The Resiliency of Penn State football in the eye of a storm: Led by Coach Bill O’Brien The Best is Yet to Come #wearepennstate

Move over Dallas Cowboys after nineteen disappointing seasons I believe the search for a new team most deserving of America’s support was found in the most unlikeliest of places: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania. A year ago Penn State’s tradition rich football program made national headlines when a decade long cover up of sexual molestation and abuse was finally made known. The stench of an administration who allowed such deplorable acts to occur have been wiped clean through the conviction of the perpetrator and his cohorts; the death of Joe Paterno, and the removal of a statue which reeked with a legacy of disgust and manipulation.

After the NCAA handed down their sanctions ($60 Million, 4-year bowl ban, and loss of 40 scholarship) it marked the beginning of a new era, a fresh start. A number of players who were expected to be solid contributors this season quickly transferred to other programs and expectations for fielding a competitive team did not appear to be likely. Several pundits believed that the sanctions handed down on July 24th would serve as the day that football in Happy Valley died.

However, embodying the resiliency of America, this once proud program which had been left for dead has embodied the toughness of their head coach and continues to be fueled by the encouragement and support of a loyal fan base and community who is also healing from the tragedy of times past.

Although the Nittany Lions are not ranked in the top 25 or a contender for the national championship, each time they win we receive a reminder that the storms of yesterday will not last always and the possibilities for great promise will come in time.

The Nittany Lions are currently on a four game winning streak which is largely due to a tremendous group of senior leaders. On offense the Nittany Lions have made significant strides since losing the first two games of the season and under the advisement of Coach O’Brien it appears that senior quarterback Matt McGloin is finally getting it,so far he has already accounted for 17 touchdowns in only six games.

Although senior starting linebacker and captain Michael Mauti is unlikely to get a statute in front of the stadium for his comments after the Nittany Lions second loss of the season. His words to his teammates and the national media lit a fire that will shine brighter than any Heisman Trophy and have an impact that will continue long after he decides to be finish with this game or when the game decides to be finished with him.

Finishing the season 7-4 appears to be well within the realm of possibility. But if the Nittany Lions were to lose every game left on their schedule at the end of the day the season would still be considered a success. In America resiliency through tough times with the promise of better days is a characteristic that we all embody.

Only when adversity strikes do we find out the true character of an individual, and despite the shadows of a dismal past this 2012 Nittany Lion football team are laying the groundwork for a brighter tomorrow. With each win Coach O’Brien and his players build a new legacy in Happy Valley and its a future that we as individuals strive to achieve, success is not a privilege or a right, will you take it? What will the future hold? Only time will tell. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)


Road2BCS: Week 5 Assessments – Oh where oh where has the defense gone. Oh where oh where could it be?

Week 5 is in the books and we are down to less than 30 undefeated teams in the FBS. Of the undefeated teams left, only a handful have a true shot at raising the crystal ball in January. Ohio State is ineligible, while several others just don’t have a true chance, either due to the conference they play in, or the fact that they won’t be able to overcome their current ranking. So, then, who are the true contenders? Lets take a look at the top 10 potential BCS Champions.

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide: It’s no secret that Nick Saban’s team is looking like the class of college football. AJ Mccarrons looks like a lot more than just a “game manager.” If they continue to get stellar QB play, dominating defensive play and the running game continues to hum, it’s hard to think anyone can derail this train. While they didn’t look as dominating this weekend against Ole Miss, the win was very costly losing starting wide receiver Deandre White to a torn ACL and they also took a huge hit at running back with Dee Hart tearing his ACL again.

#2 Oregon Ducks: Is it possible that Chip Kelly’s team is actually better? The answer is…maybe. Sure, they rolled Arizona, but was more impressive was the play of their defense. Although it took longer than expected to dispose of Mike Leach’s Washington Cougars the Ducks still won in convincing fashion. I think Oregon is very deserving of their lofty ranking, but I’m certainly not ready to crown them champs just yet.

#3 LSU Tigers: All the talking heads were ready to anoint the November LSU/Bama game the de facto National Championship game, however a potential kink was almost thrown into that plan last week when upset minded Auburn put a heck of a scare in LSU. I’ve watched plenty of Auburn the past few years as I’m married to an Auburn fan so I know one thing for certain, the AU defense is terrible. A good remedy for a less than convincing win is to play a FCS team, right? WRONG! Auburn actually trailed Towson for a while and allowed them to score 22 points.  If LSU wants to even sniff the crystal ball, they better get better on offense…and defense…and quick! The Tigers are going to need to play much better than they did in weeks 4 and 5 to beat the Gators next week, let alone the Tide in November, and I just don’t see that happening.

#4 Florida State Seminoles: OK, in full disclosure, I am a die-hard Seminole. I graduated from FSU with my Bachelors and my JD, so I bleed garnet and gold. Now, onto football. For years we’ve heard the rumblings…”The Noles are back,” but it was never more than wishful thinking. Well, maybe, just maybe, we have our first contender back in Tallahassee since Chris Weinke commanded the huddle. Despite the 37 points given up to Clemson, this is a VERY talented defense, and an offense that will play with anyone in the country. There’s not a game on the schedule that should scare Noles fans, as the only team that can beat FSU on this schedule is…FSU. Sure, they didn’t look perfect against USF but they tightened up when they needed to and still won by 2 TDs on the road. Now, they must remain focused or they’ll find themselves wondering “what if?”

#5 Georgia Bulldogs: Mark Richt has an elite QB, and what we thought was an elite defense coupled with a schedule that lacks Alabama and LSU. The Dawgs won in a shootout against Tennessee, and who knows what might have happened if Tyler Bray does not fumble the ball. UGA must get their defense in order if they plan to beat South Carolina and Florida and contend for a SEC East Title.

#6 South Carolina Gamecocks:This team will only go as far as Marcus Lattimore and his surgically repaired knee. Connor Show does not seem to be able to stay healthy which may cost them as they begin a tough SEC slate that includes UGA, Florida, LSU, and a desperate Tennessee squad.

#7 West Virginia Mountaineers: Geno Smith and Tavon Austin are game breaking talents, but is the defense good enough to compete at an elite level? It sure didn’t look so against Baylor, giving up 63 points in a Playstation style match up. Also, struggling to beat an average Maryland team will throw up some red flags, Texas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma will pose a considerable challenge to the Mountaineers and how they respond will ultimately determine their fate?

#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: With star Manti Te’o terrorizing opponents, this may be the year that the echos have awoken. Playing USC doesn’t seem so daunting anymore and Miami certainly isn’t what it was. Oklahoma will still be a challenge, but If ND could somehow go undefeated, there’s very little doubt voters would vault them above almost anyone into that #2 spot, just for being Notre Dame.

#9 Florida Gators: It pains me to have the Gators here, but road wins against Texas A&M and Tennessee cannot be ignored no matter how mediocre either of those teams is. The Gators are gaining confidence each and every week, though a date with LSU looms large next week. They must also play UGA and travel to Doak Campbell Stadium, but if the Gators keep winning behind a solid D and young QB Jeff Driskel, they’ll keep rising in the polls.

#10 Texas Longhorns: Texas is an interesting team to watch. They came into the season with very little hype. Now #11 in the polls, there’s plenty of big games left on their schedule to bring them all the way to #2. David Ash continues to gain confidence, showing poise in a comeback win on the road against Oklahoma State, Texas has a lot of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. If they remained focus and can beat Kansas State, Oklahoma and WVU, Texas could be looking at returning to the big stage. Next week’s showdown with WVU will answer a lot of questions.

While there are other teams with the potential to climb into the race, these are the 10 I see as having the best shot to win it all. There’s plenty of time left, and by the time you read this, some of these teams may already be off the list! Next Saturday will be the time for the real contenders to separate themselves, PUT UP OR SHUT UP SATURDAY!! Don’t you just love college football? – Jared Ross (@fsunole21)

Countdown to College Football: LSU Preseason #1? Child Please Neux Way, Neux How!!

The college football season is nearly six weeks away and the money that I traditionally waste on preseason college football magazines have already began to collect dust in my office and has gotten lost amongst the pile of more recent sports material that I have accumulated in my bathroom.

Before you laugh or roll your eyes I am sure that I am not alone in this traditional wasteful accumulation of sport magazines that were once a must have for avid sports fans who were in need of a fix to make it before college football finally graces us with its presence.

Each summer so-called experts boldly tout Heisman locks and their pre-season favorites to hoist the crystal ball at season’s end. But each year so many of their predictions are wrong and their alleged locks for gridiron dominance end the season unranked and playing in third-tier bowls. As the countdown to the college football season begins stay tuned as I inform you why several pre-season favorites will NOT hold up the Sears National Championship Trophy at the end of the season.

Lets start with several prominent experts Preseason Favorite the #1 LSU Tigers:

This past season the LSU Tigers survived a brutal schedule unblemished surviving the toughest schedule in the country defeating nearly nine top twenty-five teams as they ended the regular season undefeated. Despite their success and occasional show of dominance the LSU Tigers was shut out in their own backyard suffering painful loss to their rival the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship.

Despite the loss from last season It appears that many people have conveniently forgotten about the butt whopping that Les Miles received at the hands of Nick Saban who thoroughly out-coached him in every facet of the game, amnesia is the only reason some have mistakenly selected the Bengal Tigers to win it all.

The LSU Tigers are loaded with five-star recruits at nearly every position that may only be rivaled by one or two other programs in the entire nation (Alabama & USC). Although the Tigers only return 12 starters due to their depth several second and third string players gained invaluable experience on the field due to a steady rotation and opportunities on special teams.

Although no one will contest the talent level at LSU, their performance in the National Championship revealed the LSU Tigers LACKED essential element that is needed to win a championship, and that my friend is coaching. Before Bengal Tiger fans jump to the defense of Les Miles I remind you that it was only a two years ago that he was on the hot seat and nearly lost his job due to his inability to meet the high standard set by his predecessor, Nick Saban.

Les Miles hit a home run with the hiring of John Chavis as his Defensive Coordinator but his inability to hire an offensive mastermind to coral the speed and talent in LSU’s backfield continues to be an ongoing problem. During his seven-year tenure at LSU, five-star talent on the offensive side of the ball has come and gone with very few reaching the immense high school hype that followed them to Death Valley.

As many pundits mistakenly hail Zach Mettenberger to be the savior of the LSU offensive air show I remind everyone that despite his promise and potential that he was third on the depth chart last year. Although he was praised for his strong-arm and accuracy last season he was a non factor despite the two quarterbacks ahead of him being an interception machine (Jarrett Lee) and an option quarterback who could not throw accurate if he tried (Jordan Jefferson).

The Tigers will rely on their defense and smash mouth running game yet again but an inexperienced offensive line and tremendously undersized secondary will struggle against teams with a high-powered offenses, if the Tigers fall behind early they could be in serious trouble.

Will the Honey Badger become a leader and lead his team to the promise land? Will Zach finally fulfill his promise? I certainly do not believe so, I predict a two loss season and Chavis returning to UT as head coach next season. Stay tuned… I know I will  – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Retire a hero, or coach long enough to see yourself become the villian

“Retire hero, or coach long enough to see yourself become the villain”

After watching Jeremy Lin go 1-11 with 6 turnovers I had no interest in watching any more basketball. In my quest to find cinematic enjoyment I found myself watching ‘The Dark Knight” with Health Ledger, may he rest in peace. While watching the film the villain 2-face said the following quote  which made me think:

“Either you die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”

Illinois basketball Coach Bruce Weber has witnessed the applause and praise become something far less desirable. The pundits have forgotten how he resurrected the basketball program and nearly led them to the National Championship with Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head. As the days to Coach Weber’s imminent firing approaches at season’s end, I am reminded that this has been the fate of several coaches and great players; it is the consequence of over staying your welcome and not knowing the right time to leave…

In Bloomington, Indiana was home to sport royalty and a coaching innovator that was praised for his intellect and high basketball IQ. Each year Coach Bobby Knight had his Hoosiers in contention for the National Championship due to his ability to bring great players like Isiah Thomas and Calbert Cheaney to leave their urban jungles and call the Hoosier state home. Coach Knight continued to collect wins and build championship caliber teams each year, and despite his well-known temper everyone turned a blind eye as long as the rafters continued to read “FINAL FOUR” or “ELITE EIGHT”. However, the once glorified coach was unable to keep up with the  new landscape of college basketball and those cheers of praise become glares of resentment toward an old-timer who refused to recruit and was no longer able to mount the banners he once did in years past. A coach that was once glorified and given the key to city of Bloomington was fired after nearly a decade of his young men graduating and getting their degrees but Coach Knight no longer posted the winning records he once did. Coach Knight’s antics at that time were no longer tolerable and were now considered grounds for termination due too fewer McDonald’s All-Americans signing Letters of Intent with the Hoosiers of Indiana and no new banners hanging from the rafters.

This year, another icon suffered the same fate and he resided in Happy Valley, the winningest coach in college football history the Great Joe Paterno. For nearly five decades he was the face of Penn State, the infamous coke bottle glasses accompanied with the rolled up slacks and white socks. The endless miles he walked up and down a sideline will forever be unmatched by anyone who aspires to coach this game we call football. However, only two weeks after being praised and cheered in a packed press room for reaching the 400 wins milestone those cheers quickly became words of condemnation that led to his termination as coach of the Penn State football team. For years, fans and spectators wondered when this icon was going to hang it up, several thought after the Orange Bowl when he beat his good friend Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles in 2006. Such an exit would have made him retire a hero, however Joe Pa chose otherwise and is now must face the consequence of his actions. And will be remembered not for the thousands of lives he changed but how he negatively impacted the lives of little boys he never even knew by saying nothing.

Life is filled with several more examples such the aforementioned Bobby Bowden being ‘fired’ from the university he helped erect or Jerry Rice & Joe Montana being released by the 49ers organization that they sacrificed their bodies to win 2 Super Bowl rings for. It appears that becoming the villain is a mask that we are all capable of adorning no matter the good deeds or sacrifices that we have made at some point in our life. The question is will you choose your exit? Or will you be escorted to that exit by security and  shown the door? Our fate is our own and in the end we may not choose how we are remembered.    – A.Denmark (@EatDrnkSlpSprtz)