Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Philadelphia Magazine shamelessly butchers Joe Paterno

The national media hyper-reactivity onslaught from the Sandusky scandal has subsided, and we've moved into a new phase of coverage - though, sadly, it still has some shameful "journalism" 

You're a journalist. You're working on a big story about a Big Story, a feature piece that you have lots of time - weeks, months - to source and research.

You approach it from a certain perspective, with premises to prove, theories to support, ideas to direct and notions to develop.

Or perhaps disprove, and unsupport, and re-direct, and re-develop. The story - and your path to a finished, cohesive product - doesn't always take you where you expect to go.

In fact it commonly leads in some unexpected directions, because of unexpected information.

So while you start from somewhere with a "story idea" - newspaper and magazine writers/editors brainstorm story ideas all the time - your only real direction is toward the truth and the actual story: where the information leads, where the facts take you.

Unless of course you are Philadelphia Magazine and writer Robert Huber, and you're writing a feature about Joe Paterno and the Sandusky scandal.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The first 6 weeks of Bill O'Brien at Penn State: Almost Perfect

Bill O'Brien is hitting all the right notes as he leaves the Patriots behind and his tenure at Penn State shifts into full-steam-ahead mode

Look! There's Bill O'Brien at PSU men's and women's basketball games!

And there he is establishing a 5:30am football team winter workout with the media invited! (Yes, 5:30am! Yes, media!)

Now he's talking to a core group of THON representatives! Now he's addressing the entire audience at THON! Keep moving - now he's speaking to the crowd at the PSU-Pitt wrestling match, with another standing ovation!

Another day in Happy Valley, another slew of activities chronicled for the most ubiquitous man on campus.

O'Brien, strangely, mostly wasn't around for his first month as Penn State head coach, as he remained New England's offensive coordinator through the NFL playoffs. It was what it was - bad for PSU football for the short term, probably irrelevant for the long term.

In the two weeks since settling into University Park full-time, O'Brien seems to be everywhere - with the media in tow, monitoring it all.

And making an impressive impression at every stop.

The transparency is not only refreshing, but critical.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fearless forecast for Penn State's exceptional 2012 recruiting class

Unpredictable variables make it fruitless projecting which PSU recruits will succeed, but we'll take a stab anyway based on their video highlights - though this 2012 class is exceptional regardless of how it performs on the field for the Lions

At the bottom of this post is what this blog has ascertained, just from the video available on Rivals.com, about the 19 PSU football signees last week.

The recruiting experts say this is an ordinary Big Ten recruiting class and below typical Penn State standards, ranked somewhere between 39-50th nationally.

The blame for that of course is the Sandusky scandal and perhaps also the long delay - nearly two months - in naming Joe Paterno's replacement, Bill O'Brien. Also, O'Brien was only nominally involved in recruiting as he finished the season with the New England Patriots.

But this class is extraordinary and unique in one regard: They are all heading to Penn State when many others discarded PSU after the scandal. And for that - as well as for being new head coach O'Brien's first-ever recruits -  this might be the most welcome group of athletes in Penn State history. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Urban Meyer makes Penn State his recruiting farm system

The coach with the biggest reputation rolls into Columbus and immediately takes a machete to the carcass of Penn State. Is it a sign of weakness - in Meyer?

Once upon a time there was this big bully. Which was a good thing for him, because in his neighborhood, only the biggest, strongest and most willing to do whatever it takes could survive and thrive. And he thrived.

One day the bully left his rough-and-tumble neighborhood, and not too long after settled into a new, slightly more civilized one. The boys in this 'hood had heard of his reputation, but for all intents and purposes, the bully would need to reestablish himself in his new stomping grounds.

If this was The Sopranos, then Tony (the bully) would have walked up to the biggest guy in the room, picked a fight and coldcocked him. In a "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss," kind of way.

Urban Meyer apparently is no Tony Soprano. Meyer, the new Ohio State coach with two National Titles on his resume from Florida in the baddest-of-the-bad SEC, assessed the Big Ten landscape upon his arrival in late November and ... walked up to the kid with two broken legs, pushed him down, spit on him and stole his bicycle.

Classy move, Urb.

Picking on Penn State (a.k.a. the kid with the two broken legs) right now is not only beneath Meyer - he should have been able to cobble together a Top 10 recruiting class on the value of his name and Ohio State's alone - but it has assured him of eternal, passionate, voodoo-level hatred from Nittany Nation.

When you're down, you remember who extended a hand. And you remember who kicked you.

Meyer executed a Wayne Rooney bicycle kick to Penn State's groin.