The Exclusive B.O.B. (Interview): Ryan Jones, of the Penn State Football Letter, sat down for a one-on-one with Bill O'Brien before today's media day, and provided some great insight--about putting a staff together (special emphasis on Craig Fitzgerald), about how the NCAA sanctions changed his plans (Donovan Smith got scholarship offers from 50 schools), about his use of analytics (his staff is tracking the quarterbacks stats during practice), and even his memories of John Cappelletti's Heisman (his dad was a big JoePa fan). It's absolutely worth a read, and while I'm at it, why aren't you following Ryan Jones on twitter?
Did you guys know John Urschel is good at math? Next thing I know, it's like someone will tell me that Evan Royster played lacrosse! What's that? Evan Royster did play lacrosse? Huh. Imagine that. Anyway, ESPN's Big Ten blog profiled Urschel, who's probably the only human being on the planet being scouted by both NFL teams and the graduate programs at MIT and Princeton, and gave us some good nuggets. Like this one:
"He was such a nice guy and had difficulty separating his off-the-field persona from his on-field persona," said Hopkins, who later coached Urschel on the Canisius varsity squad. "He would pancake a kid, and as soon as he was finished pancaking him, he would help the kid up. Our coach was like, 'John, go onto the next play, don't worry about it.'
Kill the NCAA: In the wake of the Johnny Manziel autograph "scandal," its the NCAA that's come off on the short end. Not only is the official NCAA store set up to make profits off of college players (I'm guessing the NCAA's web developer got fired faster than the intern who confirmed Sum Ting Wong), but, even more staggeringly, it's still selling memorabilia celebrating JoePa's 400th win. Which, according to the entity operating the store, never happened. Meanwhile, an NCAA commission examining whether the top football schools should splinter off and form their own division says the idea has "merit," reflecting an erosion of confidence that's only widened into a chasm of doubt under the rein of Herr Emmert.
While no one has defined Division 4 specifically, it would basically be a group of schools playing college football at the highest level who call their own shots in legislative matter. To that point, the commission also said there is a "general loss of confidence in the NCAA governance process". While that might be a "well, duh!" moment to some, the commission's conclusion gives further voice to the quickly eroding faith in the NCAA.
The commission conducted a survey of 50 higher education and college sports leaders determining there is "serious concern that the quest for revenue in Division I is undermining academic and institutional ideals." That's the general message the commission has been sending for the last two decades plus since it was formed.
Penn State Basketball is going Eurotripping: Pat Chambers' squad leaves Saturday for a 6-day, 3-country tour stationed out of Belgium that also features day trips to Paris and London. Aside from a surely exhilirating and enjoyable trip that will have the team hit up the fairytale village of Bruges, the team will also face some stiff competition.
Okapi Aalstar 2 (17-11) finished fourth in Belgium's Ethias League, which is the highest tier of pro basketball in the country, falling in the league semifinals. Aalstar is led by former Gonzaga standout Derek Raivio, who was named Ethias League Guard of the Year and earned first-team honors. John Tofi, formerly of UTEP, and Chris Young, formerly of Michigan, each garnered second-team All-League accolades for Aalstar. Other notable Americans on the team are second-round Miami Heat draft pick Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia '10) and Travis Releford, who just graduated from Kansas this May.
Quick hits: LSU, unlike its SEC brethren, is coming north, starting a quasi-home-and-home with Wisconsin; the teams will play in Houston next season and in Lambeau freaking Field in 2016...Deion Barnes is the 22nd best player in the Big Ten...there's a growing push among Penn State faculty to join the Paterno lawsuit against the NCAA...oh, Pitt. Never change...if Penn State is a fine dinner scotch, then it only seems natural that Illinois would be "a can of Icehouse that has been sitting in your golf bag all winter."