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Nitt Picks Invented The Zone Blitz

Everybody is all about zone blitzing these days. If you're not zone blitzing, you're not playing defense. Now that both teams in the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, are known as zone blitzing teams, the zone blitz is sure to be a stable in every coaching playbook in America.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports decided to trace back to find the origins of the zone blitz to discover the mastermind that started it all. You might be surprised at what he found.

They called this particular defensive call "Magic," which, truth be known, was really just a quirky attempt to come up with something new and creative for offenses to fear.

They had no idea it would become the football rage it has become over the past 30 years. How could they possibly have imagined that back in the early 1980s when some defensive coaches at Penn State decided to fool around with a new concept we now know as the zone-blitz style of defense?

The idea was to drop the nose tackle into coverage, while bringing a blitz and playing zone behind it. It was a rarity in those days and, needless to say, it wasn't exactly something traditional Penn State coach Joe Paterno, known for his bland uniforms and style of play, would exactly embrace.

"He didn't say much," said then-Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. "He didn't like it very much."

So that's pretty cool. Former Penn State defensive tackle Greg Gattuso is credited as being the first fat kid to make a center pee his pants with laughter as he dropped back into coverage. Later in the article Sandusky blows off the credit for inventing the zone blitz in typical Penn State fashion of deflecting attention. 

So You're Saying PSU Basketball Has Issues?

It's no secret that David Jones is not a big fan of the Penn State basketball program. On any given week he can usually be quoted ripping Ed DeChellis or the players or Tim Curley or the fans. This week he turns his attention to the people who run the Bryce Jordan Center. After a long rant about the ineptness in preparing for the large crowd last Saturday by manning the ticket booths with extra people, Jones writes this scathing criticism of how poorly the team is supported by their own facilities.

So, we have a team with a real shot to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years. And where do you think they'll get to practice all during February? Hardly ever on the Jordan Center rims.

Howard has booked Bon Jovi to practice for its upcoming tour for eight days beginning Wednesday, The roadies will tear down their equipment for a few hours on Sunday so that Penn State can play Michigan. Then, THON, the dance-marathon charity, will take it over for three days. Then, it's two days for a job fair. Then, it's another day for a banquet for a student group.

The Nittany Lions get to shoot on their own rims for four practices all month. They will practice in the auxiliary gym when they can, sharing it with the women's team. But when schedules conflict, they'll actually have to practice in PSU's dump of an intramural building.

Can you imagine Joe Paterno putting up with this?

I could not agree more with Jones' assessment. I've seen games in Rec Hall, and I've seen games in the Jordan Center. Rec Hall was old and small, but it had character so you were willing to overlook a lot of things. The Jordan Center has the character of a hospital emergency room. You sit there for two hours, endure a lot of pain, the food is terrible, and when you're done you can't wait to get out.

I've often said you could get people to come out to the games if you just treated them better. The food is crap. The halftime entertainment sucks. The sound system is awful. The scoreboard is junk. And now they are totally shocked and unprepared to handle big crowds. If they just improved these simple things I think they would be shocked at the results. People would come out to see even crappy basketball if it meant they could scarf down a decent hot dog while they watched their kids dance around to some music or get their picture taken with the Nittany Lion. But whatever.

In Scores Of Other Games