London Calling: Almost three dozen Penn State swimmers will be competing next week in the United States Olympic Trials, including 26 current or future Nittany Lions, as well as 8 recent alumni. No, the next Michael Phelps probably isn't among that group, but earning a trip to London would be a tremendous accomplishment. Former NCAA champion fencers Miles Chamley-Watson and Doris Willette have already got their tickets booked, as has Daniel Gomez-Tanamachi--though he'll be competing for the Mexican national team. And gymnast Felix Aronovich will be competing for his native Israel next month. There's almost certainly more, and we'll have round-ups as the Olympics creep nearer.
Rekindling the Rivalry: News broke yesterday that Penn State has scheduled a 3-game series with a traditional in-state opponent the Nittany Lions haven't played in years. That's right, folks, coming this fall to an area near you: Penn State-Bucknell, for the 100th time! The two schools will resume a basketball rivalry that started more than 100 years ago; the Bison were the not-yet-Nittany Lion cagers' first ever opponent, and Penn State fell 24-7. (And you thought 38-33 was bad.) I'm sure Eric will have more on this at some point, but Bucknell brings back 4 starters from a team that upset #1 Arizona in the NIT, so for a Lions team on the brink of breaking through, the Bison will provide an early test.
Can Christian Hackenberg Enroll Really Early? Christian Hackenberg was the first big commit of the Bill O'Brien era, and now we're starting to see just how good the kid is. The blue chip QB prospect is drawing rave reviews--see below--and yesterday, was tabbed to compete in the finals of ESPN's prestigious Elite 11 Camp, where he'll be one of just 24 quarterbacks nationally gunning for that #1 spot--which, by the way, Hackenberg already holds. Wondering who the last Penn State prospect to make it to the Elite 11 was? Rob Bolden. [/ducks]
QUOTE NOTE: "Christian's a kid that you build your program around." -Trent Dilfer on #PennState commit Christian Hackenberg #Elite11— PlaybookMark (@PlaybookMark) June 22, 2012
UConn We're Not: NCAA released APR scores this week, and, as always, Penn State went above and beyond the national standards. As for the scores you're wondering about: the football team's APR was 971 (compared to the national average of 948), men's basketball got a 980 (the national average is 950), and women's basketball scored a 985 (15 points better than the 970 average). On the whole, Nittany Lion varsity teams averaged a 983, ten points above the national average. But the real stars were field hockey, women's golf, women's tennis, and cross country, who scored a perfect 1000. You go, girls.
"Penn State student-athletes continue to make us proud with their achievement in the classroom," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "The latest NCAA data indicate all our women's and men's teams have placed a strong emphasis on academics and in four cases -- field hockey, women's cross country, women's golf and women's tennis -- they achieved perfect APR scores. Performing at a high level in the classroom and also on the court and the field is particularly challenging when balancing the demands of Division I athletic competition with the academic expectations at a major research university."
Sell Out, With Me Tonight: Another year, another full student section for the largest--and the best--in the country. Well, in principle, at least. Student season tickets sales were held this past week, and all 21,000+ seats were claimed. (But how many of those 21,000 will be in the stands by noon?) Students also had the opportunity to buy basketball season tickets, and did so at a greater rate than in years past, exceeding last year's sales by ten percent.
The Elephant in the Room: As of press time, jurors were still deliberating on the 48 charges against Jerry Sandusky, and it seems a decision is expected to come as early as this afternoon. Because the jury is sequestered, they wouldn't have heard the newest gut-wrenching turn in this ever-worsening saga: Jerry's adopted son, Matt Sandusky, has just come forward with allegations that he, too, was abused by his father. (If you were wondering why he didn't testify, here's your answer.) And here's Rock Center's interview with the first alleged Sandusky victim to go public, who claims that he was abused during the 1994 Rose Bowl trip. Just when you think it can't get any more disturbing...
Because I Can't End it There: Speculation about Notre Dame moving its Olympic sports into the Big XII threatens to bring conference expansion talk back to the forefront.
Of course, this isn't about lacrosse. Or hoops, for that matter. It's about football, and despite recent history, Notre Dame football remains a giant. No conference would turn down the chance to land that program, and the Big 12 would seemingly have little to lose in providing a safe haven for the Irish's Olympic sports as the expansion carousel continues to spin.
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