Category Archives: Penn State

Meyer, Hazell up for Coach of the Year

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Kent State’s Darrell Hazell are among 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year Award, it was announced Monday.

Being nominated for such an honor is familiar territory for Meyer, but not for Hazell. In his second year at Kent State,Hazell’s Flashes are 10-1, ranked in the top 25 and headed to their first bowl game in 40 years.

The 10 wins are a program record. Kent State hadn’t had a winning record since 2001.

Also on the list is Dave Doeren of Northern Illinois, Kent State’s opponent in the Nov. 30 MAC Championship Game in Detroit. Hazell and Doeren will both be hot names in the coming weeks as the coaching carousel picks up steam.

The other semifinalists for the award are below.

Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Chip Kelly, Oregon State
Mike MacIntyre, San Jose State
Jim Mora, UCLA
Will Muschamp, Florida
Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Mark Richt, Georgia
Mike Riley, Oregon State
David Shaw, Stanford
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Dabo Swinney, Clemson

How Indiana can win the Big Ten. In Football.

It’s still possible that the Leaders Division will be represented in the Big Ten Football Championship Game by…the Indiana Hoosiers.

Do not adjust your screen, call your eye doctor or accuse the author of making things up. It’s true.

Indiana has a football team, and it’s a team with a chance to play in Indianapolis on Dec. 1 — and, by extension, Pasadena on Jan. 1.

Indiana hosts Wisconsin on Saturday, and the winner will have a leg up heading to the stretch run in the strangest divisional race since, well, probably ever. With unbeaten Ohio State and once-beaten (in Big Ten play) Penn State ineligible for the postseason, third place very well could be enough to win the bid.

Right now, Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2 in Big Ten play) holds third place by a game over Indiana (5-4, 2-3). A Wisconsin win Saturday means Badgers fans can make reservations in Indianapolis, but a Hoosiers win would keep one of college football’s most improbable stories alive.

Indiana last had a winning season in 2007 and was 1-11 last year, the first under coach Kevin Wilson.

Indiana started this season 2-0, beating Indiana State and UMass. The Hoosiers then lost five straight — to Ball State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan State and Navy — before winning their last two, over Illinois and Iowa.

If Indiana can win on Saturday, it will hold third place and an eventual tiebreaker over Wisconsin. The Hoosiers finish at Penn State and at Purdue, and they’d control their own conference title-game destiny heading into those games.

If the Hoosiers beat Wisconsin but lose the following week at Penn State and finish with a win over Purdue (or vice-versa), they could still win the Leaders Division bid if Wisconsin loses out. Considering Wisconsin’s last two games are vs. Ohio State and at Penn State, that’s possible.

In that unlikely but not impossible scenario, Indiana could lose the Big Ten Championship Game, finish 6-7 and still be bowl eligible under new NCAA bowl-eligibility guidelines introduced this year.

Or, Indiana could just go ahead and win the Big Ten Championship Game and go on to play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1967.

Now that would be a story.

Notes: Super feats, big games and ticket issues

Some assorted, random and leftover football notes…

*A.J. Green, AFC Offensive Player of the Month.

Probably won’t be the last time that happens.

The Marvin Lewis quote on the award: “We’ve known from that start that we are coaching a player with truly superior ability. A.J. was the most impressive rookie I’ve ever been around, and his desire to continue getting better and be a team player is just as impressive. We congratulate him on this honor.”

*The 3-1 Bengals are in position for a big run. By NFL standards, their three straight wins already qualify as big. But the next two are the Dolphins and at the Browns, and two wins there would put the Bengals at 5-1 with the Steelers coming to town for a Sunday nighter.

Looking ahead in the NFL is often a prelude to derailment, but the Bengals needed to stack all the early wins it could and a healthy Bengals team is simply better than the Dolphins and Browns and equipped to beat the Steelers at home.

*Let’s look ahead to next weekend: Joe Haden returns. A.J. Green and the Bengals visit. Both teams figure to need the game DESPERATELY. Sounds fun.

*Let’s look ahead to the week after that game: NFL owners meetings. The vote on Jimmy Haslam’s purchase of the Browns. Perhaps you’ve been counting down?

*Anybody seen Kent State’s Dri Archer? I’m sure he’s not the fastest man in college football. I’m also sure he’s close.

*Miami-Ohio QB Zac Dysert the became 1st Div. I-FBS player to surpass 500 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game with 515 and 108, respectively, in what must have been a totally boring 56-48 win over Akron last weekend.

Dysert, a native of tiny Ada, Ohio, either already has or is in the process of setting a bunch of Miami and MAC records. He’s a legit NFL prospect, too. Former Browns general manager Phil Savage, now CEO of the Senior Bowl, was on campus last week to evaluate Dysert.

*There’s one sold-out, Miami-Cincinnati football game in Cincinnati this weekend. It’s the one between the Redhawks and the Bearcats Saturday night

The NFL has granted the Bengals an extension to sell Sunday’s game out and avoid a local TV blackout. Clearly, they’re not all the way there yet with their fan base. A few weeks ago, they packaged some leftover Steelers tickets with Miami tickets in hopes of selling this one out. It’s a common practice leaguewide, and it’s not a bad idea.

*Because both the Browns and Bengals play at 1 this Sunday, Columbus TV had to make a choice.

Bengals-Dolphins was the choice. At 3-1 vs. 0-4, it probably wasn’t much of a decision.

Note to Jimmy Haslam: Win Columbus.

Someone who plays in the same galaxy as Ariel Jeremiah Green will help that. Trent Richardson, maybe?

*Joshua Cribbs is tough. Like, really tough. Concussions are serious business, and he should pass every league-required test — twice — before he’s allowed to return to the field.

But the guy has been with the Browns since 2005. He’s been through a few things. It’s going to take a little more than one hit by one Ravens linebacker to keep him out.

*This article makes it nice to know at least some people in sports are thinking beyond next week, and looking out for somebody besides themselves.

*My story from early in the week about Ohio’s three unbeaten major-college football teams and a few thoughts on how long each can stay unbeaten.

*We’re all at least of kind of rooting for Penn State at this point, aren’t we? And not just Ohio Bobcats fans.

*Fantasy dork note: A week after I won a fantasy football game by nine-tenths of a point thanks to Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka’s extra-point kick following one of the worst calls in NFL history, I won a game in that same league by .4.

Appreciate them all, fellow dorks.

Win at MSU makes Buckeyes a TV darling

The Big Ten confirmed Sunday morning that next Saturday’s Ohio State – Nebraska game will kick off at 8 p.m. ET and be broadcast nationally on ABC.

It was already set as a night game, but both teams winning this weekend assured its spot in the premium prime-time spot. The NCAA says it’s about the student-athletes, but we know it’s about the TV ratings.

Ohio State holding on in East Lansing makes the bowl-banned yet unbeaten Buckeyes a premium TV team at least until further notice, but probably from here on out. The Oct. 13 game at Indiana was already a scheduled night game on Big Ten Network, and the others will be scheduled accordingly.

Per Big Ten rules, teams can’t play night games after Nov. 1. That’s an ancient rule that probably will be changed in the future, but for now it sticks.

Bet on the coveted 3:30 ABC slot for most of the rest of the Buckeyes games, especially Purdue on Oct. 20. With the way Wisconsin has slipped, the winner of that game could be in the driver’s seat in the Leaders Division.

At this point, who in their right mind is betting against Urban Meyer?

All of a sudden, Ohio State at Penn State on Oct. 27 looks like a can’t-miss game — and one that figures to play a big role in deciding the division title. It’s already scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff in Happy Valley. Besides the Michigan game, that’s the only Ohio State game past Oct. 13 that already has a set kickoff time.

Both Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for postseason play and the Big Ten Championship Game, but both are eligible to compete for the Leaders Division title, making what looks to be a messy year in the Big Ten potentially an even bigger mess.

Some notes on Ohio University and the rest of Week One

Some leftover stuff from Ohio University’s win at Penn State and other notable games and teams across our great state…

*Ohio’s first half drives went like this: Three punts, field goal, missed field goal, punt, non-threatening end of half. The fluke pass to Landon Smith started a much better second half: 12-play touchdown drive, eight-play touchdown drive, 11-play drive ending in a missed field goal, 14-play touchdown drive. An experienced Ohio team finally started playing like it. The Bobcats went silent count to beat the noise and kept the tempo at a pace Penn State couldn’t match down the stretch.

*Ohio got $850,000 for going to Penn State. Not a bad day at the office.

*Barring injury to Tyler Tettleton or collapse by the pass defense, Ohio will be favored in every game the rest of the season. Penn State and Marshall are the only 2011 bowl teams on the Bobcats’ schedule. New Mexico State visits this week, then comes a tricky rivalry game at Marshall (with a big revenge factor looming after Ohio won 44-7 last year) and then a home game vs. Norfolk State before MAC play begins.

*13-0 is a very realistic possibility for Ohio, but think about how many things have to go right for that to happen. A BCS bowl game, however, is not. Not on that schedule.

*When I tweeted yesterday that Tettleton has an outside shot of going to New York as a Heisman finalist, a lot of you laughed despite the fact I also tweeted that I’m well aware he has no chance of winning it. Look at that schedule, look at his production, look at the tempo of the offense. He has a chance to be a consistent producer of 300-plus yards of offense and 3 (or so) touchdowns every Saturday. With each win, even over weak opponents, attention will grow. The numbers could be there. It’s a crazy thought, yes, but it’s not absurd.

*Penn State is suddenly circling Nov. 17 vs. Indiana. Winning in the Big Ten otherwise is going to be very tough for the Nittany Lions.

*We’re down to Ohio, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Kent State in the imaginary will-an-Ohio-team-go-unbeaten pool, at least in Div. I FBS. Youngstown State got $400,000 for going to Pitt and winning by two touchdowns. I’m guessing Pitt losing that game is the worst thing that could have happened for Cincinnati, which opens its season Thursday night against Pitt. The young Bearcats can not afford to be overconfident.

*Ohio State has some athletic freaks. Some young athletic freaks. Buckle up.

*Toledo lost a very strange game in overtime at Arizona and now faces the prospect of being 0-2 for its Sept. 15 home opener vs. Bowling Green. The Rockets make another long trip to Wyoming this week. Bowling Green hosts Idaho.

On Penn State, Solich and Rich Rod

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – It’s a strange scene here at Beaver Stadium for Penn State – Ohio University.

Now, 45 minutes or so from kickoff, there’s some atmosphere. The students are jumping around, loud music is blaring and the teams are on the field.

Outside of the stadium earlier, it was just strange. There were tailgaters in blue and white everywhere, but it wasn’t a wild atmosphere. People – at least the ones I saw – were more just kind of there than partying. There was a ‘Rally Ring’ formed outside the stadium as Penn State fans formed a circle and locked arms.

I heard only a couple ‘We Are’ chants. During one of them, I saw people openly weeping.

I’d imagine official pregame ceremonies will be very emotional.

**

Earlier this week, Ohio University extended the contract of head coach Frank Solich through 2017. Solich is 50-40 in seven years as the Bobcats coach but has been in three straight bowl games and is coming off a 10-win season.

If he wins today, he could run for mayor.

Football as a known and proven commodity in Athens could be here to stay. The school’s commitment to athletics includes a new indoor football practice facility set to open next year, this extension and the addition of Jim Christian as the school’s basketball coach on the heels of a Sweet 16 appearance.

Solich’s extension should help recruiting, too, as successful MAC coaches are often in demand with bigger programs.

**

A little bit lost in the shuffle this week was the fact that former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez coaches his first game at Arizona tonight.

Against Toledo.

We all know what happened last time Rodriguez coached against Toledo in 2008.

It won’t be a shock if it happens again.

**

I’ll do some more in-depth predictions next week, but for entertainment’s sake — and to satisfy my very critical brother — here’s how I see today’s games going. I’ll chart these through the year.

Ohio State (-24) 38, Miami-Ohio 10

Ohio (+6) 27, Penn State 21

Toledo (+10) 29, Arizona 27

Florida 31, Bowling Green (+29) 10

Alabama 27, Michigan (+14) 17

NCAA prez on death penalty for Penn State: “I don’t want to take anything off the table”

Items of interest from Louis Freeh’s news conference on Penn State

A few things jumped out from the news conference (and report) held (and written) by Louis Freeh, the former FBI Director who conducted the investigation that led to the scathing report about the way Penn State covered up Jerry Sandusky’s crimes. How Penn State was out to protect itself and its football program.

–Freeh: “Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children that Sandusky victimized.” Amen.

–Freeh used the word “rape.” Bless him. Because that’s what it was. Sandusky raped young boys, 10-and-11-and-12-year-old boys. Calling it anything else almost seems to take a step toward sanitizing it.

–Freeh described one janitor, a Korean War veteran, saying what he witnessed in the shower between Sandusky and a boy was the worst thing he’d ever seen. But they were afraid to take on the football program, Freeh said, adding:  “If that is the culture on the bottom …” It’s interesting that Freeh was forgiving of the janitors not saying anything. But Freeh left no doubt how he felt about the corruption present in the University and its football program.

–Freeh did not trash Joe Paterno. He said the coach had “a terrific legacy, a great legacy.” But he added: “He made perhaps the worst mistake of his life (by not doing more about the 2001 assault). But we’re not singling him out. We’re putting him in the category of four others who were major leaders at Penn State.”

–Freeh: “The facts are the facts.” And the facts are disturbing and sickening.

–The depth of the facts is even more bothersome when it’s evident people could have done something before 1998, the first time Sandusky was investigated. Freeh said that staff and coaches “regularly observed” Sandusky showering with boys in locker rooms at the school before 1998. The University’s higher-ups – including Paterno – knew of the investigation into Sandusky’s actions in 1998. Yet even when they heard from Mike McQueary about the locker room rape in ‘01, they all decided, after consulting with Paterno, not to go to authorities. “There’s more red flags here than you can count over a long period of time,” Freeh said.

–Is it not then a reasonable conclusion to think that Penn State folks did not want Sandusky to be caught, that they considered their jobs and their beloved football program more important? That’s tough to swallow, but the evidence sure is persuasive.

–Freeh said that Penn State made an “active decision to conceal.”

–Paterno heard from McQueary on a Saturday. He passed the information along to higher-ups early the next week. Freeh’s report said Paterno told the Grand Jury he “ordinarily would have called right away, but it was a Saturday morning and I didn’t want to interfere with their weekends.”

–If this is the truth that the Paterno family wanted out, well then they have it.

–Keep in mind that Freeh’s report clearly states Paterno and the University were well aware of the 1998 investigation into Sandusky’s child abuse.

–Deadspin found this gem: In 1998, president Graham Spanier banned an agent for life from the campus. His sin: Buying a player $400 worth of clothes. Spanier said the agent ”fooled around with the integrity of the university, and I won’t stand for that.” Sandusky … evidently not.

–The descriptions from the victims are, simply, gut-wrenching.

–One describes Sandusky showering with a boy, then picking him up and holding him so his feet were at or near Sandusky’s waist, ostensibly so the boy could rinse shampoo out of his hair. University officials were told of this incident. Police overheard Sandusky admit he showered with the boy. They decided there was no crime, but did not think about the more important picture that should have been easy to see: This was aberrant behavior, and it needed to be addressed and stopped. For 14 more years, Sandusky abused children.

–Asked if the investigation had an agenda, which one questioner said supporters of Paterno were claiming, Freeh said: “It’s not correct.”

The report can be read here. It describes disgusting, disturbing, bothersome, immoral and illegal activity on the part of Jerry Sandusky, but also on the part of the leadership of Penn State, both in the University’s highest offices and in the football program.

The Penn State report — a litany of crime, and shame

I guess this would sum it up, from the former director of the FBI:

Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University — President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno — failed to protect against a child predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001. Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity, of what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001.

These individuals, unchecked by the Board of Trustees that did not perform its oversight duties, empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access to the University’s facilities and affiliation with the University’s prominent football program.

Paterno family releases pointed statement

The family of Joe Paterno released a statement Wednesday, one day before results of the independent investigation of former FBI Director Louis Freeh are released.

Freeh was hired by Penn State to look into what happened regarding Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.

Leaked e-mails have indicated that former Penn State president Graham Spanier backed off turning Sandusky into authorities after talking with “Joe.” Presumably, that meant Paterno.

The family has been outstpoken that those e-mails painted an unfair picture of their father.

Their voice deserves to be heard, and the highlights of the statement from The Paterno Family include the blunt statement that “Joe Paterno did not know Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile.”

“The sad and frightening fact is Jerry Sandusky was a master deceiver,” the family said. “He fooled players, coaches, law enforcement officials, child service professionals, Penn State Board members, University leaders, neighbors, donors, staff and supporters of Second Mile and his family.”

The statement adds:

When the facts come out, it will be clear that (As the legal process unfolds, it will be confirmed that) Joe Paterno never gave Tim Curley any instructions to protect Sandusky or limit any investigation of his actions.

And:

Joe Paterno did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth.

The entire statement can be read here.