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Posts Tagged ‘Bill O’Brien’

Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 3 (Sept. 15)

Do you remember the last time Notre Dame took a trip to East Lansing? You might not remember the game’s first 60 minutes and change, but that’s fine: things didn’t get wild until overtime, when Michigan State answered a Notre Dame field goal with the most audacious coaching decision of the 2010 season. Now you remember, right? Dan Conroy is lined up for the potentially game-tying 46-yard field goal; Aaron Bates, the punter and team captain, was the holder; tight end Charlie Gantt was lined up one spot inside from the edge to Conroy’s right. The call: “Little Giants.” The snap went to Bates, as expected – and then came the unexpected. You’ll see the rest of the play later tonight, when the Irish and Spartans meet in one of the day’s marquee games. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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    Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 2 (Sept. 8)

    Let’s not beat around the bush: this isn’t a great week. I mean, it’s great – better than what we’re used to, better than any non-football weekend – but it’s not great, all things considered. There’s no Michigan and Alabama to end the night; there’s no prime-time game on ABC at all, in fact. Instead, we’ll close our night with Nebraska and U.C.L.A., Georgia and Missouri and, later on, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Very, very intriguing games. But with perhaps the exception of Georgia, depending on how highly you think of the Bulldogs, these games don’t carry any title implications. That doesn’t make the games any less interesting – or change the fact that every game, especially while teams find their footing, carries some level of importance. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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      Good Times End for “Sweet Caroline” at P.S.U.

      Penn State will have a new head coach for Saturday’s opener against Ohio, as well as names on the backs of players’ jerseys, with both changes bucking decades of program tradition. Fans familiar with the university’s game day operations might also notice that unlike in the past, Penn State’s players and coaches will arrive at Beaver Stadium at 9:15 a.m., in street clothes, and not in full uniform, 90 minutes before kickoff.

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        It’s Open Season on Penn State’s Roster

        It’s open season on Penn State’s roster. We’ve seen this before, in the early days of the sanctions assessed on U.S.C. three years ago and, if you can think back far enough, in the weeks following the penalties levied onto S.M.U. in 1987. There’s something different about this raid, however. One reason may be the fact that everything will be done in the open: Jim Delany, the Big Ten and the N.C.A.A. have essentially turned Penn State’s players into recruits, turning back the clock to those days when, as high school recruits, these same players were available to any school that would have their services.

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          Penalties Rock P.S.U.’s Past, Present, Future

          When given no other option, when an error-prone program shows little sign of remorse, waylays an ongoing investigation or hides pertinent facts and figures, the N.C.A.A. assesses penalties focused on the program’s past, present and future. In this vein, Penn State’s penalties fall right in line with those dropped on U.S.C., a recent transgressor against which the N.C.A.A. levied a series of potentially crippling punishments.

          The N.C.A.A. impacts the past by vacating wins; it impacts the present by allowing any current player to transfer without penalty, a wonderful rule, and by levying a postseason ban; it impacts the future by instituting scholarship reductions. Penn State is no different – except in the magnitude of the penalties, which, to cite the buzz word surrounding the ruling over the last 24 hours, were absolutely unprecedented.

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            No. 51: Penn State

            According to Robert Caro, rationalizing the unscrupulous methods that governed Lyndon Johnson’s political life required an unorthodox mindset: accepting a “morality that was amorality.” In short, Caro’s theory was that Johnson validated his lies and deceit – a “morality in which nothing matters but victory” – by claiming that the ends justified the means; to Johnson, there was nothing wrong with saying one thing and doing another, as long as the end result validated the methods used to reach one’s goal. For Johnson, the deceitful tactics he used to rob Coke Stevenson of a Senate seat in 1948, the clear theft of votes in South Texas and ensuing cover-up, prolonged a political career that would later lead to the White House. This is the duality of public life: There’s the public persona and the private person, what one says and what one does, and rarely do the two occupy the same zip code. The ends justified the means – to Johnson, and his supporters, and those that believed in the legend, and those that, to the day they died, believed that Lyndon Johnson was the man he made himself out to be. The truth? Johnson was a braggart, a liar, a cheat and a coward. He was a human. The only thing that made him special was his willingness to make the amoral moral, if only for his own benefit.

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              Ranking the Big Ten’s Class of Quarterbacks

              Another Wisconsin-themed hypothetical question: Where would you have ranked the Badgers’ quarterbacks against the rest of the Big Ten if Danny O’Brien had instead opted for, say, Penn State? If Wisconsin had gone into 2012 with options like Joe Brennan and Jon Budmayr, it would have joined Michigan State as the only two teams in the conference to not return a quarterback with at least one career start under his belt. So consider the toppling dominoes: O’Brien should start, which should push Brennan into a more fitting role as his backup, which will allow Budmayr to heal and former walk-on Joel Stave to develop.

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                How Does O’Brien Impact the Big Ten Race?

                It’s Tuesday. No, it’s Thursday. But think back to Tuesday, or even as late as Wednesday morning. Call it P.D.O.B.: Pre-Danny O’Brien. His arrival drastically alters Wisconsin’s fortunes heading into 2011, helping the Badgers avoid what could have been a painful situation at quarterback. Wisconsin’s gain is the rest of the Big Ten’s loss, to one Legends division rival in particular. Again, think back to Tuesday: How would you have projected the division to play out if the Badgers had gone into the fall with either Joe Brennan or Jon Budmayr starting at quarterback?

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.