 1971 and had a 101-20-2 record in 11 seasons and a winning percentage of .829.

Osborne was succeeded by Frank Solich in 1998 and in six seasons Solich won 58 games losing only 19 for a .753 winning percentage and was fired by then Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson. Pederson hired Bill Callahan and over the next four years, Nebraska went 27-22-0, which definitely did not sit well with Husker fans.

So perhaps more importantly than simply being the coach who follows the coach that replaced a coaching legend, it is more important to have the right coach for the job.

Nittany Lion and Trojan fans hope and believe they do.

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

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