Fall practice won't start for eleven or twelve more weeks. Recruiting news is practically non-existent. Every angle on Big Ten expansion and the Beaver Stadium STEP program has been mercilessly beaten into the ground. No, this is not the optimal time to be a college football fan or blogger. However, there are a few issues floating about (and yes, some old issues as well):
Go Lion: First, "gradulations" are due to three recently-graduated Nittany Lion footballers: LB Josh Hull, P Jeremy Boone, and LS Andrew Pitz. All three were named to the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society for the 2009 season.
Retro Recruiting Information: We recently welcomed Canadian offensive lineman Alex Mateas to the Nittany Lions as the last member of the 2010 recruiting class, only three months after National Signing Day (didn't specify which nation, right?). The Ottawa Citizen has a Mateas write-up:
For most of his athletic life, Mateas benefited, in many ways, from the people and clubs around him, whether playing soccer (12 years with Capital United), judo (six years with Takahashi Dojo), basketball (six years with Guardsmen) or weightlifting (YM-YWCA, Ironwill Gym).
So when he stepped onto the football field, he did so as a young, fit athlete as opposed to a big, awkward teenager meant to fill a hole on the offensive line.
"Rob Smart and I were sitting in the stands and he said, 'You have good feet. Give football a try,'" Mateas said. "That's an aspect you can't teach. When you see that, it's easier to mould a football player. You can't teach co-ordination or body awareness. I was lucky to be better than most because I have been in sports."
Mateas worked closely with [Ottawa] Sooners co-head coach Bino Cesario and Ron Dias of All Canada Gridiron to secure the football scholarship. He sent his personal résumé and a football highlights DVD to many schools, including favourites such as the University of Oregon, University of Nebraska, Virginia Tech and Penn State. After a while, he followed up to see if there was any interest.
"I tried to e-mail them and didn't get a response. I tried calling. The only one I could reach was Penn State. I talked to the offensive guards coach and once he saw my film, he gave it to Jay Paterno."
Sky Still Blue, Sun Still Hot: Joe Paterno is still the university's highest-paid employee. Who else is getting paid?
According to Penn State's filing, which for pay purposes covered calendar year 2008, Mr. Paterno earned the most in total compensation -- a sum of $1,109,977 in pay and benefits, that included a base salary of $540,942. He also topped the list when Penn State released its first right-to-know request last year.
The next four highest compensated by the university include:
--- Harold Paz, Hershey Medical Center chief executive officer, whose $938,420 in total compensation includes a base salary of $643,002.
--- Robert Harbaugh, chair of the department of neurosurgery, whose $825,196 in total compensation includes $685,834 in base salary.
--- [Graham] Spanier, whose $799,386 in total compensation includes $605,004 in base salary.
--- Alan Brechbill, Hershey Medical Center executive director, whose $719,130 in total compensation includes a base salary of $582,035.
And yes, Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon is paid more than Joe Paterno.
No. No, They're Not Ready: Bob Flounders of the Harrisburg Patriot-News ponders the 2010 quarterback situation and sees dead people.
The Nittany Lions won 22 games in 2008 and 2009 and, despite a more challenging schedule, another 10 or 11-win season is anticipated.
It's not going to happen.
PSU doesn't have a quarterback ready to replace Daryll Clark, the starter the last two years. Clark was a good, not great, college quarterback. He could make some plays with his arm or his legs. He also knew that in most games his offensive line could consistently give him time to find the open man.
The Lions' two biggest problem areas coming out of spring are quarterback and offensive line. Those problems all but guarantee losses at defensive-minded Alabama, Iowa and Ohio State and could lead to trouble at Minnesota and possibly at home against Northwestern and Michigan State.
I don't know a semi-reasonable person who is anticipating 10 or 11 wins this season. Maybe 9-3 with a bowl win against Opponent To Be Named Later -- and don't you hate people who offer pre-season predictions that include the bowl game? This is likely to be the subject of a longer post some other time, but here's my advice for all Penn State fans: sit back, enjoy what you can, don't complain. It's going to be a long, hard slog this autumn if you're expecting huge things from the Lions. No game is unwinnable, and save for the puff pastries and MACrifices, no game is unloseable. Sit back, enjoy what you can, don't complain. Hope for massive improvement at QB and OL, and reload your brain for a potential monster 2011 run with an experienced team and a vastly easier schedule.
However, Flounders addresses a rather concerning issue in the first half of that column: Joe Paterno has been missing from various "An Evening With Joe" functions across the state. These meet and greets have been a staple of the offseason for a while, but JoePa's been absent, citing intestinal troubles. The recent Hershey cancellation last Thursday night came after Paterno cancelled on an early May date in Pittsburgh. Nobody needs to be reminded, but Joe Paterno is 83 years old, and anytime someone that age is out of action for multiple weeks, there's obvious room for worry.
Depending on your source for this sort of information, it's easy to be freaked or nonchalant. Freaked, see above. Octogenerian with understandable difficulty coping with ailments. Nonchalant, well, there's a segment of the fanbase who lump these cancellations in with many other knocks against Paterno. In other words, he just doesn't do things he perceives as a hassle, such as hitting the road for recruiting purposes. Not completely implausible.
Another of these "Evening With Joe" events is scheduled for June 16 in Philly. Keep an eye on it.
The Review Is Under Review: LBU dives into the Phil Steele preview, complete with translations and speculation.
Okay, Okay, I'll Play Your Stupid Game: A Seat Transfer and Equity Plan (STEP) debate in the York Daily Record, specifically cited because (1) it's a very fair article and (2) they found three very reasonable fans with different seating situations and are dealing with the new plan in their own ways. With respect to our other Dead Horse Topic, an interview with Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith.
Future Siren Watch: Also from the YDR, an Angelo Mangiro profile.
In Scores Of Other Games: Totally badass soundtrack to accompany totally badass Curt Warner touchdown runs. Upon implied request from the comments to the recent Illinois post, the 2005 PSU v. Illinois highlights, or as it's known in some parts, the Tim Brasic Death Reel. Tried to embed this one, but SBN's hamsters are apparently on strike or something.