Penn State Gets New ST Coordinator and QB, Planned Facility Upgrade

It’s a decent week to be a fan of the Penn State Nittany Lions. There’s been a flurry of news this week around the team, even though it’s still the offseason and no actual team activities have started just yet, and that news ranges from recruiting updates to news about one of the team’s main facilities. Perhaps the most notable recent news, though, is that the team has filled one of the main vacancies on their staff going into next season.

Special Teams Coordinator Phil Galiano made the move to the NFL and joined the New Orleans Saints staff as an assistant, leaving Penn State with an opening at the position. That opening has been filled by Joe Lorig, who previously coached at Memphis and had the same position before moving to Texas Tech and then moving up to Penn State before settling into the new job.

With Memphis not giving up a special teams touchdown under Lorig during his few years with the program, it seems like Penn State is getting a good addition to fill out their staff.

Another noteworthy piece of news is that the team has a new quarterback joining their 2020 class. Micah Bowens, who plays for well-known high school program Bishop Gorman, committed on Tuesday. Bowens is ranked as the 4th best recruit in Nevada and the 23rd best dual threat quarterback in the class overall, and also has offers from Arizona and BYU.

Bowens has showed off his skills on the ground plenty so far in high school, and this looks like a continuation of the trend of Penn State recruiting mobile quarterbacks.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the team’s main training facility, the Lasch Building, is scheduled for renovations worth $1.5M after a large donation from alum John Leone, who recently gave $6.5M to the school in total. Of course, the building has been renovated before in the past, but in a conference like the Big Ten, it never hurts to do more and keep up with high quality competition such as Ohio State and Michigan.

John Beilein Reacts To Being Ejected In Upset Loss To Penn State

Can you imagine Michigan basketball head coach John Beilein getting ejected due to technical fouls? It’s not something that generally happens, so it’s understandable to be surprised or even shocked that it happened in Michigan’s upset loss to Penn State, which has been at the bottom of the conference all season and could be called the Big Ten’s most disappointing team.

Despite their disappointing season, however, Penn State was up 40-27 at halftime on the #6 team in the nation, Michigan. Beilein, however, disagreed with the buzzer beater that put the Nittany Lions up by that margin going into the break, and after voicing his opinions to the referee, picked up not one but two technical fouls in quick secession. The fouls resulted in Beilein being thrown out of the game, and Michigan would fail to bounce back without their head coach.

Beilein reacted after the game to the ejection, and said that he’ll be dealing with the league office soon about it. “I haven’t been thrown out of a game since… I think it was 78-79? So about 20 years before most of you were born. And you know me, I very rarely get a technical, so I’ll deal with the league office going forward and see what I can do differently.”

Beilein went on to take a cautious approach and avoid talking about the call that led to the technicals in the first place. “I’m not going to comment on that, that would not be good... There will be some pretty interesting discussion with the Big Ten office, I will say that.”

Bad call or not, Penn State ended up winning by a margin where it doesn’t matter. The result has some very interesting implications for the Big Ten because it puts the Wolverines under their in-state rival, Michigan State, in the standings. With both teams holding an 11-3 conference record, the final stretch of the season will be much more important.

Michigan Football Will Have A Subtly Different Staff In 2019

New York Jets, Jim Harbaugh

If you were asked about the Michigan football coaching staff, the names that would come to mind would of course be Jim Harbaugh, or perhaps defensive coordinator Don Brown. Maybe even new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who only recently took the job in what looks from the outside to be a somewhat strange lateral move from another blue blood program, Alabama.

However, those aren’t the only faces on the coaching staff and if you aren’t paying close attention, you might even miss the fact that the team has recently made multiple changes lower down the ranks. All of these stories broke within the last couple of days, and are for relatively minor positions.

However, it shows the stature of the Michigan program when coaches who are currently working positions such as offensive coordinator for smaller schools will take a minor position just to make the move to Michigan. According to Bruce Feldman, the Wolverines are bringing in Ferris State offensive coordinator Steve Casula as an offensive analyst, with Casula having previous experience with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis at Western Michigan.

Feldman has also reported that Bethune-Cookman special teams and recruiting coordinator Aashon Larkins is set to join the Wolverines staff as an analyst, but whether Larkins will be an analyst for special teams or for recruiting is unknown at this point. It seems that Michigan looked far and wide to find the candidates for their recent hires. Bethune-Cookman is an FCS school, while Ferris State isn’t a D1 school at all but rather a D2 one.

The last of these minor hires is Pat Perles, the son of former Michigan State head coach George Perles, according to Field Yates. Perles will act as both an analyst and an assistant offensive line coach. Perles previously coached at Syracuse as an offensive line coach but also has NFL experience with the Kansas City Chiefs, which may help somewhat in running a professional style program in Michigan.

This news comes after Michigan hired Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator last month, ensuring that things definitely won’t be the same when it comes to 2019’s coaching staff.

Big Ten Football: Penn State Has A Transfer Problem

Now that the college football season is over, it’s time for free agency. Even if that would have sounded like a crazy statement years ago, it’s how things are now. It’s easier for players to transfer, and for better or worse, the practice has become common. Transfers can even help to make or break a team. Just look at Heisman winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray for examples of how a player can excel after changing teams.

But when you have 12 players either transferring or intending to transfer, something might be wrong with your team. That’s the situation that Penn State is in right now. Eight players have already found new schools to transfer to, this offseason. Four others have declared their intentions to transfer but haven’t found their destinations yet. It’s not like these are all players that would never get a chance to see the field if they remained at Penn State, either.

Redshirt senior Juwan Johnson, the team’s second leading receiver last season, is on the list of players that intends to transfer. Typically, a player like Johnson would be counted on as a leader going into the 2019 season. It’s rare for a player, after all, to want to leave after playing for three years at a school and having a large role lined up for next season. Others, such as 2018 freshman defensive back Isaiah Humphries, didn’t see playing time with Penn State so far but will be lost as future assets because of transferring.

“It’s difficult to see guys leave. It’s kind of the nature of college football at this point, just the landscape of it. I think we have a really good leadership group on our team right now. Maybe guys who weren’t leaders on the team last year but have stepped up into that spotlight. I think guys are responding to it really well,” Penn State punter Blake Gillikin told the Centre Daily Times.

Head coach James Franklin has been silent on the matter for now. Should Franklin speak up about it soon? Probably. National Signing Day is on February 6, and a large exodus of players isn’t a good look in recruiting at all. It’s too soon to say whether or not this is on Franklin and the rest of the staff, but it’s also something that fans should pay attention to. These kinds of things don’t just happen for no reason, after all. And going into National Signing Day, the trend is worrying for a Penn State team that’s already coming off of a bowl loss.

Big Ten: The Freshman And Receiver Of The Year Is Rondale Moore

Purdue isn’t always the school that you would expect award-winning players to come from, but this year, they can lay claim to having both the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Receiver of the Year awards. Both of these titles will go to Rondale Moore, who racked up more than a thousand yards receiving in his first season with the Boilermakers and greatly helped their offense with 12 touchdowns over the air and one on the ground.

With the regular season practically over at this point, Moore’s 103 receptions also lead the nation across all conferences and barely edge out other players such as UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who finished the year with 101. Moore’s 1,164 yards put him at tenth in all conferences, but first in the Big Ten, above Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson and his 1,112 yards.

Moore’s influence has been felt in Purdue’s season. While they did finish their regular season 5-4 in the Big Ten Conference, they’re currently on par with both Iowa and Wisconsin in a three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten West standings. They also defeated Ohio State in a nationally televised home game, back when the Buckeyes were ranked number two in the nation.

During that game, Moore had one of his most productive nights and finished with 12 receptions and 170 yards, tying his highest number of catches and setting a career high in yards. In the season finale win against rivals Indiana, Moore tied that total of 12 catches and finished the game with 141 yards and 2 touchdowns.

It’s certainly a well deserved award, and going into next season, Moore will definitely be one of the national players to watch. Especially when Purdue has a better idea of their starting quarterback situation going into the start of the season, unlike this year.

Penn State Football: Don’t Rule Out James Franklin To USC Just Yet

James Franklin is in an interesting position right now as the head coach of the Penn State football team. On one hand, his role in bringing Penn State back to national relevance has brought him many fans in Happy Valley, who have defended the coach even after major collapses against Ohio State in back to back years, and even for the team’s underperformance this year with a roster that should have been good enough to compete for the playoffs.

But ask different sections of the fanbase what they think and you might get a different answer. While one comments section might defend Franklin vehemently, another one might call for Franklin to be replaced to help the Nittany Lions reach their true ceiling. While third in the Big Ten with three conference losses at this point in the season may have been a good result in past years, it’s particularly disappointing for a team that many, including ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, thought would be in the race for both the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff.

But Franklin may have a chance to leave the controversy behind and head out west for a new job, one that would place him in an easier division and conference than the very difficult Big Ten East. The difficulty of that division may be the reason why Franklin doesn’t have a playoff appearance yet at Penn State, and the PAC-12 South is much more winnable. The interested team, of course, may be USC. Located in Los Angeles, they also are in a better position to recruit from California, one of the most important states to draw talent from for blue blood programs.

That’s not to say that it would be an immediate improvement. USC hasn’t met expectations during recent years, but they hit a new low this season by falling apart completely. Unless they can upset #3 Notre Dame in their closing game, they won’t even make it to a bowl game. Still, even though it will hurt Penn State fans to hear this, USC is considered by more people to be a larger program and it’s certainly a tempting offer for anyone, especially a coach coming off what will inevitably be a disappointing season.

Franklin, though, claims that he isn’t going anywhere. “Obviously [I] have all the plans in the world to be here, and be here for a long time. So I just wanted to address that because it became something that I did not want it to be or intend to be. I wanted to put that statement out there, and then obviously I would love to talk about Maryland and our practice today,” he said on Wednesday.

But realistically, what head coach would admit that they’re looking at other jobs, before their regular season ends and their team plays in a bowl game? Such a thing would be a morale killer, and it just doesn’t happen. And while Franklin isn’t in danger of being fired right now, it’s hard to deny that USC would be a step up and that few coaches who would be offered the job now will have the chance to make a move to Southern Cal later in their careers.

The fact of the matter is that USC would be a decent fit for Franklin and that it’s a very tempting job for almost any coach. Will a move definitely be made? No. But is it out of the realm of possibility yet just because Franklin has made a public statement favoring Penn State? Not at all.

It’s not the first time that a similar situation has happened, after all. Just take a look at the words of former Vanderbilt player Adam Butler, from back in 2014.

“He repeatedly told us, ‘I’m not leaving, no matter what. You guys don’t have to worry,’ he even took it as far as breaking down in tears like he always does. He was saying ‘I’m not leaving,’ and then right after the ball game, I mean no warning, no nothing, he just disappeared. He came back and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m leaving’ and cried again.”

Did Scott Frost Secure His Job With Michigan State Victory?

Nebraska has a signature win. If it’s possible for a team of their stature to have a signature win during a season where they’ve only won four games at this point in the season, that is. It wasn’t a pretty win, but Nebraska fans can’t ask for style points at the moment, and everyone will be proud of it because it’s a gritty win where the defense showed up and held Michigan State to six points for the entire game.

Michigan State, of course, aren’t in the best shape themselves. They came into the game with four losses, and it’s a far cry from when it seemed like they could defy some expectations and jump back into the race for the Big Ten East following a loss to Arizona State early in the season, and a scare against Central Michigan. But it just isn’t the Spartans’ season. Still, despite Michigan State struggling, it’s a big deal for Nebraska to beat them.

It’s the type of win that gets at least some momentum back going into next season, and helps prevent a rookie head coach from losing the locker room before the new regime can get off the ground.

For Michigan State, though, the opposite is true. Blowing a lead in the fourth quarter and doing it by allowing three field goals to give an opponent the win is embarrassing, especially when the three field goals are the opponent’s only points of the entire game. They were without their usual starting quarterback because of injury, but that doesn’t justify Rocky Lombardi’s 3.6 yards per completion and his overall poor completion percentage. Of his 41 passes, only 15 were caught.

It’s what head coach Mark Dantonio pointed to afterwards as one of the main reasons for the loss. “We had too many drops, I felt. If you had to point to one thing in the football game, you got to look at the dropped passes,” he said after the game.

He also explained the decision to start Lombardi in the first place. “We just felt like we needed to rest Brian [Lewerke] this week until he was able to sort of settle himself a little bit, settle his shoulder. He could have played.”

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez hardly had a better game, but Nebraska was able to get three more points than Michigan State at the end of the day after kicking a field goal to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Could this be a win that helps head coach Scott Frost in keeping his job?

It seems unlikely that he would be fired after one year, but Nebraska is having their worst season in forever and adding one more win adds some more security. Especially if this isn’t the only win they pick up before the end of the season.

While things are mostly lost at this point, Nebraska would do well to fight hard for a win in their final game against rivals Iowa. Momentum is what’s important right now. And Scott Frost managed to pick up some of it by coaching the team to its best defensive performance this season… Even if that performance came much later than any Nebraska fans would have wanted.

Michigan Dismantles Villanova… Are Wolverines Being Slept On?

Michigan defeated defending champions Villanova by a scoreline of 73-46. That’s not an error, but something that actually happened yesterday as Villanova went down in their worst loss in recent memory, and Michigan picked up a “signature” win in only their third game of the season. The Wildcats were ranked a full ten spots higher than Michigan, at #18, but that didn’t make any difference in the final scoreline.

The game wasn’t close from the beginning and Michigan went into the half with a 44-17 lead. They did especially well on turnovers and outscored Villanova in that department by a margin of 25-1. It was a dominant performance against a top ten opponent, and it could definitely be a turning point for Michigan.

After all, Villanova was the team that beat Michigan in the title game back in April. Before that, Michigan was hardly expected to make it into the tournament at all, at one point. They definitely weren’t expected to make it as far as they did and their ranking near the lower part of the top 20 shows that the media didn’t put too much faith in them compared to other teams who received higher ranks.

A win like this shows that maybe Michigan is better than their rank says. Maybe they were slept on during the preseason. It’s somewhat surprising in a way that they’re taking a step forward right now, because their lineup looks different than it did last year. There’s no Mo Wagner, no Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, no Duncan Robinson. The former went to the NBA early, with the latter two graduating.

But senior guard Charles Matthews has stepped it up as a leader with 20 points against Holy Cross and 19 against Villanova. Perhaps more unexpected is the 18 points from freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who has an early average of 16.3 points per game through the first three games of the season.

Michigan was known last year as a team that could get hot and go on runs, and it was one of the things that helped them make it as far as they did. But against Villanova, they did more than shoot the ball well and they added a stronger performance in the paint, both on the offensive end and the defensive end.

It looks like Brazdeikis might add more to the Wolverines offense and defense immediately than some projected. There were times where he proved to be an influence in shutting down Villanova’s offense, and on the other end, he showed that he can finish second in scoring for the game while mostly playing in the post.

Is Michigan underrated? They very well might be. They fared better in their matchup with a top ten team than their rivals from across the state did at the beginning of the season, although it’s important to note that Villanova is ranked #8 and Kansas was ranked #1 when Michigan State faced them.

Michigan’s work in out of conference play isn’t done, however, until they take on #7 North Carolina on November 28th. It’s their last non-conference game before they have to take on a Carsen Edwards led Purdue team on December 1st, and when that game comes, we’ll see if they can repeat their performance against a top ten team.

Big Ten Highlights: Carsen Edwards In Midseason Form Already

College basketball season is underway, and it’s time to see how some of the top players in the Big Ten are doing. Michigan State went down to Kansas on the first night of the season, but some of the other teams in the conference, including Purdue and Indiana, picked up wins. Of course, those two teams are notable for having players who are expected to contend for Player of the Year awards come the end of the season.

There’s a bit of a contrast here with Romeo Langford being the highly anticipated freshman newcomer and Edwards already having experience, as a junior who looks to take his game to the next level this year.So far, that experience has given Edwards a bit of an advantage. He put up 30 points in Purdue’s second game, a victory against Fairfield.

Edwards’ jumpshot shone specifically in the performance, as well as his shooting from deep. However, Edwards isn’t the only highly touted Big Ten player to put on a scoring performance recently. Freshman Romeo Langford scored 19 in his college debut, for state rivals Indiana. In contrast with Edwards and his range, Langford was more aggressive and scored from around the basket.

Langford didn’t put up as many points as Edwards did, but that’s reasonable considering his status as a freshman. Going into the season, he’s perhaps the most highly rated freshman that doesn’t play for the Duke Blue Devils. Langford will also be one of the most important players for second year head coach Archie Miller when Indiana faces some of their tougher non-conference opponents such as Marquette and Arkansas, and eventually, a top three Duke team.

Ohio State: “Something Isn’t Quite Right” According To Eddie George

Ohio State is a fringe contender for the College Football Playoff at this point in the season, but school legend and Heisman winner Eddie George isn’t the happiest with the way things are going for the Buckeyes. Not just on the field this season, but for the program as a whole. Ohio State might be a powerhouse on the field, but events before this season have shown that they aren’t the most stable blue blood program in the country.

That may be where some of George’s criticisms of the school come from. “There’s something going on there that we the public don’t know. I feel like, my personal opinion, there’s a level of dysfunction there within the walls of Ohio State. Whether it’s with the coach, the administration, the coaching staff… Something is not right.”

It seems to be an allusion to the preseason troubles that Ohio State and head coach Urban Meyer dealt with earlier this year, which is the type of thing that usually rarely happens at a program like Ohio State.

While Meyer retained his job and nothing came of it in the long run, the team hasn’t been playing the best since his return and their scares caught up with them when they finally lost to Purdue, dropping them down in the division and making it much harder for them to gain easy entry into the playoffs.

“Something isn’t quite right there, especially when you’re jumping into November football. “This is when you make your claim, you know, ‘hey, we’re going to be one of the four teams in the Playoff.’ I definitely think Ohio State has regressed a lot since the beginning of the year,” George said about the team’s current play.

It’s fairly accurate. Ohio State struggled heavily against Penn State and needed a defensive collapse from their opponents to win, they lost to Purdue in a game that wasn’t very close and allowed 49 points, and they struggled and won by less than a touchdown against a Nebraska team that only had two wins going into the game.

The Buckeyes take on Michigan State tomorrow, but there’s no guarantee that they win. Considering the early phase of the season and how Michigan State struggled and Ohio State dominating, that’s not something most thought would be true at this point, in November.

But there’s only three games left for the entire season, and if Ohio State can defeat old rivals Michigan, there’s no telling whether or not they can recover to make it into the playoff at the end of the year.