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BSD Mailbag 11.5.21

Our answers to your questions this week!

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Snap infraction. At the time I didn’t get too excited about it thinking like most that one fumble recovery wasn’t going to make a difference in the end…little did I know. Can someone with more knowledge than myself explain the “snap infraction” call. Was it indeed a botched call? What constitutes a snap infraction? I have heard it called before but never in this context.—psupro

I’m not super well-versed on what a snap infraction is and isn’t (though ckmneon had a good explainer here) – I think overall the game was pretty well officiated, especially as compared to some other games we’ve had to watch so far this season.

There were a few times last week where I yelled at the tv, what, isn’t that intentional grounding? Or, when they had the scoop and score, I kept saying “forward progress” over and over…but back to your main point, I don’t think it really was a snap infraction and also all referee crews should have to stand before the press after the game to answer questions.

When Alabama loses to Auburn and then Georgia in the SEC championship, will ESPN still be debating whether they deserve to be in the Championship final 4?—BMAN13

Of course they will be. There will be a few that will be debating this very seriously (similar, imo, to how in 2016 there was a debate over whether USC should have gotten in over OSU…) and others who will just be a part of the debate because it’s on their cue cards to be a part of the debate. They shouldn’t be in, of course, because not only has a three-loss team never made it, but a two-loss team has never made it. I think the committee has sort of telegraphed that if Alabama wins out but loses to UGA in the SEC title game, they’ll be the first two-loss team to make it (and while I disagree, I can see the logic behind it) – but unless they put in Auburn (who lost to Penn State!) in as well as Alabama and UGA, there’s no logic to a three-loss team making it over undefeated Cincinnati.

LSU quarterback Myles Brennan is heading to the portal. He would have been the starter this year before ending his season with a broken arm. Anyone interested?—SubLime

I’m sure there will be a lot of folks interested!

Will PSU be one of them? It probably depends on whether Cliff decides to stay for 2022 or not. I think they’ll look to the portal to bolster the QB room (and I’d be honestly surprised if Roberson doesn’t portal out himself, with both Drew Allar and Beau Pribula coming in) because they don’t want to be in the same position next year as they’ve found themselves this year.

Facilities-we keep hearing about upgrades are needed to keep pace. What facility is in the most need to be upgraded? My guess is the Nittany Apartments next to the football facilities. IIRC, they were built in the mid-80’s and I am guessing they are showing their age.

BTW, I was at the Vandy game vs Mizzou this past weekend….I have a new appreciation of how CJF can create relationships. Although Vandy is a doormat of the SEC, Nashville is a happening town and convincing a kid to commit there then convincing him to move his commitment to Happy Valley (Trace McSorley and crew) had to be a hell of a sales job!—kingkub

I’m not sure anyone outside the athletic department (and the donors they’re courting) truly know the answer to this question. It’s pretty obvious in seeing photos of the facilities of teams like Alabama that what we have in Lasch, amongst others, is seriously lacking as compared to other schools – but this is a negotiating tactic that is kept pretty close to the vest. Why would they want to broadcast the weaknesses in the program for other schools to exploit and negatively recruit against?

I do think the Nittany Apartments need an upgrade, but that’s not just an athletic department thing – it’s not just student athletes who live there. There needs to be upgrades to most on-campus housing, which I think is slowly but surely taking place (just look at what they’ve done with much of South Halls, wowza!).

Did anyone see the Michigan game is a “Helmet Stripe”? Whiteout with a blue stripe at 50 yard line sections. Buddy of mine that is a Michigan fan, and going to the game, asked what it was about. I told him that PSU doesn’t think Michigan deserves a full whiteout. He had some not so nice words for me.—EagleLionSly

I guess I’m alone in that I think this is pretty cool? Obviously it’s close to a white out but not exactly one (and I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to be in white or not…we’ll see).

Also your story is LOL, I hadn’t thought of it that way but now I can’t think of it in any other way.

It’s Performance Review season, and you’re struggling to write the review for one of your best employees. Let’s say his name is Frank Jameson. (Around the office, people call him CFJ, for some reason.)

You believe in Frank, but his performance has been noticeably spotty recently. Senior management has asked you a couple of pointed questions about him. To make matters worse, you think he might be testing the market. You can include filler bullets about his “Excellent Communication Skills” and that kind of thing, like you do every year. But now you need to decide what the bottom line is going to be.

Do you go with:

- Flattery

- Tough love

- Let’s-cut-the-bullshit transparency

For bonus points, what’s the first “Area for Improvement” you’d call out?—j-s-b

I’m always a fan of transparency couched in a tough love approach. I think communication is key in any facet of life, work or personal, and all parties should be very clear and up front about their expectations, limitations, and repercussions – of course, this would be transparency between the two parties in your scenario (management, and the employee) not transparency or entitled communication to third parties, even of the donor class.

I think the first area of improvement would be to show consistency. Not season to season (which I think has been pretty consistent) but rather game to game – it’s one thing to preach a 1-0 mentality, but another to actually adhere to it. Every year under CJF we’ve had one head-scratching loss, and that is an obvious thing that should be cleaned up.

Would you say Franklin is one to learn from his mistakes? For instance, do you think we will ever go into a season again without a backup QB ready to go? And further, this is Franklin’s biggest P5 job, do you think he is getting OJT (on the job training) and thus growing with the position?—PSU1979dude

I do think he learns from his mistakes – I don’t think he has as glaring of issues with time management, for example, that we saw 8 years ago (though in his defense, there isn’t really a single college football coach that hasn’t exhibited questionable game time management).

We probably won’t be in such a scenario again, if CJF has anything he can do about it. And absolutely he is getting on the job training – it’s quite clear that he has grown as a person and a coach in the last 8 years, and he approaches things very differently now than he did when he was brand new in Happy Valley. That’s what I’d expect from almost anyone not named Nick Saban as well.

What do you think the real chances that CJF is “he gone” this year. Many of the pundits (FWIW) think he’s going to USC, but there is also LSU. Arguments could be made for both. Any other places that may open up between now and the end of the year that he would want (and they would want him)?—LarzLion

I still think the real chances are low (but I would never be definitive that he’s not leaving). It’s not just the monetary aspect, which gets mentioned a lot despite the fact that millions don’t go as far in L.A. as they do in Central PA, or the expectation aspect, where LSU has fired an NCAA-title winning coach just a few seasons removed from said title. It’s not even only about ease of recruiting and/or winning a title (because, as so many have pointed out, USC is advantageous in both scenarios, but LSU having to play Alabama every year is not easier than PSU having to play Ohio State).

I think a lot of it has to do with power. Sandy Barbour is retiring soon, and if Franklin stays, you can’t tell me he doesn’t have a significant say in who becomes the next AD – more power than any replacement might have, and more power over that than he’d have right now at any other school. What employee wouldn’t want to be able to weigh in on who their boss will be? That’s not a small thing to consider.

where did you have your best PSU road trip experience?—kingkub

Honestly? Probably Iowa 2012. Which is why this year’s chatter around the game was so, so disappointing – because I’d had such positive experiences in Kinnick and with Iowa fans in years past.

road trip: Thinking about going to Auburn game next year. Has anyone been there to comment if it is a good college atmosphere or just a long trip to Alabama?—jabama

I’ve heard nothing but great things about the experience, and if the Auburn fans who were at the Beav this year are any indicator, it should be a fun time. I didn’t go to the Alabama game in 2010, but I have a lot of friends who did and they had nothing but great things to say (except for Tuscaloosa bars running out of beer). I have no doubt that Auburn fans will take that as a challenge and try to outdo their rivals in proving they’re the more welcoming fan base to PSUers, and we’ll see what happens!

Who’s your favorite football pundit, and who can’t you stand?

I listen to ESPN-U on SiriusXM a lot in the car. Between that and seeing him on other broadcasts, Rick Neuheisel drives me bananas. I grant he’s knowledgeable, but the guy talks over everyone else and is one of those people who listen to respond, not listens to understand what the other person is saying.

I suppose my favorite is Herbstreit as I find his analysis pretty good and he leaves the homerism out of his work. I do like Ben Hartsock on Sirius – seems like a good guy to have a beer with. I always liked Bill King. He used to be on SiriusXM in the morning, now he’s on a channel out of Nashville.—RWReese

I actually like most pundits some of the time – it’s very rare that I dislike one all the time, because even some that I’ve generally been unimpressed with have had some truly great calls in specific games.

I agree with your take on Neuheisel, though, and would add in Dave Wannstedt to that. Just because someone is a former coach doesn’t mean they make a great pundit – knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate into on-air talent. And while I love seeing former PSUers succeed in whatever they do, I don’t really think Matt Millen is a great pundit. Give me Todd Blackledge any day (even though Williamsport is not Penn State).

You are on a Greyhound bus from State College to Columbus with no guaranteed stops

And there are 2 empty seats left and no standing is allowed. One empty seat is next to David Jones and the other is next to Pat Fitzgerald. Jones has a cooler between his legs half full/half empty cans of PBR and Fitz has a gallon of milk (whole) which is about half consumed. Which seat are you taking and what are your reasons.—LarzLion

Dave Jones, and it wouldn’t even be close. Aside from the obvious, milk triggers my motion sickness so you had me seriously considering the outcome up until that last bit, which, gross.

Which B1G internet fan base is the worst and why is it Maryland’s? (ignoring Iowa for a sec)—chulupabatman

This is so funny and interesting to me, because I truly had no inkling that Maryland’s fan base was like this until they joined the Big Ten. I grew up in Maryland, and have a ton of fans who went to UM (or root for them, having gone to smaller schools) – so I’ve been around Terps my whole life. I even used to root for Maryland in basketball, since Penn State wasn’t that great! And I felt no animosity, no nothing, from any MDers when I went around the state wearing my PSU gear or sporting a bumper sticker.

But it’s like as soon as it was announced that Maryland and Rutgers were joining our conference, the hate for PSU blossomed overnight. I’m sure for some Terp fans, it was there simmering under a cloak of resentment for decades, but the absolute vitriol that spewed forth almost immediately was staggering. Because, quite frankly, I’d never really thought about Maryland too much before then, and what I thought was generally positive. But when the announcement was made, and the consensus among other ACC schools were “oh thank God you’re taking them” (because, quite honestly, getting Duke & UNC fans to agree on anything is quite a feat), I started having my eyes opened up a bit.

Handshakegate, and the ensuing debate, didn’t help – but the inferiority complex coupled with the false bravado that so many die-hard Maryland fans have over everything is still surprising to this day. Also the fact that they booed Julia Louis Dreyfuss a few weeks after she announced she had cancer because she was wearing Northwestern gear at the Capital One Arena during the Big Ten Basketball tournament (after many gave me shit for wearing a PSU basketball jersey during said NW-MD game, a few games after Penn State played that day), they’ll always be on the bottom of my list.

Wrestling season is less than 13 days away. Any thoughts on the projected lineup?—wvlion

I honestly haven’t thought that much about it! I know, I know, this is incredibly disappointing. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts in the upcoming days/weeks, especially the week of the first dual!

Describe your first trip to the emergency room as a patient if you can remember it. I am pretty sure you don’t have kids Cari, forgive me if I am wrong, but this part goes for the parents.

Describe your first trip to the emergency room as a parent.

Last Monday my boy ate some cherry laurel. Cherry laurel is highly toxic and contains cyanide.

Once this information was passed along we were seen very quickly and poison control was involved promptly. The boy had to drink a charcoal mixture which, I am sure you can imagine was not easy to convince him to drink. Getting him to take it was like wrestling a grizzly bear, but through patience, perseverance, and force we finally got him to take it. Then we sat around and waiting for symptoms to show. Thankfully they never did. The Saints and Seahawks game was on He watched lots of Kids Picture Show on YouTube.

Scary. The day after drinking charcoal diapers are pretty interesting.—Gerry Dincher

You remember correctly – I don’t have kids. And though my first ER trip was unmemorable because I was so young, the one I do remember was in 2013, the week after PSU’s very first ever Indiana loss. I was at work, and all of a sudden my brain didn’t work and I couldn’t form coherent sentences; I was having a complex migraine, one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced because I knew something was wrong with my brain and I didn’t know what – and the relief when it wasn’t a stroke or a brain hemorrhage was palpable.

I can only imagine the completely compounded terror when a parent has to bring their child to the ER, though, and I don’t wish that on anyone. I’m so glad your son is ok!

It’s Leftover Halloween Candy at the Office Season. So, what’s the acceptable level of grazing? Are you taking some candy every time you walk by? How many are you taking at a time? Do you have a maximum per day number?

I’m now up to 3 Reeces cups, 2 Clark cups & 2 Smoothie PB cups. Have I crossed the line?—CaptBombs

Definitely not. The candy is put out to be grazed, and really, you’re just performing a charitable service to everyone else in the office by taking away temptation. I’d take a few, 2-3 at a time, myself, and gauge everyone else’s consumption habits before determining whether or not I should steer clear of any sort of max.

Has anyone heard or used a service called Hero TV? It is a streaming service which a few friends swear by and I am seriously considering once my DirecTV 2 year agreement ends.—LarzLion

I haven’t! Though I’m generally pretty Online, one of the things I’m startlingly old school about is my cable. It may be laziness, or what I’m used to, but the idea of cutting that cord just doesn’t appeal to me one bit. And I do understand that I’m paying more, and for services I don’t always use – but I’m not so sure I care.

For the readers out there, though, please give us more detail on Hero TV in the comments because I’m sure there are others who aren’t as luddite as I am when it comes to cable!

No Time to Die is the worst movie since....? I’m so pissed at this movie. In so many ways.—PSU1979dude

Oh, man – this makes me so sad. I haven’t seen it yet (going back into a movie theatre just hasn’t made my list of things I have to do asap with the pandemic) but I was really looking forward to it, so this is disappointing. I generally can disregard bad reviews (I often like things reviewers hate, and hate things they absolutely love) but I trust other viewers’ first person perspectives (not aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes) a lot more. So, this just makes me sad as so many of us had such high hopes…