Monthly Archives: August 2007

FIU and season previews

You can check out all of my season preview stories about the Nittany Lions on The Sentinel’s PSU page, which can be found here.

All of my final FIU stuff will be up later this evening as well.

I haven’t seen the Big Ten Network yet, our sports department pulled an all-nighter to get our preview edition done Wednesday into Thursday morning, so I skipped the teleconference this afternoon as well. But the VCR is rolling to check it out tomorrow.

LSU is only up 17-0 at halftime? Are you kidding me?


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The Big Ten….it’s (not so) Comcastic

I’ve waffled back and forth, got up on the fence then down off of it, then back up.

I’ve listened to both sides over and over…..and over again regarding this DirecTV/Big Ten Network vs. Comcast dispute. It’s like that old steel cage match from Saturday Night’s Main Event between Hulk Hogan and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, circa 1987, you know the one where Hogan AND Ordndorff’s feet both touched the floor at the same time, only to have the match re-started.

That’s exactly how this battle between Comcast and the Big Ten has gone and it has no end in sight.

I hate to compare the situation to pro wrestling, but that’s how it’s ending up.

So yesterday, while killing time in the office, I read on CNN’s Money section that Comcast will offer the ‘best Big Ten games’ this season.  Huh? Did I miss something?

So the marketing tool is now using the fact that if you have Comcast, you get to watch ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 and that is better than anything else? In other words, the cable giant is offering nothing new. Nothing innovative.

But wait there’s more (and this is the gem of the whole thing.)

Comcast provides the best college football, on both a regional and national basis to its customers with more than 150 games from the SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, Big East, and ACC throughout the entire college football season via its partners ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, CBS, NBC, CSTV, FOX, FOX Sport Net and Comcast SportsNet.


In addition, Comcast customers in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana who subscribe to Comcast’s Digital Cable service and who are fans of Michigan State, Penn State, and Purdue can also obtain numerous hours of pre-and-post- game coverage when their schools play Notre Dame this season via Comcast’s exclusive Notre Dame ON DEMAND service. Comcast also offers digital cable customers in Pennsylvania Penn State ON DEMAND where they can obtain news and information about Penn State.

So in order to make up for a lack of Big Ten coverage by not having the network, Comcast is saying we can watch Notre Dame OnDemand. Joy. That’s what we all want to do, watch nothing more than a Notre Dame infomercial to get postgame coverage.

And the other issue I have, they don’t want to force this network on customers and this “Big Ten Network tax,” but what about the 25 or so other crappy channels I never wanted when I had Comcast previously, yet was forced to pay for them?

So at the very least, because this is just a god awful marketing ploy, this round goes to the BTN.

Season preview

Our season preview comes out Thursday. Among the PSU stories you’ll see: Dan Connor is our big feature, and there’s stories about the young defensive line, A.Q. Shipley, my prediction, and my Big Ten picks.

Friday’s edition will have a (special) one page PSU section that will have more specific FIU previews and also the usual weekly pieces we’ll be running, the top five topics, we’ll have a scouting report on FIU, a small preview, and a story on Justin King and Lydell Sargeant.

Now the one page section will not be a regular thing, all of the PSU previews for specific weeks will move into our weekly tab starting next week,  this is just because our tab this week is for our general football previews.

Make sure you check that out. All of the stories will be on our website.



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Tuesday Cup of Joe: He’s nervous for FIU

Joe Paterno is nervous….more so than he’s been for any season opener, ever.

Yes, ever.

Now you may ask yourself, why, why would a legendary coach who’s been at the same institution longer than his counterpart on Saturday has been alive, why would he be nervous playing a team that went 0-12 a season ago and struggled to score nine points a game?

Penn State heads into Saturday’s season opener a 38-point favorite against Florida International, and it’s likely they will win with some kind of gaudy 38-3, 45-10 type of score. But Joe Paterno is concerned because he has nothing, notta, zilch, to gameplan for FIU off of.

There’s no sense in watching last years team for tips on their offense or defense because those tendencies have been tossed out of the window with the arrival of a new coaching staff and potentially a spread offense, and add in a freshman quarterback that may be able to scramble in and out of trouble.

FIU on the other hand can watch hours upon hours of film from Penn State’s 9-4 season a year ago.

“I’m as nervous as I’ve ever been,” Paterno said Tuesday at his first weekly teleconference of 2007.

Some other highlights from the 35 minute session.

  • Andrew Quarless and Willie Harriott are out, likely for the month of September. Joe said he was bothered by their citations for underage drinking because of the timing of the incident. “I told them to get going,” Paterno said. They are both practicing, but won’t be playing for possibly 3-4 games.
  • Paterno said Abe Koroma is in a cast, on crutches and has a pin in his foot stemming from surgery for a broken bone suffered last week in practice.
  • Joe said he will be on the sidelines this weekend and joked that since Quarless isn’t playing he would stand in front of Paterno to take the hits.
  • He’s a little worried about the national image the program is getting coming off a turbulent offseason and preseason.
  • Joe thinks Lydell Sargeant has the potential to become one of the best cornerbacks PSU has ever had.
  • Both Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw will play this weekend, and Joe isn’t sure what they are going to do in terms of freshman like Stephon Green.
  • Phil Taylor’s main issue is weight and endurance. Joe somewhat scoffed at a follow up about Taylor’s MCL injury, simply saying “his knee is fine.” Guess that answers the question of how serious it was.
  • He praised Justin King’s natural cover ability, saying he eased into the position right away.
  • He believes Mickey Shuler needs some success and he will be a good tight end. He said Mick Jr. is just like his dad, working hard.

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Filed under Andrew Quarless, Big Ten Football, Florida International, Joe Paterno, Nittany Lion Football, Nittany Lions, Nittany Lions Football, Penn State Football, Penn State Football Nittany Lion Football, PSU Football, The Big Ten

Mysteries solved….

Per the just released official PSU depth chart for Saturday’s game against Florida International.

The starting offensive line from left to right is as follows: Cadogen, Eliades, Shipley, Shaw and Landolt. (JUCO transfers Ako Poti and Nerraw McCormick are third team backup tackles)

Mickey Shuler or Jordan Lyons will start at tight end in place of Andrew Quarless, who is suspended for his underage drinking violation a few weeks ago. Quarless is NOT even on the depth chart itself, which indicates a multiple game suspension and that he will have to work his way up through the practice squad, if you ask me.

Daryll Clark is Anthony Morelli’s back up, no surprise there, just thought it needed mentioning.

Along the defensive line where depth is streched very thin, from left to right: Gaines, Odrick, Baker, Maybin. Phil Taylor is listed, so maybe he’s OK? He is listed as Jared Odrick’s backup, Olli Ogbu is backing up Baker, there is no mention of Tom McEowen because we are likely a week away from seeing him.

Abe Koroma will miss the game and probably the first month with a foot injury.

Interesting that linebacker Jerome Hayes is penciled in at the right end spot behind Aaron  Maybin, as sort of the Tim Shaw role from a season ago. So it appears we will see more of that standing end set.

Also interesting is that Josh Gaines beat out Maurice Evans, who was a lot of the talk in spring/summer ball.

Tyrell Sales is listed as the other outside linebacker opposite Sean Lee. So he appears to have beat out Navarro Bowman. Bani Gbadyu is still behind Josh Hull on the third team behind Lee.

Yes, Anthony Scirrotto is listed as starting (note that so is Chris Baker), but elsewhere in the secondary Lydell Sargeant has beat out A.J. Wallace for the left cornerback spot opposite Justin King. By the way, Brenden Perretta is King’s back up, not Knowledge Timmons.

Jeremy Boone is the starting punter, after being pushed by Ryan Breen. Rodney Kinlaw , A.J. Wallace, and Derrick Williams along with Scirrotto will field kick and punt returns.

Other notes:

  • Behind Shuler and Lyons, Brennan Coakley and Francis Claude are the other tight ends, meaning PSU has virtually no experience there. If Shuler has one catch, it would be a career day (and that’s not meant to slight Mick, we’re just simply pointing out there is no experience really, here)
  • I have to wonder if someone from the offensive line won’t pop up on the defensive line due to depth concerns. But glancing at the depth chart, there really isn’t anyone that comes to attention. The likely guy to do that would be Johnnie Troutman and he’s Cadogen’s backup at left tackle.
  • Brent Carter is officially over on defense backing up Scirrotto at the hero spot.
  • Devin Fentress is third team left cornerback behind King, Willie Harriott (busted with Quarless) is not listed.
  • Brett Bracket has officially changed his number to 83.

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Words from Mario Cristobal

Just wrapped up listening to FIU head coach Mario Cristobal, here’s some quotes from him headed into Saturday’s contest with Penn State.

 On the fight with Miami last year

“I think that stuff to me doesn’t really matter. When Pete Garcia took this job as athletic director he made sure all that stuff was put behind him and that FIU was headed in a new direction, looking forward and never looking back. So that’s really has never been an issue since we got here.”

Follow  up was asked if he has taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“It was addressed day one by Pete Garcia when he got here, and I believe he got here in October, and I had the great fortune of coming over here in December, it was addressed again and to tell you quite honestly (its) never even been an issue in practice. We are looking forward to moving ahead and doing thins the right way.”

Question about personal experience against PSU (he played them twice, and coached against once as a grad assistant at Miami)

“Some great games….actually the first experience was not so great. I was a University of Miami fan and traveled out to the Fiesta Bowl in ’86 and watched Shane Conlin and Pete Giftopolous just kind of pick Miami apart and get those interceptions to win the national title.

“As a player, I did get to play against them in the Orange Bowl in a tremendous game that went down to the wire.”

“Also got to play a game up there (PSU) as a senior in Happy Valley which was another one that went down to the wire and on top of that as a graduate assistant at Miami Penn State came down to the Orange Bowl and did a number on us in the final seconds. So they’ve all been tight, all been heartattack games and they’ve all added a few gray hairs to me.”

Follow up on what he expects Saturday

“We expect a hard fought battle. They are an extremely physical team and extremely gifted athletically. They play hard, they’re very well coached and they run the football well. They’re a complete football team and we expect to go in there and play our hardest against them”

Asked who his mentors are
“All of those guys have been great to me. Initially Butch Davis was the guy who got me started in the football business and really I’ve patterned myself after him since day one. Then I had the great fortune to go work for Greg Schiano and pattern myself after him. I thought those guys were unbelievable in the way they approach the game, the way they approach discipline, organization and of course they had a chance to go back with coach Coker and do the same things as well and took a lot of great things from him. I’ve been real, real fortunate to not only coach under those guys but having played under a guy like Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson.”

Follow up on the job and how tough it is
“Think that being at Rutgers and then the UNiversity of Miami the one thing that was for certain, every time we were down here recruiting it was the whispers of all the guys coming down here from every state in the country trying to recruit south florida players they all kept wondering ‘when is FIU going to make the commitment to being a great program because we’re all busting our behinds down here trying to get these kids to leave and they should have a great place where they can just stay home. I think everyone has known for a long time that this is a great place, a sleeping giant and its time for us to wake this thing up.”

The stamp he wants to put on the program, can it be done in game 1 or is a longterm thing?

“Although some people, especially when you are young, a lot of people want to focus on the scoreboard and particular highlights on T.V. and we’ve been taught since day one at Miami when we were great or when we were not so good, we were taught that focus on the process, meaning knowing the snap count, knowing your plays, precise footwork, hand placement, hat placement, that is truly our focus, that is how you truly measure success in inches and step by step and that is how I will coach at FIU as well.”

Lack of success at FIU, how does he build them into believing they can win?

One thing, I think you’re walking into an area that’s been known to be hungrier area or where a lot of emphasis is placed on athletics. From day one we’ve emphasize a couple of things that we’re going to drive each and every day in every lesson and that’s trust, that’s belief, and that’s accountability and we’re going to hold each man to it knowing that if we do things the right way each and every day without any wiggle room with a zero tolerance policy that success will come. We’re certainly living in a talent rich area, maybe the most talent rich area in the entire country and we obviously have an unbelievable institution here that’s ready to grow and explode. That is our approach and that will be all the way through.” 

He seems like the right guy for this job.  Not too many coaches would be confident in taking over a team that some have dubbed the worst in Division I-A football. I like his approach in saying that the smaller things like snap count, etc, will determine success. It’s good he is setting himself up to find positives in what could be a tough day for his team on Saturday.

More later….

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PSU gets 10th verbal

According to a couple of reports, namely from BWI and FightOnState, New Jersey defensive end Jack Crawford has given his commitment to play for Penn State.

It was rumored for the better part of last week that he would do such.

Crawford is the 10th commitment in PSU’s class of 2008, and the interesting thing is that Crawford has just one season of organized football to his credit entering the 2007 high school season. That speaks to how hard the kid has worked to get where he is.

According to the FOS story, Crawford has a 4.55 40-yard time, impressive and again, not surprising considering he also plays tight end. We’re seeing quicker tight ends these days folks, those hybrid kind.

PSU has made this push to get depth and youth on the defense and, more importantly, with guys really banged up (Abe Koroma, Phil Taylor, Devon Still) and others recovering (Tom McEowen), it’s important that they do get some depth there.

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Big Ten Network and DirecTV

Clearly there was a small gaff in the story I wrote this morning, and I apologize for it.

In talking with Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman, my verbage was screwed up at the beginning of the story. Obviously DirecTV DOES have the Big Ten Network and the only way you will see it is if you HAVE DirecTV.

Sorry for the confusion and the mixup. That’s a ‘my bad.’  I’m sure some of you have noted previously that we journalists aren’t perfect. Although we play perfect on T.V.

I’ve sat the fence on this whole BTN/Comcast thing, I see issues with both sides, I was up front with the BTN people I talked to about that.

Here’s two issues I have.

1) I have DirecTV, it was purchased mainly to watch every Green Bay game on Sundays in the fall. But I also get channels like the YES  Network and SNY and MSG and FSNW, etc etc….all totaled there are about 45 sports channels. Yet when the Yankees (my dearly beloved Pinstripes) play, I still have to pay extra to watch them even though I have the YES Network.

If I’m paying for the YES Network, I should be getting ALL of the content on the YES Network. Not be forced to fork over more scratch to watch the Yankees, get me?

2) I still need an answer as to why Comcast doesn’t make the networks they own, like Comcast Sports Net, available on their sports tier package for the $5 bucks a month? So because it’s owned by Comcast, it’s free??? Yet stuff that people (non-Philly residents I am speaking to here) want like NFL Network and the Golf Channel you have to pay extra for? Either you have to pay the $5 for it all or you get it all without a tier. Doesn’t make sense.

There are still a ton of holes in the Comcast argument, especially if they land this reported SEC Network when Lincoln Sports’ contract is up in 2009.  I bet Comcast subscribers wouldn’t have to pay the extra $5 for that.

Just a thought.


Caught the tail end of the ESPN College Gameday preview this morning, missed the Big and Rich opening…..

Lou Holtz thinks Chad Henne will win the Heisman. I like the pick.

Both Corso and Herbie think PSU will win the Big Ten. Notsofastmyfriend……Corso said PSU will beat Michigan too. I’m not ready to go there just yet.

I know weeks 1-3 are FIU, Notre Dame and Buffalo, but I need to see consistency with all three games and I need this PSU team to prove to me in those three weeks they are sharp, they don’t commit stupid penalties, their execution is polished. And they don’t struggle with subpar teams like they did Youngstown State in the first quarter a season ago.

Then I will have confidence headed into Michigan week.

And as I’ve said all preseason, beat Michigan, anything can happen. But I stand by my prediction that will run this coming Thursday that 2007 is a precursor to something great in 2008.

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