Tag: Joe Paterno
Talent as much as hard work perseveres in college football. Many of the great high school athletes play two positions in high school – RB/LB, WR/LB, QB/DB, etc. They then pick one position for college. It’s up to the college coach to put his players in a place to success but the truly gifted can probably still get by on talent in college. Some let the coach pick, others insist on a particular position.
Sometimes selfishness pays off. Pitt great Larry Fitzgerald recently revealed that he was nearly swayed by the grand experiment, the “success with honor” bullsh*t peddled by Joe Paterno at Pennstate. He nearly became a Nittany Lion linebacker.
More than 10 years ago, this [numbers-first] attitude led to a life-changing decision. He said no to Joe Paterno, who wanted Fitzgerald to play linebacker, to be part of a great Penn State tradition.
“I played linebacker all the way up to my senior year in high school,” Fitzgerald said. “I was heavily recruited as a defensive player. I had about 25 to 30 offers coming out, and probably 70 percent of them were defensive offers. I grew up watching Penn State, and was really enamored by the defense at Linebacker U.”
Except Fitzgerald was chasing something else, and he did something rare. Like Tony Dorsett, he chose the University of Pittsburgh instead, where Fitzgerald would be the team’s star wide receiver, catching 34 touchdown passes in two seasons before jumping all the way to the NFL.
Despite their well-worn reputation as “Linebacker U”, perhaps Pennstate should stop trying to turn every great athlete into a linebacker!
LaVar Arrington was a RB/LB in high school. In fact, he was known as much for his running skills at Mars & North Hills High School so it was a surprise to me when he switched over to LB fulltime at Pennstate. Paterno may have gotten it right on this one but I’ve always wondered how Arrington would have done at running back.
Pro football Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly grew up in East Brady, PA, in the heart of Pennstate country. He always wanted to play at Pennstate. The only thing he wanted to do more than play at Pennstate was to play quarterback. But Joe Paterno wanted him at LB. So Kelly chose to go to the University of Miami instead. Bam.
Former Pitt QB Rod Rutherford was one of most sought after recruits in the country during his days at Perry Traditional Academy. Almost no one thought he would end up at Pitt, especially after the sainted Paterno paid an in-person visit to the Rutherford house. But Pitt coach Walt Harris did what Paterno wouldn’t do. He promised Rutherford the opportunity to play offense, namely QB, not linebacker or safety. Two years later, Rutherford scampered 60+ yards for the only touchdown in the last game Paterno ever coached against Pitt. For his career, Rod Rutherford finished with 458 completions in 840 attempts, passing for 6,725 yards and 60 touchdowns.
Photo Credit: John Beale, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
[As an aside, I don't really feel like commenting on the whole PSU/Paterno/Sandusky conflagration. So instead, I'll rip on Pennstate in the way they'll best understand, on the gridiron].
Joe Paterno broke’d himself the other day. And predictably, many were led to question his ability to continue on in the same capacity as he has for the 45 years at Pennstate.
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about his supposed frailty. The man can still coach. Even including last year’s disappointing (yet foreseeable) 7-6 record, the State Penn logged 58 victories over the latter half of the last decade, including two trips to BCS Bowl games.
What fascinates me is the never-ending speculation over who will/should take over for the legend once he’s done. It’s a pretty common sentiment here in W. PA that that man should be current PSU defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, a well-respected coaching mind and an ace recruiter. I think that would be a big mistake.
I’m not trying to rip on Bradley, whom I would have loved for the Pitt job, but he’s too close to the trees to see the forest (or vice versa?). Pennstate will need new blood, new thinking, much like they got when Galen Hall came aboard in 2004. It’s no surprise that his addition sparked the Spread HD offense, which has been so successful for PSU.
Had Bradley left the farm, either for Pitt or UConn or some other school, he would eventually have gained valuable experience and become an excellent candidate to succeed Paterno. Or he would have failed in which case PSU would know he’s not the right guy to man their helm. No less an authority on good coaching hires than the Steelers have eschewed the easy choice by going outside the family. I’d say Mike Tomlin has worked out quite well for Steelers Nation.
When the time comes for PSU to replace JoePa, I hope they don’t stay in-house. I don’t expect Paterno to be around in 2016 when PSU deigns to play Pitt again. But as for the new guy-to-be – no to JayPa (hah, that would be hilarious), no to Galen Hall, no to Tom Bradley. Paterno has worked hard to make PSU into a destination job. New blood should help keep it there.
Pennstate head coach Joe Paterno has named senior Evan Royster as his starting quarter back today. In a fit of memory loss, the octagenarian king of Happy Valley has scrapped Pennstate’s new-fangled Spread HD offense in favor of the tried-and-true single wing, harkening back to the halcyon days of his youth when the forward pass was still illegal.
Moe’s Sports Talk (MST) has learned that offensive coordinator Galen Hall approved the move and has released much balley-hooed quarterbacks Kevin Newsome and Robert Bolden from their scholarships. Bolden has since declared his intent to transfer to Pitt, where head coach Dave Wannstedt will move him to linebacker then safety then to flanker, whereupon it is expected that he will win Pitt’s fourth Biletnikoff award in 2014 during his final year of college eligibility. Newsome expects to transfer to the University of Delaware, where he will engage in a quarterback derby with former Pennstater Pat Devlin, though it is rumored that Devlin has considered transferring to Delaware State University (Go Hornets!).
Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of the all-concealing shadow, Tom Bradley curls into the fetal position and has nightmares of Alabama RB Trent Richardson running through his defense. Pennstate AD Tim Curley secretly petitions the Big East for membership but the State Penn is once more rejected by the sage Big East leaders in Providence, RI.
In honor of NLI Day, let us speculate.
In the fall of 2010, sophomore Kevin Newsome and mega-recruit Paul Jones will lose the PSU starting QB competition to true freshman Robert Bolden. Not willing to ride the pine for three years, Jones transfers to Pitt and Newsome follows in the footsteps of Jeff Hostetler by transferring to WVU. Three years later, Paul Jones starts for Pitt at Panther Hollow Field as they welcome Pennstate back to their eastern roots as a member of the re-formed Eastern Elite Conference (along with new/old members BC, ND, UVA, VT & UMD) in Greg Schiano’s first year at the helm of the State Penn. Mr. Schiano leads Pennstate out of the tunnel in true Jersey fashion – doing the fist pump.
Former PSU coach Joe Paterno is given a rousing chorus of “@$$h0le” by the Pitt faithful. Pennstaters at the game respond by throwing their beverages high up in the air but are surprised when said concoctions come straight down and hit them in the head. Former DC Tom Bradley weeps in a corner, alone and forgotten.
Schiano’s personal guests include the newly elected Governor of New Jersey, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and first lady Snooki. Inspired by Schiano’s Jersey pride, The Situation subsequently passes a bill requiring all New Jersey/Staten Island/guido athletes to do the Fist Pump during pre-game ceremonies and changes the state song to Kernkfraft 400′s Zombie Nation. Mr. Schiano’s controversial replacement of White with Orange as PSU’s secondary color to more closely mirror the color of all his NJ players’ skin pays huge dividends as Pennstate’s new Orange-Glo Nights (sponsored by Fanta) will come to be devastating to opponents who can’t handle the burst of color from the students’ section. (Incidentally, PSU loses its first Orange-Glo against Mr. Schiano’s old team Rutgers because the PSU players can’t pick out the Rutgers’ players amidst the sea of orange).
Pitt avenges the memories of 48-14 by blasting Bolden into the ground in Dave Wannstedt’s swan song as Pitt coach before turning over the reins to OC Frankie Cignetti. Wannstedt’s first act as new Athletic Director is to bring back the script PITT as a third jersey. On the Pitt sideline that day are former greats Mike DITKA, who commands that all Pitt men must grow mustaches, goatees or beards, POTUS Larry Fitzgerald, Governor of Florida Danny Marino and the man responsible for finally destroying the BCS and instituting a college football playoff, NCAA Commissioner Tony Dorsett (pronounced DOR-sett, not dor-SETT).
Pitt Defensive Coordinator Tony Siragusa, one of the holdovers from Wannstedt’s staff, threatens to eat anyone who goes against DITKA’s commandment or doesn’t believe that Larry would’ve have caught that. Mr. Siragusa does end up eating Bob Nutting on orders from Pirates, Penguins and city of Pittsburgh owner/Wizard of Oz Mario Lemieux. Mr. Lemieux’s Man-Behind-The-Curtains, Ron Burkle slides into the all-concealing shadow as he seeks to find the Jade Monkey, road maps and ice scraper before the next full moon.
From up on high, the Four Horsemen of Pittsburgh Football – Art Rooney Sr, Pop Warner, Jock Sutherland and Myron Cope look down on all that they have wrought and smile. For behold, it is very good.
Photo Credits: Joe Hermitt/The Patriot News, Matt Freed/Post-Gazette
Don’t let all the Super Tuesday primary headlines fool you. February 6th – National Signing Day is one of the most anticipated days on the collegiate calendar. The masses quiver as they read the write-ups on some 17-18yr old who faxed a Letter of Intent to their favorite team. There are no Red or Blue states for us. There is only Maize & Blue, Scarlet & Grey, Burnt Orange or whatever ridiculous color scheme Oregon chooses this year.
While recruiting rankings are not but so much detritus, they’re still fun. So let’s dive in.
The big surprise this year has to be Clemson. The Tigers made huge waves in recruiting, ranking #2 overall according to ESPN and #12 according to SI/Rivals. Despite being wooed by the likes of Georgia, Florida State and Virginia Tech, Clemson managed to keep homegrown superstar DaQuan Bowers (DE; #1 ESPN150, #12 SI/Takkle) from leaving the Palmetto State.
Alabama came on strong with a class of 32 commits are ranked #3 by ESPN and #1 by SI/Rivals. Landing Julio Jones (WR; #2 ESPN150, #1 SI/Takkle) was huge. Miami (#1 ESPN, #4 SI/Rivals), also pulled in a stellar class for Randy Shannon. Nick Saban is a proven big-time recruiter and Randy Shannon will not let south Florida fall to the Gators without a fight. Expect fortunes in Tuscaloosa and Coral Gables to rise in the next couple years.
The usual suspects also appear near the top of the rankings as well. Florida, Georgia, Texas, USC, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all locked down top-10 classes. Wait, Notre Dame? The same Notre Dame team that lost to Navy and finished 3-9? It’s a simple truth that the University of College Football in America (self-named) will always be a major player. The Genius Charlie Weis pulled in the #9 class according to ESPN and #2 according to SI/Rivals, addressing much needed team speed.
Every year some player is viewed as the next coming of Vince Young or Dan Marino or Fred Biletnikoff. He generates loads of accolades, awards drama and HYPE. This year, the soap opera comes to us from tiny Jeannette, PA where all-everything recruit Terrelle Pryor (QB/ATH; #4 ESPN150, #16 SI/Takkle) is holding hostage such coaching lumninaries as Joe Paterno, Mike Bellotti, Jim Tressel and Rich Rodriguez. This kid (yes folks, they’re still KIDS) has been tearing up southwestern PA defenses for 4 years and has generated serious discussion whether he might be the best ever high school player to come out of the southwestern PA. That’s no small feat for a region that has produced the likes of LeVar Arrington, Joe Montana, Danny Marino, Major Harris and Tony Dorsett. I remember Arrington’s days as a RB/LB for North Hills high school. Pryor deserves to be part of the conversation.
All in all though recruiting isn’t an exact science. Antonio Bryant was rated a 1-star player coming out of high school. Leon Washington was once viewed as a can’t-miss prospect for Florida State. Not only do some players never develop but some coaches may ruin potential star careers through position switches. Jim Kelly grew up dreaming of playing QB for Penn State. Joe Paterno wanted to switch him to linebacker. Kelly went to Miami to play QB and the rest is history.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette
(Originally written for Deepslant.com)