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Blue & White Roundtable Misses Football Already

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It's Wednesday, so time for another round of the Blue-White Roundtable. Galen offers the questions this week so let's get to it.

First off let's talk the draft - Jeff Samardzija nixed the NFL for baseball's guaranteed money; was it a matter of taking the best deal or is he just afraid to take a hit over the middle?

You have to wonder what his thinking is there. By many accounts he probably would have been a first round draft pick and probably could have made more than $10 million over five years. And he wouldn't have had to work his way up through the minor leagues.

I don't think it's fair to say he's afraid to take a hit. He proved he's pretty tough, you know, for a Notre Dame pretty boy and all. He will probably have more longevity in baseball though. As a wide receiver his skills would probably start diminishing when he turns 30. As a pitcher he could potentially pitch until he's 40. I can't really blame him either way.

There is a lot of talk and pressure for the BCS to go to an `and one' bowl game where the two winners of the top 4 teams would meet for the championship game after the bowls.  Does this configuration satisfy your playoff aspirations or do you need more teams to find the "true" national champ?

It's better than nothing, but I'm not thrilled with it. How would you pick the four teams? Take four conference champions? Who gets left out? The ACC? The Big East? That won't sit well with whoever gets left out. Or do you take the four highest ranked teams in the BCS? This season that would have put Ohio State, Florida, LSU, and Michigan in your four team playoff. USC would have been on the outside looking in at #5. After the Rose Bowl, who would say that looks like a good system?

I think if you are going to have a playoff, you have to have a minimum of eight teams. I would like to see 16 teams myself. I have often suggested taking the champions from the 11 conferences, the highest of the independents ranked in the top 25 so Notre Dame doesn't cry, and four at large teams. A 16 team playoff would take four weeks which might be tight to start the week after finals and end before the spring semester, but that doesn't stop the basketball season which spans both semesters so who's crying about that? "But oh Mike," you say, "Who wants to see Ohio State play Troy in the first round?" Something tells me if the mid-major conferences were suddenly given a chance to compete for the MNC, their recruiting would dramatically improve and the playing field would level out within a decade.

Back to our Lions: according to Scout's recruiting service, Penn State has no 5 star recruits and probably won't sign any; grade the PSU coaches on their job of recruiting this year.

You have to be careful and not get too excited about the star ratings by the recruiting websites. I think it's more important to see how many offers a kid gets and which schools are pursuing him. Paul Posluszny, Tony Hunt, Anthony Scirrotto, Tim Shaw, and Sean Lee were all three star recruits, and I think we can all agree they turned out to be better than three star players.

I think they have done a good job recruiting for need. Obviously a big need was immediate help for the offensive line with the graduation of Levi Brown and Robert Price and Chris Auletta and Greg Harrison leaving the team. They addressed the immediate problem by raiding a few junior colleges to pick up Ako Poti and Nerraw MacCormick. They also looked long range by getting Stefen Wisniewski and Josh Marks.

Although we think of Justin King, Anthony Scirrotto, and Tony Davis as being young, now is the time to start thinking about who is going to replace them when they graduate. The coaches did a good job of bring in secondary help with Chaz Powell, Stephfon Green, and Nick Sukay. These three guys will probably redshirt next year, ride the bench behind the seniors in 2008, and be poised to step right into starting roles in 2009 with three years of eligibility left.

With Jeremy Kapinos graduating they needed to get a new punter. They went and got a good one with Ryan Breen. The only thing this class is missing is a top notch running back. Had they landed [the player that is now dead to me] this would be a superb class. As it is it's a good class that will allow us to maintain a consistently competitive level through the next projected rebuilding year of 2009.

Pitt has 21 players from Florida, West Virginia has 18, and Penn State has none.  Should Penn State be more focused on talent rich states like Florida, Texas, and California or should they stay at home and keep plucking kids from Pa, New Jersey, and Maryland?

Oh man, I just saw a quote the other day where Paterno said something like, "Why would I want to go to Florida to get players when we have some of the best talent here in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?" I have to say I agree with him. It's hard to get kids that have known warm weather their entire life to come up north. It's more than just playing in the cold, it's living in the cold. Walking to class in the cold and being shut indoors for four or five months of the year. Many people would rather put up with earthquakes and hurricanes before dealing with a foot of snow and five degree wind chills. Besides, Paterno is right. We do have tons of talent right here in the northeast, and there really isn't much competition from regional teams east of Columbus and north of Blacksburg.  

Looking ahead to next season - I think Andrew Quarless is poised to breakout next year, name me a particular player on the team that you think will have a breakout season next year.

One might argue Andrew Quarless has already had his breakout year. I don't think he will take anyone by surprise next year.

There are a few candidates I'm thinking of. I've read reports that say the coaches tried Gerald Cadogen at left tackle in the practices leading up to the bowl game and he did pretty well. Jerome Hayes and Donte Brown will fight it out for the spot vacated by Poz. Whoever wins that spot I think will turn some heads. I believe A.J. Wallace will win the starting cornerback spot opposite Justin King and impress a lot of people. On the defensive line you have Maurice Evans and Jared Odrick. Both played as true freshmen and figure to improve after an off season in the weight room.

But for my money I'm going to say defensive end Aaron Maybin. He reported last summer weighing 226 lbs. He was redshirted this year and busted his butt in the weight room and on the scout team. Now he weighs 254 lbs and figures to be close to 260 by next fall. Levi Brown says he was better than many of the defensive ends he went up against in Big Ten play. The kid is going to be an All Conference selection before his career at Penn State is over.

Lightning round

Forget the NCAA; can the Nittany Lion Basketball team make it to the NIT?

Without an impressive win on their resume they will need at least six more wins in the last 12 games. No way this team goes 6-6 the rest of the way. Five wins with a win over Ohio State or Wisconsin might do it. But, yeah right.

Tom Dienhart said that out of all BCS public schools Indiana is the worst school in college football.  Who is your pick? (keep in mind it can't be a private, non-BCS school)

Tom Dienhart is a Purdue loving troll. It must piss him off that Indiana is out-recruiting his Boilermakers leading him to write this article. Having said that, it's hard to argue with his pick.

Bears or Colts?

I think the Colts have too many guns for the Bears, but I sure would like to see Robbie Gould kick the 50 yard winning field goal with the clock running out.

Make sure you check out Run Up The Score and The Nittany Line to get their views.