John Urschel Named Best Person in Sports


on October 23, 2013 12:50 PM

 Penn State offensive guard and math wiz John  Urschel has another accolade to add to his many accomplishments: On  Monday, Fox Sports named him Best Person in Sports for “excelling in the classroom and on the field.”

Last year Urschel was selected as  a first team All-Big Ten guard and  was also named a Capital One/CoSIFA Academic All-American in 2012. He  finished his undergraduate degree in mathematics in just three years  while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. He is now working on  earning his master’s degree and has plans to pursue a PhD after his  football career.

Urschel’s research has been published in the “Celestial Mechanics and  Dynamic Astronomy” journal, and he currently has several more articles  in the works. When he is not on the field he can be found teaching mathematics in classes such as Math 041. He can undoubtedly be considered one of the best student athletes in all of college sports.

While Urschel’s academic accomplishments are nothing to be scoffed  at, his success on the field is equally impressive. He has quickly  excelled as an elite athlete and NFL prospect after making the  decision to play football in ninth-grade. Last season he earned  first-team All-Big Ten honors after starting every game at right guard  and helped Zach Zwinak rush for over 1,000 yards. This year, he’s  continued to be a leader on the team while playing a key role in the  offensive line.

Bob Costas Doubts Paterno Involved in Cover Up


Emmy Award-winning NBC sportscaster Bob Costas said Wednesday concerning the  ongoing investigation of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State sex scandal, “I don’t buy  the idea that [late head coach Joe Paterno] was actively involved in a  cover-up.”

“There’s a grand jury proceeding that just said there’s enough evidence to  take it to trial, which was no surprise to anybody,” Costas replied. “Spanier,  Curley, and Schultz, the administrators, who will go on trial.”

“But the main figure to the average person,” he continued, “the main figure  is still, other than Sandusky himself, Joe Paterno, who has since passed away.  And I really think that there is now some legitimate doubt.”

“I don’t know where the truth is,” Costas added, “but there’s some  legitimate doubt about the extent of Paterno’s involvement. The pat storyline  became, everybody, Paterno included, knew pretty much what Sandusky was up to.  And they all kind of conspired to cover it up to protect the image of the  football program at Penn State.”

“And you don’t think that’s true?” Leno asked.

“I  think that Paterno was negligent,” answered Costas. “I think he should have  recognized what was going on because the warning signals were there. But, having  read the Freeh report, and then having read some of what’s been put out to  refute it, I don’t buy the idea that he was actively involved in a  cover-up.”

 

 

Under Emmert, NCAA enforcement division has gone from bad to worse


 NCAA insiders cite meddling from president Mark  Emmert as a major reason the enforcement division is in disarray.
AP

In a comprehensive story in this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior  writers Pete Thamel and Alexander Wolff go inside the Nevin Shapiro case at  Miami and explore how the NCAA mishandled it. Here is some additional  information that doesn’t appear in the story. For the complete magazine story  and to buy a digital version of the issue, go here.

On May 11, 2011, all NCAA employees were required to attend a day-long  meeting that began at the ballroom of the J.W. Marriott near NCAA headquarters  in Indianapolis.

When the employees returned to the NCAA’s offices that day, they found  banners featuring corporate buzzwords like communication, accountability and inclusion had replaced banners of famous  athletes and inspirational quotes. The sidewalks and bridge near NCAA  headquarters featured similar messages.

The day marked the grand rollout of One Team One Future, one of NCAA  president Mark Emmert’s internal initiatives to improve the work culture at the  NCAA.

What unfolded epitomizes Emmert’s two-and-a-half-year NCAA tenure — plenty  of flash with little tangible results. When NCAA employees arrived at their  desks that day, their computer screen savers and phone backdrops were adorned  with One Team One Future logos. But they weren’t quite prepared for the  grand rollout, with Emmert’s introduction coming by a voice-of-God narrator amid  a backdrop of music, strobe lights and video.

“It’s the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man, where he goes to that big  inspirational thing,” says former NCAA investigator Abby Grantstein. “The  culture of the NCAA wasn’t like that before, and you can’t change it in one  day.”

She added that the message was clear: “It was like, ‘Get on the bus or go  home.'”

WOLFF: Nevin Shapiro is still talking from jail

SI spoke with more than 20 current or former NCAA employees about the  troubles of the NCAA enforcement staff for a lengthy story in this week’s Sports Illustrated. A portrait emerged of a department battered by  turnover, afraid of lawsuits and overwhelmed by scandal. One ex-enforcement  official told SI, “The time is ripe to cheat. There’s no policing going on.”

In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly  shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as  the “King Of The Press Conference.” That’s not a compliment.

One of the biggest criticisms of Emmert is his desire to be in the spotlight.  (Emmert declined multiple requests to speak with SI for this story. Spokesman  Bob Williams says Emmert’s increased public profile has been at the request of  the NCAA’s Executive Committee.)

Even one of Emmert’s supporters could come up with few positives for One  Team One Future, calling the rollout “mechanical.” The NCAA employee  compared it to an Apple shareholder meeting. “Some of that may have rubbed  people the wrong way,” the person said. “I think it reflects the approach and  style that Emmert brought to the position, whether that’s good or bad, it’s the  reality of it.”

The reality is that NCAA culture needs to change, as it’s entering a time of  great transition. The enforcement staff is fighting the perception that it’s  meek, and many of its most talented investigators have left the association.

When talking to a dozen college officials to get a pulse on Emmert, many  struggled to answer the question, “What has he actually accomplished so far in  his tenure?” Even the harsh sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the  Jerry Sandusky scandal ($60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40  scholarships over four years) has painted Emmert in a bad light  after he went on a television tour, which some perceived as a victory lap, to  talk about the unprecedented action by the NCAA.

The NCAA has failed to pass most of the initiatives Emmert has trumpeted.  Many agreed with the ideals behind Emmert’s ambitious agenda, including trying  to give scholarship athletes a small amount of money to cover the full cost of  school, and paring down the rulebook. But the lack of results have highlighted  the growing schism between haves and have nots in Division I and further  polarized the athletic directors who feel largely ignored and highlighted how  out-of-touch Emmert is with his constituents. There’s been tremendous turnover  in top-level NCAA jobs under Emmert, to the point where many administrators  complain that they don’t even know who to call at the NCAA anymore. And therein  lies the irony of Emmert’s One Team One Future attempt — ideals like  communication, collaboration and inclusion sound great, but they’re missing  among the membership.

“I’m really concerned,” said one high-ranking college administrator. “There’s  a need for a healthy NCAA. It’s not healthy right now.”

Morale is at an all-time low among the enforcement staff as several respected  veterans — Dave Didion (Auburn), Marcus Wilson (Maryland) and Chance Miller  (South Carolina) — have left for college compliance positions since April. On  Tuesday the department received another huge blow when Rachel Newman-Baker, the  managing director for enforcement, development and investigators, left for a  compliance job at Kentucky. Newman-Baker is the highest ranking member of the  department to leave since enforcement vice president Julie Roe Lach was fired in  February in the wake of missteps in the Miami investigation.

“With Rachel gone,” another ex-NCAA staffer said, “there’s really only two  investigators (Angie Cretors and LuAnn Humphrey) left with experience in major  football and basketball cases.”

Last week, interim director of enforcement Jonathan Duncan told SI: “It’s  been a tough time for the enforcement staff.”

One of the driving forces of the enforcement exodus came from seeing how  Emmert’s office handled the Miami debacle. The NCAA knew about the issues  regarding the financial arrangement between Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer and  investigator Ameen Najjar for months, but Emmert’s remarks to the press — “a  shocking affair” — came off as if he’d just been informed that morning and  needed to express his outrage publicly.

Many staffers felt like Lach was the scapegoat, as the 52-page external report shows she directed Najjar’s request  through the proper channels. Jim Isch, the No. 2 behind Emmert at the NCAA, also  knew of the arrangement and offered financial support, but he faced no  repercussions. No logical explanation of that disconnect was provided.

How the NCAA handled Tom Hosty didn’t help either; weeks after Hosty was  demoted from managing director to director of enforcement, Isch informed the  staff of the demotion at a meeting and walked out as jaws dropped to the floor.

“They know if the s— hits the fan, they’re not going to be backed up by  anyone,” said one ex-investigator.

As the NCAA moves forward, the reality of Emmert’s future is tricky. “When  you get to the position Mark is in right now,” said another college  administrator, “it’s how and when you are leaving, not if.”

That’s easy to say, but that pace of change in both academia and in the NCAA  is unbearably slow. As one former staffer said of NCAA business: “You realize  that it takes 100 internal emails for you to get the one e-mail that says  nothing.”

Academia is arguably worse, as the average search for a college president  takes a year. There are few groups of powerful people more collectively risk  averse than college presidents, who when deciding on whether to blow their nose  insist on forming a sub-committee to dissect proper tissue texture. In other  words, getting a group of college presidents together to make a bold move like  firing Emmert is highly unlikely. Emmert could realize he’s in an untenable  position and jump to another job, but that isn’t likely either (he reportedly  makes $1.6 million per year).

It should be noted that Emmert does have supporters, particularly among  Pac-12 presidents, as he came to office from Washington. He helped hire Pac-12  commissioner Larry Scott and counts Oregon State’s Ed Ray among his closest  confidants.

But elsewhere, Emmert’s support is tepid at best. He proved helpless during  realignment, has been overwhelmed by constant scandal and has been unable to get  his reform measures through the muddled NCAA governance structure.

Even worse, public perception of the NCAA under Emmert is at an all-time low.  (This stinging USA Today story that exposed Emmert’s  messy handling of a large-scale construction project while at UConn didn’t help  Emmert’s reputation.) The mass exodus of talented employees speak much louder  than his corporate buzzwords. And that’s something that can’t be changed with  flashy lights or new screen savers.football/news/miami-ncaa/#ixzz2W6TuD0TJ

Bob Costas to Host Show Reexamining Freeh Report


Bob Costas is taking another look at the Freeh Report.

Nittany Nation blogger Frank Bodani is reporting that, to give the report and its assertions a better evaluation, Costas is going to host a TV program on NBC, “a further examination of this issue in a month or two.”

Said Costas, “I said, ‘As the Freeh Report makes clear, Paterno was, in some sense, complicit’” to Sandusky’s abuse of young boys.

“I didn’t say he was part of a cover-up. I wish I would have said, ‘As the Freeh Report asserts,’ rather than, ‘As the Freeh Report makes clear.’”

Costas first reversed direction on the Freeh report a few weeks ago in an interview with radio host Kevin Slaten of KQQZ in St. Louis, but now is the first evidence we’re seeing of a potential TV program to address the issue. When he first commented on the report last July, Costas had only read summaries of the document, and not the entire 267-page report itself. Previously, he had advocated for the so-called “death penalty” for Penn State football for at least a year. He now thinks that the NCAA sanctions in place are undeservedly steep.

In a way similar to the Paterno report’s questioning of Freeh’s investigation, Costas will take aim at Freeh’s conclusions that, according to him, still raise questions of their validity. Costas acknowledged that the report by Thornburgh, Clemente, and Berlin raised legitimate questions about holes in the Freeh Report.

Though Costas says that, nationally, the public may not care enough to reverse its opinion on the issue, having moved on and forgotten, he adds, “I feel I have some responsibility to follow the story.” No other details about the program have yet been released such as an air date, besides that it will air on NBC “in a month or two.”

Panel “Discussion of Paterno Investigation Today


This Says it ALL

This morning(sunday) at 8 am CST or 9 am EST on ESPN “Outside the Line” there will be a panel discussion by the participants in the Paterno family-commissioned study of the Sandusky Scandal.

Also, tomorrow on Katie Courics talk show, Sue will be doing an interview with Katie.

O’Brien Wins Another Coach of the Year!


Penn State’s Bill O’Brien has picked up another coaching honor.

The Maxwell Football Club named O’Brien coach of the year on Tuesday after the first-year head coach guided the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record under unprecedented circumstances.

O’Brien will pick up the award on March 1 at the Maxwell Club’s awards gala in Atlantic City. That same night, Penn State’s senior class will receive the Brookshier Spirit Award for commitment, leadership and effort in 2012.

The season began under the cloud of strict NCAA sanctions for the school’s handling of the child sex abuse scandal involving retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

But Penn State finished a surprising second in the Big Ten Leaders Division behind unbeaten Ohio State.

O’Brien has also been named ESPN coach of the year.

Mark Emmert Has No Grasp of Penn State Facts


By John Zieger, www.FramingPaterno.com

Franco asked Emmert how he could find Joe Paterno “guilty” for covering up the 1998 and 2001 instances when Jerry Sandusky himself had been found “not guilty” for the same episodes (in 1998 an investigation brought no charges and Sandusky was acquitted at trial for the Mike McQueary “rape” allegation). Emmert’s ensuing response, or, more accurately, non-response, spoke volumes about the credibility of the NCAA sanctions.

Emmert made some extraordinary statements.

He greatly diminished his own role in the sanctions (which he physically signed). He seemed to indicate that thought that the Freeh Report had somehow “read” 3.5 million documents and that Freeh had far more “authority” than he really did (Freeh didn’t even speak to any of the five people closest to the case). He even seemed to be under the delusion that Franco Harris, who famously played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, may have been on the 1998 Penn State team which was the first to, illogically, have its wins stripped.

But the most stunning statement Emmert made was that “no one” at Penn State was found “guilty” or even mentioned specifically by the NCAA, and that they did not take away Joe Paterno’s all-time wins record. He really said those things. Just listen to the recording.

If “no one” at Penn State was found “guilty,” then why was the school punished so severely? If Paterno was not specifically referenced, or didn’t have his record taken away, why does page 5 in the “punitive” section of the NCAA consent decree, clearly state, “the career record of Coach Joe Paterno will reflect the vacated records”?  The president of NCAA, who literally signed off on the worst sanctions in college football history against Penn State, didn’t even have a firm grasp on the basic facts of the case. Of all the many indignities that Joe Paterno has suffered in the year since his last birthday on earth, in some ways nothing has been worse than being convicted by people who didn’t even give him basic due process or the simple respect to have all the facts (or, in Emmert’s case, even have the courage to admit he had indeed been found “guilty”)?

 

Penn State Maintains Academic Excellence in Football


Today, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) awarded the Nittany Lions an honorable mention recognition as part of the AFCA’s annual Academic Achievement Award survey.

The honorable mention citation is given to programs who boast a 75 percent graduation rate or higher. In the 26 years that Penn State football has been eligible for the survey, it has received honorable mention recognition 22 times. Only Notre Dame has been recognized more (23).

Penn State, along with with 18 other schools, earned a special recognition for having a gradation rate above 90 percent.

According to data released in October, Penn State football set a program record with a 91 percent graduation success rate, putting it 23 percent above the national Division One average. The football team’s 2005-06 entering class earned a program record 93 percent Federal Graduation Rate, which is 33 points above the Division 1 average. To put that in perspective, Penn State’s graduation rate for non-athletes is 85 percent.

O’Brien ESPN Coach of the Year, Mauti ESPN First Team All American


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., December 8, 2012 – Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has been selected national Coach of the Year and senior linebacker Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La) has been named to the AT&T ESPN All-America Team.

O’Brien’s selection and the AT&T ESPN All-America Team were announced Saturday on ABC.

In his first year as head coach of the Nittany Lions, O’Brien is a finalist for three national coach of the year honors: the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and the Maxwell Football Club’s Collegiate Coach of the Year. O’Brien also is on the Watch List for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year.

The first-year Nittany Lion mentor also was named the Big Ten’s Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media) and Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches). He was just the seventh first-year head coach to earn the Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year in the 41 years it has been awarded.

Mauti was joined on the AT&T ESPN All-America Team by: Khaseem Greene (Rutgers), Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Manti Te’o (Notre Dame).

Mauti was selected the Big Ten’s 2012 Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year, helping Penn State to a conference-high five Big Ten individual awards. He also was a first-team all-conference choice by the coaches and media.

A co-captain, Mauti earns the first Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year honor for “LinebackerU.” in its second year of being presented. The award is named after Dick Butkus (Illinois) and Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern). Mauti and Fitzgerald were coached by Ron Vanderlinden, who has been the Penn State linebackers coach since 2001.

A semifinalist for the Butkus Award, Mauti was the only Big Ten player ranked in the top 10 in the conference in tackles (7th, 96), interceptions (4th, 3) and forced fumbles (3rd, 3). He also led the Big Ten in interception return yards (125). Mauti had 4.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks (minus-25), three interceptions, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two pass break-ups. The former Mandeville High School standout started the initial 11 games, suffering a knee injury in the first quarter vs. Indiana on Nov. 17 that ended his season.

Named Penn State’s 15th head football coach on January 6, 2012, O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to victories in eight of their final 10 games, earning an 8-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten, with the only losses coming to division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. In its final game, Penn State beat eventual Big Ten Champion Wisconsin, 24-21, in overtime. O’Brien’s eight wins are the most by a first-year Penn State coach in the 126 years of the program.