May 29, 2010

LBU Exclusive: Reviewing Phil Steele's 2010 Preview

There aren't many college football preview magazines that can boast quite like Phil Steele's. The 328-page (no more, no less, every year) annual Bible of the collegiate gridiron may sit on the same shelves as other preview magazines, but no early-summer shopping spree would be complete without forking out the modest $8.95 for the pages upon pages of Phil's patented shorthand, whacky abbreviations, and more fine print than a sub-prime mortgage.

Today you'll get an exclusive sneak peek into Phil Steele's 2010 College Football Preview. Specifically, our review will be 99 percent Penn State, but you'll get a few Big Ten and national highlights, too. So enough with the fluff, let's dive in!

Bowl Prediction

Penn State is slated for a repeat visit to the Capital One Bowl, this time to square off with the Auburn Tigers. The game would be a rematch of the two teams, who faced each other in the 2003 Captial One Bowl. Auburn came into that game ranked No. 22, while the Nittany Lions were favored with a No. 10 ranking. The Tigers upset the Lions, 13-9. Penn State's offense kicked field goals instead of touchdowns, while Auburn's offense rallied from a 6-0 half-time deficit, led by eventual top-10 draft picks Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Jason Campbell.

Penn State is 2-0 against the SEC since that game, while Auburn is 2-1 versus the Big Ten.

Individual Position Rankings

Some of the highest-ranked Nittany Lions are on the offensive side of the ball. Evan Royster is listed as the No. 4 overall running back for 2010, while Stefen Wisniewski is the No. 1 guard in the nation. Derek Moye is the only Nittany Lion receiver to make the top-76 in this year's preview, while Joe Suhey comes in as the No. 15 fullback. Penn State does not have a quarterback, offensive tackle, center, or tight end listed in this year's rankings. But for those of you out there who care, Penn State transfer Pat Devlin, now Delaware's starting quarterback, is ranked No. 21.

On defense, the Nittany Lions don't have a particularly strong showing this year, considering the star-power in previous editions. For the first time in years, Penn State has fewer than four defensive linemen ranked for 2010. Jack Crawford is at a solid No. 23 among defensive ends. Ollie Ogbu and, somewhat surprisingly, Devon Still are ranked No. 19 and No. 59, respectively. No Nittany Lion inside linebackers are ranked this year, but No. 32 Bani Gbaydu and No. 74 Nate Stupar are on the outside linebacker rankings. In the secondary, D'Anton Lynn is listed as the No. 56 cornerback, while Nick Sukay fills in the No. 18 strong safety spot.

Penn State does not have a single special teams player ranked by Phil for 2010.

National Unit Rankings

Stephfon Green is just one of Penn State's dynamic running backs. Phil Steele has the Nittany Lions' ground game as one of the best in the nation going into this season.
As you might expect, Penn State's quarterbacks unit took a big hit with the loss of Daryll Clark--the unit does not make the list of top QB units this year.

The running backs, however, do make the cut. Evan Royster will lead the unit that Phil ranks as the No. 7 overall nationally. Phil likes the return of Royster, along with Stephfon Green, and the successful rehab of Brandon Beachum's ACL. Joe Suhey plays a factor, while the freshmen like Silas Redd and Curtis Dukes aren't mentioned, probably because Redd should redshirt this season and Dukes has three guys ahead of him.

Phil usually picks out about 15 teams per unit ranking, giving a small write-up to each of the top-15. The units outside the top-15 are listed, but not given any sort of explanation. Two Penn State units that fit the latter category are the receivers and offensive line, coming in at No. 25 and No. 20, respectively among 34 teams in each group.

Defensively, Penn State's defensive line comes in at No. 9 mostly due to its ability to completely reload every year, even after heavy losses to the draft and graduation. Phil points out that the unit returns more starts (31) and more sacks (18.5) than it did going into 2009.

When a team replaces all three NFL-bound linebackers, it's going to hurt. But with Penn State, the fall wasn't so far as expected. Linebacker U's namesake unit sits comfortably at No. 27 for 2010.

Like the defensive line ranking, Penn State's secondary got into Phil's top-15--just barely, at No. 15--mostly on merit, and its ability to reload each off-season.

With virtually no stability on special teams (besides Colin Wagner's return), Penn State didn't make the cut for any ranking in this year's preview.

National Top-25, All-Americans, and All-Big Ten

All of this (PSU is No. 18, here's the All-Americans and All-Big Ten teams) has been leaked so far. Some of it has come from the media, while some has come from Phil's site. So I won't waste time on them here.

Penn State's Title Chances

Phil calls the Nittany Lions a "legit Big Ten contender" despite all the losses and a tough schedule. Penn State is projected to tie for second with Iowa (more on the overall Big Ten race in a minute). While Penn State is supposed to technically finish second, Phil probably expects another loss to the Hawkeyes. Penn State is listed below Iowa in the standings.

Penn State, in Brief...

With all the "VHT" (very highly-touted) players on Penn State's roster these days, Phil has a tough time picking on anything but experience. The quarterback position should pose the most problems, while the abysmal special teams from a year ago should improve, according to Phil's forecast.

The schedule is a monster in Phil's analysis. Not only does he harp continuously on Penn State's dates with three BCS Bowl Game winners, but overall Phil jacked up the Lions' strength of schedule by 57 spots (!), from No. 73 in 2009 to No. 16 for 2010. He bases his rankings on strength of the teams for this year, not from last year.

Depth Charting

Phil Steele projects that DeOn'Tae Pannell (50) will move out to left tackle this season. (Photo: Mike Pettigano)
Phil projects the fall depth charts for each team, but even his predictions aren't far off from our very own current depth chart following spring practice. The only big changes (again, because he does the fall depth chart), is that Johnnie Troutman returns to left guard, while DeOn'Tae Pannell moves out to left tackle.

Michael Mauti replaces Chris Colasanti at middle linebacker. This might not happen, since Joe Paterno seems set on giving the senior (Colasanti) a chance over the younger player (Mauti). On special teams, Phil thinks Anthony Fera will emerge from Paterno's dog house, and take over at punter.

Everything else is the same as our depth chart.

Projected Stats for 2010

You might ask how he can predict actual statistics for this season. Don't. Just let it be. It's Phil Steele, and he can do what he pleases. For this season, Phil projects the top-12 leaders in all major categories--rush offense, pass offense, scoring offense, total offense; rush defense, pass defense, scoring defense, total defense.

Penn State is projected to field the No. 2 scoring defense for 2010, while also coming in as the projected No. 7 rush defense, the projected No. 6 pass defense, and the No. 5 total defense (total yardage allowed) in college football.

Phil also projects the "most improved" teams in each of those categories. The Nittany Lions' are projected to have the No. 3 most improved rushing game for 2010. That's not a surprise, considering what the offensive game plan will be this season, and a much more experienced offensive line.


Evan Royster is listed as a contender, which is Phil's second level of players vying for the honor this year. While Royster could be in the running for a few minutes this season, don't count on anything beyond that. It's not a matter of talent or production, but he will be going up against a loaded field, a field that's also playing with a deck stacked against Royster. Still, it's nice to see a Penn Stater on the list at all.

The Big Ten Overall

I won't spend much time on this, as the other fine Big Ten blogs can fend for themselves. But since I have it right in front of me, I can't bare to leave out some of the bigger projections Phil makes for this year's Big Ten Title Race.

The projected final standings are:

1. Ohio State
2(t). Iowa
2(t). Penn State
4. Wisconsin
5(t). Michigan State
5(t). Michigan
7. Northwestern
8. Illinois
9. Purdue
10(t). Indiana
10(t). Minnesota

Overall Impressions

Phil Steele's College Football Preview never disappoints. Even when your team isn't ranked so high, or projected to do so well, there is a sort of solace gained from reading such a grounded and detailed explanation of "why" each football season will play out the way it should. So be sure to go out and get yours this week. The magazine hits the shelves on June 8, and should be available at your local book store, or supermarket magazine aisle. Or, you could just visit to order one directly to your home.

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May 28, 2010

10 Minutes Or Less: 2000 Penn State vs. Purdue (Drew Brees Is Foiled Again)

(FYI: We moved our YouTube account, so be sure to subscribe to our new channel, LBUvideos)

Here's a little treat for you this Memorial Day weekend: One of the most emotional victories in Penn State football history. It's hard to believe this was ten years ago already, even though many of us can recall this one as if it happened last season. I can still recall the "WE BELIEVE" signs being held up by the fans throughout Beaver Stadium as the team was not only struggling through what would turn out to be its first of four losing seasons during the first half of the 2000's (better known in the PSU football lexicon as "The Dark Years") but also grieving over the recently fallen Adam Taliaferro. While we all know Adam's story has a happy ending (Adam would go on to lead the team out of the tunnel in their 2001 season opener, graduate from PSU, and obtain his JD from Rutgers. He is now a practicing attorney in Philadelphia), it was still uncertain at this point whether he would ever walk again.

I can also recall watching Gameday that morning and hearing Kirk Herbstreit predict that Purdue's Heisman Trophy-candidate quarterback Drew Brees would have a "field day" against PSU's secondary*. As we all know though, Herbie turned out to be dead wrong as Brees was limited that day to rather pedestrian passing numbers. Just like in 1999, Brees had an opportunity to quarterback a game-winning drive for Purdue in the game's final minute but came up short once again. While it would be foolish to claim that this one game alone killed Brees' Heisman hopes, it surely had to have some sort of impact on the Heisman voters when December rolled around...Okay, perhaps not, but it certainly lends credence to the phrase "Happy Valley: Where Heisman Dreams Go To Die."

Unlike Bald Bull in "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out," stepping out of the way from Derek Wake's bull-charge only makes things worse.

Undoubtedly the most memorable part of this game are the back-to-back botched punts by Purdue's Travis Dorsch that occurred deep in Purdue territory, thanks to linebacker Derek Wake's bull-charging past Purdue's blockers, getting to Dorsch before he even had a chance to get into his punting motion. These two gaffes made all the difference in the game, as PSU took advantage of the short field, scoring touchdowns in both instances and hanging on for the 22-20 decision in their favor.

I don't want to get too entrenched into details, that's what the video is for. Make sure you don't exit out of the video early, lest you miss a rare instance of Joe Paterno choking up during a post-game interview...Happy Memorial Day.

* Remember, this was long before Herbie came out of the closet as a PSU fan.

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May 26, 2010

Finally, Penn State lands first commit for 2011

It wasn't the big splash of a recruit we were all hoping for, but Penn State did get its first verbal commitment today for the 2011 recruiting class--Delaware tight end Kyle Carter.

Here's the lowdown on Carter.

Kyle Carter
Tight End
New Castle, DE/William Penn

Carter is a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder out of Delaware, a state the Nittany Lions have grown to appreciate more and more in recent years. The rising senior held a few FCS (I-AA) scholarship offers, namely from Bucknell and Delaware. Rutgers was the only major FBS (I-A) program expressing serious interest, and was rumored to have made a verbal offer.

While this isn't a press-stopper, it's not a bad first pickup for the 2011 class. We'll have more on this, and a broader overview of the 2011 recruiting campaign, in next week's Tuesday Recruitin'. So stay tuned.

Carter's highlight reel:

And at Tim's request, of course a little Goo Punch:

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Penn State Ranked 18th In Phil Steele's Top 25: Commence Bitch-Fest

Special thanks go out to's senior college football writer Pat Forde. As an officially credentialed member of the media, Forde received an advanced copy of Phil Steele's magazine (officially due on bookshelves June 8th) and was kind enough to leak Phil's Top 25 list via his own twitter page
Phil's Top 10: 1. Oklahoma; 2. Ohio State; 3. Alabama; 4. TCU; 5. Nebraska; 6. Boise State; 7. Florida; 8. USC; 9. Miami; 10. Oregon.

Rest of Top 25: 11. Texas 12. UNC 13. VT 14. Iowa 15. Aub 16. ND 17. Ark 18. Penn St. 19. UGA 20. FSU 21. S. Car. 22. WVU 23. Wisc 24. Hou. 25. Arizona

Have to say, Oklahoma holding the top spot as opposed to OSU or Alabama is rather shocking given all the key players the Sooners have lost (including stud QB Sam Bradford, and tight end Jermaine Gresham). It's also shocking to see Boise State out of the Top 5 when every other preseason poll I've seen has the Broncos ranked as such. Unfortunately, none of us here at LBU are with the 'in' crowd, so we'll have to wait for another week and a half like everybody else to get a copy and learn about Phil's rationale behind such picks.

Then of course, you have the total snubbing of PSU at 18th...Actually, I don't think it's a snubbing at all, but you can make yourself instant money by having someone you know bet against such idiotic sentiments being posted in Message Board Land.

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Jeez, Not This Crap Again: Trey Burke Re-opens His Recruitment


Do you see what happens Curley, WHEN YOU F*CK A PROGRAM IN THE ASS?

What was once mere speculation in Message Board Land is now a startling reality: Penn State's top 2011 basketball recruit Trey Burke has rescinded his verbal commitment and has "re-opened" his recruitment. His reason for the decision? You guessed it: The stability of the coaching staff.

According to Mr. Burke, his son just isn't sure either that Penn State can win or that PSU head coach Ed DeChellis or the prime recruiter on Burke, assistant Lewis Preston, will be around when Burke was set to arrive in the fall of 2011:
Two things you can conclude from this paragraph:
  1. Trey has no idea just how committed Tim Curley is to ensuring DeChellis remains the head coach, hell or high water.
  2. Trey has in fact, spoken with Curley or with others close to the basketball program and has heard things that suggest this current coaching staff is on its last legs barring an NCAA Tournament berth next season. This would make Curley's prior comments to the media about the program being headed in the right direction nothing more than mere 'window dressing' to help shield DeChellis for now.
Now, technically speaking, Penn State is still on Burke's list of potential schools. The harsh reality though, is that almost 99.9% of the time a recruit re-opens their recruitment, they end up choosing a different school than the one they originally verballed to...

But now, according to Mr. Burke and Northland High coach Satch Sullinger, high-majors such as Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Arizona and Wake Forest are beginning to show serious interest.
So yeah, you can just go ahead and kiss Trey Burke goodbye. This most recent de-commit along with the transfers of Chris Babb and Bill Edwards are beginning to resemble a carbon copy of the final years of the Jerry Dunn era. Dunn's inability to keep recruits interested (which can be blamed on Curley for not re-working Dunn's contract extension following the Sweet 16 berth in 2001) plus the revolving transfer door under his watch, led to the program's bottoming out in 2003. Judging from these recent events, it's hard not to feel as if this program is experiencing deja vu all over again.

Of course, this disaster could have been averted if we had an Athletic Director who cares about spending the necessary amount of money it takes to build a foundation conducive to being a consistent winner in the Big Ten*. If we were to have Burke de-committing because he's not comfortable with the brand new coaching staff, then I could live with that. Nothing irks me more as a sports fan though, than having a coach who is viewed by outsiders as a 'lame duck' of sorts still being kept around while transfers and de-committed recruits gradually begin to tank the program back to Square One, it's pure Athletic Director negligence. That NIT championship sure seems like a distant Bizzaro World event now...

* Not that anyone expects Curley to do the right thing when it comes to men's basketball

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May 25, 2010

Penn State replaces one footnote with another: Price out, Mateas in


A.J. Price caught two passes for 26 yards in the Blue-White Game, but never made one in the regular season. Now it looks like he never will, as it was reported today that he has left the team.

That's a rather nasty headline. Sorry. But in a pure business sense (College football is a business. Don't kid yourselves.) a footnote is exactly how this news will be recorded in the annals of Penn State football. reported today (HT:BSD) that Penn State added yet another 2010 recruit, in Canadian (Really, eh?) offensive lineman Alex Mateas. This came nearly simultaneously (Coincidence? I think not so much.) as the report that redshirt sophomore wide receiver A.J. Price was leaving the team. Price apparently ran into serious academic troubles, leading to his request that he be released from scholarship. Hey, at least the kid was man enough to make that kind of decision. We can only wish him luck in wherever he may end up.

In the meantime, the Mateas news has unleashed a shit-storm on the message boards (As if you didn't see that coming), since he will be on full scholarship this fall.

I'm sure there will be more on this soon. So stay tuned.

Here's a little background on the Sooners, via (of course) Wikipedia:
"The Ottawa Sooners are a Canadian football team based in Ottawa. The team originally played in the Ontario Football Conference of the Canadian Junior Football League. The team had achieved success during its play in the CJFL, winning a total of 4 National Championships (1974, 1979, 1984 and 1992). After 35 years of competition (1960-1995) in the CJFL, the Sooners moved to the Quebec Junior Football League for the beginning of the 1996 season. The Sooners have also achieved a moderate amount of success in the QJFL, winning 3 Manson Cup Championships (1997, 2001 and 2002). The Sooners will once again begin play in the CJFL for the start of the 2009 season. The Sooners have a long history in the city of Ottawa, and while playing in the QJFL they had developed a good rivalry with the Ottawa Junior Riders. Both of these teams now welcome the addition of a third junior football team in the Ottawa area, the Cumberland Panthers."
So take that for what it's worth.

Mateas' YouTube clips:

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Phil Steele Releases His Preseason All-Big Ten: Which Lions made the Cut?

It's no secret here at LBU that our love of everything Phil Steele borders on that of teeny-bopping Justin Bieber fanaticism*. Thus, when Steele recently released his Preseason All-Big Ten Team on his website, it was a godsend for us during this 'dead period' that plagues the college sports blogosphere. It sure beats trying to invent ways to preview the upcoming season that you think are original and clever before you realize that every other blog has done a post at some point in time comparing football programs to Simpsons characters.

Making the 1st team (to nobody's surprise) were Preseason All-Americans running back Evan Royster and offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski. Wide receiver Derek Moye and defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu helped to comprise the 2nd team, while the 3rd Team was anchored by defensive end Jack Crawford and safety Nick Sukay. Rounding out the list on the 4th team were linebacker Bani Gbadyu and wide receiver Graham Zug.

Look, I realize there isn't a whole lot separating 3rd and 4th team picks (hardly any college football publication goes as deep with preseason all-conference picks) but Zug got snubbed, period. Yes, Derek Moye led the team in receptions (48) and receiving yards (785) and deservedly earned 2nd team honors but you know who was right behind him in those categories? That's right, Graham Zug. And the stats were fairly close as well (46 catches, 600 yards), not to mention Zug led the team in touchdown receptions last season with seven to Moye's six.

Fourth team? FOURTH F*CKING TEAM?! I'll show you my 'fourth team...' ZUG SMASH!
Anyone who watched Penn State play last year saw how critical Zug was to the receiving corps: Sure, he wasn't the most dazzling, barn-burning receiver out there, but he sure knew how to get open and make the catch with his hands of glue. At the very least, Zug deserved to be named to the 3rd team given how critical he was to the receiving corps last year. Speaking of which, Michigan State's Keith Nichol is listed as a 3rd team receiver ahead of Zug...and he's an effing quarterback. I really hope this was merely a misprint on Phil's part and was meant to include perhaps, MSU receiver Keshawn Martin (1st team punt/kick returner) instead.

Other notable picks on Phil's list include Terrelle Pryor being named 1st team QB over Iowa's Ricky Stanzi. The combination of Pryor's maturation as a true dual-threat QB along with Iowa's patented Stanziballs gave the slight edge to Pryor. Indiana QB Ben Chappell failed to crack the list, as Michigan State's Kirk Cousins (3rd team) and Scott Tolzien (4th team) rounded out the quarterbacks. Considering how much love is given to IU's receivers Tandon Doss (1st team) and Darius Willis (3rd team), this could easily be the second-worst snubbing on the list.

As with any preseason list, this will be an afterthought come September when the games actually start and the only results that matter are those that occur on the field as opposed to a keyboard. For the next few months though, we've got ourselves something to hold us over...

* However, it has nothing to do with the fact that Mike also writes for

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May 23, 2010

Evan Royster and Stefen Wisniewski named All-America by Phil Steele


Stefen Wisniewski (top) and Evan Royster (bottom) look to lead a powerful Nittany Lions ground game in 2010.

Penn State senior running back Evan Royster, and senior offensive lineman Stefen Wisnewski have been named 2010 All-Americans by Phil Steele.
Wisniewski earned third team All-America and first team All-Big Ten accolades in 2009, starting all 13 games at center for the Nittany Lions. He moved back to guard during spring practice, where he started 12 games in 2008, helping Penn State win the Big Ten Championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl.

A starter in 25 of 26 games the past two seasons, Wisniewski is on the preliminary Watch List for the 41st Rotary Lombardi Award...

Royster has been one of the nation's premier tailbacks the past two seasons, rushing for 1,169 yards in 2009 to earn first team All-Big Ten accolades. In 2008, he was among 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award and earned second team all-conference accolades after gaining 1,236 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns.
I won't say that I'm surprised that these are the only two Nittany Lions to make the All-America teams, especially with so many of the "stars" gone from the last two seasons. But depending on how the offense develops, and a grossly under-rated defense this year, I would expect a few more names than just these two to gain recognition by the end of the season.

For now, though, congratulations to Evan and Stefen. It should be a fun year for Penn State's running game.

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May 21, 2010

Penn State offers DB Dominique Noble

The spring evaluation period ends on May 28, which means we could see our first couple commits. But that is then. This is now. And right now, Penn State made yet another offer to a defensive back. This class so far is extremely line-heavy, with a smattering of tight end. So this most recent offer is somewhat surprising, but not shocking by any means.

Dominique Noble
Mount Ulla, NC/West Rowan
Defensive Back

Noble's offers list so far includes Arkansas, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Penn State, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Noble discussed his top choices with, Rivals' Georgia Tech site. There was some good news for Penn State fans:
"My top five right now is Georgia Tech, NC State, Penn State, West Virginia and Virginia," Noble said. "That is pretty close to the order. I'll have a clearer picture once I make some visits like when I see Tech in person next week."
Penn State has only four offers out to defensive backs, five now including Noble. It's very likely that the Nittany Lions will take only one or two defensive backs in this class. If that's the case, I wouldn't expect many more offers in the secondary.

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Chris Babb Transfers To Iowa State


Well, it's official: Chris Babb has settled on Iowa State as his next hooping destination. Under NCAA transfer rules, Babb will have to sit out the 2010-11 season which means the would-be junior will take a redshirt and then have two more years of eligibility remaining following next season.

As a three-point shooting specialist, Babb has to be giddy over the fact he'll be playing under new Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, a former three-point specialist himself for the NBA's Pacers and Timberwolves. Hell, Babb even admits such things himself in this exclusive interview on ISU's official athletics webpage.

His coach seems to be pretty excited, as well:

“Chris brings an unbelievable ability to shoot the basketball,” Hoiberg said. “He averaged double figures in Big Ten play last year and was a part of a Penn State team that won the 2009 NIT championship. He has a great build and will be able to handle the physical play of the Big 12. Growing up in Texas, he is also familiar with the Big 12 landscape.
Considering Babb managed to survive the physical play of the Big Ten, Hoiberg's got a point. Given Hoiberg's background as a shooting guard, I envision him using Babb as a catch-and-shoot type of player that they try to get open on the perimeter so he can simply fire away, considering the fact Babb isn't known for being one who tends to drive to the hoop on a regular basis. Regardless, we here at LBU wish Chris all the best*

* Unless of course, Penn State and Iowa State meet between now and 2013

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Evan Royster on Phil Steele's Cover


Penn State's all-America candidate Evan Royster will grace the cover of Phil Steele's 2010 East Coast preview magazine. The rising senior running back is 481 yards short of breaking the Nittany Lions' career rushing record, currently held by Curt Warner (1982).

Sean Lee was selected for the 2009 East Coast regional cover.

Steele's 328-page publication was ranked by as the No. 1 most-accurate preseason magazine over the last ten years.

The 2010 edition will hit news stands on June 8. Last year's edition cost $8.95, and was available almost everywhere. I purchased mine at Wegmans.

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May 20, 2010

Penn State offers big Ohio TE Nick Vannett

Westerville Central tight end Nick Vannett received an offer from Penn State this week, making him the latest tight end prospect the Nittany Lions are going after for 2011.
The Nittany Lions are recruiting hard this year for tight ends, and have added yet another to the scholarship offer board. This time, it's a very highly touted recruit from the Buckeye State. Of course, the Buckeyes themselves might have something to say about all of this kid by the time he commits.

Nick Vannett
Westerville (OH) Central
Tight End

Besides Penn State, Vannett's favorites are Arizona, Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Purdue and South Florida. Buckeye Battle Cry seems to think Vannett is a lock for Ohio State, that it's just a matter of when he pulls the trigger.

On Monday, Vannett cut his list from 25 down to 11 schools. But by the end of the day, Penn State and North Carolina State sent offers his way. With the Nittany Lions on board, things seemed to change for Vannett. He told's Bill Greene:
"Without a doubt, Penn State makes my favorite list... I don't know a lot about Penn State, but I know they've had success using the tight end in the past... The Penn State program has so much tradition, and they're a great program. I've never been there before, but I'm hoping to be able to visit them this summer."
I'm pretty sure I know of two guys who can vouch for Penn State's ability to develop quality tight ends... NFL-quality, to be exact:

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May 19, 2010

Big Ten Expansion Doomsday Clock is Cooling its Jets


You may have heard about this expansion thing in the Big Ten. So have we. But after what seemed like weeks of stories suggesting that Big Ten expansion could come any day now, we finally got something to bite into--the Big Ten spring meetings in Chicago.

Unfortunately, all we got was a big chunk of ice from Jim Delany, who quite plainly articulated that expansion plans are still on the 12-18 months timetable, and that no decision would come now, or anytime soon.

Not that it has stopped every news outlet from churning out expansion stories like collector mugs full of hot cocoa on a rainy November Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

But since it really does look like things are cooling off around Big Ten expansion, we decided to dial back our Doomsday Clock by three minutes. The time is now:


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Clock History

DayChangeTime'Till MidnightReason
May 10011:4515 min.Initial setting of Big Ten Expansion “Doomsday” clock
May 10+1111:564 min.Sports Radio 810 WHB reports Big Ten has extended initial invitations to Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers, and Notre Dame
May 11-311:537 min.Jim Delany enters full-scale denial mode about Sports Radio 810 WHB report
May 19-311:5010 min.Jim Delany, says expansion plans are still 12-18 months away

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Tony Davis signs with CFL team

This isn't big news in the sense that I'm pretty damn proud of myself for finding this rather obscure article about the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and who they just signed to play defensive back:
"Davis, a 5-10, 195-pound native of Warren, Ohio, spent time on the Ticats practice roster last season after attending training camp with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals. He played four seasons at Penn State, recording 122 tackles (82 solo) and three interceptions."
Best of luck, Tony. Who needs the Cardinals, anyway?

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Linkbacker-U commissions report proving Big Ten expansion stories are not hazardous to your health

To the traditional media at-large:

I know the feeling. There is just no way, no how you are going to let a storyline like Big Ten expansion die any time soon. It's just too damn popular. Your sports page is getting a huge boost in daily hits because of it, and the readers, although claiming to be sick of reading about it, keep coming back for more each day. How could you possibly separate the consumers from the product they crave? I mean, it's worked super swell for the cigarette companies, oil cartels, and fast food chains all these years. It's just capitalism! This is not Communist Russia, Nazi Germany, or Socialist China! We're Americans, dammit! And we'll consume whatever makes us feel good, for as long as it will make us feel good. Or, at least until it kills us.

Down with the Pinkos! [Big ol' TFJ]

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

You've probably seen this photo in nearly every article today, 'cause you know there was only one photographer at the Big Ten meetings yesterday.
And now for day three of our expansion stories link dumping. Because, you know, it's us bloggers who are brazenly spreading all this stuff about Big Ten expansion.

Looking South

ESPN - Population shift driving Big Ten expansion study

CBS Sports - Population could play large factor in expansion plans

Kansas City Star - Big Ten widens expansion speculation

USA Today - Demographics may prompt Big Ten to go with expansion route

Columbus Dispatch - Big Ten looking at Southern Exposure

Dallas Morning News - Big Ten Now Trying to Map Out a Move South

BREAKING: Nothing Is Happening

ESPN - Notes from Day 2 of the Big Ten Meetings

ESPN - Big Ten expansion vote 'months away' (AP) - Big Ten commissioner says decision on conference expansion still 'months away'

Syracuse Post-Standard - Jim Delany tells media nothing's imminent (Lansing, MI) - Nothing From Delany On Big Ten Expansion

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Delany offers no thought on Big Ten expansion

NBC Sports - Video of Jim Delany on Expansion Talk

Et Cetera

Chicago Tribune - Don't overlook academic affiliation side of Big Ten expansion

USA Today - Sorting through the Big Ten expansion scenarios

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Georgia Tech, ACC content to watch expansion for now - Big Ten expansion talk is getting tiresome

ESPN - Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Big Ten Teams - Maybe the Big Ten won't Blow up the World

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May 18, 2010

Penn State Women Win Track's "Triple Crown"


As somebody who ran for his high school's cross country and track teams and ran for Penn State's club cross-country team, I'd be doing myself and the PSU blogosphere a great disservice if I didn't give the women's track team their due recognition for winning their third consecutive Big Ten outdoor title this past weekend, capturing the Big Ten's "Triple Crown" for the 2009-10 season in the process.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the fringe world of competitive running (i.e. 98% of you): A Triple Crown consists of winning championships in cross-country (Fall), indoor track (Winter), and outdoor track (Spring) all during the same school year. It is an extremely rare feat, perhaps the best analogy would be a football team going undefeated and winning national titles in back-to-back seasons (Nebraska last did it in 1994 and 1995). In fact, prior to this year, such a feat had only been achieved five times in Big Ten history, with Michigan in 2002-03 being the last team to do so. So yeah, Mr. Vice President, this IS a big f*cking deal.

Bridget Franek tells the feeble competition behind her to "drink up, be merry!" as she splashes into the water pit during the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

While there's plenty of praise to go around amongst the team members, a special shout-out goes to Bridget Franek* (pictured, right >>>) who helped carry the team with a victory in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (a race featuring giant hurdles plus a "water pit." That's right, a freakin' water pit.. admit it, you're already a tad more intrigued) along with third and fourth-place finishes in the 5,000 and 1,500-meter races, respectively.

Even though it's no secret that few people follow the cross-country/track teams, as Penn State sports fans, we should take pride in seeing our school be the best at whatever the sport they participate in...We now return to your regularly scheduled link-dumps of fluff articles about Big Ten expansion

* I have a personal bias towards long-distance runners, being that I was mainly a 1600-meter (mile), 3200-meter (2 mile), and occasional 4x800 guy back in high school.

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Linkbacker-U tires of your Big Ten expansion fluff

Jim Delany, seen here counting to eleventy billion, the number of dollars the Big Ten will make in 2010...
You know you love the "Linkbacker-U" play. Admit it. So anyway, we told you this week would be slow around here. We weren't kidding. A bunch of nothing has come out of the Big Ten spring meetings so far, unless you consider fluff stories something. I don't.

Spring Meetings & Expansion in General...

Sporting News (MSNBC) - Be patient with Big Ten as it mulls expansion - Big Ten athletic directors wrestle with expansion rumors - As rumors heat up, all eyes on Big Ten

ESPN Big Ten Blog - Big Ten coaches, ADs turn to Delany for answers

USA Today - Big Ten coaches, directors meet as expansion rumors fly

Chicago Tribune - Coaches relish league's lofty status

St. Cloud Times - Rajkowski column: A brave new and bloated Big Ten

Poll: Will there be any actual expansion news this week?

Notre Dame...

ABC News (AP) - Will Notre Dame Keep Its Independence?
This one is so early March 2010.

UK Daily Mail - (as in, United Kingdom!)Michael Kim's US sport column: Notre Dame must decide if it wants to stay independent or join the college expansion and make an extra $7m a year

CBS Sports - Notre Dame looks like it's working on independent future
A look at ND's scheduling the next few years.

Big XII, ACC, SEC...

ESPN Big XII Blog - Texas AD not looking to leave Big 12 (Scout) - [Vanderbilt to the] Big Ten? Maybe not a bad idea

Washington Examiner - Jim Williams: Maryland in the Big Ten? An invite could come - Steven M. Sipple: Big Ten has many appealing factors in its favor

Tampa Bay Online - Big Ten expansion talk has USF's attention

Recruiting... - What does “commit” really mean?
Definitely worth the read, since it's finally a decent story about something other than Big Ten expansion.

Charleston Post and Courier (SC) - Gamecocks land Georgia prep QB
The QB isn't really the story here for PSU fans, rather it's the fact that USC is going after so many of the same recruits as the Lions.

Et cetera... - Michigan to announce self-imposed sanctions against football team, will announce specifics next week

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May 17, 2010

Link Dumping into the Big Ten Meetings

It's Monday, and I don't really feel like writing a thousand word rant on Big Ten expansion. So, here's what everyone else is saying as the Big Ten Spring Meetings kick off today in Chicago. Check back later today for more links (I'm sure we'll find more), and then even later for a wrap up of the first day, if there's any news...

Big Ten Specific:

Adam Rittenberg (ESPN) - Welcome to the Big Ten spring meetings

Cleveland Plain-Dealer - To be (Big), or not to be: Big Ten's expansion road map and the Notre Dame question

Chicago Tribune - Don't expect expansion news at Big Ten meetings

Detroit Free-Press - Expansion talk excites U-M coach Rich Rodriguez

St. Louis Today (Post-Dispatch) - Delany is the Big Ten's point man

Big XII Stuff:

Des Moines Register - Special Report: As Big Ten expansion rumors fly, ISU keeps lips tight on future

Star-Herald (NE) - Nebraska shoots down report of initial contact with Big Ten

Detroit Free-Press - Big Ten expansion could destroy storied rivalries

Dallas Morning News - Big Ten moves could leave Big 12, other conferences scrambling

Chicago Breaking Sports (Trib) - Big Ten expansion could end 119-year-old rivalry

Big East, etc.:

Providence Journal - Fate of Big East rests in Big Ten’s expansion plans

Sporting News - Evaluating the Big Ten expansion candidates: Syracuse

Washington Post - Big Ten expansion: Big dollars, little sense

USA Today - Boise State could get invitation to join the Mountain West next month

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May 16, 2010

2010-11 Penn State Men's Basketball Roster

Updated 11/21/10

You can still view old rosters by visiting our Archived Basketball Rosters page.

No.NamePos.Cl./El.HeightHt.Wt.High SchoolHometown
12Battle, TalorGSR726-0170Bishop MaginnAlbany, N.Y.
21Borovnjak, SasaFSO816-9235Veritas Christian Academy (N.C.)Belgrade, Serbia
10Bowman, TreGFR766-4185St. Thomas MoreYork, Pa.
25Brooks, JeffFSR806-8200DossLouisville, Kent.
2Buie, TaranGFR746-2185Bishop Maginn/State CollegeAlbany, N.Y.
20Colella, NickGJR756-3195New CastleNew Castle, Pa.
23Frazier, TimGSO736-1160Strake JesuitHouston, Texas
34Graham, Jonathan1FR806-8218Calvert HallBaltimore, Md.
15Jackson, DavidFRS SR796-7210Kennedy CatholicFarrell, Pa.
22Jones, AndrewFRS SR826-10245Abington FriendsPhiladelphia, Pa.
41Kirkpatrick, SteveFSR776-5225Cumberland ValleyCarlisle, Pa.
3Marshall, JermaineGRS FR766-4190Red LandEtters, Pa.
35Oliver, BillyFRS FR806-8215ChathamChatham, N.J.
11Wisniewski, AlanFFR816-9205Bishop Foley CatholicSterling Heights, Mich.
24Woodyard, CammeronGJR776-5210Winters MillWestminster, Md.
Ed DeChellis Head Coach
Kurt KanaskieAssociate Head Coach
Lewis PrestonAssistant Coach
Dan EarlAssistant Coach
Ernie Nestor Director of Basketball Operations
Jon Salazer Athletic Trainer
DJ BlackVideo Coordinator
Brad PantallStrength & Conditioning Coach

May 14, 2010

10 Minutes or Less: 2010 Blue-White Game

(FYI: We moved our YouTube account, so be sure to subscribe to our new channel, LBUvideos)

There's really no back story to this one, since it just happened three weekends ago. So, here's the 2010 Blue-White Game, crunched into--you guessed it--10 minutes or less.

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Finally, a New Recruit...In Basketball, PSYCHE.

We're still patiently waiting on that first football recruit for 2011. In the meantime though, the Fighting DeChellises have managed to land their third recruit for 2010 in 6'8" power forward Jonathan Graham. Even though I'm not one to pin my hopes too high on freshmen, given PSU's lack of a post presence on the roster, this was a much-needed grab by the coaching staff. Although there appears to be confusion over who exactly was recruiting Graham, Seton Hall was the main challenger to PSU for Graham's services. Perhaps Seton Hall would've landed him if Bobby Gonzalez hadn't been fired, though that's just mere speculation.

Anyway, here's a little tidbit on his senior season courtesy of the Baltimore Sun:

A two-time All-Metro selection, Graham averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds this season, leading Calvert Hall to the Baltimore Catholic League championship. Graham, a four-year varsity player and three-year starter, finished his Calvert Hall career as the program’s second-leading scorer with 1,670 points.
Alright: Scorer, rebounder, helped lead his team to a championship. It only gets better though, as the recruiting story begins to read more like a "How It All Began" description on some couple's wedding page:
(Head Coach John) Bauersfeld said Penn State first started recruiting Graham during his junior season, and continued to express interest early last fall. The communication waned over the winter, but a Penn State coach touched base with Bauersfeld “about a month ago” to see if Graham was still available. Both parties remained interested, and the recruitment took off from there.
How romantic. This is followed of course, with the typical fluff that coaches use to describe how great their freshly-committed players are:
“They love his upside,” Bauersfeld said. “They love the fact that he’s very long. They love his skills for a big guy. They really liked his work ethic and personality-wise, he’s a great kid and solid student. All those aspects they were really impressed with. I think that made Jon really attractive to them.”
Such praise is then immediately followed by words of caution, because the last thing coaches want are fans drinking the "OMG new recruit, UPSIDE!" Kool-Aid, expecting a true freshman to step in right away and fill the void in the low post.
“I think he’d be asked, as a younger player, not to do too much too soon,” Bauersfeld said. “I think they’re going to be really patient for him and let him develop his strength and those aspects. I think their style of play definitely fits with Jon’s game. ... He’s definitely gotten a lot better, became an excellent teammate and became a great leader for the younger guys. It’s been really fun to watch him grow up in front of us.”

Unfortunately for DeChellis and staff, they probably don't have too much time to let him develop. Sure, Graham won't be expected to be an immediate contributor but at some point next season, he needs to be a guy who can provide quality minutes on the floor and become that post player opposing teams need to worry about. PSU hasn't had such a player since Jamelle Cornley graduated, and it was painfully evident last season when all teams had to do was focus on shutting down Talor Battle and all was well for them...

Time will tell how Graham pans out his freshman year but it's hard to see any negatives from this latest haul, given how dire things have become again in Happy Valley. The Goo Punch is flowing again, boys and girls...Drink up!

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May 13, 2010

Because, you know, Googling 'Daryll Clark stats' is so tough

Clark did many things for the PSU offense in 2009, but rushing the ball was hardly at or near the top of that list. (LBU photo/Mike)
I make every attempt to avoid fisking an article, or jumping on anyone for an understandable mistake. But sometimes an article, a sentence, a word or two can leave you wondering, "really? You chose to write that?"

That was the unfortunate case in a Detroit News article written by Angelique Chengelis, in which Big Ten Network analyst and former Indiana head coach Gerry DiNardo gave his post-spring impressions of the conference's teams, and how things could shake out this fall.
"[DiNardo] wonders if Penn State can overcome its shaky quarterback situation now that Daryll Clark, who also provided much of the Nittany Lions' running, is gone."
Sorry, but that's simply not an accurate portrayal of Clark's role in the Penn State run game last year, or even the year prior. To say that a quarterback provided much of a team's running implies that the player contributed at least one third of the team's rush yards for that season.

Clark most definitely did not do that. I know it's so difficult, but I somehow managed to navigate the complex ways of the internet, to research (gasp!) Clark's contributions to the Penn State offense, particularly the run game--something I would do if I were, say, writing an article about the subject.

Here are Clark's rushing numbers for both 2008 and 2009. For context, I included all Penn State rushers who eclipsed 100 yards for the season. (Stats courtesy of

2009 RUSHINGGP Att Gain Loss Net Avg TD Long Avg/G
Royster, Evan 13 205 1195 26 1169 5.7 6 69 89.9
Green, Stephfon 11 71 337 18 319 4.5 3 52 29.0
Clark, Daryll 13 84 310 99 211 2.5 7 51 16.2
Beachum, Brandon 11 24 118 5 113 4.7 1 16 10.3
Newsome, Kevin 10 20 121 26 95 4.8 2 16 9.5
2008 RUSHINGGP Att Gain Loss Net Avg TD Long Avg/G
Royster, Evan 13 191 1266 30 1236 6.5 12 44 95.1
Green, Stephfon 13 105 588 10 578 5.5 4 69 44.5
Clark, Daryll 13 79 386 104 282 3.6 10 24 21.7
Williams, D. 13 43 257 14 243 5.7 3 36 18.7
Carter, Brent 7 22 137 8 129 5.9 0 31 18.4
Beachum, B. 13 28 117 3 114 4.1 1 15 8.8
Was he a contributor to the Penn State run game? I would agree if you said that. But did he provide "much of Penn State's running" in either of those seasons? No. He wasn't even the second leading rusher in either season. Nor was he even the second leading rusher over both seasons combined--Clark ran for 696, Stephfon Green ran for 925.

I could completely understand this kind of characterization of Clark's contributions to the run game, had he put up rushing numbers like, for instance, Michael Robinson did in 2005, when he was the No. 2 rusher behind Tony Hunt. That season, Robinson ran for 806, only 230 yards shy of Hunt's 1,047.

As I said at the top of this post, I really do try not to fisk someone's article, or try to attack them with any real animosity. We here at LBU actually discussed this before launching the site, that fisking wouldn't be in our regular repertoire.

But... it's not like Clark is a third string running back for Eastern Michigan. He was twice named the league's first team quarterback. Not only should writers know off-hand that he wasn't a major running threat, they should have at least the dignity to not make implications that may not be factually legitimate.

Daryll Clark did not "provide much of Penn State's running," not even close. Thought I'd mention that.

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PSU at the bottom of Lindy's and Athlon Top 25's

This is what I get for waiting to post this. You've now probably already read about this, but here it is anyway...
2Boise StateTBA
3Ohio StateTBA
8Virginia TechTBA
13North CarolinaTBA
17Georgia TechArkansas
19West VirginiaNorth Carolina
23HoustonPenn State
24Penn StateLSU
Here it comes, folks. The preview magazines are ramping up their marketing blitz prior to their big release week around June 1 each year. One of the best ways to generate buzz is to release, either in their entirety or in parts, the preseason top 25 rankings that will be featured in the actual magazines. It's a great teaser for most college football fans.

The problem with these magazines--among so many others--is that they hit stores in early summer, even though much can change in the two months before actual kickoff. But their business model has worked, and continues to work, for one major reason: By early summer--after recruiting dies down, spring practice is done, and the spring games weren't quite as exciting as we all though they would be--fans are so incredibly parched for the real season to start, $8.50 or so is nothing compared to the thirst-quenching splash of college football it can buy.

Now we get our first taste, as Lindy's top 25 was leaked out yesterday (purposely?), yet still remains absent from the Lindy's site. I figured since Lindy's made the biggest (read:first) splash of the magazine season, it'd be good to see if any other preview mags had their rankings out. Turns out, Athlon was the only one, but even they only had part of the top 25, as it looks like they will be releasing one new top-25 team each day... or something like that.

Also, Lindy's preseason All-America teams named Penn State's senior offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski to the first team. So take that for what it's worth.

But I think both rankings for Penn State are a bit low, despite my blatant homerism here. I'll give you that there are questions about this team, but are they any worse than, say, the questions on Alabama's defense? This will all get worked out as the summer goes on, or at least until Phil Steele* releases his magazine and totally PWNS every other college football preview annual on the rack.

*Disclaimer: I do write for

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