January 31, 2010

Pitt to the Big Ten a done deal?

There usually isn't enough specificity in an average internet rumor to give it much credibility. But this is just kind of weird. At some point between yesterday and today, a rumor was started that the Pitt Panthers will join the Big Ten. It's been speculated for months that Pitt should be the natural choice for the Big Ten's announced expansion, which adds an element of probability to the truthiness of this rumor.

PSU Visits Purdue, Time To PLAY FROM THE F***ING HEART

What do Bill Hicks and Talor Battle share in common? Not reaching their deserved level of success.

So, the Fighting DeChellises take their winless Big Ten record into West Lafayette today, where they will look to do the improbable and beat a Purdue team that may have found their groove again. To be honest, I don't even know why I'm bothering to write up a preview since there's a better chance of you contracting koala herpes than PSU does winning this game. However, as one of 50 PSU basketball fans out there I feel obligated to do my civic duty, so as the late, great, Bill Hicks would say (and I'm paraphrasing): Excuse me, while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit one more time.

After inexplicably dropping three straight games following a 14-0 start to the season, Purdue has since tallied off three straight wins and will in all likelihood, add a fourth straight today. That is, unless Ed DeChellis can devise a scheme that helps contain E'Twaun Moore (17.6 ppg), Robbie Hummel (15.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg), and JaJuan Johnson (14.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg). Oh, and don't forget pesky role player Chris Kramer, and his artistic ball-swiping abilities.

It's also imperative that PSU keeps up their recent trend of having two players not named Talor Battle pitch in with double-digit scoring. Purdue is usually known for their stingy defense, but this little quip from Purdue blogger Hammer and Rails gives one a sliver of hope:
We have had a habit recently of giving up 20+ points to an unexpected source. Jordan Taylor, Keaton Nankivil, Demetri McCamey, Zack Novak, and Jason Bohannon have had career nights against us of late. Who will it be in this game? Will it be Tim Frazier, who is shooting 43% from 3-point range but only averages 5.7 points per game? It is disturbing that we have been known for our perimeter defense, while teams are shooting a Big Ten best 37.2% from long range against us.
So, there you have it, folks. PSU needs to launch about 50 threes today and hope they connect on say, 20. Maybe then, they'll only lose by two or three points. Really, all you can hope for at this stage in the season is that the team plays above their heads again like they did at Wisconsin a week ago, and perhaps figures out a way to hang on this time around...

That's it, I'm done. Time to do something more productive with my life.

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January 29, 2010

Wrestling Wreport: PSU takes on Iowa and Wisconsin

The Penn State Wrestling team will take the show on the road to No. 1 Iowa tonight at 8 PM and then will face No. 12 Wisconsin Sunday at 2 PM. It's a big weekend for the Nittany Lions as every wrestler, with the lone exception of Cyler Sanderson, will face opponents ranked ahead of them.


You want to know how good the defending national champs are? Iowa has a school record 55 dual meet streak which dates back to January of 2008. The streak ranks as the fourth longest in NCAA Wrestling history. The last time Penn State faced Iowa the Hawkeyes destroyed the Nittany Lions 31-6 at Rec Hall winning 8 of the 10 bouts. Penn State will be heavy underdogs in most of the matches against Iowa. Penn State and Iowa have one common opponent in Rutgers. The Lions squeaked by the Scarlet Knights 18-17 while Iowa killed Rutgers 33-9.

Wisconsin is a little different story Penn State can actually match up well if things go according to plan. Last season and injury riddled Penn State team lost to the Badgers 28-13 at Rec Hall. Penn State has lost 3 in a row to Wisconsin.

Key Matchups

Big weekend for No. 5 Frank Molinaro

While this weekend marks a huge test for most of this PSU team no one will be challenged more than Frank Molinaro. Tonight Frank has the unenviable task of taking on No. 1 Brent Metcalf of Iowa and then facing No. 2 Kyle Ruschell of Wisconsin on Sunday. Molinaro is up a weight from last year so he has not met either Metcalf or Ruschell previously.

No. 8 Vallimont to face top ranked wrestler

While Molinaro is facing the top two wrestlers in his weight class, Dan Vallimont will also be facing two wrestlers ranked in the top 5. Vallimont will face No. 5 Ryan Morningstar of Iowa and No. 1 Andrew Howe of Wisconsin. In the dual meet last year, Vallimont lost to both wrestlers albeit by a very slim margin. Dan lost to Howe 3-2 and 5-4 to Morningstar the difference coming in a riding time advantage point. Vallimont has faced Morningstar four times and lost twice. In 2008 Dan beat Morningstar in the dual and in the Big Ten Championships only to have the same thing done to him in 2009. Three of the four duals have come down to one point.

Other Matchups

125: No. 12 Brad Pataky (19-5) vs. No. 4 Matt McDonough (22-0) (Iowa) and Drew Hammen (Wisc)

Pataky will have the chance to upset the undefeated freshman McDonough against Iowa. They have one common opponent Vincent Dellefave of Rutgers who Pataky beat 6-3 and McDonough pinned. Against Hammen of Wisconsin, Pataky will need bonus points if Penn State is going to win. Pataky hasn't produced in that department lately, hopefully he'll turn things around this weekend.

133: Bryan Pearsall (3-15) vs. No. 6 Daniel Dennis (10-1) (Iowa) and No. 8 Tyler Graff(Wisc)
141: Adam Lynch (6-9) vs. 5 Montell Marion (14-2) (Iowa) and No. 20 Cole Schmitt (Wisc)

Different week, same story for these guys: stay off your back and limit the damage. It doesn't help that all four opponents are ranked with 3 in the top 10. If Pearsall and Lynch can only surrender majors it will be a victory for Penn State.

157: No. 5 Cyler Sanderson (21-2) vs. Jake Kerr (6-6) (Iowa) and Greg Burke (Wisc)

Unfortunately Penn State's most seasoned veteran gets two easy matches this weekend. As far as the team is concerned Sanderson needs bonus points in both matches but particularly in the Wisconsin dual. If Penn State is going to beat Wisconsin Sanderson will need at least a major and hopefully more.

174 Justin Ortega (6-12) vs. No. 2 Jay Borschel (21-0) (Iowa) and Jimmy Duffy (Wisc)

As was the case for Pearsall and Lynch, Ortega just needs to stay off his back and minimize damage against Borschel. Ortega didn't wrestle particularly well last week at home, he'll have to be significantly better on the road. The Duffy match is a very winnable one for Ortega and the dual might even come down to it, let's hope Ortega is up to it.

184: No. 13 David Erwin (20-6) vs. No. 7 Phil Keddy (16-5) (Iowa) and 16 Travis Rutt (Wisc)

Erwin has a real shot at winning both of these matches. The Iowa dual will be all but decided by this point so Erwin can concentrate on bettering his Big Ten resume. The Rutt match is a must win because every match in that dual will go a long way on deciding the victorious team.

197: Clay Steadman (8-8) or David Crowell (17-10) vs. Luke Lofthouse (14-11) (Iowa) and No. 8 Trevor Brandvold (Wisc)

The Lions catch a break as Chad Beatty is on the shelf for Iowa but that doesn't mean a 'W' for PSU. Whoever wrestles for Penn State will have a real shot at Lofthouse. Sanderson hasn't tipped his hand yet as to who he will send out but it really doesn't matter either wrestler will struggle as they have all year. The Brandvold match, again, must be kept close without giving up a pin or Tech Fall.

285: No. 11 Cameron Wade(14-5) vs. No. 9 Dan Erekson(1-0) (Iowa) and Eric Bugenhagen (Wisc)

Erekson is coming back from an injury so Wade is getting him at a time when he may not be in the best shape. If Cameron can stay aggressive and take the match to Erekson he may wear him down by the third. I'm not holding my breath though it will probably be the same 3-2 grinder that we're so used to from Wade. The Wisconsin match may come down to Heavyweight, I would love to see Wade score a major or better against Bugenhagen.


Penn State is a year or so away from competing on the same level as Iowa, they'll get there just not this season. The best possible scenario is that Penn State's ranked contingent wrestles hard, and gets experience for the Big Ten Championship Tournament later in March. The Wisconsin match is a very winnable one, Penn State matches up well. The same things can be said this week that were said last week: limit the damage when hopelessly outmatched and get as many bonus points when they have the advantage.

Iowa Final: 28-7 Iowa
Wisconsin Final: 19 - 17 Wisconsin

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Brad Bars, Hello! Wait, who?

Penn State landed commit No. 20 yesterday, in Nashville linebacker/defensive end prospect Brad Bars. Of course, because Bars is not really rated highly (read: not at all) by any recruiting service, the message boards... have... absolutely... exploded. (warning: premium content)

I already don't take much stock--outside of pure entertainment value--in what goes on within the message board communities; last night's reaction to Bars' commitment just reinforces why I generally avoid partaking in message boarding. We read everything from "I hope this is a joke," to simply "wow." There were a few out there who supported the move by Penn State to sign Bars to a scholarship... few.

I guess the fan-base's discontent mostly comes down to the fact that Penn State used a scholarship on a kid nearly no one had heard of until late Thursday. Bars is a Notre Dame legacy, and had been assumed to be on his way to either South Bend, Harvard (at least he's smart), or a service academy. But I really can't pass judgement on this move until I look into him a bit more. So stay tuned for more on Penn State's newest son.

And of course, what's a commitment announcement without a little...
(via Tim)

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January 28, 2010

Thursday Question: Ed DeChellis... more time, or time to go?

Each Thursday the staff at Linebacker-U.com will choose a topical question to answer in a roundtable format. Up this week, we tackle the growing criticism of head basketball coach Ed DeChellis. The team is struggling mightily this season, win-less in the Big Ten; but is coming off an NIT championship. This begs the question: Ed DeChellis... more time, or time to go?

Penn State Basketball: All Spine And No Orange Crush

So, here's where PSU currently stands: 8-12 overall, 0-8 in the Big Ten after suffering another defeat at the hands of Illinois, 77-67. The Fighting DeChellises are now only two more consecutive losses away from matching the program's worst ever start in Big Ten play (0-10 in 2003, during Jerry Dunn's final year as coach). I wasn't able to watch this game, but from reading various post-game recaps, it sounds like the same old shit: Prolonged scoring droughts, poor free-throw shooting, the inability to rotate or fight through screens on defense, and poorly drawn-up/executed set plays.

January 27, 2010

PSU vs Illinois: Round 2

Two desperate basketball teams face off tonight at the BJC (6:30 PM ET, BTN): The Fighting Illini have dropped three straight contests, including a dazzling PSU impersonation of blowing a second half lead to Northwestern. The Fighting DeChellises meanwhile, have dropped seven straight and while they haven't stopped fighting, they are still searching for that elusive conference win after blowing yet another 16-point second half lead at Wisconsin last Sunday.

I won't even bother with a real preview here because no matter what, this game is going to come down to the last possession: You can bet your life's savings on that*. Bet on it at https://www.gamebookers.com/. With that being said, it will be interesting to see whether Battle once again gets help offensively from a couple of his teammates like he did against Wisconsin. If he's able to, then perhaps PSU gets their first win of the Big Ten season against an Illini team that's in a mini-freefall themselves. Then again, it seems as if PSU has been the rest of the Big Ten's own health spa to cure them of their losing ailments.

Unfortunately(?), I won't be able to watch this game due to work but I'll certainly be making the most of my monthly cell phone texting plan by texting Google SMS for score updates every 5-10 minutes. Perhaps that a good thing, given the way things have been going this year...

* = I totally mean that as a metaphor, should you actually be dumb enough as to bet your life's savings on a basketball game between two slumping teams, I'm not responsible in the least bit.

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Shyquawn Pullium Commits To PSU, The Goo Punch Is Flowing Once Again.

Updated 11:30 a.m.

A few weeks ago, many of the Blue and White faithful were feeling that by this time Penn State would have Marcus Lattimore or Michael Thornton locked up--I also thought I would become the next Pete Lisicky for PSU's basketball team when I was in middle school.

Fast-forward to now and you'll find that Lattimore has kindly said 'thanks but no thanks' and Thornton is being hypnotized into leaning towards USC thanks to a well-coordinated recruiting effort from defensive line coach/recruiting savant/probably shirtless Ed Orgeron. Oh, and I'm sure Lane Kiffin is also sending a few USC call girls - Sorry, 'hostesses' to woo Thornton, so let's just go ahead and consider him a lost cause, shall we? might not be a lost cause, but he's still definitely not a lock for Penn State.

That's all fine and dandy though, because PSU just landed themselves an athlete in Erie Cathedral Prep's (PA) Shyquawn Pullium. Pullium appeared to play a lot at QB, where he would mostly call his own number and try to whizz past the defense 10-Yard Fight style.

Obviously, it must have worked enough times to warrant a YouTube highlight reel. Look for Pullium and his 4.31 40 speed to eventually earn him a key role amongst the secondary, as we seem to have more than enough depth at wide receiver already.

However, I wouldn't expect Pullium to contribute immediately due to his 6'0" 170-lb frame that needs bulking up and also because he's strongly considering doing a year at Kiski Prep before coming to PSU in 2011. Nonetheless, this makes Pullium the 19th commit in what is still shaping up to be a solid top-10 recruiting class.

I had a tradition over at my old blog, Happy Hour Valley, of posting a video of a bunch of drunken white dudes dancing to a song called 'Goo Punch' to celebrate every recruiting commitment. I also post the video after a critical win by one of our major sports teams. The clip you're about to see below originated from a mid-90's Nickelodeon TV show My Brother And Me (click here to see the original clip). While the original clip is pretty awesome itself, watching several drunken idiots at a sausage-fest run into doors for no apparent reason is far more entertaining...

So welcome aboard, Shyquawn! The goo punch may be a little stale, but it's still mighty tasty this time of year.

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Wednesday Recruitin': The home stretch

Updated: 11:30 a.m.

This is what I get for writing up Wednesday Recruitin' late last night, instead of procrastinating like usual until the morning. Either way, there's even more big news out today since I first published this post. Penn State lands No. 19 in its 2010 class, while things could be looking even brighter for a big-time No. 20 next week. So much for that whole not-looking-so-good thing.

Can I get a Goo Punch?!

Late this morning, Erie Cathedral Prep's (PA) Shyquawn Pullium pulled the trigger on Penn State, giving his hard verbal to the Nittany Lions. Click here for Tim's post about Pullium committing to play for Penn State.

Thornton leaning away? Not so much

Mike Thornton has a lot of schools after him right now. It seems once Penn State started to ramp up its effort to land Thornton, about a half-dozen others followed suit. One of the top-10 players from Georgia this year, Thornton has standing offers from 19 FBS programs. Currently, only seven are in the running for his services, including Penn State.

But the big problem is that Penn State, as is customary for the Nittany Lions, likes to recruit early. Of the top seven schools, Thornton visited Penn State the earliest, way back on November 6. In the meantime, he's taken officials to Georgia and Kentucky; Thornton is set to fly out to Los Angeles on January 29 for a visit with USC. Ed Orgeron is in charge of Thornton's recruitment, so we should expect no fewer than three stretch-Hummers, two strippers, and a visit from Snoop Dogg as part of a lovely afternoon in University Park*.

It was announced this morning that Thornton will not be visiting any more schools, including the USC visit, and that it is now officially down to just Penn State, Kentucky and Georgia. This is HUGE for Penn State's chances with him, not only because the Lions are in the top three, but because USC is out. Penn State looks like the best location for Thornton, with one of the best defensive line coaches in the sport. Thornton will reportedly announce his decision at a 9 a.m. press conference on signing day.

Preferred Walk-On

Don Duckett was invited to walk on at Penn State for spring camp. The Bishop-McDevitt prospect was named to the Pennsylvania roster for the Big 33 All-Star Game, is a 1st Team Class AAAA All-State performer, but has not been widely recruited. Currently, Duckett holds scholarship offers from Kent State, Army and Akron.

Duckett said that it's always been his dream to play for the Nittany Lions, which leaves him in a precarious situation--walk on at Penn State with little chance to play, or take a scholarship to a MAC-level school and possibly play early?
“I could go to Akron, Kent State or Army, but Penn State is a big deal,” Duckett said of his choices. “I grew up watching Penn State and it has always been my dream to go there.

“They (Penn State) told me I could go there and go to camp with the team,” Duckett continued. “I could potentially get on special teams and have the chance to earn a scholarship.”
Penn State has had really great success with walk-ons in the past, so seeing Duckett pass up a scholarship offer wouldn't be all that surprising here.

Kimble no more

Tahj Kimble picked Boston College yesterday. He didn't mention anything about why he didn't like the other schools. Kimble just really liked Boston. 'Cause, you know, they got video games and stuff...
"They asked me do you play Madden, do you play video games? They asked me what I do at home. There were all kinds of questions. That right there made me feel like I was one of the players. While I'm there, I'm just going through the motions just doing stuff and I'm thinking I'm in Boston. I thought I was home."
This pretty much means Silas Redd is going to be the only running back in the 2010 recruiting class. That's not a bad thing, but it would have been nice to see one more back in there.

Damn you, Madden!

Gaston gone, too

Earlier this week, Chicago defensive end Bruce Gaston, Jr. eliminated Penn State from his final list of schools. Read the full story on why Gaston cut the Nittany Lions.

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January 25, 2010

The State of State Hoops: Opposite Directions

Two teams took to the court this weekend, each headed in very opposite directions. Let's take a look at what you might have missed.

Falling down...

Every stereotype about Penn State men's basketball came to life yesterday. Talor Battle once again strung together a man-crushing performance (28 pts, 8 rebs, 6 assists) and actually got some help offensively this time from Chris Babb (16 pts) and DJ Jackson (12 pts) in helping PSU to climb to an improbable 52-36 second half lead at Wisconsin, only to completely blow it and ultimately lose in overtime, 79-71.

If there's one telling stat to the game, it surely does stick out: 18 turnovers for PSU to Wisconsin's five. Just think of all those extra possessions the Badgers got, allowing them to hit some key shots down the stretch.

I was in New York for the weekend visiting a friend, so I wasn't able to watch this OMFG WE'RE BEATING WISCONSIN BY 16 POINTS--OH WAIT, I FORGOT, WE'RE PENN STATE BASKETBALL debacle. On the one hand, I'm glad I wasn't able to do so, but a part of me wishes I could have seen it live, simply because it seems like it was the most compelling effort the Fighting DeChellises have put together in Big Ten play this season.

Surely, this team could not be any more demoralized than they are right now, having once again blown a second-half lead in such dramatic fashion. They need to keep their heads up though, because Illinois is coming to the BJC on Wednesday, one of the few games left on the schedule that I feel they have a realistic shot at winning. --Tim

Rising up...

If five years ago you told me that the Penn State women's basketball team was ranked 23rd in the nation, owning a 15-4 record, second place in the Big Ten and riding a six-game win streak; the men's team was 8-11, last in the Big Ten and wallowing in a seven-game losing streak; but it was the men who were getting all the headlines, I would have called you positively insane.

But as you read this, it is the absolute truth.

The Lady Lions beat up on Illinois yesterday afternoon, in front of a season-high 8,471 fans at the Bryce-Jordan Center. The 70-66 win vaulted Penn State into a comfortably-secure second place in the Big Ten standings, behind Ohio State. Two weeks ago, I pointed to this very four-game stretch as being key to whether or not the Lady Lions can finish the season with a bang. So far, so good.

Purdue comes into Happy Valley this week. But this isn't the kind of Boilermaker team Penn State fans are used to. Purdue is struggling with a 9-10 record, and hovering around the middle of the Big Ten. Following the date with Purdue, Penn State goes on the road for two games at Michigan and MSU. That makes this game against the Boilermakers incredibly important. The Lady Lions cannot afford a letdown at home to an opponent they should not struggle to put away.

Realistically, for the Lady Lions to make the NCAA Tournament, they would have to win no fewer than seven of their final nine regular season games. Looking at the schedule, these ladies might be off to the Dance sooner than later. --Mike

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Wrestling Wreport: PSU splits the weekend duals

The Penn State Wrestling team took on #19 Illinois in Rec Hall Friday night and then traveled to Columbus to take on #3 Ohio State Sunday afternoon. Penn State split the weekend beating Illinois 24-11 and losing to OSU 21-14. Brad Pataky, Cyler Sanderson, and Cameron Wade were the only wrestlers to win both matches as Penn State could not pull off any ranked upsets despite some close matches.

#13 Penn State 24 - #19 Illinois 11125: #12 Brad Pataky PSU dec. John Deneen UI, 7-3

133: Bryan Pearsall PSU dec. Daryl Thomas UI, 13-12

141: Adam Lynch PSU pinned #11 Ryan Prater UI, WBF (3:56)

149: #5 Frank Molinaro PSU dec. #20 Eric Terrazas UI, 5-1

157: #5 Cyler Sanderson PSU dec. Conrad Polz UI, 9-4

165: #8 Dan Vallimont PSU dec. Joe Barczak UI, 10-3

174: #14 Jordan Blanton UI tech. fall Justin Ortega PSU, 22-7 (6:26)

184: #2 John Dergo UI dec. (sv) #12 David Erwin PSU, 6-4 (sv)

197: #10 Patrick Bond UI dec. Clay Steadman PSU, 9-5

285: #11 Cameron Wade PSU dec. Marty Smith UI, 8-1

The story of Friday night was Adam Lynch pinning #11 Ryan Prater of Illinois. Things were already going Penn State's way with Bryan Pearsall beating Daryl Thomas in a wild 13-12 bout that saw six takedowns and two reversals. Prater shot in on Lynch who countered the initial shot and then to the delight of the crowd turned the ranked wrestler to his back for the pin. The upset victory sent the crowd into a frenzy and all but sealed the dual with the meat of Penn State's lineup yet to wrestle. Let's just say it was the "Lynchpin" of the Illinois dual. Ha… see what I did there!?!.... Ok, nevermind.

David Erwin had an outstanding match against the 2nd ranked wrestler in the nation going into overtime before giving up the bout-ending takedown. Two matches that really demonstrate the Sanderson philosophy were the Erwin and Molinaro matches. Erwin was the aggressor in overtime taking the initial shot which Dergo countered. You always want your wrestlers taking the initiative and Erwin certainly did, no one likes to see a loss but I'd much rather see Penn State wrestlers going down swinging. Molinaro was clinging to a 3-1 lead late in the 3rd period but instead of stalling the period away he shot in and got a strong double leg takedown to end the match 5-1. It's the kind of offense-first philosophy that Sanderson preaches and some of the wrestlers are starting to get it.

#13 Penn State 14, #3 Ohio State 21125: #12 Brad Pataky PSU dec. #19 Nikko Triggas OSU, 9-7

133: Ian Paddock OSU maj. dec. Bryan Pearsall PSU, 13-2

141: #3 Reece Humphrey OSU tech. fall. Adam Lynch PSU, 22-7 (7:00)

149: #3 Lance Palmer OSU dec. #5 Frank Molinaro PSU, 5-3

157: #5 Cyler Sanderson PSU maj. dec. Tony Jameson OSU, 10-2

165: #7 Colt Sponseller OSU dec. #8 Dan Vallimont PSU, 4-2

174: #12 Dave Rella OSU dec. Justin Ortega PSU, 12-5

184: #12 David Erwin PSU maj. dec. T.C. Pendleton OSU, 15-2

197: C.J. Magrum OSU dec. David Crowell PSU, 10-6; 11-21

285: #11 Cameron Wade PSU dec. #20 Corey Morrison OSU, 10-4

For Penn State to beat Ohio State all of Penn State's ranked wrestlers would have to win and they would need a couple upsets. Unfortunately that didn't happen as Molinaro and Vallimont each lost to wrestlers ranked slightly higher than them. Penn State won four bouts with Pataky and Wade beating lower ranked wrestlers. Pearsall and Lynch could not follow up their outstanding efforts against Illinois as both wrestlers gave up bonus points. We finally got a chance to see Pitt transfer David Crowell in a dual meet but it didn't help much as he lost 10-6. The holes in Penn State's lineup were very evident against Ohio State and it doesn't get any easier as the Nittany Lions travel to Iowa to take on the #1 team in the country. Penn State will need some help if they are going to upset the Hawkeyes.

MVW(Most Valuable Wrester)

Although he gave up a tech fall against OSU, Adam Lynch is Linebacker-U's most valuable wrestler for the week. The pin of the 11th ranked wrestler gave Penn State momentum as the Lions won the first six bouts and never looked back.

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Gaston not interested in Penn State

Chicago prospect, and hot name this past week around the Penn State recruiting world, Bruce Gaston, Jr. will not commit to the Nittany Lions when he announces his college choice tomorrow. According to Gaston, "the more I thought about it all the more I just don't think I can start to build a relationship in two weeks. [snip] I'll call the Penn State coaches tonight or tomorrow and tell them thanks but no thanks."

Last week it was reported that Gaston was offered a scholarship by Penn State, after Larry Johnson, Sr. took a trip out to the Windy City for a visit with the recruit. But as anyone with half a brain would guess, it seemed like a long shot from the beginning with Gaston.

In his interview yesterday with Rivals.com, Gaston said it was pretty much down to Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Boston College, and Notre Dame. That could mean when all is said and done, Gaston might be lining up against the Nittany Lions in the next few seasons.

Ok, but what about Penn State?
It's tough not to feel like this year's recruiting class is a bust; but keep in mind, Penn State has still assembled what is universally regarded as a top-eight haul in 2010. Gaston was a flash in the pan for Penn State. When Johnson went out to Chicago, it was just a Hail Mary-style pitch, seeing if Gaston could be snatched up to beef up the class. It didn't work, but that's perfectly okay.

Be sure to check out this week's Wednesday Recruitin' for more on this year's recruiting class, and what we can expect over the next eight days leading up to National Letter of Intent Signing Day.

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January 23, 2010

Penn State Basketball: Only 12 More Losses Away From Perfect Big Ten Suckage

As I watched PSU flirt with a comeback against Indiana the other night, only to come up short once again, I felt this old, familiar, and awful feeling begin to creep inside of me. It was that feeling of complete hopelessness, where you realize the situation you're in is broken beyond repair and all you can do is just laugh and try to enjoy the implosion..not so much because you find it funny, but because it gives you comfort and solace.

Such was the case with Conan O'Brien as he declared on his second-to-last Tonight Show, "I'm going to have some fun on television" and over this past week, brought out the gamut of old Late Night characters including the Masturbating Bear, and has also bought a whole bunch of expensive shit that NBC will have to pay for. Such was also the case seven years ago during the longly-awaited end of the Jerry Dunn era, and such is the case right now in Year Seven of the Ed DeChellis era: I can only sit back, laugh, enjoy the crap-filled fireworks, and unleash the sarcasm.

This most recent loss to the Hoosiers magnified just how dismal things have become: Players not named Talor Battle failing to show any signs of caring (although props go out to Andrew Ott, for being the only post player out there who looked like he belonged in the Big Ten), the lack of execution on offense, the lack of hustle, the lack of defensive rebounding (which is one thing this team has prided itself on in the DeChellis era), Andrew Jones inexplicable decline, Jeff Brooks's raging inconsistency, and Ed looking more flustered than Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek character on SNL Celebrity Jeopardy. This is not a problem that can be solved with a 6-foot guard in Taran Buie joining the team next year, as a solid backcourt only makes half of a team. The lack of any post presence whatsoever is the real culprit here, and unless there's plans to 'encourage transfers' out of a few players, that's not going to improve much.

It's truly baffling how this team could perform well enough to win at Virginia, push Temple and Virginia Tech to the brink, and yet look so horribly incompetent against teams such as Iowa and Indiana, whom everyone was pointing to as the two most likely wins on the schedule, and with good reason: Iowa resembles an intramural team full of white shooters, and Indiana is a lousy road team with a still-significant void of talent compared to Hoosier teams of years past. Hell, their top scorer Maurice Creek, was already out for the year due to injury. At this point, the only remaining games I can envision victories in are home contests against Illinois, Minnesota, and Northwestern. Forget about avoiding sweeps from the likes of Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan.

I absolutely hate seeing a good guy and great ambassador for PSU such as Ed DeChellis struggle like this, but I have to call a spade a spade: Ed's ceiling was reached last season with the NIT championship, it will never get better than that. If it wasn't apparent after the Iowa game that Ed has lost this team, then it became crystal clear the other night against Indiana. This program is seriously flirting with perfection of the abysmal variety (0-18 in the Big Ten), which should not be happening with a team as talented as this. This is not the 2006-07 season where there was no athleticism outside of Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley, this team is better, and it's what makes this season the most frustrating of all the dismal seasons in the DeChellis era.

I know folks want to dismiss Tim Curley as a giant cheapskate who would never 'fire' a coach and only cares about turning over a profit at the smallest possible costs, but that extension with Ed was signed last year not just for recruiting purposes (you don't EVER want to leave a coach not named Joe Paterno hanging around with only two years left on his contract), but with the intent that the winning would remain steady and would continue to increase. Instead, this team is on a path that could very well lead them into elite suckage territory whose only occupant is the 1999-00 Northwestern squad. The aforementioned Northwestern squad has the dubious distinction of being the only team to go winless in Big Ten play. Even Curley himself would have to find this unacceptable and realizing the mistakes he made last time in waiting too long to cut Jerry Dunn loose, I wouldn't put it completely past him to make a change come March.

And yes, this is easily the longest basketball post I will write for the remainder of the season...Yeah, I know, I can't believe I wrote this much about such a crappy commodity myself.

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January 22, 2010

Tom Bradley had 'interest' in USF job?

The St. Petersburg Times reported online tonight--will go to print in tomorrow's edition--that Penn State's defensive coordinator, and widely-assumed Paterno successsor, Tom Bradley was "said to have interest in the [South Florida] job."

Could it be true? I guess. But is it true? Probably, kinda.

Now, the article wildly lists about two dozen names of coaches and coordinators that were "interested," so gauge on your own what that word really means in this context. That being said, I simply cannot believe that Scrap would go out of his way to even express interest in the USF job. He did interview for the Boston College opening a few years ago. But that was well before the Paterno situation was as clear-cut as it is today.

Penn State knows that Bradley is the most valuable assistant on Joe Paterno's staff--close behind, however, would be Larry Johnson, Sr. After Bradley was actually interested in Boston College, I believe that Penn State did everything to make him happy after he didn't get the job.

Back to the "have interest" thing. It also should be noted that the sentence before that, in the SPT article, it mentioned several "NFL candidates expressing interest or getting recommended..." Reading the context in which the Bradley bit appears, I'm sure it wasn't really Scrap who approached USF; Bradley's name was probably recommended or mentioned by someone else.

I hope it was the latter.

Link: St. Pete Times

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Wrestling Wreport: Ohio State Preview

No. 13 PSU (8-3-1) vs. No. 3 Ohio State (11-1)

2 pm, Sunday Jan. 24 at OSU

TV: BTN – tape delay (starts 10 pm)

Penn State begins its nightmare schedule Sunday against No. 3 Ohio State. The Nittany Lions will then travel to take on No. 1 Iowa next Friday and No 14 Wisconsin the following Sunday. It's bad enough that the Lions have to face four ranked opponents in the next week and a half but they have to do so against three of them on the road. The next four matches will answer a lot of questions about this Nittany Lion team.

PSU – Ohio State history

Penn State leads the series 13-10, but Ohio State has won the last 3 including a 33-7 beatdown last Feb 6th at Rec Hall. In 2008 OSU beat Penn State twice, 24-11 in the National Duals and 22-19 in Columbus. Penn State and Ohio State have two common opponents this season Lehigh and Edinboro. PSU lost to Lehigh 23-14 while OSU won 22-12 and both teams beat Edinboro (PSU 22-9, OSU 34-12).

Key Matchups

The key matchups in this dual are really, really important because Penn State will most likely be behind by 5 or 6 points in the other matches. For Penn State to pull off the upset they will need to win at least two of the key bouts.

149 #3 Lance Palmer (17-1) vs. #5 Frank Molinaro (21-1)
In two weeks we will definitely know where Frank Molinaro stands as he takes on the top 3 wrestlers at the 149 weight class including No. 3 Palmer. Molinaro's loss came at the hands of No. 4 Kyle Terry of Oklahoma while Palmer's loss was to No. 11 Kyle Borshoff of American. They have two common opponents in Brian Tanen of Lehigh and Torsten Gillespie of Edinboro. Molinaro beat Tanen 12-3 and Gillespie 8-4 while Palmer beat Tanen 7-1 and Gillespie 9-1. What does that all mean? It means it's going to be close.

165 #7 Colt Sponseller (17-3) vs. #8 Dan Vallimont (18-3)
Sponseller's losses came at the hands of the #1, #3, and #4 wrestler in the country. Vallimont has 1-point losses to #1, #2, and an upset loss to an unranked wrestler. Sponseller has victories over the 17th and 18th ranked wrestler while Vallimont has beaten No. 9 (twice), No. 12, and No. 19. Even though the two teams wrestled common opponents, Vallimont and Sponseller wrestled different opponents in each of those bouts. Sponseller beat Vallimont 8-3 in last year's dual meet in Columbus. This will be another match that could go either way.

184 #10 Mike Pucillo (13-4) vs. #12 David Erwin (19-5)
Erwin's numbers are a bit misleading as he started the season at 174 and lost to Robert Hamlin of Lehigh to start off. Realizing he was worried too much about cutting weight the coaches moved him to 184 and he reeled off 14 victories in the next 15 bouts with his only loss coming at the hands of teammate Quentin Wright… by fall. Just sayin'. Anyway, Pucillo is a tough cookie, he's a three-time All-American, 2008 NCAA champ and 2009 Runner-up. Erwin will have his hands full.

The Other Matchups

Wt.: Ohio State vs. Penn State
125 #19 Nikko Triggas (19-12) vs. #12 Brad Pataky (17-5)
The last time these two met Pataky prevailed 14-3.

Pataky has been known to take chances and every now and then gets caught on his back. He'll have to be careful against Triggas because he leads the Buckeyes in falls with 8. If Pataky wrestles a careful but aggressive match he should not only beat Triggas but hopefully get bonus points.

-Advantage Pataky

133 Ian Paddock (15-6) vs. Bryan Pearsall (2-14)
141 #3 Reece Humphrey (20-2) vs. Adam Lynch (5-8)
Just as was the case against Illinois the next two bouts will have a familiar ring to them: keep it close, don't get pinned and try not to give up bonus points. Lynch is really in trouble and Paddock is knocking on the door of the top 20 so the outcome of the dual could be decided here. There's a big difference between giving up 7 points and giving up 10 or 12. Let's hope for the former.

-Major Advantage Paddock
-Major Advantage+ Humphrey

157 Tony Jameson (3-2) vs. #5 Cyler Sanderson (19-2)
Freshman Jameson was a four-time Ohio state champ and has a lot of potential, he will be a great wrestler some day, fortunately he's going against one of the best wrestlers in his weight class. This is an opportunity for Sanderson and Penn State to get bonus points. Sanderson at the very least has to get a major of the young Phenom.

-Major Advantage Sanderson

174 #12 Dave Rella (15-6) vs. Justin Ortega (6-10)

Hi, I'm Dave Rella. You may remember from such Wrestling singlets as Penn State!

On paper this looks like a slaughter for Ohio State, but we Penn State Wrestling fans know Dave Rella all too well. Rella transferred from Dear Ole' State in 2008 after starting for the Lions for two years. While Rella is capable of putting points up he often plays a very methodic defensive style which leads to boring 3-1 victories. A quick look at his stats shows that he has 1 major, 1 Tech fall, and 1 pin this season. Ortega is good enough to keep this to only a decision and probably has to for any chance of a PSU victory. Rella has been upset by unranked wrestlers this season, a miracle late takedown victory for Ortega isn't out of the question, but that's just wishful thinking on my part.

-Advantage Rella

197 C.J. Magrum (12-8) vs. Clay Steadman (8-7) or David Crowell (17-9)
197 is another pivotal match that could go either way. Both Magrum and Steadman have wins over Anthony Pike of Arizona State although Magrum's was a major decision. The other common opponent Joe Kennedy of Lehigh, Mangrum beat 4-3 and Steadman lost to 2-4. So this is a slight lean toward Magrum but very, very slight.

-Slight Advantage Magrum

285 #20 Corey Morrison (14-7) vs. #11 Cameron Wade (12-5)
If the meet does come down to the big boys, Penn State has the advantage. Like I said in my previous preview though, Wade has the propensity to shut the offense down against ranked wrestlers and play defensive. If Penn State needs bonus points to win or tie, I'm not sure if Wade can do it. On paper, both wrestlers lost to No. 7 Zack Rey of Lehigh, but Wade beat No. 10 Chris Birchler of Edinboro (9-2) and Morrison lost 6-4.

-Advantage Wade


This match could be anywhere from a blowout loss for Penn State if things go all Buckeyes to a close win for Penn State, but they will need some breaks. I like Molinaro's chances but I see the other key match-ups going Ohio State's way. Lynch will probably give up the pin but I also think whoever Cael puts in at 197 wins a close one against Magrum. Ortega will keep it close with Realla, that's a given and Sanderson will get bonus points. But in the end when I tally up the score, Penn State just falls short.

Final Score: OSU 19 - PSU 18

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January 21, 2010

Penn State sends late offer to Chicago DE

Penn State has sent out a very late scholarship offer to defensive end Bruce Gaston, Jr. of Chicago's St. Rita High School. The story apparently developed late this afternoon, after Larry Johnson, Sr. took a flight out there to look at Gaston. There hasn't been any word yet on whether or not Gaston even has any interest in the Nittany Lions. Penn State wasn't even on his long list of possibilities early on in the recruiting season, so this all could turn out to be a dead end.

At one point during the football season, Gaston had Notre Dame at the top of his list, and the Irish were ready to take him.

Since then, however, other schools have entered into the mix for Gaston's services. Gaston has scholarship offers from Virginia, Iowa, Arizona, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Wyoming, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Michigan State and Bowling Green.

Gaston will visit Chestnut Hill tomorrow. Sparty hosted Gaston earlier this week. He plans to announce this upcoming Tuesday.

Yeah, but what about Penn State?
It's interesting that Penn State is trying to snag another commit or two before signing day. I would have guessed that with all the less-than-stellar recruiting news coming out of Happy Valley, the coaching staff would have just hunkered down for the home stretch. But it looks like the Easley, Coxson and Lattimore losses have hurt too much.

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Indiana Preview: My Team Is On The Floor...And There's A Bomb On A Bus.


I've got a card of 25 different basketball-themed blog posts but I usually don't know which one to use. Such is not the case tonight though, with Indiana paying a visit to the BJC (7 PM ET, ESPN2 - WTF?). All I know is to keep our unprcedented four-game win streak against the Hoosiers intact, Ed DeChellis needs to institute a 'four passes before each shot' policy. If the game's outcome is still in doubt during the final minutes, Ed should get himself thrown out of the game and hand the coaching reigns over to Dennis Hopper, who then instructs Talor Battle to 'run the picket fence' at IU while making sure 'not to get caught watching the paint dry.'

Heeding Coach Hopper's advice: Battle will resort back to his 2009-like man-crushing heroics and put in the winning layup as time expires, causing the students to storm the court, and numerous Facebook groups to pop up, promoting the idea of Dennis Hopper taking over as head coach. That is, until Hopper inexplicably rigs a CATA Bus with explosives, forcing Keanu Reeves to come in and save the day. This will then be followed by a period of PSU hoops returning to pure suckiness. That is, until Keanu Reeves announces he's taking over the head coaching position, rescuing Penn State basketball from the brink of extinction...

Hey! Don't give me that look! As long as this team isn't going to take things seriously, neither will I.

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Thursday Question: The best coaching destinations

Each Thursday the staff at Linebacker-U.com will choose a topical question to answer in a roundtable format. In our inaugural Thursday Question, we figured that with all the coaching changes going on around college football, this was the most obvious for this week: What are the best coaching destinations in college football?

We came up with our top three schools from the BCS conferences, plus one more from a non-automatic BCS qualifying conference...


I base my list on three criteria... 1. Major relevance – I want to play for a national title if I go undefeated; 2. Recruiting – make my job easier; 3. Warm weather – makes #2 easier and frankly I’m sick of PA winters.

USC – Pete Carroll left an indelible mark on USC making it the sexy choice for most high school kids. And really, how hard is it to sell this place, you’ve got L.A., Beverly Hills, and Huntington Beach only a 30 minute drive away. If Lane Kiffin can’t succeed there as a head coach he should be unceremoniously run out of football at any level.

Florida – Two words for you: Erin Andrews. Ok, not just her specifically but fine looking young women with year-round tans, and did I mention spring-breakers as well? Florida sells itself in this area, and while maybe not as sexy as USC, it’s certainly not hard to get 18-year olds to want to come and play there.

Texas – Texas may not have the sex appeal or the fine Floridian women, but they have one thing that all coaches want: a gigantic home-state football recruiting pool. Every major school shops around in the state of Texas and coaching at the state’s #1 college football school (sorry Tech) gives you a major advantage.

Florida International - Can you tell it's been a very cold winter in central Pennsylvania? I like FIU because they are right next to Miami (Florida recruiting), they play a lot of the big boys (exposure), they suck (it would be a challenge) and I've always wanted to coach at an airport (insert Sarcmark).


I'm really big on tradition, pageantry and all that jazz. Otherwise, I'd probably be a bigger NFL fan. The weather, believe it or not, isn't that big a deal for me. Sure, it would help recruiting, but there have been plenty of national titles won by schools with snow waiting for them when the come home from the bowl game. But what it comes down to is the fanbase and the facilities. If you can say your school has the best of both, then your set. Plus, I'm sure everyone else is going to pick schools you'd expect, like USC or Miami. So, I'll try to make my picks interesting.

Nebraska – If you can handle the corn and the mullets, Big Red has got to be on this list. The school has won a gazillion games, has fantastic facilities, and the absolute most loyal fans in the history of American sports. I mean, seriously, they haven't missed a sell-out home game since 1962! That's 304 games ago, people. The pressure is great to win in Lincoln; but if you do, there's no limit to how far the program and its community will go to make you happy.

Washington – Have you seen the Huskies' campus? It's probably the most picturesque in-stadium gameday experience any college football fan could have. From inside one of the loudest stadiums in America, you can have a great view right out onto Union Bay in Lake Washington. The recruits might not flock to Seattle like an SEC state, but the facilities are fantastic and the fan base has always been there.

Penn State – Don't say it. I was actually very close to leaving Happy Valley off my list. After all, who really wants to follow Joe Paterno? But it really wouldn't be all that bad. If you include the largest stadium in North America, Penn State probably has the best football facilities in the world. Throw in a pretty darn good recruiting base from Virginia to Ohio to New York City; Penn State is, hands down, a coaching dream job.

TCU - I'm not an overtly religious person, but Texas Christian has all the moving pieces of a great football program. The Horned Frogs have a superb football tradition that goes back before facemasks; the Lone Star State is probably the single best recruiting base in college football; and you would be right near the major Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.


The Top-2 coaching destinations would have to be Texas and Florida, because of the inherent advantage of in-state talent and nice weather. USC would have been on this list too, but the fear of a NCAA crackdown scared me off that option. Other potential substitutes would be: Florida State, Miami, South Florida and UCLA.

For the remaining choice I’d have to go with Ohio State, also in a fertile recruiting ground without the weather. A prestige program, similar things can be said of Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan and Penn State.

Fresno State would have to be my non-BCS school, far better weather than Boise State and in-state talent to grab. The only real roadblock year after year appears to be the Broncos and given the anywhere/anytime approach to OOC scheduling would boost up the weak conference slate.


I don’t know about the others, but I had a difficult time reducing this to just three. That’s because I could name my top four in my sleep. With that being said, here’s the criteria I used to determine my picks.

* Recruiting (Are you THE school in your state that most young football players dream of playing for someday?)
* Support (Does your athletic department have the cash to flaunt around and bring you the best facilities and booster support possible?)
* Fan base (Is your team’s bandwagon the largest in its respective state?)
* Weather (I don’t put as much emphasis on this for a coach, but it certainly does come across the minds of recruits. Hence, it can be a factor)

1. USC – Let’s see: Beaches, babes, nice weather year-round, and thanks to Pete Carroll, the best recruits in California practically come flocking to you.

Since Lane Kiffin ought to keep the wheels on the program recruiting-wise, this job will finally help to point out what a disgustingly mediocre gameday coach he truly is. Congrats USC, you just hired your own Charlie Weis.

2. Ohio State – Yes, the weather may leave more to be desired but otherwise, what’s there not to love? A rich athletic department, being the most popular sports team in the state of Ohio (the Browns and Bengals don’t even come close), and having a virtual chokehold on recruits in your state (spare me the Cincinnati talk, they don’t hold a candle to OSU in recruiting) makes this job an extremely difficult one to pass on.

3. Texas – It’s located in the Mecca of American high school football, in which the top recruits flock to Austin if they’re lucky enough to be offered. That, combined with one of the wealthiest athletic departments in the nation throwing their support behind you makes this in my humble opinion, a dream job for any coach.

Non-AQ: Boise State - Forget the foundation of winning that’s being laid down, they play on freakin’ blue turf…Smurf turf! What 3-star recruit ignored by the USC’s of college football could resist that?

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January 20, 2010

Wrestling Wreport: Illinois Preview

No. 13 PSU (8-3-1) vs. No. 19 Illinois (5-3)

7 pm, Friday Jan. 22 at Rec Hall


There's been a mix of good and bad news for the Penn State Wrestling team of late. 133-pounder Tyler Saltsman informed coaches he was leaving the team on Jan. 14th.

Saltsman said he was unhappy because he wasn't given a chance to compete at the 133-pound weight class in recent dual meets.

Saltsman said the coaches told him he'd get an opportunity to compete at the Jan. 8-9 Virginia Duals, but instead watched as Pearsall compiled an 0-4 record while competing in each bout.

Saltsman's leaves PSU with a 3-5 record and incredibly thin at 133 as Bryan Pearsall is pretty much it from this point forward.

The good news is Penn State has signed another state champ. Eastern wrestler Hank Stinson committed to attend Penn State on scholarship Jan. 17th. Stinson was a 2008 state champ but missed most of last season with an injury. The money sound bite:

"It's just the perfect combination," Stinson said. "It's a great coach, and it's driving distance and my parents came come up and watch me wrestle."


Illinois has a 9-2 record all-time against Penn State but more importantly the Fighting Illini have pwned PSU since the Lions joined the Big Ten going a perfect 8-0. The last time these two teams met No. 15 Illinois upset No. 8 Penn State 18-15 Feb. 3, 2008 at Huff Hall (Illinois). The only common opponent is Pitt who PSU tied 18-18 and Illinois lost to 15-18.


184: #2 John Dergo (ILL) (20-2) vs. # 12David Erwin (PSU) (19-5)

Erwin has come on since moving up to 184 and lately had an impressive win over No. 9 Clayton Foster (9-3) in the Virginia Duals. Erwin will have to be sharp because John Dergo has been a buzz saw. Dergo's two losses on the season have come at the hands of wrestlers ranked in the top 7 and he's beaten the #1, #2, and #3 ranked wrestlers. In the Midlands tournament Dergo beat three consecutive two-time All-Americans to claim the title. This will be a litmus test for Erwin.

141: #20 Eric Terrazas (ILL) (11-0) vs.#5 Frank Molinaro (21-1)

Despite his undefeated record, Eric Terrazas has yet to face a ranked opponent while Frank has beaten #7 Jason Chamberlain 3-1 at Reno. Their one common opponent, Brandon Weist of Missouri, Frank beat 6-1 and Terrazas won 4-2. Frank is coming off a 2-5 loss to #4 Kyle Terry of Oklahoma and hopefully is looking to redeem himself and this match could be key. On paper it's against a ranked opponent but if Frank can wrestle aggressively like he has in the past he should win and could possibly give PSU bonus points.


Wt: Illinois vs. Penn State

125: John Deneen (6-6) vs. #12 Brad Pataky (17-5)

Pataky has come out quick in matches like this and he has a big advantage here. Brad has to be thinking about scoring as many bonus points as he can get with the goal of a pin or technical fall. Anything less than a major is unacceptable if PSU is going to win.

-Major Advantage Pataky

133: Daryl Thomas (12-9) vs. 133 Bryan Pearsall (2-14)

Although Sanderson has said Pearsall has been wrestling better and better, from what I've witnessed he's not ready to beat a wrestler with a winning record. Pearsall went 0-4 in the Virginia Duals and was pinned in his last match. On the season Pearsall has been pinned twice and one of his wins was by default. He's kept it close to wrestlers with Thomas' ability and that's all Penn State fans can hope: keep it close and no bonus points.

-Advantage Thomas

141: #11 Ryan Prater (9-4) vs. Adam Lynch (5-8)

A key match for Illinois, as was the case for Pataky for Penn State, Prater must get bonus points. That means Lynch must stay off his back and keep it close. Adam has been so inconsistent this season it's hard to get a read. He was pinned by #4 Jamal Parks and #18 Seth Ciasulli but kept it close to #12 Chris Diaz. Lynch must wrestle smart and give up no more than a major.

-Major Advantage+ Prater

157: Conrad Polz (12-9) vs. #5 Cyler Sanderson (19-2)

Another chance for Penn State to get bonus points this is about as much of a sure thing as PSU will get. In his last 12 bouts, Sanderson has faced 5 ranked wrestlers. Of the other 7 unranked wrestlers Sanderson has faced, 2 ended in majors, 4 ended in technical falls, and 1 ended in a fall (read: we're getting bonus here and possibly big bonus).

-Major Advantage+ Sanderson

165: Joe Barczak (10-6) vs. #8 Dan Vallimont (18-3)

Another chance for bonus points Vallimont will need at least a major. Unlike Sanderson though, Vallimont hasn't been producing bonus points lately. Since the Nittany Lion Open Vallimont has only registered 1 Fall, 1 TF, and 1 major while only wrestling 4 ranked opponents in 11 bouts. Anything less than a major could hurt PSU.

-Major Advantage Vallimont

174: #14 Jordan Blanton (12-3) vs. Justin Ortega (6-10)

The next two bouts could make or break Penn State's chances and it starts with Ortega. Justin has done a decent job of staying off his back although he did give up a tech fall. Against the three ranked opponents he's face though, he's given up the aforementioned Tech Fall but kept it close to #12 David Craig (1-3) and in his last match against #8 Jeff James he lost 1-2 in a tie breaker.

-Major Advantage Blanton

197: #10 Patrick Bond (14-8) vs. Clay Steadman (8-7)

Unlike Ortega, Steadman hasn't had the close matches against ranked opponents. His best finish was a 2-5 loss to #8 Alan Gelogear but he was pinned by #16 Lamar Brown and recently #3 Eric Lapotsky. Depending on how the dual is going, this could be a spot to put in Pitt transfer David Crowell who has been pushing Steadman for the starting spot.

-Major Advantage+ Bond… Patrick Bond

Kinda like this, x3 periods
Hwt: Marty Smith (10-9) vs. So.#11 Cameron Wade (12-5)
OR Pat Walker (10-11)

If the match does come down to 285, Wade may need to step up. Most of Wade's matches against good competition have been slow boring two-bears-hugging-each-other snoozefests.

Having said that, when he's aggressive good things happen: Cameron has 4 falls and 3 tech falls against unranked opponents. If the match comes down to Cameron vs. the dreaded "or" match, hopefully Wade comes out with aggression on his mind. Maybe he could think of his opponent as a pile of day old donuts… bears like that.


On paper this looks like a 5-5 dual and you know what that means: bonus points will probably decide it. Lynch, Steadman, and Ortega have to stay off their backs while Wade, Sanderson, and Pataky have to go for all they can. This match could go either way but I think Penn State has the advantage coming off a week of rest while Illinois was getting pummeled by #2 Iowa State 33-9 last Saturday.

Final Score: PSU 23 - Illinois 21

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Russ Rose Is Still Infallible

"Ah, come on! You mean, I have to do my
Joe Pesci impersonation again?
Where were you the first five times that I did it?"
All this time, Russ Rose has been putting his pants on just like the rest of us: One leg at time. Except, once his pants were on, he churned out All-American volleyball players, won back-to-back-to-back national championships (making him the Tom Emanski of women's volleyball), and produced a line of instructional DVD's and books for everyone else to soak in just 2% of his vast coaching wisdom. Suffice it to say, Russ Rose had seemingly done it all in his 30 years as the Lady Lions coach.

Well...that appeared to be the case at least, until it was announced recently that Rose would be inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Now we can add one more accomplishment to his already lengthy list: Dispelling stereotypes.

So props to you, Russ. I would offer you congratulations in Hebrew but I'm not Jewish, plus it's a corny writer gimmick that folks such as Pat Forde are better suited for.

'Mazel tov' Russ! What a fitting reward for someone who for the past 102 games and counting has produced a group of volleyball players dazzling enough to make opposing coaches scream 'Oy vey!' in the middle of the night.

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Wednesday Recruitin': Lattimore fallout

Following Marcus Lattimore's surprising decision this weekend to drop Penn State from his final group of schools, the message boards were sent into one big hissy fit. Between the Dominique Easley and Adrian Coxson decommitments, and now Lattimore exiting the picture, all of the recent recruiting news around Penn State has been negative. With only a few weeks left before signing day (Feb. 3), who's left? We'll take a look at just that in today's Wednesday Recruitin'.

And two remain...

In last week's Wednesday Recruitin', I highlighted three prospects that Penn State was pushing hard to land by signing day. Lattimore is now out of that mix, which leaves defensive end Mike Thornton.

Pullium is still dragging his feet on a decision, even though all signs in the world are pointing to Penn State.

As for Thornton, the Nittany Lions aren't looking so good. As late as last week, it was widely assumed that Thornton was set on Penn State, but needed some time to solidify his decision. Now, it looks as if some other programs have taken a bigger interest in the recruit, particularly Southern Cal and Georgia.

The Bulldogs were in a state of instability on defense, with the firing of DC Willie Martinez. But last Friday with the hiring of former Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham, Thornton's interest in Georgia has picked back up.

Lane Kiffin has sent his wolves into the Peach State, also trying to pluck Thornton. Ed Orgeron had been recruiting Thornton for Kiffin when they were still at Tennessee. Now in Los Angeles, Orgeron is picking up where he left off. Thornton has set up an official visit to USC on January 29. Honestly, now that Georgia's situation has settled down, and Kiffin is calling from USC, Penn State's chances with Thornton are thinning quickly.

The "Plan-B" Running Back?

Marcus Lattimore would have been a fantastic pickup for Penn State this season. But is it the end of the world now that he's dropped the Nittany Lions? Not at all. The running back situation at Penn State is better than it has been in probably more than a decade, with 3,815 career rushing yards returning between Evan Royster and Stephfon Green; tack on another 708 yards from scrimmage if you include receiving yards. I'll have much more on how the depth chart and scholarship roster looks, but that's for another post.
Seeing this kid actually move on the field, he might not be a bad pickup in the end.

The point of all this is that Lattimore probably would have sat on the bench his first season, and only logged shared-time carries with Green in year two. Put that possibility together with Curtis Dukes coming off a 2009 redshirt season, Silas Redd already enrolled in classes this spring, and Brandon Beachum's likely return from an ACL in 2011; it would have been a tense situation at best with a former No. 1 recruit having to share time with just one back, never mind the prospect of sharing carries with two others. Lattimore wouldn't have been the feature back until 2012, at the earliest.

But don't think Penn State doesn't want to sign another back in this year's class. There is a mid-level prospect that had fallen off the radar last month, as Lattimore's interest in Penn State was rising. Tahj Kimble, a 5-foot-11, 197-pound tailback from Fernandina Beach (Fla.), was contacted in December by Mike McQueary, who asked Kimble if he had any interest in the Lions. When Kimble said yes, McQueary leveled with him that if Lattimore committed, Penn State would have no need to sign Kimble.

Now we stand with Lattimore out. Does that mean Kimble is back in the mix? I haven't heard to much the past few days, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Kimble show up suddenly again.

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January 19, 2010

Penn State fourth in Directors' Cup

Big deal? Yeah, why not.
Following strong performances from its fall sports, including a third consecutive women's volleyball national championship, Penn State stands in fourth place in the 2009-10 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings.

The Nittany Lions have garnered 318.50 points to post their 10th top five fall finish in the 17 years of the Directors' Cup. Fourth place marks the Lions' best fall finish since 2005-06, when they were second. Penn State has finished in the top 25 in all 16 previous Directors' Cup surveys, with eight top 10 finishes.


Five Penn State fall squads garnered Directors' Cup points, led by 100 from women's volleyball. The football team racked up 70.5 points, the men's and women's soccer teams reached the round of 32 to pick up 50 points apiece and women's cross country added 48.

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January 18, 2010

Angels With Filthy Souls, with Ed DeChellis

[THE SCENE: Athletic Director Tim Curley's office. A man is sitting behind a desk, examining the day's newspaper with a magnifying glass. The room itself is in black-and-white.]

Who is it?

[opens door, walks in] It's me, Ed. [whips out resignation papers from his suit jacket] I've got the

Leave it on the doorstep and get the hell out of here.

Alright, Curley...but what about my mon- Hey, who the hell are you?

The name’s Johnny.

Alright, Johnny...where’s Curley? Are you his 'stand-in' or something

Curley ain’t in charge no more.

What do you mean?

He’s upstairs taking a bath..he’ll call ya when he gets out.

But, we’re already upstairs..and since when did we get a bathtub installed in this place?

Ah, forget it. I’ll explain later.

Fine...But what about my money?

What money?

Curley said he had some dough for me. You know, to buy out my contract.

Is that a fact? How much do I owe ya?

I don't know exactly, Curley tends to keep such things on the down-low.

Too bad, Curley ain't in charge no more.

Umm yeah, I know. He's taking a bath upstairs, like you said.

Hey! I tell ya what I’m gonna give you, Ed. [Pulls out tommy gun] I’m gonna give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, losing, no-good, keester off my property, before I pump your guts full of lead!

What the - Put that gun down! Let’s deal with this matter like civilized human beings!


Keep the change, ya filthy animal.

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