Nitt Picks Contributes Nothing To Society

It doesn't matter what it's for, an $88 million contribution for anything is going to get people talking. While many in the athletic community are feeling warm and fuzzy over the announcement of funding for a new ice arena, not everyone is so enthused, namely some guy named Oren M. Spiegler from Upper St. Clair in the Daily Collegian's opinion page this morning.

What a glorious day it would have been if Pennsylvanians had been able to read one of the following headlines: "Philanthropists donate $88 million to ensure sound footing for Pennsylvania public libraries for years to come" or "Philanthropists establish $88 million fund to ensure that all qualified students will be able to attend a university."

By endorsing and devoting such a mammoth amount of money to a violent sport, which contributes nothing to society, some would consider the donation being made to have been squandered. It is sad that a family like the Pegulas is contributing to a society in decline.

Rhetoric like that has the potential to get pretty political, so let's try to avoid that, but I think the issue of big donations for sports is something that should be addressed.

If this summer of expansion has taught us anything, it's that college athletics is big business. It's about, as Adam Rittenberg likes to say, "branding." Enhancing the athletic brand enhances the academic brand. That's why applications surge after a good football season. That's why things like whiting out Madison Square Garden for the NIT get people in a hub east coast city excited about the university. For as intelligent as those in the academic community like to think they are, they're pretty out of touch if they can't see that their own job security is inextricably linked to athletic success.

If the Pegulas' donation leads to greater exposure for college hockey though the Big Ten Network or maybe even some national institutions like ESPN or VS., that means greater exposure for Penn State and ultimately, it's academic profile, which is obviously the most important thing.

Redzone

Jay Paterno addressed Penn State's redzone troubles by saying the coaches will be freeing things up for Robert Bolden in the near future.

"Knowing that we have three points in our hip pocket, you want to be careful that you don’t put him in a situation where a blitz gets to him and all of a sudden the ball is on the ground," Jay Paterno said. "But now that he’s done some things in the clutch, we’ll open some things up as we go forward."

Perhaps more important than that, though, to improving Penn State's play deep in their opponents' territory will be developing freshmen tight ends Kevin Haplea and Garry Gilliam into respectable pass catching options. If there's one thing that this Penn State offense clearly doesn't have that that last year's did, it's pass catching tight ends like Mickey Shuler and Andrew Quarless. Brett Brackett has stepped in at tight end a few times, but considering he's hardly a desirable run blocker, packages that include him at tight end can really sell out passing downs. Gilliam and Haplea don't need to be Shuler and Quarless, but they need to start contributing something in the passing game to keep opposing defenses honest in the middle of the field.

Sukay Shines

Perhaps one of the more maligned figures on the defense early this season was safety Nick Sukay. However, after two picks in Saturday's win over Temple, it looks like he's beginning to get on track at the perfect time heading into the Big Ten season.

"The past two weeks of practice have been real good," Sukay said. "I've been trying to work on some things that I see I'm struggling with on film and be more conscience of it.

"I feel our defense has been playing better as a whole the past two weeks. We had fun out there [Saturday] and I think that made a big difference."

A lot of attention is going to be focused on the Penn State offense this week going up against Iowa's tough front, but perhaps just as important will be the Nittany Lions' ability to make big plays on defense, and that begins with veterans in the secondary like Sukay, Drew Astorino and D'Anton Lynn. Regardless of how many points Penn State puts up, it's going to be difficult for the Lions to win if they don't win the turnover battle. That means forcing Ricky Stanzi into making mistakes and picking up cheap points off of them. Keep you eyes on the secondary this week. It looks like they might be peaking at the right time.

In Scores Of Other Games

  • Big news on the platform, as SB Nation has finally added a Pitt Panther blog, and I doubt they could have found a better person to run it than my pal from SB Nation Pittsburgh, Anson Whaley. His blog, Cardiac Hill, launched this weekend, and I highly encourage you to stop by and wish him luck. In a sea of Pitt media ignorance, Anson is level headed and has a great grip on the college athletic landscape, so congratulations to him and good luck. [Cardiac Hill]
  • Dan Wetzel talks Chris Petersen and Boise State. [Yahoo!]
  • Illinois snaps Penn State's Big Ten winning streak in women's volleyball.  Our ladies are starting to look mortal. [Daily Collegian]
  • Money quote of the week from Illinois volleyball coach Kevin Hambly: "I don't think we could have pooped out a seed of rice in that first set, because we were so tight." [Daily Illini]
  • Add out Facebook and Twitter pages today and spread the word.

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