Tag:Penn State
Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 3:20 pm
 

5 Up: Potential 2011 sleeper teams

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason Top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So earlier today we named five that are in his Top 25 that might slip out or could otherwise disappoint, and right now we'll name five more teams we think can crack that Top 25 next season. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Baylor - The good news for Baylor: dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III is back along with most of the offense, and while he loses starting tailback Jay Finley to graduation, Finley's backups Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi provide an intriguing balance of power and speed -- they both return. In addition, RG3 gets his top five receivers back (all of whom caught at least 40 passes this year), and three-year starting lineman Philip Baker will be the anchor at center for a mostly intact offensive line. Yes, Baylor still looks wretched at times on defense (53 points to Oklahoma and 55 to Oklahoma State aren't exactly solid efforts), so there's no telling whether the Bears' losses on that side of the ball are addition by subtraction or not, but one thing's for sure: there'll be points put up in Waco in 2011.

2. Illinois - This spot would likely go to fellow "Leader" Penn State if it weren't for the fact that PSU's replacing Evan Royster, two leading receivers, its two best offensive linemen, and there's really no telling who's starting at QB in 2011. Oh, and most of the Penn State defense -- including two of three starting LBs -- is graduating too. Contrast that with Illinois , who found a star quarterback in freshman Nathan Scheelhaase this year and returns four of five starting offensive linemen. The Illini won't miss early declarant Mikel LeShoure much with Jason Ford (who's basically a human truck) waiting to take over at tailback. The defense will definitely miss Martez Wilson and Corey Liuget on the interior, on the other hand; those guys were anchors of a stout rushing defense and their backups are unremarkable. Still, Illinois' 2011 schedule looks primed for some upsets, and nine wins is hardly out of the question. If Wilson and Liuget were returning, Illinois would probably be in Dodd's Top 25, but it's not as if no borderline-Top 25 team has ever exceeded expectations after losing two juniors to the NFL.

3. Utah - Everything's going to come crashing down once Utah joins a "real" conference, right? Maybe not. If QB Jordan Wynn recovers from December shoulder surgery in time for the season (which he should, but six months of rehab can turn into nine without the patient doing anything wrong), he'll be a third-year starter with a reasonable set of returning players. Senior wideout/returner Shaky Smithson is sure to be missed, but this is college football; so it goes. And while Utah's schedule looks daunting, it really could be worse; the Utes miss both Oregon and Stanford in inter-divisional play, and neither BYU nor Pitt should be as tough of matchups as they'd have been over the past couple years. In addition, the schedule's pretty top-heavy, and it's easily possible that Utah wins at least five of six down the stretch. Head coach Kyle Whittingham keeps proving predictions wrong by not bolting for a paycheck elsewhere, and now he's got a chance to lead his Utes into battle in a real conference and destroy the "mid-major" label that's been dogging the program -- even through multiple BCS bowl wins! -- once and for all.

4. Oregon State - Meanwhile, in the Pac-12 North, the Oregon State Beavers have a chance to make noise. Yes, Oregon and Stanford are the class of the division and should remain so for the near future, but don't sleep on the passing skills of QB Ryan Katz , especially now that he'll have his first full season as a starter under his belt. With the game slowing down for him and with Markus Wheaton and James Rodgers both returning at WR (to say nothing of Joe Halahuni coming back at TE), Katz should be able to more effectively use his NFL-caliber arm to put some points up in Corvallis. The offense will miss Jacquizz Rodgers desperately, and while deserved, his jump to the NFL will likely cost the Beavers a win or two. So while the defense struggled in 2010 and stands to lose several seniors, it may not matter in a Pac-12 with several struggling offenses and an OSU attack that should set 30+ points per game as a goal. Scheduling a road date at Wisconsin might not have been the wisest idea, though. Still, look for a push from Oregon State to hit that eight-win mark, which against a schedule like this could mean a spot in the Top 25 when it's all said and done.

5. Tennessee - Dodd ranks eight SEC teams in his Top 25 (26, really, but whatever). We're not sure all will end up ranked at the end of the 2011 season, but one thing seems clear: of the four teams he left out -- Kentucky , Ole Miss , Tennessee , and Vanderbilt -- Tennessee's the closest thing to a contender of the four. No, the SEC East shouldn't spend its entire season on fire like last year, where South Carolina took the division trophy in a five-loss season, but Florida 's going to be experiencing major upheaval and Georgia will be missing A.J. Green (again). With Tyler Bray coming off a successful freshman campaign and returning starting RB Tauren Poole and deep threat wideout Justin Hunter , we could see the Vols make some noise. On defense, the only major loss is leading tackler Nick Reveiz ; Herman Lathers made strides along with the rest of the defense down the stretch, and the secondary returns intact. If there's ever a time to make a run in the East, it's -- well, okay, it was 2010. 2011's not a bad opportunity for the Vols either, though.



Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:45 am
 

Paterno accepts NCAA award, optimistic about '11

 Posted by Bryan Fischer

Penn State coach Joe Paterno was presented the 2011 President Gerald R. Ford Award during the NCAA’s annual convention Thursday night for his significant leadership in intercollegiate athletics during his long and storied career.

“I got to know President Ford at one of the Heisman Trophy dinners,” Paterno said. “He was vice president at the time, I think, when John Capeletti got the Heisman Trophy and he was one of the speakers. We start talking football and talking about Michigan coaches and the whole bit. He was such a true, blue Michigan guy. He wrote me a note, so we corresponded.

“He was a great guy, very unassuming. We got to be pretty good friends.”

Paterno is the ninth recipient of the award and it follows on the heels of his 44th season as the Nittany Lions head coach. Admittedly not as active in the NCAA as he once was, Paterno was concerned about the rise of high profile enforcement cases the association has been dealing with.

“Oh yeah I’m troubled, but I’m realistic,” he said. “There’s always someone looking for some sort of an advantage. My theory has been, when my coaches come back and say hey, so and so is doing this, so and so is doing that. We’re not policemen. We’ve got to take care of our house and we work at that.”

The Nittany Lions finished the year at 7-6 after falling to Florida in the Outback Bowl. Despite not reaching the nine win plateau for the first time since 2004, the coach was optimistic things would be better in 2011.

“I think we should be a little better than we were this past year,” Paterno said. “We had a lot of young kids, a lot of injuries, a little bit unsettled at a couple of key spots. I think if we can have a good winter program, a good spring, I think we’ll be a little better football team. How much better? Oh I don’t know.

“We’ve had a couple of coaches that have looked around to become head coaches but I think everybody will be back and it’ll be kind of a fun year.”

When asked if he would be back as head coach to lead Penn State for season number 45, the still sharp Paterno quickly flashed a large grin.

“I’m hoping,” he said. “My boss is here, our athletic director, ask him. I’m hoping. I feel good. I’m in good health. It’s amazing how the internet and all that kind of stuff can spread rumors so quickly.”

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 10, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 6:00 pm
 

Reports: Todd Graham 'a done deal' with Pitt

Posted by Adam Jacobi

According to Fox 23 out of Tulsa, the next Pittsburgh football coach will be Todd Graham of Tulsa. Fox 23 reports that while Graham's hiring has yet to be announced, it is a "done deal" and he will depart for Pittsburgh later this evening.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirms this report, reporting that Graham and Pitt have come to terms on a deal and will be announcing the hiring tomorrow. It's likely that the announcement may come later today, considering the pressure such reports put on athletic officials who are being asked constantly for confirmation, but Pitt's current plan is to take care of the formalities on Tuesday.

At any rate, this report likely dismays Panther fans who had been holding out hope for Tom Bradley , the longtime Penn State assistant who was the early favorite for the job. Bradley did interview with Pitt, but obviously those talks stalled at some point. It's also entirely possible that Pitt AD Steve Pederson just plain liked Graham better as a candidate (rather than, say, getting hung up on money with Bradley), but those specifics will have to come from Pederson.

Bradley is also interviewing with Connecticut this week, as the Huskies look to replace Randy Edsall after his move to Maryland a week ago.


Posted on: January 8, 2011 11:52 am
 

Robert Bolden staying at PSU

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's been quite the crazy week for Penn State quarterback Robert Bolden.  First he made the announcement that he planned on transferring from Penn State following a freshman season that hadn't gone nearly as well as he'd hoped.  The problem was that Joe Paterno wouldn't release him from his scholarship since Penn State was already losing quarterback Kevin Newsome to a transfer.  Obviously, this didn't make Robert Bolden very happy.  He wanted to leave, and he wasn't being allowed to.

Well, now he's staying.

According to his high school quarterbacks coach Don Buchanan, Bolden told him he's starting class next week and he will be remaining at Penn State to compete for the starting job.

“He’ll be back at Penn State Sunday and in school Monday,” Buchanan told The Daily Collegian. “He expects to compete for the starting quarterback job and will go through spring practices and everything.”

“I said, ‘That’s great,’ and I told him to keep your faith, keep your guidance and make sure that whatever he does, he goes at it at full speed.”

It seems maybe Paterno knew what he was doing, and that Bolden may have just been frustrated after not getting a chance to play in the Outback Bowl even though Matt McGloin threw five interceptions.  Now he'll be returning to State College to compete with McGloin and Paul Jones for the starting job.  Considering McGloin's limitations, and the fact he has a lot more game experience than Jones, you have to like his chances.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Report: Pitt interviewing Tulsa's Graham

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Wednesday brought quite a flurry of rumors about Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and the head coaching job at Pitt.  First he was the new head coach, then he wasn't.  Then he was texting his former players to let him know he was taking the job, and then he wasn't sending his players anything.  Here we are a day later, and Pitt still doesn't have a new head coach.

Will it end up being Bradley, we don't know.  What we do know, however, is that according to a report on Pantherlair.com, Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson wasn't even in Pittsburgh to be interviewing Bradley.  No, apparently he's in Atlanta to talk to Tulsa head coach Todd Graham.
According to sources, Pederson was in Atlanta meeting with Tulsa head coach Todd Graham.
Graham, 46, was interviewed in Pitt's first coaching search of the 2010-11 offseason, but multiple sources have confirmed that financial issues prevented him from moving further in the process. He is currently believed to be making more than $1 million annually at Tulsa. 
The report also says that Alabama assistant head coach Sal Sunseri has interviewed with Pitt as well this week.

Graham has been at Tulsa since 2007, and has gone 36-17 in those four seasons, and has had three seasons with at least 10 wins.  He has no experience coaching at Pitt, but he did spend a few years as an assistant at West Virginia.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 9:32 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 10:17 pm
 

Pitt denies reports of hiring PSU DC Tom Bradley

Posted by Chip Patterson and Adam Jacobi

With Pittsburgh furiously on the hunt to replace dismissed head coach Mike Haywood , one of the popular candidates has been Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. Rumors began swirling on Wednesday night that Bradley was going to accept the open position, and a report from PennLive.com is claiming that the assistant coach had sent text messages to at least two players informing them of his plans to become the new Panthers head coach "once details are worked out. "

According to the report,
Bradley texted to one player: "Love you kids. Going to miss you. Wish I could take you with me. Anything I can do for you, let me know."

UPDATE, 10:15 p.m.: PennLive.com reporter David Jones has retracted the report about Bradley sending text messages and taken responsibility for the error.

Pitt, for what it's worth, has denied that Bradley or anybody else has been offered the job, but even the denial is tepid at best; the spokesman admitted "mutual admiration" between Bradley and the school.

Bradley interviewed for the job on Tuesday , and has been unable to be reached by phone or email since then.  He was considered one of the frontrunners for the job along with Alabama assistant Sal Sunseri , and to a lesser extent Tulsa head coach Todd Graham , Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst , and former Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

After finishing his career playing at Penn State, Bradley, a lifelong Pennsylvania native, moved immediately to the Nittany Lions sidelines.  He has been an assistant coach under Joe Paterno since 1980, and even had stints of head coaching duties when Paterno was suffering health issues.  

For Pittsburgh, the hire is about as classy as they come.  Bradley will be able to quickly change the tone of a program that currently appears to be lost and looking for direction.  He has been recruiting the area his entire career and his roots in the college game run deep.  After Dave Wannstedt , that will be a welcome asset for Panther fans.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 10:40 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 5:03 am
 

PSU QB Rob Bolden speaks: 'I'm pretty upset'

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As reported earlier, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is currently not honoring the scholarship release request of freshman quarterback Rob Bolden. Paterno already lost quarterback Kevin Newsome to transfer earlier this season, and he couldn't have enjoyed seeing putative 2011 starter (and former walk-on) Matt McGloin struggle against Florida in the Outback Bowl last weekend.

Nonetheless, "I won't have enough quarterbacks if you leave" isn't going to placate a kid who wants to transfer, and Bolden and his family have been unusually open to the press while they've dealt with the matter. To that end, the Altoona Mirror spoke to Bolden on the phone tonight, and here's an excerpt from the interview:

Q: How disappointed are you that Joe denied the scholarship release?:

A: I'm pretty upset. I didn't understand why he would want me to stay if I didn't want to be there. I was looking to get out and get a release, but he thinks otherwise.

Q: What is your plan now? Are you coming back to PSU for school?:

A: I'm not sure yet. If I can figure out a way to get out of there with the release or whatever before Monday, then I'll do that. But if not, then we'll see what happens.

Q: If Joe does not release you, do you plan to come back?:

A: We'll see what happens. I'm not sure yet.

Bolden also mentions that "pretty much all" of his teammates have voiced their sympathy and support to him, so assuming that's true, JoePa's not doing much to get his locker room on his side. That's never a recipe for success, so Paterno needs to think carefully about how he's handling this situation.

 


Posted on: January 4, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Paterno denies Bolden's transfer request

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Following Penn State's loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl on Saturday, news broke out that Robert Bolden had informed the school that he wanted to transfer.  Which meant that Penn State was going to lose the two quarterbacks who began 2010 atop the team's depth chart.  Well, it seems that after seeing Matt McGloin's five-interception performance against Florida, Joe Paterno isn't all that comfortable with the idea of coming back for another season without Bolden as an option.

According to Bolden's parents, their and his father met with Joe and Jay Paterno on Tuesday to discuss his request to transfer, and Joe Paterno refused to grant Bolden's release from his scholarship.  Which Robert Bolden Sr. wasn't a big fan of, saying that he doesn't agree with the decision, and neither does his son.

Robert's mother, however, is somewhat pleased with the news.

"I didn't want Rob to leave," Tonia Williams told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I think he should stay there. I just told him that I thought he was making the wrong decision. I really felt that he moved just a little bit too quick and too fast.

"I don't know what's going to happen now. He tried to get them to sign his release papers and they didn't do it. I don't know if that is going to make the situation worse or not, or if Rob will end up at another school."

Now, just because Bolden's release was denied now, doesn't mean it won't be approved in the future.  It could just be that Paterno would like his quarterback to take some more time before making his decision.  After all, you have to figure that if Bolden really does want out of Penn State, then there isn't much of a point in keeping him around.
 
 
 
 
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