We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Tuesday, Dec. 27. Let’s get started.
The Moorhead non-story
There was a brief flare-up of Joe Moorhead Mania again on Monday, when Connecticut fired head coach Bob Diaco and Moorhead, Penn State’s first-year offensive coordinator, was immediately mentioned as a possible successor — notably on Twitter by NBC Connecticut sports director Kevin Nathan.
Sources tell me Joe Moorhead from Penn State is a leading candidate for UConn job. https://t.co/wabCbtBtyd
— Kevin Nathan (@KevinNathanNBC) December 26, 2016
Nathan was then reminded that Moorhead had told Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports that he wasn’t going anywhere when his name surfaced in connection with the Temple job a few weeks ago, after Matt Rhule headed off to Baylor.
I saw it. But I have heard Joe Moorhead's name attached to UConn for more than a week. We will see. https://t.co/gFBHAfEZuL
— Kevin Nathan (@KevinNathanNBC) December 26, 2016
Then ESPN’s Steve Levy weighed in:
Hearing it might already be done. If so Penn St. will need 3rd different offensive coordinator in 4 seasons & 5th coordinator overall. https://t.co/0sKLoUeqVP
— Steve Levy (@espnSteveLevy) December 26, 2016
Finally Forde reaffirmed — and Nathan retweeted — that Moorhead, the former Fordham head coach and UConn assistant, is staying put next year.
Y sources: @BallCoachJoeMo standing firm in commitment to Penn State for '17. Loved his time at UConn, but not a candidate to replace Diaco.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 26, 2016
Amid all this CBSSports’ Dennis Dodd listed Moorhead as one of five possible candidates to replace Diaco, who went 11-26 in three years in Storrs. At the same time, Dodd acknowledged the following:
Moorhead had such a fantastic year in his first season as Penn State’s OC that he might want to pass on this one. There are probably better jobs in his future.
That is a very smart take. Moorhead can do better, and at some point likely will.
Penn State, USC follow parallel paths
Zach Hefland of the Los Angeles Times writes that Penn State and its opponent in next Monday’s Rose Bowl, USC, have both weathered NCAA sanctions in recent years.
While the Nittany Lions were docked in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal in July 2012 — penalties that were reduced and in some cases eliminated as a result of a legal challenge three years later — the Trojans had been penalized in 2010 after the NCAA concluded that star running back Reggie Bush and his family received improper benefits from sports marketers during Pete Carroll’s coaching tenure. Those sanctions included a two-year postseason ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years.
That has led the two programs down paths that have paralleled one another, and at times intersected. Even now, both rosters lack depth and experience in some spots. And both teams have been forced to scrounge for talent wherever possible.
Former Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, for example, poached PSU running back Silas Redd in 2012, when the NCAA ruled that all the Lions could transfer without penalty. Kiffin and his staff met with Redd for three hours at a Dunkin’ Donuts near his home in Connecticut, Hefland writes, and swayed him.
It didn’t work out well. Redd, who had piled up 1,241 yards for the Lions in 2011, slipped to 905 for USC the following season, then 376 while appearing in just six games in ’13. Signed by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2014, he rushed 16 times for 75 yards that season, then missed all of ’15 after tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee in the preseason opener.
He was suspended indefinitely in April of this year for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Men’s hoops team opens Big Ten play
The Penn State men’s basketball team, 8-5 during the nonconference portion of its schedule, opens Big Ten play by hosting Northwestern (11-2) on Tuesday afternoon.
The Wildcats have lost only to Butler and Notre Dame so far, while the youthful Lions are coming off blowouts of St. John’s and Morgan State. Coach Pat Chambers told Ryne Gery of the Centre Daily Times that his team has made strides since its season-opening loss to Albany — that while PSU’s players let their offensive play dictate their overall effort that night, that no longer appears to be the case:
“I see our habits are getting a little bit better, I see our consistency is getting a little bit better, we’re defending and rebounding better. Our toughness got a little better and it can get better and it will get better.”
Freshman forward Lamar Stevens is fully aware that conference play is “a different animal,” as he told Gery. Same for classmate Tony Carr, the team’s starting point guard:
“It’s kind of like we take another step on this journey. … I’m just looking forward to the competition, and hopefully winning some games.”
Just a reminder
Next time you find yourself seated between two Sumo wrestlers on a flight to Sheboygan, remember that you could have hit the weight room a little harder when you were in junior high.
Because premier athletes appear to have it a little better than John Q. Public when flying on a bowl game’s dime. For evidence, check out the video of the Lions’ flight to California on Monday, circulated by the school itself.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) December 26, 2016