Nitt Picks Returns Briefly

It's hard to find time to put these together during the season, but today there's enough interesting editorials out there I felt one was warranted.

As RUTS so eloquently pointed out, Joe's contract status got put on the back burner as the team jumped out to a 6-0 start. But his recent health problems have rekindled talk about his future and the future of the program. Today David Jones reshuffles the deck and tries to read the cards to determine where this ship is sailing. Of course Tom Bradley is on the list of possible successors with Schiano's stock dropping faster than the Dow Jones. JayPa is out while Al Golden's door may be opening. But there's one name that may get major consideration that may come as a surprise to many people.

Here's an outline of the way I see a possible regime change, based on recent correspondence with key people within the program:

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson is a much bigger player than you might imagine. If this ends up an inside hire, a more likely scenario, I'd put at least even money on him as the next coach. I might even give him better odds than defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.

Right or not, Bradley probably will suffer from having been the heir apparent so long at a place where those closest to Paterno have not wanted to contemplate his successor. Certain people in Paterno's inner sanctum are under the mistaken impression that Bradley has attempted surreptitiously to promote himself as the next head coach.

Jones goes on to explain.

Johnson doesn't have to. He's naturally even in demeanor and quiet and dignified in manner with the sort of navy-suit patina that can present the program at money functions. If Bradley is a VFW banquet room kind of guy, Johnson is more suited to Nittany Lion Club and alumni dinners. That's where the big money flows.

As a coach, Johnson has recruited and taught his butt off the past few years. No single unit has performed as consistently as PSU's defensive line.

He has a famous NFL running back for a son, twins who both were PSU athletes and wife Christine is said to be as good a recruiting closer as he is.

Finally, he's black. At a place so laughably straitlaced and politically correct as PSU, I'm sure his ethnicity seems exotic to the Wonder Bread chieftains. Johnson knows how to present himself in that CEO way that impresses them. It would be awfully tough for Spanier and the Board of Trustees to reject a loyal, qualified African-American.

One thing Jones doesn't point out is that many of the problem kids we've had in recent years were all very close to Johnson. Baker, Taylor, Evans, and Koroma are all defensive linemen, the unit Johnson coaches. Navorro Bowman was recruited by Johnson out of Maryland and has a very close relationship with him. And let's not forget he had one son (Tony) arrested for DUI and another son (LJ JR) that has chip on his shoulder wherever he goes. There have been grumblings in the dark underbelly of the internet message boards that some members of the staff and university lay part of the blame for our recent problems at the feet of LJSR for not keeping "his kids" in line.  Johnson may be a fantastic position coach, but I'm not sold on his ability to lead a pack of young men to greatness.

On Wisconsin

I'm gaining more and more confidence going into our game against Wisconsin this weekend. This is a huge game for both teams as Wisconsin is trying to salvage what chances they have left to win the conference and Penn State is still entertaining dreams of undefeated seasons and BCS championships. From everything I've read the Penn State players and coaches are focused squarely on going into Madison and taking care of business. Wisconsin on the other hand seems to be focused more on themselves and looking back at what they did wrong to blow two fourth quarter leads in two weeks. In his weekly press conference reporters only wanted to talk about the Ohio State game. It wasn't until the very end that they sneaked in two questions about Penn State. They have the looks of a team in disarray. It's so bad Bielema is thinking about changing quarterbacks.

University of Wisconsin senior quarterback Allan Evridge needs to play better to hold on to his starting job.

That was the direct message to come out of coach Bret Bielema's Monday news conference.

Following back-to-back losses to Michigan and Ohio State, Bielema said he was evaluating several areas. But he made it clear he expects more out of his quarterback.

"As a football coach, you look at positions that haven't played as well as you'd like them to play," Bielema said. "There's a lot of guys on our team playing as good a football, or better, than we thought they could to begin with, but Allan's not immune to that. Obviously, the next guy in would probably be (junior) Dustin Sherer."

After a brief pause, Bielema clarified Evridge will still start Saturday night against Penn State. But Bielema's endorsement didn't extend beyond that.

"You don't need to read into it, Allan's going to start on Saturday and be our quarterback," Bielema said. "There comes a point in time where you have to make an assessment of where we are as a football team."

 Well, at least they have P.J. Hill to fall back on. But then, some are even questioning that too.

While not having the gravity or importance of our presidential election, an important question rages throughout UW football fandom. Do we go with the young and dynamic John Clay or the proven bruiser P.J. Hill at running back?

As John McCain and Barack Obama throw around accusations and half-truths, we voters attempt to find some semblance of fact through the pile of garbage. I do not profess to be an expert on international affairs or the financial mess we find ourselves hip deep in. I would not consider myself a maverick, but I do believe I can provide some clarity on the Badgers running back situation.

John Clay is our present and future hope at running back.

This sounds like a team that has to get their house in order fast.

Wait. What? Is It Basketball Season Already?

In case you didn't already see the fanshot on this, check out the ESPN article on the Penn State basketball team.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Walking down Curtin Road on a Penn State campus just beginning to clog with football fans, the proud alum practically spun around on his heel as he grabbed his wife and daughter, and yelled:

"Hey, what's your name?''

"Jamelle,'' the student replied.

"Right," the alum grinned with knowing satisfaction. "Good luck tomorrow against Illinois.''

Jamelle Cornley shrugged and smiled.

If four years in Happy Valley has done anything, it has inured Conley (sic) to the anonymity of Penn State men's basketball. Playing literally in the shadows of the nearly 110,000-seat beast that is Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lions who play hoops have long suffered as second-class citizens.

How fitting in a story about the anonymity of the Penn State basketball players the writer would misspell Cornley's name. I guess even the World Wide Leader makes typos too.

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