Joe Paterno, Penn State and Morals

I waited a few days before writing about what has gone on at Penn State University because the first 2 attempts to write this post came across too angry.  I am angry at Jerry Sandusky who has been accused of harming so many young children, I am angry at the former Penn State quarterback, and at the time a grad assistant who witnessed one of the alleged assaults but only went to Joe Paterno, I am angry at Joe Paterno for not reporting the assaults to the police, and finally the leadership, or lack there of, at Penn State to take these statements seriously.

What happened at Penn State is that they forgot that as leaders they should have done more than the bare minimum.  Mike McQueary, was a quarterback at Penn State.  He led 10 other men into battle each week in the Big Ten Conference, and when the games ended, he became a grad assistant coach.  Why only tell Joe Paterno?  If someone was robbing the PSU Bookstore would you tell coach or campus police?  The athletic director and finance guy just sat on the news.  And then there is Joe Pa, he did nothing.  Sure he told the AD, but as the leader of 80+ student athletes, and dozens of coaches, he essentially did nothing.  If Joe Paterno saw a person injured on the street, would he try to help?  He has no morals, and was more interested in protecting his image, his university and his friend, Jerry Sandusky.

This pattern of protecting Penn State and the semi-pro status that the football team has is well documented.  I encourage you to read an article by Chris Korman, a PSU grad, who talked about all the cover ups that have occurred at Penn State under Joe Pa.

My heart aches for the victims and how their lives have been impacted by this.  In a community as small as Happy Valley, PA, I initially was shocked that no one had discovered this sooner, however, after reading Chris Korman’s article it became clearer.  At Penn State University the only morals that leadership had when it came to their football program was money.

How does Syracuse stack up against the ACC?

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Syracuse.  We look forward to bringing ACC games to the Big Apple” – Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor

Now that the news is official and Syracuse is joining the ACC, it is time to breakdown how the Orange stacks up to the competition in the ACC.

The football team peaked in the late 1980s playing for the national title in the Sugar Bowl. Syracuse had a short renaissance in the late 1990s thanks to Donovan McNabb and down years by Miami and Virginia Tech.  Since then the program has been inept due to a much tougher recruiting environment on the east coast.  Once Syracuse had to compete for recruits with Penn State and Boston College, but in the 2000s Connecticut, Rutgers and Maryland all started beating Syracuse in getting recruits for football.  Moving to the ACC will only help Syracuse with recruiting.

The competition is going to get more intense as Syracuse has never fared well against ACC teams, though they beat Wake Forrest week 1 this year.  Syracuse football is on the rebound and the timing of the move to the ACC could help propel it even higher, though just as easily the program can become bottom feeders if recruiting does not step up.

The basketball team has never been stronger. Recruits regularly in the top 100 choose Syracuse, and the program has been averaging 25 wins and an NCAA tournament appearance for the last decade.  Losing the rivalries in the Big East was an inevitability as the non-football schools were most likely to get the boot once the conference expanded.  So those crying over the lost opportunities of playing Georgetown and Villanova, those games were going to be lost anyway.

This move makes sense for the basketball program.  The ACC gets two of the most consistent programs in the country (Pitt is also joining the ACC).  Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is excited:

“It’s actually pretty exciting,” Krzyzewski said. “I think it’s great for our conference football-wise, even better basketball-wise. Wherever this is going to end up, four big-time conferences or five, whatever it is, you want to be perceived as No. 1 in football and basketball.


Syracuse basketball not only will be fine, I actually think this move makes them stronger. Recruiting becomes easier as the teams are now geographically closer, and the chance for new rivalries with North Carolina, Duke and Maryland.

Syracuse joining the ACC is going to be rough on the lacrosse team. Recruiting will not be impacted because of the history of the program, but the games are certainly going to get harder. The Big East was a weak lacrosse conference, but the 4 teams in the ACC are all strong and usually but 3 or 4 teams in the NCAA tournament each year.

Non-Revenue Sports
The rest of the teams at Syracuse come out winners here too. The competition is closer by thus reducing travel and costs. The ACC takes non-revenue sports more seriously than the Big East, and even have a regional tv contract with Fox Sports TV for soccer, field hockey and women’s basketball. Non of that exists for the Big East.

While I will miss the great memories of the Big East basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden, this move ensures Syracuse’s athletics viability for years to come. The chancellor and athletic director deserve credit for taking a preemptive strike so the Orange were not left without a seat at the table for major conference athletics. I can’t wait to watch the Orange at Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center.

8 years late…Syracuse is going to the ACC

UPDATE (11:56 PM EASTERN) – ACC Conference call at 930AM to announce SU and Pitt being admitted to the league.

Finally, the charade at Syracuse University is over, the Orange are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference.  What should have happened in 2003 when the ACC was looking to expand, Syracuse got cold feet at the last second, and Governor Mark Warner of Virginia made the ACC and Virginia Tech and offer it could not refuse (a lawsuit).

Now 8 years later, Syracuse went on the offensive knowing they needed a seat in a stable athletic conference before all the seats were taken.  The future of college football is 4 or 5 conferences with 16 teams, and with the remaining 9 Big 12 teams plus the 11 teams in the Big East, it was time to pull the rip cord before it was too late.

Ironically it was the Big East and the Big 12 Conferences who blocked the idea of a college playoff a few years ago, now, essentially, these conferences will cease to exist.  While it is sad for the basketball fan in me to see the conference go away, the football conference has been embarrassing since Miami and VaTech left in 2004.

Reports are saying that Syracuse and Pitt, who also formally applied to the ACC, will be formally accepted as early as tomorrow.  Talking to two people in the know at the ACC, admission is really just a formality, and it appears others are hearing the same thing.

While some alumni and fans may hate this decision, and we all know that money is driving it, Syracuse is doing the right thing by taking control of their future.

The Plight of University of Maryland Basketball

Gary Williams sudden retirement last week from a basketball program he lead for over 20 years put the spotlight back on those who question how good a coach he really was.  I was never a Gary Williams fan, and while he was a winner, he also was tough to work with and work for.  Gary’s dealings with former Athletic Director Debbie Yow are a perfect example where he publicly bashed her numerous times especially in 2008 when he did not get his way recruiting two individuals.

Many will point to his 2001-02 NCAA Basketball title and his other Final Four appearance, but it came at a time when top programs like Duke, Kansas, and UCLA were not getting top talent because high school kids were jumping straight to the NBA.  Maryland beat a weak Indiana team that had one marginal pro in the championship game.

What saddens me the most as a University of Maryland fan is that Gary never developed a strong coaching tree where he had a natural successor.  Rick Barnes, who was an assistant when Gary was at Ohio State, is by far the most notable.  The rest of the list is weak at best, especially for a coach that was at the same place for 22 years.  Compare that to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse or Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, both programs Maryland fans like to compare themselves to, where multiple natural successors are in place already, with former assistants lined up around the block if any of the successors don’t work out.  When Gary left, not one mention was made of trying to bring back someone who played at Maryland or coached at Maryland to take over.

Now we have a new coach in town in Mark Turgeon, who ironically enough comes from the Dean Smith coaching tree at UNC via Larry Brown at Kansas.  So while Gary’s legacy is a winning program and a 2002 NCAA Title, Gary also managed an 8% graduation rate and never developed a successor to the program.  Maryland is not a top 10 coaching job and it never was, and that we can thank Gary for.

Death of Cable Subscriptions?

This week at work we took an informal poll on who still paid for cable TV.  It was not surprising to see a few people had been living without cable TV for 2+ years.  I am confident that I could never give up cable TV simply because of the sports.  Now we have ESPN signing an exclusive agreement with the University of Texas to join forces on creating the Longhorn Sports Network.

This is not the first university to make an exclusive broadcast arrangement with a network, but it is the first in a long time.  Typically a conference makes an arrangement to have games broadcast on a network, but usually it is not exclusive and usually it is only for football and men’s basketball.  The Longhorn Sports Network will show more than just football and men’s basketball, it will feature all University of Texas sports.

For the first time we have a single channel dedicated to official video for all sports of a given university.  I now can see my cable subscription future becoming clearer.  Over time, I think you will see more and more universities do these exclusive deals where ALL varsity sports will be broadcast.  The next leap is that this is all available online, where I simply subscribe to university channels that I care about.  Throw in professional sports, and say bye bye to cable TV.  If only I can convince my wife that The Bachelor is not worth having cable for.

Lets Go Cuse!!

Just wanted to post a little Memorial Day weekend shout out to the Syracuse Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams who are both in the Final Four. Hopefully the Men bring home the title for the 10th time in team history, unfortunately the women lost last night, but there is always next year.

For those looking for something to watch on tv on Saturday afternoon or Monday afternoon, lacrosse rules as it is truly the fastest game on two feet, and it compliments the Indy 500 on Sunday very nicely.