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Nitt Picks Wants a Fifth Year

It's funny how during the offseason every conference has their little pet projects they try to push on everyone. The SEC wants to start a playoff. Big Ten coaches want a vacation. The Big East wants us to think they're actually good. So what is the Big XII pushing for? They want to do away with redshirts and give kids five years of eligibility.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has repeatedly heard football coaches complain about the attrition caused by dwindling scholarship limits and longer seasons. And he wants to do something about it.

Beebe has proposed a plan that would provide five years of eligibility for college football players. He hopes to gain support before eventually taking his idea to the NCAA Management Council for action.

The proposal would end redshirting in college football and cease the current practice of four seasons of eligibility during a five-year window.

Personally, I think this is a good idea. The 85 scholarship limit has made it difficult to fill out rosters. Now you're taking nearly one fifth of those kids every year and forcing them to work on the scout team and not see any playing time for their hard work and sacrifice. Why not give them a chance to play in the blowouts or run down the field on the kick team? How many kids are ready to play by week 10 in the season but end up sitting anyway because the staff doesn't want to waste a year of eligibility on them? How many kids lose an entire year of eligibility to throw a hopeless Hail Mary pass in the midst of a losing season? Just think, if we had this rule in place back in 2004 we could have Anthony Morelli back as our starter in 2008.

You know, on second thought, maybe this isn't such a great idea afterall.

Spanier vs. Paterno

I'm usually pretty leary when a publication starts trumpeting a series of articles before they are released. They rarely live up to the self generated hype, and such was the case with PennLive's much hyped three part interview with Graham Spanier. In part one, titled "At Last, Spanier Talks of Paterno and the Future", Spanier falls back on the predictable "We have discussions all the time" line and doesn't really offer anything earth breaking. Part Two discusses Spanier's upbringing if you care to read it. But it's part three that interests me most as it details how Spanier handled another high-profile coach in Tom Osborne while he was at Nebraska.

Osborne and his mentor and predecessor, athletic director Bob Devaney, had a succession plan already worked out when Spanier arrived from Oregon State in 1991.

That plan: Devaney would retire as AD in 1992. Their mutual friend and longtime Nebraska compliance guru, Al Papik, would take over and keep the seat warm for five years or so. Then Osborne would retire at around age 60 and slide into the AD's post.

Spanier heard of that plan. Then he implemented his own. He instead launched a nationwide search for what he fervently believed the post urgently required -- not just a store manager from the retired-coach football pipeline but a vital financial rainmaker who could raise the school's athletic brand and pump its budget.

He ended up plucking Bill Byrne from his old school's rival, Oregon.

Spanier is a man who is not afraid to follow his vision even if it means rocking the boat. Joe has plans to hand off the program to one of his assistants just as Rip Engle handed the program off to him 42 years ago. If Spanier feels the person Joe and Curley pick is right for the program he'll go along, but I suspect Spanier is more interested in dollar signs. He will want a vibrant young coach with a charismatic personality that can hypnotize wealthy donors into pulling out their check books and signing away their next investment plan for the good of Penn State. I'm not sure Tom Bradley is that man. Nor is anyone else on the staff for that matter. Spanier wants a national search, and he knows the pecking order. Tim Curley reports to him, and not the other way around.

Here We Go Again

It never ceases to amaze me how people can look at football recruiting in a bubble and make rash generalizations based on the decision of one or two 17 year-old kids. Such was the case when Rutgers recently recieved a verbal commitment from Andre Civil, a high school linebacker from New York City. If you listen to Tom Lucci of the Star Ledger, the sky is caving in on Penn State.

As a youngster growing up in New York City, Andre Civil said the only real college football presence that he was aware of was Penn State. Occasionally he heard about Syracuse, but never about Rutgers.

That began to change a few years ago, said the defensive end from Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn.

"All of a sudden you started hearing a lot about Rutgers and not all that much about Penn State," Civil said.

Rutgers' growing recruiting influence in two former Penn State strongholds -- New York City and eastern Pennsylvania -- continued yesterday and could as well today. Civil, a 6-3, 240-pounder, gave Rutgers a verbal commitment yesterday, with the likelihood that tight end Paul Carrezola of Neshaminy (Pa.) High School will do the same today when he announces his college decision at a press conference.

Lisa Baratta falls for it hook, line, and sinker in her post titled Penn State Who?

The times they are a changin'.

Is Penn State getting leftovers from the likes of Pittsburgh and Rutgers? When there are energetic coaches out there scouting in-state recruits, PSU can't just sit back and assume the kids will still come to play for the legendary Joe Paterno.

Poor Lisa. Every blogger, including yours truly, has to learn the hard way at some point. You can't just throw erroneous facts out there and expect people to believe them.

Civil is a three star defensive end from New York City. He has offers from Rutgers, Connecticut, and Georgia Tech. That's it. Carrezola is a tight end from Neshaminy. He also lacked a Penn State offer, but did hold a slightly more impressive offer list that included Syracuse, Pitt, NC State, Connecticut, and Iowa. Penn State has taken a load of defensive ends and tight ends in recent years and doesn't really need to take any in this class. Anyone who even remotely follows Penn State recruiting will tell you our biggest needs this year are offensive tackle, wide receiver, and defensive backs. So far we have four great defensive backs with one kid who could possibly play wide receiver and two massive offensive tackles that had offers from some of the biggest programs in the country. The only kid anyone can point to in recent memory that has turned down Penn State for Rutgers is Tom Savage. But Savage was smart enough to realize that Penn State is going in the direction of the spread option attack which is not a good fit for him. So he chose to play for Schiano where he can hand off the ball to their next version of the Ray Rice battering ram 30 times a game. Have fun with that, kid.

But let's not fall into the trap of trying to draw a trend from one or two kids. Is there any statistical evidence to suggest Penn State is taking the leftovers from Pitt and Rutgers? Let's look at last years recruiting classes. Penn State had a small class of only 14 kids last year, so if there was ever a year for Pitt and Rutgers to raid Pennsylvania and New Jersey it was then.

Last year Rutgers took a class of 20 kids. Not one of them came from Pennsylvania and not one of them held an offer from Penn State. On the flip side, Penn State landed Jack Crawford (NJ), Pete Massaro (PA), Matt Stankiewitch (PA), and Mark Wedderburn (PA) who all held offers from the Scarlet Knights. This year Penn State has verbal commitments from Eric Shrive (PA), Mark Arcidiacono (PA), and Darrell Givens (MD) who all turned down offers from Schiano. The only verbal pledge for Rutgers that turned down Joe Paterno is Tom Savage. So tell me again who is getting the leftovers?

As for Pitt, last year they handed out 19 scholarships. Only Jarred Holley and Lucas Nix turned down offers from Penn State to play for the Wannstache, and Nix was a done deal to Pitt from the beginning because he older brother played there. On the other hand players that spurned Pitt in favor of Penn State included Jack Crawford, Pete Massaro, and Mike Yancich. Even though you may consider that a slight win for Penn State at best let's call it a draw for the sake of argument. So how are the two teams shaping up this year? Penn State has eight verbal commitments including Darrell Givens, Eric Shrive, and Derrick Thomas who all turned down Pitt offers. Pitt is still waiting for their first verbal commitment. So you tell me again, who is taking the leftovers?


I was contacted by the Homecoming Committee yesterday to plug their new blog called...wait for it...Penn State Homecoming '08. Normally when people ask me to plug things for them on BSD I tell them they should buy advertising space or get lost, but since they are fellow Penn Staters looking for a hand I made an exception. They would like you to visit their blog and provide some feedback. Please do so. My first suggestion is to come up with a new blog name.