Blog mob . . . ASSEM - wait, what the...
THE DOGHOUSE HAS TAKEN OVER
Well, folks, JoePa's Doghouse has gone rogue with their own set of questions this week. So, as I cower in fear at Rowlff Dogg and his pack of wild dogs, I'll answer their questions alongside Matt de Bear and Eric Sion from Victory Bell Rings, Kevin McGuire from the Nittany Lions Den, and Tim Johnson from PennLive's 50-Yard Lion blog!
It isn't much of a surprise that Penn State is undefeated against Indiana thus far. Since joining the Big Ten in 1993, what opponent has produced the most surprising results against Penn State (good or bad)?
Adam: The answer has to be Iowa, right? At one point, we had lost 8 of 9 to the Hawkeyes, and we're 7-9 against them since joining the conference. Penn State has history, tradition, two very good coaches (one of whom won more games than any other in major college football), and All-American caliber talent on the field. That Iowa has turned into a significant rivalry perfectly encapsulates the distinction between Penn State the football program and Penn State the football brand name. If you had told me in 1993 that we would have this kind of "success" against Iowa for the next twenty years . . . well, I would have been 9, so I probably wouldn't have had any concept of what it meant. But ask that of J Schnauzer in 1993, and he would be shocked. Right?
J Schnauzer: If we were to travel back to 1993 and tell everyone "Penn State's record against team 'x' is this." two teams would stand out. We would be shocked to learn that Iowa leads the Big Ten series 7-9, but we would be FLOORED that the Wisconsin series is tied 7-7. It easy to forget that prior to 1993 Wisconsin was the Indiana of its time: eight consecutive losing seasons and just one 8-win season since World War 2. Nothing about Barry Alvarez' side screamed "title winner" at the outset of the '93 season, but they shocked the league and won their first title since the early '60s. The Badgers have earned at least a share of six conference titles in the last twenty years.
While we can explain the Iowa series as a consequence of flukes and bad coaching decisions, the Wisconsin series is a match of equals. No one would have guessed that back in 1993.
Rowlff Dogg: J Schnauzer essentially read my mind, so I'll go in a different direction: Northwestern. Who would have thought that 20 years of Penn State's conference play would have resulted in the same amount of league titles as Northwestern?!?! That is simply unacceptable for a program of Penn State's status...and "culture problem."
Matt: The fact IU has never beaten PSU certainly is a bit surprising, but I'm going to go with the PSU-Michigan series. Sure, the Lions have turned it around of late, thanks in large part to the generosity of Rich Rodriguez, but that UM run from 1997-2007 stiill blows my mind. Not only did Michigan own the series, they did it handily.
Tim: On the positive side, I think our most surprising results over the years have come against Ohio State. Of course, we still get beat quite a bit, but a few unexpected wins and near-wins stick in my mind: Blowing them out so badly in our undefeated 1994 season; Springing the come-from-behind upset in 2001 for Paterno's 324th; Coming ever-so-close in 2003 when Dave Kimball's last-second 60
yard FG fell just short; and, of course, the thrilling 2005 and 2008 contests.
The Underdogs: I'm not going to even bother looking up the records. I'm most surprised by the Eddie George fumble in '95 being ruled down, Avant's heel in '05, the OSU TE drop in '02 (?), Tony Johnson at Ann Arbor in '02, and that we've ever lost to a team with yellow pants. Fuck them.
Eric: The fact that Indiana hasn't beaten Penn State at all in Big Ten play is pretty surprising to me. Obviously Indiana is no football powerhouse, but you'd figure that they'd catch Penn State in a bad year at least once in the past 20 seasons. 2011 was a very close game (Penn State won 16-10) and I think this year is going to be another close one.
Kevin: The answer here is simple. Iowa, who owns a head-to-head record in Big Ten play of 9-7 in 16 games, has to be the answer. Michigan had their run of wins to build a 10-6 mark and Ohio State is 13-7 in Big Ten play, but at least those numbers sort of make sense with the two traditionally dominating in Big Ten play, but I just cannot explain the ineptitude against the Hawkeyes. Sure, Iowa has their good years but no matter what it seems Iowa has just had Penn State's number.
Penn State has won two straight in the series of course, but the pain extended over a stretch of nine games (Penn State 1-8) between 2000 and 2010 included some of the more painful losses in Penn State's Big Ten era, if not program history. You know the games. It started with a double overtime loss in 2000 and Paterno's running down an official in 2002 following another overtime setback, opens a wound with 6-4 and pours salt n it with 2008's road loss in which the defense all of a sudden disappeared.
I can't explain it. Can you?
Paul Pasqualoni's dismissal was anything but surprising. He's a dinosaur with Penn State ties. Two things that don't bode well for getting a job in football. If you could see one former Penn State staffer get a job, who would it be and where?
Adam: Are we going for hopes and dreams or logic? I hope that Tom Bradley gets a shot to be a head coach someday somewhere. Logically, Brian Norwood looks like a guy who could be next man up at a mid-tier school. He's had success here and at Baylor.
The Underdogs: Al Golden
Eric: I think Tom Bradley is a no-brainer for this question. In the past, he has often been linked to other possible head coaching jobs but has never gotten one. He has only ever been a coach at Penn State and now he's in the broadcasting industry. I'm not going to say he would be a good fit at a Texas or a USC, but a UConn or some smaller-scale FBS team would be a good fit for Scrap if he every wants a head coaching job.
Rowlff Dogg: I'll give you two. Dick Anderson at Michigan and Jay Paterno at Ohio State. Nothing would make me happier.
J Schnauzer: Brian Norwood. He can use the "Assistant Head Coach to Art Briles at Baylor" line on his resume to any Sun Belt or Mountain West job (Hawaii!) in the country.
Kevin: I still think Tom Bradley is due for a job offer somewhere. The longtime defensive coordinator and one-time interim head coach is currently doing TV analyst work for CBS Sports Network's coverage of Army football and after two years off the sidelines I can't imagine it will be too long before someone reaches out with a job opportunity somewhere. The coach many of us thought would be a head coach somewhere someday may have to stick to the coordinator game if and when he does return to the sidelines. I don't know whether or not he wants to get back in to coaching, but I would think he probably still has the itch and can help out somewhere. Heck, maybe UConn ends up being the landing spot.
Matt: I kept trying to type Jay Paterno, but broke down in laughter every time. The obvious answer is Tom Bradley. For one, he's been a candidate for a number of positions in the past. But more to the point, who else is there? For the record, I think Scrap is a perfect fit for UConn.
Tim: Layup question...Tom Bradley, obviously. Give him the Pitt job-they aren't going anywhere under Paul Chryst, Bradley deserves the chance to lead a college program, and my general contempt for our large feline cousins to the west has waned over the years since we don't play anymore. It would make for a fun homecoming when the Panthers come back on the schedule here in a couple years if Scrap was on the opposite sideline.
This year, we've seen the ACC and Pac-12 take big steps in challenging the SEC for top conference bragging rights. What is holding the Big Ten back? What can be done to improve the national perception of Big Ten football?
Adam: Caring about results outside the Big Ten would be helpful. In some ways, the Big Ten has been extremely progressive, and has taken steps to ensure its' wealth and survival (e.g., the Big Ten Network) while moving the world forward on major rule changes (e.g., collegiate instant replay). In other ways, the league has been very insular. Big Ten teams seem to care a great deal about being the big dog on the block, but not necessarily expanding their territory. Hiring coaches who have been successful outside of the conference is going to pay dividends - specifically, Urban Meyer and Bill O'Brien types.
Most importantly, though, the big names have to win big. It's all well and good that Wisconsin has been to the Rose Bowl the last 150 times, and that Northwestern is a conference title contender, but to get respect, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska need to be dominant. No conference has bigger historical names - retaking the conference mantle is the way back to national acclaim.
Kevin: The only way to change the perception is by coming up big in the match-ups against other conferences. The Big Ten has been missing out on taking advantage of these games, whether in the postseason against the SEC, Pac 12 and Big 12 or in some of the early season games we have seen recently (Nebraska vs. UCLA for example). Simply put, the Big Ten needs to win their match-ups against non-conference opponents. The past few years have not been kind to the Big Ten in this respect, between bowl season and games like Michigan vs. Alabama and Nebraska vs. UCLA etc.
I think these things tend to be cyclical so I do feel the Big Ten can strike back, but it could take some time. Penn State can play a role in that once they get back to full scholarships and seeing what Bill O'Brien can do with it. Michigan and Nebraska playing better will help as well.
The Underdogs: Gravity. Anti-gravity shoes. Think of the passing game possibilities
Rowlff Dogg: Because of the Big Ten Network, ESPN has little motivation to pay attention to the Big Ten unless it's truly merited (unlike, say...the SEC). Say what you will about ESPN, but they're the biggest pusher of college football. Their voice matters. Next, take the recruiting sites' focus on the southeast. They put more emphasis on that region, thus see more players, thus rank more players than from any other region. That gives the perception that the southeast produces the best talent. Where does that "talent" go? To SEC teams. That cycle (and oversigning) allows ESPN to help the SEC hype machine "justify" a glut of their teams' presence in the preseason polls, all under the guise of inflated recruiting rankings. So long as ESPN is in bed with the SEC, this will continue. Remember when Notre Dame was the only entity with their own network? That and Tom Lemming's biased recruiting rankings coincided with some of their highest preseason rankings and subsequent "disappointing" seasons.
So, what can the Big Ten do? Keep hiring better coaches. Start scheduling better non-conference games and WIN them. Force the attention to the Midwest. Hope the world cares that you can win national championships without oversigning and lax academic standards.
J Schnauzer: Winning. Money, geography, resources, coaching and media are all top-notch in the Big Ten. The last ingredient is winning.
Tim: Recruiting's an issue that won't be going away anytime soon-the demographic shifts, relatively heavy emphasis on football in Southern culture, and subsequent disparity in depth of regional talent pools have all been well-documented. As things stand now, football in the Midwest and Northeast is just fighting a losing battle.
Regardless, I don't think anything can change the national perception of Big Ten football-fans from the rest of the county would never admit to Big Ten superiority, even if we won a few straight national titles. Maybe if ESPN force-fed its drooling, brainwashed audience with as much Big Ten drivel as they do the SEC...never mind, I don't want that. I'll keep my soul, thanks.
Matt: There are three things the Big 10 needs to do. One, start paying coaching staffs, not just head coaches, what other elite programs are. You get what you pay for, and the assistant coaching staffs throughout the league are, by in large, awful. The second is the emergence of a second, third, and maybe fourth top level program. OSU is there, like it or not. Michigan is trending in that direction. I think PSU will be a 3rd within 3-5 years now with the even playing field. Finally, the 2nd tier need to improve. That ties back in to #1 in a lot of ways, but programs like Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan State need to be better consistently and improve the depth of talent in the league.
Eric: Penn State's inability to compete for any kind of postseason definitely hurts the national perception of the Big Ten. But programs such as Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota have yet to get over the hump. And a powerhouse program such as Nebraska has failed to rise to the occasion in big games since they've been in the Big Ten. Ohio State and Michigan are recruiting well enough where they'll both be national contenders for the foreseeable future and Penn State will certainly be on the rise once the sanctions are over with (assuming O'Brien stays). The Big Ten will never be an amazing conference from top to bottom, but I think that in five years or so, the Big Ten will be right behind the SEC
Obligatory Indiana Question: Hoosiers is an undeniable all-time classic sports movie. What is your favorite sports movie?
Adam: The Sandlot. You're killin' me, Smalls.
Tim: Tough one-too many to pick from. I loved Remember the Titans and Miracle back when they came out. The Natural, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and Eight Men Out got me going on baseball when I was younger, too. I'm a huge Rocky fan (let's pretend Rocky V didn't happen)-how can you not start waving your American flag after Stallone single-handedly saves the world from Communism with that "if I can change..." speech after fighting Drago in Rocky IV? But for me, nothing captured the innocence of my childhood and love for sports better than The Sandlot. Oh, Cool Runnings was awesome too. Disney was really on their game back in the 90s. Except for when they made things like Air Bud- Seventh Inning Fetch. Get it? It's like the seventh inning stretch in baseball, except they changed "stretch" to "fetch" BECAUSE THE LEAD CHARACTER'S A BASEBALL-PLAYING DOG AND DOGS LIKE FETCHING THINGS HOW DOES A DOG PLAY BASEBALL IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS TO HOLD THE BAT MAYBE THEY JUST USE HIM AS A PINCH RUNNER I GUESS I SHOULD JUST WATCH THE MOVIE AND FIND OUT.
Air Bud was stupid. Dogs can't play sports. There, I said it.
The Underdogs: Are you trying to tell me Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?
Rowlff Dogg: The Sandlot. If you've ever played pick-up baseball on a makeshift field for an entire summer, this is your movie. I make a point to watch it every baseball season.
J Schnauzer: Does "Kingpin" count? If not, I have to go with "Invictus." Like many Americans who saw this film, this movie is about a sport that I have no interest in watching. As a consequence, the director and writers made sure the story was compelling enough to make it an enjoyable viewing experience. They hit it right on the head. An incredible true story that just shines on film.
Eric: This is hard. I guess it's a tie between Remember the Titans and The Sandlot. Cool Runnings is up there too.
Kevin: I have been known to stop on ABC Family every time I flip through the channels and catch a glimpse of Remember the Titans, but my favorite sports movie may actually be Miracle. Or Baseketball.
Matt: Slapshot. Next.
Adam: Penn State 34, Indiana 28.
The Underdogs: 27-19
Rowlff Dogg: Penn State 38, Indiana 18. Mrs Rowlff Dogg improves her away game record to 2-6.
J Schnauzer: Penn State 40, Indiana 22
Kevin: I have Penn State winning this weekend, but the defense is going to have to make some big stops in the second half.
Penn State 33, Indiana 26
Matt: Points, lots and lots of points. Bet the over. Then bet it again just to be safe. I do think PSU's defense gets a couple stops though, and forces a couple turnovers, en route to an entertaining 48-35 win.
Eric: Penn State just gets by Indiana, 38-34.
Tim: Not too worried about this one. Indiana can score, but they aren't going to be as meticulous and surgical as UCF was against us-that should bode well for creating a couple turnovers and sealing the deal. I think it's in doubt for a little, but we win going away, 38-24.
Unsolicited bonus pick: Northwestern makes the most of hosting Gameday for the first time since 1995 and takes down Ohio State in a thriller, 38-35.