Tag Archives: Nittany Lions

D-Day looms for BCS

If you’re like me, you can’t wait for that Sunday in March, ‘Selection Sunday,’ where the NCAA Tournament brackets are revealed.

We now have a new selection Sunday, this coming one, where the Bowl Championship Series will make it’s selections for the four games, plus the given national title game (unless Texas somehow screws up the Big 12 title game)…

The looming issue for the BCS, what to do with a second Big Ten team. Many are lobbying for Iowa to be that team because afterall they played in the de facto conference title game against Ohio State and they beat PSU head-to-head.

Iowa deserves the nod, there’s no question. If the BCS wants to have any shred of credibility, they won’t stoop to the level of picking the marketable PSU over Iowa.

But they don’t and they won’t.

So Penn State, I feel, is headed to a BCS bowl, the Fiesta, where they will get Boise State or TCU in what should be three things. First, the highest rated of the non-title games, second, wildly entertaining and third, a huge cash cow for the BCS.

Every year we can point out problems with the bowl system. In fact all this talk that FSU might play West Virginia in a Bowden-farewell bowl is disgusting.

The BCS is nothing more than a business and Penn State is good for bowl business. All this nonsense about economy and people not traveling is just that, nonsense. People who say they have sources that tell them this or that about bowls, don’t.

Don’t buy it.

Do buy that when push comes to shove, Penn State is good for business, they draw, they always will, they have Joe Paterno, they have stars in Daryll Clark and Navorro Bowman, and if the Big Ten wants to shed it’s terrible image with the big games, PSU is the safest of the two picks.

Whether or not they deserve it, you can keep debating that until you’re blue in the face. But they’re going to be there.


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Nittany Lion Hotline recap

A special Wednesday edition of NLH tonight because the men’s basketball team is on the road and plays tomorrow at 4pm, so the game would bleed into the usual time.

THE HOST WITH THE MOST: Steve “Snapper” Jones

PLAYER GUEST: Because it was a split show with football and basketball tonight, “Snapper” got men’s assistant basketball coach Kurt Kanaskie on to talk PSU hoops. No football player guest. I do not cover PSU hoops, therefore there will be no recap of what KK said, because I have no idea what he is talking about and outside of Jermaine Marshall and Talor Battle, I know nothing about PSU hoops. I will readily admit that. Yes, I suck.

JOE ARRIVES: At 6:30 tonight, he’s on the phone.

THE BIG NEWS: Joe is on a CLEAR connection, much different from the 1890’s rotary phone he was using last year when he was bunkered up in the Paterno Compound on McKee Street with the bum hip and short temper.

THE BIG NEWS II: Joe says Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins is like Mike Kafka from Northwestern. My boy Neil Geoghegan from Journal Register in Philly would say he’s a lot like C.J. Bacher.

HUH? Joe says that people “underestimate what this team has accomplished this season.”….Uhhhhh, Joe, what HAS this team accomplished? I mean honestly? With a win you are going to backdoor and luck into a BCS bowl, the marquee win is Temple, and you’ve been outclassed by the two superior Big Ten teams, AT HOME. The only other highlight this season was the demolishing of Michigan from about the 7-minute mark of the first quarter-on. That’s it.

THENOTSOBIGBUTWORTHMENTIONINGNEWS: For those of you who have Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown on your fantasy football team, I hope your No. 2 back and a backup are both good because Ronnie is done for the year. No this wasn’t mentioned by either Steve, Kanaskie or Joe, but I have Ronnie on my fantasy team, I am in first place, and now I’m pissed and had to use this space to vent.


  • Joe says MSU is up and down, “but when they put their ears back and come,” they are tough. “This is a good football team. Their 6-5 but if you look at them they look like they should have one 2-3 more football games.”
  • Caller asks about freshman offensive tackle Eric Shrive. Joe says he’s going to be a good football player someday, he’s redshirting, and the hardest position to break into early in a career is the OL per Joe. He is currently running scout team.
  • Any thought of moving Chaz Powell back to safety with Brown and others at the WR spot. Joe says they will look at tape when the season is over, says Powell is bugging him to be the wildcat in the offense, but Joe says its a possibility….but Powell will be at WR for the remainder of the season and in the bowl.
  • Joe laments on the Beachum injury, says it’s a bigger loss than people think.
  • Team worked really hard on covering MSU’s spectacular kick return unit. Joe says if they give up a big play in the kicking game they will lose.
  • Joe thinks that Matt Stankiewitch has to get a little more aggressive.
  • He isn’t sure if they will play ND again, he hints they’d like to. But says the schedules are made so far in advance that the next possible time might be 2020 and he won’t be around then.
  • Troutman won’t start, but can play this weekend.
  • Behind Beachum is Brent Carter. But it’s harder to replace Beachum on special teams. Joe says Jerome Hayes will play more on special teams this week.
  • Joe says they need a win this weekend…ya think?


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Joe Paterno transcript

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to our weekly teleconference with Coach Paterno. We’ll start with questions.

Q. Your team has had slow starts in its three road games. Is there any explanation for that and is it at all a concern?
COACH PATERNO: Well, yeah, I have a little concern obviously. Do I have an explanation? No. I really don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.
Obviously I’m just glad we were able to learn from the slow starts and go on from there. But other than that, I don’t have anything. We had a slow start last weekend at home.

Q. Joe, what is Chaz Powell’s status for Saturday? What is your impression of Greg Jones as a Michigan State linebacker?
COACH PATERNO: I think Jones is a really good football player. In fact, we talked about him this morning. What has he got, a hundred some tackles, a couple other things? We were talking about him. I think it’s 53, isn’t it, his number? I don’t talk names, I talk numbers when I talk with the staff. Basically that’s where I come from with the numbers because I look at people, I don’t look at reputations, I look at the way they play.
He’s a heck of a football player. Powell I doubt will make it. In fact, we’re not really counting on him for this week.

Q. How do you think DeOn’tae Pannell was at guard last week and will he stay there the rest of the season?
COACH PATERNO: We only have one game left. He’ll stay at guard. I thought the he did a pretty good job really, not a great job, particularly if you figure he’s coming off an injury and a new position. I thought overall he did a good job.

Q. What is the status of A.J. Wallace? How does the absence of Beachum affect your team?
COACH PATERNO: Well, Beachum is obviously a big one. He was a kid that played on special teams as well as played fullback, tailback, a great kid on the practice field.
A.J. may play, so I’m not going to get into that.
But they’re different types. Beachum is all over the place for you. Anything you ask him to do, he does well. A.J. is a little different. A.J., we’ve asked him to cover kicks, he’s done a decent job on that. He’s played a decent corner. So, you know, he’s a good football player who probably could be better than he performs. But Beachum is one of those guys, he’s a coach’s player.

Q. Devon Smith, why haven’t we seen more of him lately than we have in the beginning of the year?
COACH PATERNO: Didn’t get in a couple games because he cut classes, all right? He wasn’t in a couple games. He decided he was here to get an education, so we played him a little bit last week. He’s okay. He’s got a long way to go to grow up. But he practices hard. Obviously, he’s got great speed. Compare him to a kid like Drake, which I’m assuming you’re going to ask me about next.

Q. You got it.
COACH PATERNO: Yeah, Drake has been a quarterback on a team that was one play away from winning the state championship. A little bit more versatility and can do more things than the other kid can do. He doesn’t have the speed obviously that Smith has. They both have a place in the future.
But, as I said, you know, they got to do it the way we want it done, and that means you go to class. If you don’t go to class, you’re wasting your time.

Q. Why didn’t Drake play more so far?
COACH PATERNO: Because Powell got hurt.

Q. Why didn’t he play more earlier?
COACH PATERNO: Why didn’t he play more? Because Powell was better. Don’t you go to the games?

Q. What are your thoughts about the season that Andrew Quarless has had both on and off the field? What do you think he needs to improve on to succeed if he goes on to the next level?
COACH PATERNO: I think Quarless is doing really well. I think, you know, obviously we’ve done a lot of things with him that we haven’t done with a tight end in the past. We put him in the backfield. He’s half a fullback, half a tight end sometimes.
I think he’s had a heck of a year. He’s been a leader, which has made me feel good about the fact that he took some of the things that we disagreed on, he took them to heart, he’s going to be fine, graduate and everything else.
I’m very pleased with Quarless. I think the biggest thing we have to do with him is probably get him the ball more.

Q. You used Kevin Newsome for that one play there. What was the thinking there? Did you plan to use him more before the game got tight?
COACH PATERNO: You know, I’m always trying to get Kevin a little bit. You know, Kevin Newsome has a future, but we put him in, let him get knocked around a little bit. He can run with the football, change of pace. You know, you hate to be out of style. The wildcat style… I go down every once in a while and look at new suits, stuff like that, buy a decent tie. My wife says, You’re not going to wear that tie to this press conference. I say, Some of these guys don’t even know what a tie is.
I just want to be stylish, so we stick the wildcat in there one play a game.

Q. You usually wear a jacket.
COACH PATERNO: I know I usually wear a jacket. But after watching you guys for 11 weeks, I felt I was a little overdressed.

Q. Joe, last couple weeks defenses have done a pretty good job against your wideouts, really didn’t get much from the wideouts at all last week. Is that because of execution on your part or what defenses are doing to you? What can you do to adjust to that?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I think it’s a question of what they’re doing and giving us more of an opportunity to run the football. Early in the year, they challenged our wideouts, challenged our passing game, were not going to let us run the football. I think as the season went along, they started to realize the wideouts were guys they had to worry about, and Clark was a kid they made sure they didn’t let him get a hot a hand. They started to change some coverages, do some things, which gave us an opportunity to run. I think we’ve done a little better job running the football.
We’ve had some bumps and bruises up front, different combinations. Pannell started out as a starting right tackle, now he’s a left guard. We didn’t count on (indiscernible) doing much, and he’s starting at right tackle. We’ve had to improvise a little bit up front.
But even having said that, you know, they’re giving us better opportunities to run the football, and we’re trying to take advantage of that. Maybe we should be throwing more. I don’t know. I think we’ve scored enough points. We haven’t maybe scored them exactly where everybody wants them. We didn’t do a particularly good job against two of the better defensive teams that we played against, both Iowa and Ohio State. So I think we could be criticized in those games. But other than that, I think we’ve done a pretty good job.

Q. In a nutshell, how do you feel Michigan State’s quarterback Kirk Cousins ranks among other quarterbacks in the Big Ten?
COACH PATERNO: You know, that’s an interesting question because there aren’t a lot of solid quarterbacks in this league. You know, the kid at Northwestern got hurt against us early. This kid here Cousins is a good quarterback. You know, they’ve beaten some pretty good football teams. They’ve been in games where they scored a lot of points, maybe not enough to win, but they’ve been very competitive because of their quarterback. Iowa had a fine quarterback. Kid breaks a leg, they lost the game last week that maybe they probably would have won. Not probably, but they would have had a better chance to beat Ohio State with their quarterback.
There are a lot of kids in the league that are all-around good football players, and good wideouts. I’ve been a little bit perturbed because I think the media has jumped on the Southeastern Conference bandwagon, our schedule, this schedule. When you look at it, there’s two pretty good teams in the Southeastern Conference. There’s probably one good team in the league that Texas is playing in. There’s obviously three or four teams that are comparable in the PAC-10. Who knows who’s gonna win each week out there.
You know, I don’t think some of the kids in our league have gotten the credit they should get, either the wideouts or the quarterbacks.

Q. Could you talk about Michigan State’s kicking and return game. Will that be one of the more challenging outings for your special teams?
COACH PATERNO: Every week has been challenging one way or the other. But your point is right. They have an excellent kicking, return game, and an excellent punter. This kid kicks the ball high, right down the middle of the field. They cover well. We just can’t make any mistakes. The kicking game will be a big factor in how this game goes. If we don’t cover our butts off – pardon the ‘butt’ reference – if we don’t do a good job there, we’ll have troubles. Really, that one kid can really go. 90-some yards last week. They’re good.
We spent a little time yesterday on it. We’re going to spend a lot of time on our kicking game this week.

Q. Joe, can you talk about where this rivalry with Michigan State ranks as far as in the Big Ten and why the past couple games at Michigan State have been so tough.
COACH PATERNO: Well, you know, that covers a whole lot. Got an hour and a half in this press conference for me to answer?
Michigan State plays well against us at home. We just talked about this this morning, how tough they’ve been out there in Lansing for us. That’s number one. How is the rivalry? It depends on the year.
We started out when we first got in the Big Ten, George Perles, who was coaching out at the Hula Bowl, who I think at that time was the athletic director and football coach of Michigan State, was an old friend, a guy who had been on the Pittsburgh Steelers staff for a long time, a guy I knew. I tried to recruit one of his kids who was a good football player. He called me up. He says, Why don’t we make our game, the game we’re going to play, as the last one every year? He said, We’ve had a great tradition with Michigan State, which we do. Duffy Daugherty, who was the great head coach at Michigan State when they had the great teams in the ’60s, was from Barnesville, Pennsylvania. He was a Barnesville, Pennsylvania kid. When they beat us in the ’50s with those guys, they were all Johnstown area kids, (indiscernible) township and Adams township. Nowadays, that’s all been combined. So we’ve had a long history. Even when I came here in 1950, I think the only game, I think Michigan State broke Penn State’s streak of 18, 19 wins when they had gone to the Cotton Bowl. So there was a good pattern to that. I thought that was a good idea.
I think it’s been a good series. Obviously, you know, there’s a couple series in the league, in the conference, that go back further and have a little bit more tradition. But I think, as we play our way into where we’re not the outcasts there in the hinterlands, I think it will be a very significant – I don’t know what you call it – end-of-the-season game for both teams and for the league.

Q. You talked about the importance of your punt return guys fielding the ball cleanly. After you put a couple on the turf last week, do you consider making any changes? What do you think the problem is there?
COACH PATERNO: We’re not going to let them punt (laughter).
We’re going to try to catch the ball. You’re right. We didn’t catch the football. We spent some time on it. I think Zug had a bad day. He was trying to make something happen. We were behind. He came out, I said, You got to be careful with the football. He said, Coach, I tried to make something happen. You got to appreciate that in a competitor. Astorino, the same thing. He caught the ball, was running. You got to give Indiana credit for that one because the kid saw that he had a shot at Astorino from the back, punched it out.
I think your observation is right, we didn’t handle the ball well, and we got to handle it better. Having everything in tow, those things are going to happen to you. We were sloppy everywhere. We put the ball on the ground too many times there. Obviously a couple of them came from the punt game.

Q. Do you anticipate any changes there?
COACH PATERNO: Oh, yeah. You’re talking to an old punt returner. I still got the Brown record for the yardage in one game in punt returns.
We’ll be all right. We’ll be all right.

Q. Last week you said you were going to make personnel changes on your special teams. How did those changes help you?
COACH PATERNO: I thought we did a good job on coverage, both punts and on kickoffs. We changed some people. But, unfortunately, Beachum and Powell, we put Powell on the coverage team, and Powell probably won’t play this week. Beachum the same way. We’ve got to make a couple more changes this week, and hopefully they’ll work out as well as the ones last week.

Q. Do you know who you’re considering in replacing Beachum with?
COACH PATERNO: I’m not sure yet.

Q. After you lost to Ohio State, everybody figured your BCS hopes were out the window. Now they’re saying if you win on Saturday, you still have a shot at getting in the Orange Bowl. Wonder if you talked to your team about that.
COACH PATERNO: You know, you guys know more than I do. The only thing I know is we’re playing Michigan State this week. Don’t make a darn bit of difference. You guys speculate all you want. If we don’t beat Michigan State, none of that makes any — none of it’s important. So I don’t waste time with it.
I’m going to try to go out there and show those guys how I used to catch punts, ran for touchdowns every time I got my hands on the ball, see if we can beat Michigan State on a punt return so we can keep some of you guys happy.

Q. Navorro Bowman has been a big part of the defense the last couple years. There’s reports he’s considering going to the NFL.
COACH PATERNO: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

Q. Navorro Bowman.
COACH PATERNO: I never talked to him about it.

Q. Evan Royster has 990 yards. Can you analyze some of his progress this year and throughout his career, how good of a back he’s been for you.
COACH PATERNO: In fact, I got on Royster a little bit either last week or two weeks ago. I said, Hey, you’re not playing with a lot of enthusiasm like you have. I thought he played well last week.
He’s a good, solid, all-around black. He’s not flashy. He’s consistent. He knows what’s going on. He can do everything you want him to do. He blocks well enough. He’s a really good receiver and he’s intelligent. If we put something in on a Monday, we don’t have to worry about whether he can handle it or not. You have some other players, you know, when you debate whether you want to try something different for a particular game, you always wonder whether he can handle the mental part of it.
Royster is a heck of an athlete. He was a great lacrosse player. He’s got an older brother who is a fine football player that went out to Stanford. At some point people thought that our Royster was the best lacrosse player in the state of Virginia, which is a good lacrosse state.
He’s a good player.

Q. Hoping you have your old athletic director hat around somewhere. Are you involved or been kept up to speed with the university’s new pricing plan for football season tickets that’s out there?
COACH PATERNO: Well, the only thing I know is they were debating it. They asked me what I thought. I said, Look, you guys have the responsibility for 29 sports. It’s a lot different than when I was the athletic director. Didn’t have the impact it was now. We didn’t have scholarships for all the women’s sports. We didn’t have to upgrade facilities. Right now we’re going to build another softball field, a better softball field, for the women. And I think we should. We didn’t have some of the pressure that we have as far as, you know, expenses and things of that kind. You guys were all uptight about trying to find out how much I was making. Then when you found out how much I was making, that was the end of the story because there were guys out there making three and four times what I’m making. There’s an awful lot of pressure.
I think that the university is doing the best it can. Now, what exactly the specifics of the program, I don’t know. All I’ve ever said to Tim Curley is, Tim, you’re doing one heck of a job, all right? You just look around at the facilities, you look at what they’ve done to the soccer field, you look at the baseball field that was put out there, you look at all the things that have been done. How you paying for it? He said, Well, it’s tough. I said, Well, you know, remember, whatever we do, do it well.
In fact, I’m going to be after his back to fix up the visiting team locker room. We got the worst visiting team locker room in this conference. We have to spend money to fix that up.
So I think that they’re doing a heck of a job. I’m disappointed that either the media or somebody who knew what was going on would let it go because they had told me, you know, Wait till the season’s over, we’ll make the announcement. Michigan State is on my mind, all right? That to me is the only thing we should all be thinking about, Michigan State. Now all of a sudden I got you asking me a question about something. I said, I ain’t part of it, except I know you’re going to do a good job. And I think the university has done a super job.
You take a look at what other people are doing. How much are we charging compared to other people? I think we’re probably at the bottom of the list. I saw what Michigan charges, and I saw what Ohio State charges. See what these other people are charging, what kind of money we got to raise. I don’t know whether it’s changed or not. When I was the athletic director, every time they raised tuition, the budget went up. We don’t get a nickel from the university for anything. Completely self-supporting. So they got to do something or we got to cut back sports, and we don’t want to do that.
But that’s not my bout.

Q. Might have been a pre-season magazine where you talked about eight home games, the challenge it is for the fans.
COACH PATERNO: I haven’t got the slightest idea what you do with it. It’s not my decision to make. I got Michigan State to play this week.

Q. Can you talk about why Mark Dantonio looks to be a good fit at Michigan State. Last week you talked about Indiana playing in hard luck. Michigan State has been in every game and also has had hard luck. Might be better than their 6-5 record would indicate.
COACH PATERNO: Absolutely. I think Michigan State is a fine football team. I thought Indiana was a good football team. I told you that.
No, I think Michigan State and Mark Dantonio is a fine coach. I said to Bill Lynch before the game, The one thing about this league right now is we got more good, young coaches than I’ve seen since I’ve been in the league. I said, I just hope that everybody understands it’s going to take a while for some of the programs to get going. You got to have a little luck. Michigan State has had some bad luck. Indiana has had some bad luck. Put the ball on the ground at the wrong time, get a lousy officials call, which you’ll get from time to time. I said, You know, just hang in there.
Michigan State is obviously a little further along than Indiana. They’re on the verge of being a really good football team. I hope they’re at least 10 days away. But they’re good. Mark is a good coach. They’re doing a heck of a job. It will be a good football game.

Q. Joe, could you talk about what Ed Czekaj meant to Penn State.
COACH PATERNO: Ed is one of the great Penn Staters. When I came here, Ed was an associate or assistant. I forget. Ike Gilbert was the business manager. We didn’t have an athletic director in those days. We had a dean in phys ed and an athletics guy by the name of Carl Shott. Ed worked for Ike Gilbert as kind of a bookkeeper kind of thing, and then Ed moved up. Ed was so loyal to Penn State. He was as fine a Penn Stater and did a good job.
I got a little annoyed at one time, went in to see Ed. I said, Ed, where is the money? I want to build some facilities. We had been to four straight New Year’s Day Bowl games. There wasn’t any money to build a couple facilities which I thought we needed. Ed said, We got to do some things, we built the research lab, did this and that, so it’s been used. Ed said, It wasn’t really my decision, but it was the university’s decision to do it.
I said, Well, why don’t you and I go down there and make a fuss. He said, I don’t want to do anything that’s going to embarrass Penn State. He said, I can sit and take a backseat.
That’s the way he was. He was just a wonderful, wonderful man. In a way, all those guys are gone. McCoy and Gilbert, Ed, Jim. Don’t see much of Jim anymore. Long tradition of great Penn Staters.

Q. Has your team been as consistent as you might have hoped for at this point in the season, late in the season?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I think we played well. Obviously we would liked to have won another game or two. But I think for a young team, some key positions, people were young, I thought overall we did all right.
You know, as I said, I would have loved to have won another game or two, and probably could have had a shot at it. But we didn’t do it. So, I mean, again, hopefully we’ve learned from some mistakes we made and we won’t make them again this week when we’re, again, going out to Michigan and playing a tough Michigan State football team.
You guys are the guys that are disappointed, I think.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach.

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Tuesday Cup of Joe: The Finale

Joe Paterno has wrapped up his weekly teleconfernece for the final time in 2009. Here’s the news you need to know headed into the finale against Michigan State where the Nittany Lions could cap a 10-2 season and possibly wrap up a BCS at-large berth.

THE BIG NEWS: Wide receiver Chaz Powell is unlikely to play this weekend with his sprained AC joint suffered against Indiana.

THE BIG NEWS II: DeOn’Tae Pannell will remain at guard for the finale and also the bowl game.

THE BIG NEWS III: Freshman wide receiver Devon Smith hasn’t been seen much because he’s been cutting classes. Paterno said “He’s decided he’s here to get an education,” and added that “He’s OK, he’s got a long way to go to grow up.”


  • Joe is pleased with tight end Andrew Quarless and they should get him the ball more.
  • The staff has been trying to get Kevin Newsome in more during the season, but it just hasn’t worked out much. “You hate to get out of style, and the Wildcat is the style now,” per Joe. “I just want to be stylish and we stick the Wildcat in there once in a while.”
  • Opposing defenses vs. the PSU wideouts has been good, “it’s a question of what they’re doing and giving us more of a chance to run the football.”
  • Joe likes Cousins running the offense at Michigan State. Said he’s a good quarterback and it’s an interesting question stacking him up against the other QBs.
  • Joe thinks the kicking game will determine how this game shakes out. Says that Michigan State has “excellent” special teams.
  • Rivalry with MSU: “We got an hour and a half of this press conference to answer that,” Joe remarks. Joe says it depends on the year how the rivalry between the two of them is. Joe says that there are other rivalries in the Big Ten that are better, but he thinks this could turn into a good one in due time. He kind of hints here that PSU still isn’t welcome in the Big Ten
  • No changes to punt return team.
  • Joe isn’t sure who will replace Beachum on special teams.
  • Joe did not talk to the team about a possible BCS bowl berth.
  • There have been no discussions between Paterno and linebacker Navorro Bowman about Bowman possibly leaving for the NFL.
  • Royster is a good all around back according to Joe…says he was on Royster for not playing with as much fire as he had before earlier in the season.
  • Joe says now there are more responsibilities for the admin to consider, namely 29 teams they have to find money to take care of expenses for.  “I think the University is doing the best it can. What exactly are specifics, I don’t know. All I’ve ever said to Curley is  “you’re doing one heck of a job.”  Joe says compared to other schools PSU is probably charging less than some of the Big Ten schools ticket wise. He said: “They’ve got to do something, or we’ve got to cut back sports, and we don’t want to do that.”
  • Michigan State is better than its 6-5 record indicates according to Joe and they are on the verge of being a really good football team but he hopes they are 10 days away from becoming such.
  • Joe things the team is playing consistent football but adds he wishes they would have won another game or two.

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Week 11 quick picks

Here are your week 11 picks for the Big Ten. Wager wisely.

LAST WEEK: 2-4, missed badly on Minnesota, Iowa, PSU and pretty much everything else in the conference.



So. DAKOTA STATE at MINNESOTA, Noon, Big Ten Network

This is a who cares game of sort. Goldy Gopher gets bowl eligible.

The Pick: Minnesota 31, SDSU 9

INDIANA at PENN STATE, Noon, Big Ten Network

I expect a slow start for PSU, just because of the emotional letdown thing, plus its senior day, so the misty eyes may hold over for a few plays. IU can move the ball, but they cannot run it, nor can they score late in games to win going away. They also cannot stop anyone.

I’m changing my pick from the BWI pick made 11 days ago, just the score, not the winner.

The Pick: PSU 41, Indiana 13

MICHIGAN at WISCONSIN, Noon, Big Ten Network

Six weeks ago this was shaping up as a possible conference title game. Then Michigan went back to being Michigan of 2008. Wisconsin is still physical and can really run the hell out of the ball as usual.

Wolverines desperately need this to keep a bowl berth and possibly save Rich Rodriguez’s job. They won’t do either.

The Pick: Wisconsin 27, Michigan 16


Wildcats get a bowl berth already, but they face an Illinois team that has turned the corner of sorts. I would go with the letdown here, but I think Northwestern is too sharp mentally to have that happen, thanks to Pat Fitzgerald.

The Pick: Northwestern 26, Illinois 17


Sparty has itself a two-game swing to A) get a bowl berth and B) put the program in a good direction heading into 2010. Purdue has been up and down all year and as I’ve been saying I just keep waiting for them to be consistent. Sparty will get its bowl bid and set up a nasty game with PSU next weekend to close the season.

The Pick: Michigan State 30, Purdue 23



This is for the Big Ten crown, and there is no way Iowa can survive without Ricky Stanzi. This will be like the early Mike Tyson fights where you know the winner going in and you get the early knock out. I do not think Jim Tressel will play it safe here even though Iowa has a good defense. Buckeyes offense will shine with Terrelle Pryor adding another huge win to his resume and essentially locking up the conference crown and Rose Bowl berth.

Watch those bookend DEs tee off on the Iowa offensive line and backfield.

The Pick: Ohio State 31, Iowa 10

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Clark and the Heisman; Big Ten Picks

“My mother always told me, ‘Those who are patient will benefit in the end.’ The time is now.” – Daryll Clark, July 11, 2008

That’s a quote from the massive feature I wrote on Clark headed into last season. I’m pleased to brag I was on his bandwagon before anyone on the beat was.

Now I want to head up the campaign to get Clark to the Heisman Trophy ceremony this season.

Why you ask?

Well, if you’ve heard me talk about Clark, you know I love the kid. I love what he stands for as a hard worker, I love the fact he’s been able to overcome hardships growing up. I love his charisma and his bravado.

When he’s on the field, you have to feel something good will happen. And if you are a fan of Penn State, you have that feeling that you can’t lose with him, don’t you?

But here’s what else I love about Clark.

In 2006, just before the Outback Bowl, I stood on the beach in Tampa talking to players like Jordan Norwood and Tony Hunt with Matt Herb from Fight On State magazine and he was looking for a story.

I spotted Clark and assured Matt that he was a great quote and would be worth the ink…this after having talked to him a grand total of once, and it was media day that season.

Clark opened up to both of us that day, admittedly Matt stayed longer because, as one of the premiere writers covering Penn State, he digs. And digs, and digs. And digs.

Clark told both of us he was going to be the starting quarterback in 2007. That Anthony Morelli was on notice that he was coming for the job.

He had never taken a snap in a meaningful spot for Penn State’s team to that point.

That’s why Daryll Clark could lead my team any day of the week.

If I had a vote for the Heisman now, I’d go 1) Clausen; 2) McCoy; 3) Ingram; 4) Clark; 5) is a toss up between Tebow, Keenum, Moore. And Tebow is only there because there is no clear cut run away.

Think about those words Clark repeated from his mother. “‘Those who are patient will benefit in the end.’ The time is now.”

Clark’s time is now. It’s Saturday afternoon at 3:30 in a game that will go to about 70-percent of the country. It’s time for Galen Hall and Jay Paterno to let it all hang out with Clark. Give him the plays, cut any remaining puppet strings and let him go.

There is no high risk, high reward with Clark. 99.9% of his tenure as the starter has been all reward. He has more fight than any other quarterback that’s played for PSU outside of Mike Robinson. He is the poster child for what Penn State football is all about. Blue collar. No name on the jersey. Die for the guys you are in the huddle with.

It’s time he got his just do and the way he gets it is with his most memorable performance as a starter. Let him steal the spotlight, let him post video game numbers. Let Daryll be Daryll.

If the coaches are willing to do that, he just may end up sitting along side three or four other players for college football’s highest honor.

He should be there.


Last week: 4-2. Did not see Illinois and Minnesota doing what they did.

On The Season: 51-16


WMU at MICHIGAN STATE, Noon, Big Ten Network

Sparty needs a boost after two brutally tough losses to Iowa and last week to Minnesota. Michigan State needs to win here and at least go 1-1 in the remaining two games to secure a bowl berth, any loss and it’s more or less over.

I think Tim Hiller, WMU quarterback will cause a problem or two. But Sparty is safe.

The Pick: Michigan State 27, WMU 20

ILLINOIS at MINNESOTA, Noon, Big Ten Network

All of a sudden the Illini shows life. It’s still too late though. And how about Minnesota with a banged up Eric Decker, who is out for the year, they get it done. That speaks to resolve.

The Pick: Minnesota 30, Illinois 19

PURDUE at MICHIGAN, Noon, Big Ten Network

I love how scrappy Purdue has been all season. But Michigan right now is ahead of them. I think the Wolverines are already looking ahead to 2010, and I mean that in a very good way.

The Pick: Michigan 28, Purdue 10

WISCONSIN at INDIANA, Noon, Big Ten Network

It has to happen somewhere for Indiana, doesn’t it? Wisconsin presents too physical a challenge for the Hoosiers and if I am Indiana, I need to run the ball more. The pistol is fun to run and watch, but it’s too one dimensional and they are paying for it late in games.

The Pick: Wisconsin 30, Indiana 20


I really want to believe that this is the week where Iowa runs out of nine lives. I really, honestly, truly want to believe that. But the problem is I have to sell myself on that idea and I can’t.

Ricky Stanzi is due for a big day on Saturday. Northwestern’s secondary can be carved up. Plus the onus is on Stanzi since the running game is in shambles.

Iowa doesn’t wow you, they don’t have a flashy offense, they just do all of the small things a team needs to do in order to, well stay perfect in this case. They will play it safe this week, get out of here with a win and prepare for what will be a chance to sew up the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth (more on that in a second).

The Pick: Iowa 28, Northwestern 13



Well, here we are again. A massive game at the massive of massive college football cathedrals.

It’s going to be a perfect late fall afternoon for hitting. A perfect late fall afternoon for two rivals, the second best in the Big Ten behind Ohio State-Michigan. It’s a homecoming of sorts for one young Buckeyes quarterback and perhaps a showcase for a building legacy for another.

I am going to go ahead and assume this will be the loudest crowd Terrelle Pyror ever faces, even if the Gestapo swooped in and cut off the sales of the “Cryer” t-shirt. Pryor has never faced an animal like this unforgiving, vocally charged home turf in University Park. Not even in Ann Arbor will he ever get this type of treatment. The crowd alone wants to ruin this moment for him.

What makes this so much more intriguing is that this is the season for both teams. This, with all forgiveness to Michael Jackson, is it. A win and one stays alive for the conference crown and the BCS. A loss, hello Orlando and an overrated SEC team.

So what happens?

Well, if it’s half as good as last season’s drama and theatre (yeah I spelled it the British way, so what)…then this will be a classic.

I see punch, counter punch and I see a little more offense than others are predicting. Joe is right whichever team turns it over the least will win.

I see big games from Pyror and Clark, I see an emotionally charged defense on Penn State’s side, and here’s something else I see. Someone is going to have a huge game that you don’t expect. It could be a Stephon Morris pick, an interception return for a TD by AJ Wallace, something like that.

My money is on Jerome Hayes. No one talks about him, but he, like Clark, is the epitome of Penn State football too. Hard work. Determination. Class. Busted body parts, but pushing forward. Hayes will be your game changer.

The Pick: Penn State 24, Ohio State 20

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Nittany Lion Hotline recap

Here is your running update from Nittany Lion Hotline for Ohio State week.

YOUR HOST: The man, Steve Jones, who last week had one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard during a football broadcast, when during the problem the officials had spotting the ball, once it was announced where the ball would be placed, Steve slipped in a “we know.” You had to hear it. I howled.

PRESENTING SPONSOR: As always this season, Nittany Lion Hotline is brought to you by Sinus Buster Nasal Spray (I’ve switched back to Afrin myself, but hey, whatever clears your nose in this crappy fall weather).

THE BIG NEWS: Joe did not like the “Terrelle Cryer” t-shirt. He applauds Pryor for being a good kid. Sounds like The Godfather was the one that put the ki-bosh on the shirt. “Paulie? Oh we won’t see him no more.”

THE BIG NEWS II: Stephfon Green will be ready this week. Joe said he had a good Wednesday of practice and looked good today as well. But added if they have to play Beachum, Beachum won’t hurt them.

THE NOT BIG NEWS BUT WORTH MENTIONING NEWS: Jones reports in the first segment that the line to get into the overnight RV lot was already long today. You fans, I’ll tell ya…does anybody work on Friday’s in-state anymore? (Sidebar: I think it would be a great story to say fly to a far away state and travel into town with fans that drive a RV. Any takers? I’ll bring beer)

PLAYER GUEST: Defensive tackle Jared Odrick is up tonight. Good time as ever to pimp him.

  • Odrick says it’s easy to get pumped up for a game like Ohio State.
  • Defense has been able to get better, and he says that Odrick has this ability to feel out the blocks before they happen.
  • He prefers 3-technique.
  • No brainer that Pryor is the guy they are focusing on and that they have to play solid and sound defense vs. him.
  • Pryor is deceptively quick. “Sideline to sideline he is really fast and we know he likes to get to that sideline and get out of bounds before he cuts back.” (interesting….pinky to mouth)
  • Talking about the support the team receives, Odrick says that ON THE ROAD, at Michigan the crowd in the PSU end was so loud that Tate Forcier had trouble getting a snap off. Geesh.

JOE ARRIVAL TIME: 6:25 eastern standard time, 3:25 in California and I believe 1:25 pm in H-A-W-A-II, Joseph Vincent Paterno makes his long awaited return to the Hotline show…it’s been a long two weeks since we last heard from the coach. And in that two weeks, nothing has happened.


  • Darla, or as Joe calls her, ‘Darler’ calls in to say she has a bitchin’ tailgate planned this week. Joe says that he hopes the postgame tailgate is better. (I would pay straight cash homey to see Joe swing by a tailgate and shotgun a Keystone Light with some co-eds. That would be in-cred-ible)
  • Joe burns Roger from Emmaus, who tries to match X’s and O’s. Don’t challenge him, Rog. Don’t challenge him.
  • Joe is breaking down the passing game now. Z-cross, X-Y out, whatever just happened to saying “you go to the car and run a post, you go to the fire hydrant and run a comeback?
  • The two down lineman are really good for OSU per JVP.
  • “They’re a tough team to run against. This will be a good, tough football game. The guy that makes the least mistakes will probably win.”
  • Joe says if they make mistakes, they will get licked. If Ohio State makes mistakes, they will get licked. SOMEONE IS GETTING LICKED!


  • Al Golden’s got Temple cooking, per Joe.
  • Caller says his kid goes to PSU and saw Joe driving this summer and his son waved at Joe and Joe waved back. Joe says: “I wasn’t waving at him, I was running out of gas.”….BADA BOOM!
  • Joe pimps Daryll Clark again. (Note: more on this tomorrow, I got something planned for this here space y’all will love, and hopefully eat up about DC)


  • Joe says the wide receivers had great potential coming into the season, Joe adds that they haven’t exceeded expectations but they have come along faster than they thought they would. (apparently people really don’t read newspapers anymore because everyone on the beat has written this, over and over.)
  • Joe gets a call from someone who is talking about how much he means to the state of PA (Joe, not the caller), and Joe says “I’m gonna tape this conversation and give it to my wife.” BOOM. ROASTED.


  • Joe says they practiced well this week and they did a little more than they usually do on Monday to “see where we are.”
  • Joe won’t say for sure if Ohio State is the biggest rival for PSU. He mentions Iowa and Michigan State. I’d vote for Iowa, but you have to beat the team every now and then…you know, in order for it to be a rivalry. Ohio State is definitely PSU’s biggest rival and it’s the biggest game in the Big Ten annually right now, thanks to the 2005 game.
  • Joe thinks Terrelle Pryor made a good choice in picking Ohio State for his school.
  • Joe wants the crowd to be loud “but don’t be mean spirited. I hate booing. Let’s just hope we play as well as we can play and they play as well as they can play and let’s see what happens.” Then he adds “but you can help us be better by being loud.”

Joe exits stage left.

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