I've been flipping

to the NFL Combine coverage now and again these past few days - It's an interesting event. It's very quiet - except for the occasional "go go go!" from a trainer. Mostly I've seen the field drills - especially the 40 yard dash. Some of those boys are fast!

The commentators mentioned that "Penn State players never workout" (meaning they rarely participate in the drills) but, last night I happened to tune in just as Paul Posluszny was to run (one of) his 40 (kismet, I know) - He's got a buzz cut and looks uber cute (btw). I found myself cheering him on (for 4.67 seconds) as he ran toward the tape. He wasn't lightening fast - but he was good - and the commentators were very taken with him on his overall potential. They said some stuff about his being able to drop back into pass coverage (really? I was not aware of this - at least not this season) - perhaps he's more comfortable since his shift back to ILB.

I also saw Tim Shaw run - the commentators were impressed with Shaw's "sacrifice" last season of switching to DE - it showed his versatility and teamplayeridness - plus he ran super fast - when I saw him run he ran something like 4.53 - okay, the NFL reports his best as 4.51 - even better!

Tim and Paul did well in each of the drills - the only event in which neither of them finished in the top ten was the broad jump.

The whole process reminds me of the Presidents exercise challenge/dog show/beauty pageant - but these guys are going to be making millions of dollars soon - so who cares.


RIP Dennis Johnson

Dennis Johnson 1954-2007

As a kid, growing up in State College, we didn't really get any basketball on TV. We didn't have a "Philadelphia" station, and, with no Pittsburgh team, there wasn't much NBA influence. My Dad preferred College Basketball (a sentiment I now share) - but he would watch the NBA playoffs - so I eventually decided that I was a Celtics fan (I also decided I was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but that's a totally different story). It was the 80s, which was a pretty good time to love the team from Boston. I "learned" the game of basketball by watching Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish... and Dennis Johnson - D.J. I had a mad crush (and by mad I mean crazy) on Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge (a little more understandable) - but D.J. was the "go to guy" - the defender extraordinaire. Adored by his teammates and the fans. I loved those guys - (and boy did I hate the Lakers - especially James Worthy). That group played real team basketball - and Dennis' straightforward play and personality were a huge part of that.

Johnson passed away on Thursday, at the age of 52.

Thanks for the memories D.J.


Oh Pioneer!

I'm guessing that things didn't work out at Temple (considering that he "disappeared" from their website sometime last fall).

HT: to This Guy -

Zach Mills has left the gaming tables and is playing football, albeit Arena 2 football, again. The PSU grad recently signed with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Pioneers.

Hey! at least it's football.


Sad day for all fans

Illinois will be retiring their symbol, Chief Illiniwek.

I've posted about this issue before. I am 100% sensitive to the "case" against the Native American "mascot" and I respect the wishes/recommendations of the Native American counsels - ; however, these symbols were not chosen to degrade or objectify - they were seen as symbols of strength and bravery - and for their ties to area. Illinois is named for the Illini - the Chief was not a "mascot" - but a proud representation of the land and its people.

According to SI.com

Mr. Posluszny is doing quite well leading up to the NFL combine. They report that "his stock is rising" - due to his quick 40 times and great interview skills (so important to a linebacker).

There are 5 Nittany Lions participating in the combine; which runs February 22nd - 27th. Levi, Tony, Jay (Alford) and Tim (Shaw) join Paul at the Indianapolis event.

You can catch coverage on the NFL Network.


Happy Presidents Day

Our Presidents have a long history with football, as players, enthusiasts and influencers. Yes, I still blame Nixon...

I've been perusing my ESPN College Football Encyclopedia (a Christmas present/footstool). It only lists information up to 2004 - but there's a lot of good stuff to stir up memories (my own and those shared with me). The book is a collection of statistics of nearly every aspect of college football. So far I've really only skimmed through the Penn State pages and the "years in review" for the Paterno era.

It is amazing how riled up I can get, just reading listings and statistics. The bowl system is so different now. It's not so long ago (okay, it is pretty long ago, but it doesn't seem that way) that there were just a handful of bowl games, and, depending on the conference/bowl game rules and commitments, there were times when top 10 teams didn't make it to a bowl game. All that said, 1973 makes no sense to me - an undefeated team (which had finished loss-less and ranked #2 just 4 and 5 seasons pryor) with a Heisman Trophy winner - finishes the year ranked #5. It's just mind boggling. 1994 was "bad" enough - but I really can't imagine that many years of disappointment - in the system - not in the team.

My next expedition will be into the "Bowl Games" chapter/section. I'll let you know how it goes.


Much craziness in the news

these past few days... diaper wearing homicidal astronauts; mysteriously dead bombshells; airplane riding Speakers; USC recruits listening to, but not talking with, Saints; and, in the wake of it all, Penn State has named a new women's soccer (ladies football) coach who is neither a Penn State grad nor a former employee.

shocking, no doubt.


So I rewatched

the Outback Bowl last night - no particular reason - I guess I was just nostalgic with it being signing day and all. I watched the game mostly on fast forward, except for the "good bits." Even though this isn't my first re-screening, I had forgotten how tense the game had been (at times) - The missed field goals; the unrealized "first and goals" which predicated said missed field goals; Sean Lee's blown TFL (btw, I'd totally forgotten his crying on the bench - poor little kitten - don't worry sweetie, you'll make the play of the game in the 4th quarter) and the Vols score just before halftime; how close UT was to scoring before the aforementioned "play of the game"; how many "official reviews" there had been; and so on.

However, Penn State seemed to have an answer every time Tenny did well - Penn State's recovery of turnovers (especially that one) was huge - Tony Hunt had some great runs; he really was the the MVP of the game - and when Anthony got focused, he played quite well - the kid really does have a strong arm.

I have most of last seasons games on video tape (I have an aunt who tapes all (all she can, that is) the games for me) - but I don't have a VCR hooked up right now - I'm sure that this will be remedied once the off season doldrums kick in (at least after March, anyway). Although, I'm not too keen to revisit 4 of those match-ups...


So the big news today,

should have revolved around the football team's new recruiting class - but no, the really big sports story today, which involves a former PSU athlete, is that John Amaechi (former PSU, and NBA, basketball player) has announced that he is gay.

For the record, I adored John when he was at PSU - I remember seeing him in Kmart (back when State College had a Kmart) and just being overwhelmed with giddy admiration. He was a good player and a great student athlete. It didn't hurt that he was from England, either.

I saw snippets of the "exclusive" interview today - he looks and sounds good (although he does have some strange comments about the NBA being the pinnacle of maleness, similar to ancient Greece - I believe that a quick perusal of history will show that the Ancient Greeks enjoyed male companionship as well, but I digress).

It should be interesting to see how the sports community reacts -

Oh, and regarding recruiting, no big surprises (maybe one disappointment, but), all of the verbals sent over their letters today. No last minute changes for or against PSU. You can check out the action at Fight on State.


Yes, I do realize

that the Senior Bowl was nearly a week ago - but I am one of the (reported) 5 people in the country who actually saw the game (initial viewer numbers were coming in around 3, but I watched the game with another person, so I'm thinking 5 is more accurate), so I figure I should recount some observations...

I've been posting a few comments, here and there, regarding the game, and yes, this is, basically, going to be a regurgitation of the same points (sorry - there just isn't that much to report).

I will admit that I watched the game on the DVR, and, yes, I did fast forward a bit after the 1st quarter - with PSU boasting 3 starters, the rest of the game just wasn't that interesting.

Levi Brown and Tony Hunt started on offense. The commentators had quite a bit to say about Levi - they see him as a first round (first 15) draft pick. He played well enough in the game, but practice is where these kids really make their money (literally) and the announcers didn't have "great" things to say. They reported that he sometimes "falls asleep" and gets stood up. We all know that he had a surprising lack of concentration this past season and MANY false start infractions. The pundits still have him going as a first round (first 15) pick, which is great.

Tony, on the other hand, arrived in Mobile without high expectations. He had some great practices, keeping his feet moving and playing tough. He doesn't have that "2nd gear" that the top backs have, but he proved that he can get the yardage on any down, not just 3rd. He had a good game - 1 touchdown and 38 yards (top rusher) - "eventually" winning the MVP award. He did have one almost fumble - which probably was a fumble but they didn't call it on the field and there's no replay in the Senior Bowl. He made some money last week - the commentators see him as a late 2nd round pick -

On Defense, Paul Posluszny, who had been voted team co-captain, started for the North. He (by the grace of God) broke up one pass play and was in on a few tackles, but, honestly, the North defense wasn't on the field very long - The report from practice was that Paul is a great football player, but he doesn't have the quickness and the physique that the scouts are hoping for. However, they marveled at his ability to cover sideline to sideline and his desire to play. After the game they still had him on their list as a first round pick -

In general, the North squad was just much more in sync - perhaps the South squad had made a deal that the Georgia Tech punter kid would get more air time, I just don't know.

Troy Smith had a much better outing than he'd had earlier in January - but he still didn't look great. He had a few nice plays, and a touchdown pass, but his passes were not sharp - the North's early success can be credited to John Gruden's rash ways and decision to not punt until he was up by 150 (a slight exaggeration). After the game Troy was interviewed and when asked about whether or not he would be participating in the upcoming combine, his response was, "I'll have to talk with my agent."

Even with the skewed rules, the game was fun to watch - the Penn State kids did well - and to have 3 starters was impressive - you couldn't miss their little white helmets.