Tag:Penn State
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:13 pm
 

PODCAST: The NFL Draft, PSU and BCS Bowls

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There have been many announcements in the last few days from players saying that they were either leaving or staying in school for another year, and on today's episode of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst discuss the decisions made by players like Montee Ball, Landry Jones, Jerel Worthy and others.

Aizer and Darst also take some time to talk about Penn State's hiring of Bill O'Brien and discuss what we can take away from the BCS bowl games we saw this year.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.


You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:27 am
 

Bill O'Brien may stay with Pats past Signing Day

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Penn State is expected to announce the hiring of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien on Saturday, according to CBSSports.com NFL reporter Mike Freeman. That brings a merciful end to the Penn State coaching search, as the PSU job was the last to be filled in all of the FBS.

The thing is, however, if reports are true, O'Brien won't be on Penn State's campus immediately -- and the wait could potentially extend past a very important deadline. According to Boston Herald Patriots beat reporter Ian Rapoport, O'Brien will remain the Patriots' offensive coordinator throughout the playoffs. And while the NFL playoffs start this weekend, the Patriots' season won't be ending so soon. New England is the top seed in the AFC, meaning the Patriots have a bye week this week, and are the favorite to make it to Super Bowl XLVI.

Penn State fans should be rooting for an early upset for the Pats, though, because if the Patriots do make it to the Super Bowl, O'Brien's going to be a member of that staff until February 5. That date is important, because Signing Day -- the first day that college football recruits can sign letters of intent with their preferred school -- is the preceding Tuesday, February 1. Now, top seeds are hardly locks to make the Super Bowl in today's NFL, but the Patriots under Bill Belichick have one of the best track records in the playoffs of any NFL franchise over the last decade or so.

O'Brien is expected to do some recruiting while he's still with New England, and he wouldn't be the first coach to pull double-duty like this; Rapoport also noted on his feed that Charlie Weis did so at New England as he prepared to take over Notre Dame, and Sylvester Croom was similarly stretched between Green Bay and Mississippi State when he was first hired. Unfortunately, as Rapoport also noted, such double duty hampered the coaches' first recruiting classes considerably, and it's also worth noting that both coaches were fired after five seasons -- right when that first recruiting class would have been full of redshirt seniors.

It would then behoove Penn State to retain Tom Bradley (the defensive coordinator-turned-interim coach who has led the team since the Penn State Board of Trustees fired longtime coach Joe Paterno on November 9 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal) and offer him his old position as defensive coordinator, much in the same way that Ohio State has honored interim head coach Luke Fickell since the hiring of Urban Meyer. That way, Bradley can also focus his efforts on recruiting and salvage a Penn State class that by Big Ten standards is mediocre, and by Penn State standards is subpar.

It does not portend well for Bradley's future with Penn State, however, that the only word from him was that he had not been told of any hiring plans by the school as of Thursday night, according to Blue White Illustrated. If Bradley is not motivated to remain committed to the recruiting trail for Penn State while O'Brien tries to balance recruiting and coaching the Patriots for however long New England's season lasts, Penn State's recruiting class will undoubtedly suffer, and that's another hurdle that this suddenly flailing program does not need to have added to the race ahead.

For more breaking news on Penn State, follow the team's RapidReports by Jim Rodenbush.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:31 pm
 

Next year's BCS title odds released in Vegas

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The 2012 BCS national championship game is still four days away, which means it's entirely too early to start discussing the 2013 BCS national championship game, right?

Nonsense--particularly if you're the sort of college football fan who's paying attention to what Las Vegas is already saying about that 2013 championship. Blog Kegs n' Eggs has compiled the early national title odds released this week by the Caesars Palace sportsbook, and the favorite won't surprise anyone who's taken a look at their defensive depth chartLSU checks in at the top of the list at 3/1.

The Bayou Bengals are followed by USC, at 6/1 following the return of Matt Barkley. Alabama (7/1), Oregon (9/1), and Arkansas (12/1) round out the book's "top 5."

Here's the rest of the contenders as sorted by conference, with some commentary to follow:

ACC

Florida State: 18/1
Virginia Tech: 18/1
Clemson: 28/1
Miami: 90/1
North Carolina: 100/1
Virginia: 100/1
Georgia Tech: 100/1

BIG 12

Oklahoma: 18/1
Kansas State: 25/1
Texas: 30/1
Oklahoma State: 40/1
TCU: 50/1
Baylor: 75/1

BIG TEN

Michigan: 18/1
Nebraska: 30/1
Wisconsin: 40/1
Michigan State: 40/1
Penn State: 100/1
Iowa: 125/1

BIG EAST (WE THINK)

West Virginia: 50/1
Cincinnati: 75/1
Louisville: 100/1

PAC-12

USC: 6/1
Oregon: 9/1
Washington: 50/1
Stanford: 60/1
Arizona State: 75/1
Utah: 100/1
Washington State: 100/1
Cal: 100/1

SEC

LSU: 3/1
Alabama: 7/1
Arkansas: 12/1
Georgia: 15/1
South Carolina: 28/1
Auburn: 30/1
Florida: 35/1
Texas A&M: 60/1
Mississippi State: 75/1
Missouri: 75/1
Vanderbilt: 100/1

INDEPENDENT/NON-BCS

Notre Dame: 22/1
Boise State: 50/1
BYU: 100/1

The field is listed at 50/1. Comments:

-- Not that it's a surprise given that it's won five (and in four days, six) straight BCS titles, but still interesting to see the level of love for the SEC: four of the top six teams, half the 14-team conference at 35/1 or better, and only three teams (Ole Miss, Kentucky and Tennessee) are consigned to the field. (Incidentally, when was the last time Vegas offered national championship odds on Vanderbilt but not Tennessee? We're going on a limb to say "never.")

-- Is Michigan really going to enter 2012 as the Big Ten favorite -- Denard Robinson will be back, but there's major losses on both lines -- or is their status here just a result of the large numbers of Wolverine fans willing to bet on their favorite team? We're guessing the latter; of all the teams listed at 20/1 or better, they're the team we'd give the longest shot.

-- Other teams that might be overvalued: Alabama, who lose major chunks of their defense and offensive line; Notre Dame, because their schedule isn't getting any easier; and even at 75/1, Arizona State, because c'mon.

-- On the other hand, who might be undervalued? West Virginia should be even more explosive in year 2 of the Dana Holgorsen era, and the defense is young; TCU, who'll have the schedule strength to break into the BCS title game if they go undefeated again; and Virginia Tech, still with Logan Thomas at the controls and a cushy ACC slate. 

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:51 am
 

What's to be done about 'rogue' AP voters?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A report came out Wednesday night that some AP voters were prepared to vote LSU as the national champion even if Alabama beats the Tigers at the BCS Championship on January 12. There are conditions, of course; if 'Bama wins handily, there's not going to be much doubt who the deserving national champion is. But still, if the title game is another close, unconvincing affair that this time tilts in favor of Alabama, there are people on record who are at the very least open to the prospect of sticking with LSU.

"Awarding a championship to a team that loses its final game is beyond counterintuitive and may be un-American," said David Teel of the Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Va. "But if LSU loses narrowly, I will absolutely consider (voting the Tigers No. 1). That's how good the Tigers' regular season -- five wins over the top 25, four away from Death Valley, including at Alabama -- was." Another voter in Albuquerque told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd that Alabama's win "would have to be like 63-0 or something" before he'd consider voting for the Tide over LSU.

[Doyel: Splitting BCS national championship 'stupidest idea ever']

The conundrum Teel raises along with his supposedly "rogue" compatriots is a real one, and one that cuts to the core of polling as a college football institution. At the end of the day, though, Teel is not only well within his right to wonder aloud about this game's effect on his final ballot -- if the conditions are right, he should follow his gut and go with LSU to win the title.

First, it's important to understand why polling even needs to exist in college football (which it does!) in the first place. The validity of determining a Top 25 in college football is dramatically hindered by two factors:

1) We just don't have much data to work with. Assuming one of the central maxims of college football and the BCS is correct -- that the most important determinant in whether one team is better than the other is what happens when they play each other -- then in order to justify a two-team playoff out of a 120-team league, we would likely need way more than 12 or 13 data points for each team (especially with two-thirds of nearly every schedule dedicated to common games with a highly consolidated group of conference opponents). Baseball uses 162 games in a 32-game league, and this year, it needed all 162 just to determine an 8-team playoff setup.

Now, the point can be made that MLB didn't actually need all 162 games to determine its playoff participants -- nobody was screaming about major league baseball's illegitimacy when the season was 154 games long (or less) for the first 85 years of the league's existence, after all -- but if we extrapolate college football's rate of missing opponents to the MLB, the season would be four games long, three of the games would be dedicated to intra-division play, and the fourth game would be for one non-division opponent. And then two title game participants are chosen. If MLB commissioner Bud Selig proposed this, he would be fired. He would be quadruple-fired. Then the riots would begin.

2) The data we do have is highly contradictory anyway. Even if we had a season with dozens upon dozens of games, upsets are so prevalent that the rankings would still be a relatively poor predictor of future games. We all like to believe that if one team beats the other, it's better than the other team, but here's the full list of the Associated Press Top 25* teams that have not lost to a team ranked below them: LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Georgia, and Penn State. In other words, even among what voters have determined to be the best 25 teams, 76% are ranked ahead of a different team that beat them during the season, and it took only 12-13 games to get to that point. For the next 25 teams, the ones with even more losses than 1-3 on the year, there would be utter carnage in trying to only rank teams ahead of the ones they beat. Consider that the next time somebody makes the all-too-prevalent argument of "How can Team X be behind Team Y in the rankings when Team X beat Team Y?" 

Now, even though college football is filled with game-changing factors that hinge on chance (weather, injuries, fumbles) this pattern of teams routinely losing to worse teams is not a phenomenon unique to the sport. Going back to baseball, losses are so prevalent that even the best teams rarely win more than two-thirds of their games. In professional football, the teams with the best regular-season record are barely more likely to make the Super Bowl than the average playoff-bound team. But those two leagues (and every other professional team sport) feature multi-round playoffs, so the contradictions are rendered meaningless through the process of the playoffs -- even as said playoffs routinely eliminate teams that would take a BCS Championship bid if such a system existed in the league.  

College football does not have the luxury of expanding its schedule to adequately address either of the the above factors, especially in light of the FBS' mammoth number of programs -- football is debilitatingly brutal as it is, plus the prospect of trying to turn a profit in the postseason is prohibitively difficult for athletic departments even with a one-week schedule -- so it has to make do with its small, weak set of data in order to determine championship participants. In must step pollsters to interpret that data in their own way, and generally, those pollsters do a very good job of contextualizing the data and putting together a (temporarily) coherent Top 25 -- at least in the poll's weekly aggregations. So given the limitations of college football scheduling, there's really no other way to delineate between specific programs than by subjective ranking.

The rankings are each pollster's individual interpretation of the entire season, and if there's any doubt about that, regard the amount of teams that find themselves ranked second in the season's very final poll without playing in the BCS Championship because they won their bowl games while ranked third while the BCS Championship loser was thumped so soundly it couldn't hang onto the second-ranked spot. Those votes as No. 2 aren't protest votes to suggest that the BCS took the wrong team to challenge the top-ranked team or that a plus-one needs to be enacted immediately, they're reflections of each team's work on the season as a whole.

So given that, it's particularly backwards of the BCS and Coaches Poll to require that the winner of the BCS Championship be voted as national champion while allowing the loser to be ranked lower than second if need be. The season as a whole is what it is, and if AP voters determine that a potential slim Alabama victory over LSU at a (semi-) neutral site in the BCS Championship doesn't constitute enough of a reason to like Alabama's season more than LSU's, those voters should absolutely rank LSU first in their final ballots. They should be prepared to defend the decision, of course, but they should do it; otherwise, what's the point of being granted a vote in the first place?

*The AP Top 25 was chosen because the Coaches Poll and BCS exclude Southern California for reasons that are not germane to this particular topic.
 

Keep up with all the latest results and preview the rest of the bowls at CBSSports.com's Bowl Pregame. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview

Posted on: January 4, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Report: Schiano not interested in Penn St. job

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Penn State coaching search still appears no closer to reaching its conclusion after another potential candidate has reportedly expressed his lack of interest in the position.

StateCollege.com had reported earlier Wednesday that Rutgers coach Greg Schiano had been targeted as a possible candidate for the Nittany Lion position, citing flight records and a source claiming that "something is going on with" the Scarlet Knight head coach. But multiple outlets -- including the original report, now updated, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- have since indicated that Schiano has not interviewed for the position and is "not interested" in replacing Joe Paterno.

For years, Schiano has been rumored to be a prime candidate (if not the prime candidate) to take over when Paterno left. A former Nittany Lion assistant coach under JoePa, Schiano's resuscitation of the Scarlet Knights and ties to Happy Valley would seem to make him a natural fit, and Schiano's alleged coveting of the Penn State job has often been blamed for his not taking a position at a larger program already. (He was rumored to have been one of Michigan's top selections, for instance when Lloyd Carr retired in 2007.)

But whether because that interest was never as strong as reported, the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, or Schiano's willingness to simply repay the faith shown in him at Rutgers, he does not appear to be an option for the Nittany Lions at this time. 

With NFL-based candidates Bill O'Brien and Mike Munchak also recently denying interest, Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements may remain the top candidate, though how much interest the school actually has in Clements is a matter of conjecture.

The head coaching position at PSU has been open since Nov. 9, when Paterno was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees after offering to resign at the end of the year. It is the only FBS head coaching position currently vacant.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview

Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Mississippi State's Cox to enter NFL Draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Mississippi State will be missing one of the anchors of its defense heading into the 2012 season, as junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox announced that he was declaring for the NFL Draft on Tuesday.

“This is a chance for me to do what I’ve always dreamed of, play in the NFL,” Cox said in a release. “I appreciate everything Mississippi State has done for me to help me get to this point. The coaches, fans, staff and everyone there have been amazing during my three years in Starkville.” 

Cox finished the season with 56 tackles for the Bulldogs, including 14 1/2 for loss and 5 sacks. He was also named first-team All-SEC by the AP. In his career Cox played 36 games for Mississippi State, starting 27. He also proved to be quite adept at blocking kicks during his time in Starkville, blocking 5 kicks, including a field goal in Mississippi State's 23-17 win over Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl.

Cox is currently ranked third amongst defensive tackles on CBSSports.com's draft board, behind Penn State's Devon Still and North Carolina's Quinton Coples. He's also projected to be a late-first round pick by both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 
Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:40 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Houston 30, Penn State 14

Posted by Adam Jacobi

HOUSTON WON. Case Keenum became just the ninth player to top 500 yards passing in a bowl game by going 45-69 for 532 yards and three touchdowns, and Houston coasted to a 30-14 victory. Keenum and Patrick Edwards hooked up for their 19th and 20th touchdowns of the year, and Edwards finished with nine catches for 228 yards and two TDs in the winning effort.

HOW HOUSTON WON: All Houston had to do was score a couple touchdowns and Penn State wasn't going to outscore them. Houston took care of that in the opening quarter, where Case Keenum led the Cougars to 17 points and over 200 yards of offense. From there, it wasn't hard to keep Rob Bolden and the Penn State offense in check, and Houston eased off on the gas pedal accordingly.

WHEN HOUSTON WON: Houston held a double-digit lead for the vast majority of the game, but Penn State's ability to keep the Cougars out of the end zone in the second half meant that this was still a two-possession game for most of the 4th quarter, and even for PSU, two scores in 5-10 minutes isn't completely out of the question. Indeed, Rob Bolden had speedy wideout Devon Smith open on a fly route late in the fourth quarter, and Smith could only get one hand on the pass. If he catches it and PSU converts the two-point conversion, this would have been a one-score game. Smith let the pass fall, Rob Bolden threw a horrific interception on his very next throw, and the game was effectively over.

WHAT HOUSTON WON: Houston landed a huge blow to the common refrain that the Cougars were undeserving of major bowl consideration by whacking a nationally ranked team from an automatic qualifier conference. Yes, Penn State had its own issues, but none of those issues had anything to do with the Nittany Lion pass defense, and Keenum absolutely torched that D. PSU had a top-five pass defense coming into the game. Had.

WHAT PENN STATE LOST: Undoubtedly, Penn State and its fans just wanted this season to be over, and now it is. Rob Bolden was tantalizing on deep throws but utterly lost on the routine ones, so he blew an opportunity to make a case for starting over Matt McGloin (who missed the game after suffering a head injury in a fight with WR Curtis Drake) next year. Similarly, Tom Bradley's 1-3 record as interim head coach may likely have precluded him from being the lead candidate for the job. There really weren't any positives for this season by the end of it, and now it's time for Penn State to address its larger issues off the field.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Not only was Case Keenum's performance close to record-setting, it could have been so much worse. 380 of Keenum's 532 passing yards came in the first half, which led most to believe that a 600-yard performace was upcoming. Only 152 passing yards in the second half? Outrage! Disappointment!

FINAL GRADE: C-. It would be wrong to turn one's nose up at a 500-yard passing performance, so congratulations to Keenum and Houston for that, but this game was basically never competitive; Houston spent over 54 minutes of game time with a double-digit lead, and Penn State's offense was so anemic that a 10-point lead may as well have been 50 points.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:40 am
 

TicketCity Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Adam Jacobi


A look at the matchup that could determine the TicketCity Bowl

Penn State's RBs, led by Silas Redd, vs. Houston's LBs, led by Marcus McGraw

Penn State's starting quarterback for the TicketCity Bowl is Rob Bolden, which is to say Penn State's passing game will be in a world of hurt. As such, there's no question that interim head coach Tom Bradley is going to have to get the most out of his rushing attack if Penn State's going to be able to dictate any aspect of the game.

Sophomore Silas Redd, who has rushed for 99 yards per game in 2011, is Penn State's unquestioned workhorse at tailback, but the Nittany Lions can go four deep at tailback without much dropoff. Speedy senior Stephfon Green has had the biggest workload in relief of Redd, but sophomore Curtis Dukes and senior Brandon Beachum have combined for 75 carries and 371 yards of their own on the year. In addition, fullbacks Michael Zordich and Joe Suhey have been been effective in short-yardage situations, though PSU has been so bad on offense all year that neither fullback has more than 15 catches on the year.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, rush defense has been the biggest point of concern all year, and it's not hard to see why. In Southern Miss' season-ending 49-26 win over Houston, the Golden Eagles rushed for 207 yards... and of the five times Houston gave up at least 34 pounts, USM's rushing total was the lowest allowed by the Cougars. Altogether, in those five games, Houston gave up over 260 yards per game on the ground, which dwarfs the 170+ Houston gives up on the whole. LB Marcus McGraw is a tackling machine, ranking in the Top 20 nationally, but good defenses get that way because of group effort, not just superstars, and Houston's going to need a big day from its defensive unit as a whole.
 
 
 
 
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