Friday, February 29, 2008

I like what I am seeing... or its the blind optimism...

Today the Eagles signed Asante Samuel. When I think about that a few things come to mind. My first reaction was actually a little bit of shock. I really was surprised to see the Eagles get involved in the Free Agency game so early. I think that is part of the reason I am excited to see this deal come around. I love that the Eagles are showing some aggressive action in trying to make the team better now, not for years from now. I know that I am in the minority in feeling that McNabb should be the Eagles QB. But I truly feel that if the Eagles are going to make any type of run towards the post season, it is going to be with Donovan, certainly not Kolb who has no experience at all. I think that the Eagles have one more good run left in this core group of players. Other fans are quick to point out that McNabb is the problem and then they go on to list a bunch of misleading supporting trash. Now I will agree that McNabb is not the sole reason for the Eagles successes over the past few years, but he certainly has played a huge role. When the Eagles signed Samuel today, I feel that it is a commitment to win. We need playmakers, on both sides of the ball. Whether or not Samuel is the best fit in Philly is beyond the point right now. Also, I like Jim Johnson's odds of turning a great CB into the perfect fit for our defense. I apologize that this post has been all over the place, but I came on here to say that as an Eagles fan, I am excited for the Samuel signing. If adding a great DB is not enough, the message that has been sent to the fans is that they are in it to win it this year, and that has me excited as well.

Dolphins Begin Rebuilding Project

The Miami Dolphins have started to rebuild this morning, agreeing to a 5 year deal with former 49ers right guard Justin Smiley. Smiley will earn $25 million over the next 5 years, $9 million of which is guaranteed. Smiley will presumably fill the void left by the imminent departure of Rex Hadnot, who is yet to be resigned. The Dolphins reclamation project won't stop there. They are rumored to be offering a 5 year, $32 million contract to former Cardinals OLB Calvin Pace. It is expected that the offer includes $20 million in guarantees. Pace is in Miami for a visit today. FOX News' Alex Marvez believes Pace will leave Miami as a Dolphin.

So what does this mean for Jason Taylor or Joey Porter? Pace, if signed, is more than likely taking one of their OLB spots in the base 3-4 defense. In my opinion, Jason Taylor's days as a Dolphin are numbered. This is complete speculation by me but I believe the Taylor will be traded within the next two weeks if Pace is signed. The Dolphins may be able to land 2nd and 3rd round picks for Taylor (or, at worst, 2nd and 4th rounders). This is really the end of an unsuccessful era in Miami. Zach Thomas is now in Dallas. J.T. may be the next to go.

Besides Smiley and Pace, who should the Dolphins go after? Here are my thoughts:

  • The Dolphins badly need a starting tackle, left or right. The Cowboys reaching an agreement with Flozell Adams prior to free agency hurts. Adams was all but guaranteed to be in Miami had he hit the market. Now there are few, if any, starting caliber tackles on the market. Will the Dolphins turn to Shane Olivea, Max Starks, or Maurice Williams? Or could this indicate that the Dolphins will draft Jake Long with the number one pick? If the Dolphins sign a tackle, Jake Long will not be taken.
  • Speaking of the offensive line, signing Smiley is great. He is young (26), has experience (49 starts in 4 years), and is big (6-3, 300). The only downside is he is a little injury prone so guard depth is a necessity. We will lose Chris Liwienski and Hadnot so we need to sign at least one more guard. Leading me to...
  • Jacob Bell. Were you expecting Alan Faneca? That'd be great. I'd love to stick it to Steely McDonati again. Just Kidding. Faneca is a beast and would be a good signing. Even better it would screw the Jets (sorry E). But he will be expensive. I think the best option for left guard is Jacob Bell, the former Titans starter. Bell, like Smiley, is young (27 on March 2), experienced (46 starts in 4 years), and is big (6-5, 300). If the Dolphins could sign Bell the starting line would be comprised of starters that are, at most, 27 years old! That means that this unit is just entering their prime and will be together for 4-6 years!!! Of course this doesn't include one of the tackle positions. That will hopefully be addressed through the draft or with Max Starks (Donati, again) or Shane Olivea.
  • After offensive line, the Dolphins need to find defensive line help. Teams are built around their lines. The Dolphins really don't have a d-line. Matt Roth is better suited as a 4-3 DE. So we need a at least one big DE. How about Marques Douglas? He is a little older (31 on March 15) but has been a solid contributor as a 3-4 DE for the 49ers the last three seasons. Douglas has adequate, though not ideal, size (6-2, 286) for a 3-4 DE. The biggest plus is his experience. At the other DE position we have Vonnie Holliday, another aging veteran. Holliday has performed admirably the last three years and should be back in 2008. I am hoping that, if the Dolphins keep the number one pick, they select Chris Long. People have him pegged as a 3-4 OLB. I'm not sure why. He played in the 3-4 at Virginia! I know players are bigger and stronger in the NFL but I have to believe that he can play DE in the NFL too. He has adequate size (6-4, 284) and can get bigger. A DE rotation of Douglas, Holliday, and Long would be strong.
  • More on the defensive line. There are rumors the the Dolphins are finalizing a trade for Cowboys nose tackle Jason Ferguson. This is a Parcells guy and doesn't surprise me. Actually, it is a blessing. Ferguson is a true NT (6-3, 305) and has played that position numerous times throughout his long career. Ferguson is older (34 in November) but would allow Miami a season or two to draft and groom a replacement. As of now the Dolphins have no one experienced to play NT.
  • Staying with the defense, the Dolphins must address the secondary and add another ILB. In my opinion I'd like to see the Dolphins fill the ILB voide with former Steeler and Chief Kendrell Bell. Sure he hasn't lived up to his standout rookie of the year season of 2001. But he had his best years in Pittsburgh's 3-4. He would come cheaper now than three years ago. He could slide in next to Channing Crowder and the linebacking corp could be (barring a Pace signing and the trade of Taylor) Pace, Bell, Crowder, and Porter. Not too shabby. Bell probably can be had for a 2-3 year deal. For the secondary, I want Miami to go after both Wilson safeties, Gibril and Eugene. Gibril, the former Giant, came into his own the last two years and has a bright future. Eugene, the former Patruiot, has fallen off abit since his first two years in the league. However both would be huge upgrades to our secondary. Hoepfully the Dolphins can land one of them. Lastly, the Dolphins need another CB to compete with Will Allen, Andre Goodman, Travis Daniels, and Michael Lehan. How about Ty Law or Drayton Florence?
  • Back on offense, Miami needs some receivers. There are four currently on the roster (Ted Ginn, Derek Hagan, Greg Camarillo, and Kerry Reed) but Ginn may be the only one worth starting. And he is probably only a number two, at best. The Dolphins recently signed David Kircus but taht doesn't bring a lot of help. Hopefully the Dolphins will go after Ernest Wilford, Bryant Johnson (Penn State, w00t), Donte Stallworth, or Isaac Bruce. Perhaps even grab two of them. I'd like to see Wilford, Bryant, or Bruce. They could supply the possession receiver we need to groom John Beck.
  • The Dolphins obviously need a QB and will probably bring in a veteran to push Beck. Josh McCown is in for a visit today. Miami may also turn to Gus Frerotte, Byron Leftwich, or Quinn Gray. It is probable that they will draft another QB somewhere between rounds two and four in April. Chad Henne anyone???
So there is my Dolphins round up. I think I have the grasp on what talent is available and what the Dolphins should do. Yo, Parcells, give me a call. I'd love to be an adviser. ;-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

RIP Myron Cope

Immaculate Reception
Terrible Towel

These two phrases are perhaps the most famous and well known of the entire Steelers historical lexicon, and both were made famous by the same man, who passed away today. Myron Cope (1929 - 2008) was the Steelers' radio analyst for 35 seasons, from 1970 to 2004. This is the longest run any individual has had announcing with the same NFL team. While most famous for his radio work, he also was an outstanding writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Sports Illustrated during his career. He is most known around the country for the Terrible Towel innovation, which was created as a gimmick before a playoff game in 1975 and has stuck around ever since. His trademark on the product has all profits go to help mentally challenged children in the Pittsburgh area. He is also known for his high pitched nasal voice, which was a combination of Jewish and Pittsburgh accents. He would often break out Yiddish phrases during games, the most popular being "Yoi!", "Double Yoi!", or "Triple Yoi!" (depending on the magnitude of the play). His voice was admittedly probably really irritating to any casual fan, but very much loved by those in Pittsburgh.

To Steelers fans, Cope is held in the same regard as Joe Paterno is by Penn State fans. He was the symbol of the team for all his years in the booth. From the destructive teams of the 70's, to the mediocre teams of the 80's, to the heartbreakers of the 90's and early 00's, the one constant for Steelers fans was getting to listen to Myron on the radio on Sundays. Many would mute the TV if those announcers were insufferable and listen to the radio call instead. Cope wasn't an ex player or coach, or a disinterested journalist using Pittsburgh as a stepping stone to bigger places. He was truly a fan in the broadcast booth: born and raised in the city, he was living a dream by being able to announce the Steelers and that was obvious to anyone who listened to him. That kind of enthusiasm from announcers is becoming increasingly hard to find these days.

For those who are unfamiliar, here's the best YouTube clip I could find of Myron. I believe this was the intro to a Monday Night game shortly after he retired, and he's talking about the Terrible Towel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pens pull blockbuster deal, land Hossa

The NHL trade deadline came and passed today, and the Pittsburgh Penguins officially threw their hat into the ring of serious Stanley Cup contenders, acquiring Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers and Hal Gill from the Toronto Maple Leafs. In exchange, we gave the Thrashers Colby Armstrong, Erik Christansen, Angelo Esposito, and 2008 1st round pick; and the Leafs got two mid to late round draft picks.

The Thrashers trade has drawn some mixed reactions from Pittsburgh fans, many of whom are upset about the deal because we gave away two fan favorites in Armstrong and Christansen. Colby was much loved by Pittsburgh fans because he played with a lot of heart despite a skinny frame, and had a fun personality off the ice. Christansen was loved because he was decent at shootouts, I guess. There is also worry that we gave up too much with two first round draft picks for a player (Hossa) who will be a free agent after this season. I am here to say that these fans are the same Pittsburgh fans that say the Pirates are gonna turn around before every single season: misguided.

The Hossa acquistion turns the Pens from a team that makes the playoffs and loses in 5 games (like last season) to a team that has the ability to make a serious Stanley Cup run. He is a major goal scoring threat over his career with Ottawa and Atlanta, and he has seen improvement in almost all of his seasons, meaning he may have yet to hit his peak. Just imagine these top 2 scoring lines:
1) Malkin (35 G 47 A) Sykora (20 G 26 A) Malone (20 G 18 A)
2) Crosby (20 G 43 A; missed last 5 weeks) Hossa (26 G 27 A) ???

You could put Mr. Potato Head on that second line alongside Crosby and Hossa and that would still be an amazing lineup. This trade allows that #1 line that has played so well together since Crosby got hurt in January to remain intact when he comes back, and pairs one of the better goal scorers in the league with the best passer in the league. This also helps our already dangerous power play and strengthens our very weak penalty killing (all three acquired players are regarded as good PKers). This is exactly the kind of deal the Pens and GM Ray Shero needed to pull off to send a message to everyone in the East, including our own team, that this years playoffs will be different. It's a very exciting time to be a hockey fan in Pittsburgh.


I know I haven't posted in a while but there's some good news (better than the Penguins gambling their future on a rental player). The Jets just cut Justin McCareins!!! This guy single-handedly lost games for us by dropping passes a Pee-Wee player could have caught. I'm surprised we didn't dump him sooner. Good riddance Justin!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Few Other Things to See

Hey everyone. I just wanted to say a little about a few other sites that I have found useful over the years when reading/learning/studying the NFL and the draft. Be sure to check these sites out.

  • The Football Expert - I am a NFL Draft Analyst at this site and have written two draft previews for 2007. Check out my Dolphins preview here and the my Rams one here. I didn't post them on Sports Fountainhead because of their size and the use of tables. You see what happens to tables here with my mock drafts. Yuck.
  • Draft Tek - The Draft Tek team has developed a computer simulation for the NFL draft. It is really sweet. The simulations uses two different matrices: one with prospect rankings by position and another for each the 32 NFL teams needs by position. The model then does a mock draft - through all seven rounds! The site is updated often. Each team has a correspondent that is responsible for updating the team matrix (I am the correspondent for the Dolphins). In addition to the regular mock draft, they do a few What-If? simulations, such as what would happen by forcing the program to have Miami take Matt Ryan or a variety of other scenarios. Below is an excerpt of the output of the most recent What-If? scenario: Randy Moss leaves New England as a free agent and signs with Dallas. This allows the Patriots to sign Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, and Zach Thomas (I HOPE NOT!). Below is a tiny bit of the results taken from round two. I am only listing this because I WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. The player listed in the right hand column is the player the team would take in the normal simulation. The player after the team listed is the selection in this What-If? scenario. Just to clear things up.
Click on image to enlarge.
  • The last sight I want to mention is Pro Football Talk. They have their own rumor mill comprised of rumors and articles from sports sites and local newspapers. If you need a quick football update, go there.
So there are a few more sites to whet your football appetite as we head in to an important few months: combine, free agency, and the draft!

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right...

PART 1 - A Tribute to #54

As a Dolphins fan I have been through a lot these last six years. No playoff berths. The endless search for the next Dan Marino. A revolving door of players and coaches. The Ricky Williams saga. The Nicktator. A 1-15 season. You would think that last one would be the lowest low of everything recently. It's not. Nothing hurts more, as a Dolphins fan, than the loss of Zach Thomas.

Zach Thomas wasn't supposed to make it. He was a 5th round draft choice after all (154th pick in 1996). However, he started every game his rookie season (in fact he started every single game of his illustrious Dolphins career, which spanned 12 seasons) and registered 157 tackles (126 solo). The triple-digit tackles would become a Thomas specialty. He registered 100+ tackles in his first 11 seasons in the NFL (only two other players have done this). He has more tackles after 12 seasons than anyone in the Pro Football Hall of Fame had in their entire career. Seriously. He studied hours upon hours of game tape...after the team sessions were over. He would sometimes be at the practice facility before the coaches and would be the last to leave as well. His intangibles are vast. But besides his on the field prowess, he had the off-field characteristics that make you proud to say "You're my idol". He was friendly with the media (he phoned every reporter he was in contact with over these last 12 years and thanked them personally). He was involved in numerous charity events. He was grounded and humble. The list goes on and on.

In case you haven't figured it out, Zach Thomas is my favorite football player. Ever. Seeing him leave Miami actually hurts, as much as sports story can hurt. Knowing he will be in another uniform soon sucks. Hopefully he latches on with a team that has a chance to win the big one. He deserves it. After everything he has been through with the Dolphins and the skill and class he brings to the game, he deserves a Super Bowl ring. The teams that are rumored to be interested in his services include the Saints, Jets, Bills, Cowboys, Chargers, Colts, and Patriots. Crap. Let's see...hate the Bills. Check. Jets? Yep. Patriots. OH HELL YEAH. But in the end, I want him to win. While I don't think that will happen within the next 2 or 3 years in New Orleans, New York or Buffalo, it could happen in Dallas, Indianapolis, San Diego, or New England. As much as it would hurt to see him playing for the Patriots he would have his chance at the Lombardi. Above all, that's what I, as a Zach Thomas fan, want.

I hope you've had the time of your life, Zach. It was fun while it lasted. Good luck wherever you may land.

PART 2 - An Argument for the Hall of Fame

Zach Thomas is one of the greatest linebackers in the history of the game. Don't believe me? Try watching an old Dolphins game. He, along with Jason Taylor, was a team leader. He could change games. He made great plays and hit hard (one more for fun). He will be in the Dolphins Honor Roll and very well could have his number retired. And he should be enshrined in Canton.

If you count Chuck Bednarik and Alex Wojciechowicz as linebackers (they were also centers), then there are currently 18 linebackers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The first linebacker inducted (after two way players Bednarik and Wojciechowicz) was Joe Schmidt of the Detroit Lions (Class of 1973). The most recent addition is Andre Tippett, the former Patriots star and part of the Class of 2008.

If you'd ask the casual NFL fan, or possibly even some fanatics, who are the best linebackers in the NFL today you'd probably hear these names (in no particular order): Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Shawne Merriman, DeMarcus Ware, Lance Briggs, Patrick Willis, or Derrick Brooks. I'm not making this up; I've seen this argument on many message boards. I have seen this done bye supposed experts from CBS and ESPN. Could someone please answer me this question: WHY IS ZACH THOMAS NOT ON THIS LIST?!?!?

I don't have an answer for that. But I do have an answer as to why he should be on that list. This is strictly statistics base because all of the other assets, such as intangibles and character, can not be measured; they are simply demonstrated. I compared active players ach Thomas, Ray Lewis, and Brian Urlacher with Hall of Famers Mike Singletary and Lawrence Taylor (I wanted to include others, such as Jack Lambert and Dick Butkus but couldn't find complete statistics). The first image shows their career statistics to date. The second image is all of the players extraploated to 184 games played, the amount that L.T. played. Click on the images to enlarge the statistics.

Career Statistical Comparisons
Extrapolated Statistical Comparisons
NOTE: FFs are forced fumbles and PDs are pass deflections.

As you can see, Zach Thomas clearly is a stud linebacker. He has more tackles than any of these players (and any currently in the Hall of Fame). I know it depends on scheme, position (outside vs. inside), and even what era we are in, but tackling is the most important part of a defender's game. It is clear that he makes the tackles when needed. He is one of the best.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Scirrotto Takes a Plea Deal

And it's about time. Today, PSU starting safety Anthony Scirrotto pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of defiant trespass as part of that deal. Lucky for him, he loses the felony charge and just has to perform some community service, pay $500, and be on probation for a little while. What I'm curious to see is if JoePa will take any action. Last season, he said that he would reduce Scirrotto's playing time early in the season and never did. Now, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor, thus affirming at least some sort of wrong doing. I think that JoePa should suspend him for Coastal Carolina and maybe Oregon State. If anything, just to make up for not suspending him last year when he should have been. Either way, it's a relief that this didn't go to trial and end up with Scirrotto getting convicted of a felony. The secondary needs him badly next year.

Well This Flew Under the Radar

Apparently back when Goodell and Belichick met after the original SpyGate, Belichick admitted to taping opponents since his first games as coach in 2000. Really? Why wasn't this ever mentioned until now? Pro Football Talk raises the same question. And apparently there was proof that the Patriots taped the Steelers in 2004. During the regular season meeting, which the Steelers won 34-20, the Patriots couldn't compete with the Steelers ferocious defense. In the AFC Championship game in January 2005, the Patriots came out victorious and were seemingly able to stop anything Pittsburgh threw at them. Genius coaching and scheming? Or knowing what Pittsburgh did through illegal taping? Hmmm. Hopefully the full truth will come out soon. In my opinion, the Patriots are screwed. They have been cheating since 2000. If there is real evidence remaining (Matt Walsh?) on whether or not the Patriots taped one of their Super Bowl opponents (Rams? Panthers? Eagles?) in the regular season or before the big game, watch out. Things could get interesting. Bye bye Belichick? Loss of more draft picks?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

FCS Overdose

Say what you will about Penn State's strength of schedule, but...

I was reading Stewart Mandel's article on about the August LSU-App St. matchup, the first ever between two reigning national champions, when Mandel brought up a rather sad and startling revelation.

Two respected ACC programs, Florida State and Clemson, have scheduled two FCS (AKA 1-AA) non-conference matchups.

According to their schedules, the Seminoles begin their season in Tallahassee against Western Carolina and Chattanooga and the Tigers will welcome two South Carolina universities, The Citadel and South Carolina State. (I see they've adopted Ohio State's strategy of winning the "state championship.")

Now, you can always go on to tell me that FSU and Clemson have their annual SEC battles with Florida and South Carolina, respectively... and that Colorado is flying to Jacksonville or that the Tigers are tussling with Nick Saban's Alabama squad in the Georgia Dome.

But honestly, two FCS opponents? What, was Florida International not available?

A lot of people griped about Hawaii's weak non-conference schedule last year, which incidentally also featured two FCS teams, Northern Colorado and Charleston-Southern. But at least Hawaii has an excuse since it's ridiculously difficult to feasibly get a decent FBS team to fly out to Honolulu for a weekend. That's understandable. But are teams really having a tough time finding the states of Florida or South Carolina? Or are things getting so bad in the ACC that athletic directors need to significantly pad their schedules?

Yes, Penn State opens their 2008 campaign with Coastal Carolina, but we follow with 10-4 Oregon State and Syracuse, a BCS opponent we scheduled several years ago. Yeah, Temple rounds out the non-conference slate, but at least they're a MAC (aka 1-A) team. Al Golden is making some pretty nice strides in Philly, too. At least we're not double dipping into the FCS pool.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Patriots Fans Digging Themselves Deeper Holes

As though much of the nation needed any more fuel to hate the Patriots and a majority of their fans. I have stumbled upon this, found at Pro Football Talk. It is a petition to the NFL and Roger Goodell to review the final 1 minute and 40 seconds of the Super Bowl on the behalf of the Patriots organization and their fans. They claim that clock was mishandled. Apparently this caused them to lose. Wow. The creator of the petition misinterprets the rules, as noted by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Can New England sink any lower (fans or organization)? This is getting even more ridiculous. I can't believe 18,000+ people actually believe this swill.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Something Bigger Than Sports: THON

I'd like to take a minute to write a little bit about something that is more important and precious to me than any sporting event, team, or player. It is the Penn State Dance Marathon, known by many simply as THON.

THON is a fundraising event for the Four Diamonds Fund. Each year "dancers" participate and cannot sleep or sit for the length of the event (most recently lasting 46 consecutive hours). THON 2008 will start at 6pm on February 22nd and end at 4pm on February 24th. The event will be held for the second time at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus in University Park, PA.

In order to keep the dancers awake and properly stretched, organizers develop a new "line dance" each year (view the 2007 dance here). The line dance combines words and a variety of easy dance moves. The line dance usually includes that year's THON theme and logo, forms of Penn State spirit and athletics, incorporates U.S. and world events over the last year, and most importantly emphasizes that the event is For The Kids.

The backbone of the event is knowing that the proceeds benefit Four Diamonds children and their families. The Fund helps to pay for a majority of the medical costs of the children affected by pediatric cancer. In addition, some of the money is used to further cancer research or to erect brand new buildings for cancer patients and research at the Hershey Medical Center.

The Four Diamonds Fund was started in 1972 by the Millard family after their son, Chris, passed away from a form of pediatric cancer. The name comes from a story written by Chris Millard about the Four Diamonds, or virtues, needed to battle cancer. The Four Diamonds are: COURAGE, WISDOM, HONESTY, and STRENGTH. Any child being treated at Penn State's Hershey Medical Center is able to utilize the fund. The Fund fully covers all medical costs not covered by the family's insurance. Basically, FAMILIES NEVER SEE A BILL.

Penn State student organizations and clubs raise money for the event starting October 1st. Donations are accepted until a few hours before the end of THON weekend. There are a variety ways students raise money, but the most notable is "canning". There are a designated number of weekends that students may "can". The students will travel hours to a city and stand outside of stores and along streets (with permission, of course) to raise money for the kids. Other forms of fundraising include: online donations, pledge books, solicitation letters, and events (such as talent shows or pizza sales).


The Penn State Dance MaraTHON was started in 1973 by the Interfraternity Council. That year's event served as a competition and charity fundraiser. At the conclusion of the 30 hour event, $300 was given to the winning couple. In addition, the event raised $2,000+ for the Butler County Association of Retarded Citizens. A year later the event was expanded to 48 hours. The selected charity for 1974 was the American Heart Association. They received $10,825 from the 1974 Dance Marathon. The Marathon switched charities again in 1975 (Easter Seals Sociey - $12,000+) and 1976 ($15,282 - Muscular Dystrophy Association). In 1977 Penn State's Dance Marathon selected a small charity known as the Four Diamonds Fund to receive the proceeds for that year. The proceeds have gone to the Four Diamonds Fund every year since 1977.

Dance Marathon's held from 1973-1978 were held in the Hetzel Union Building (HUB) ballroom. The event in 1979 moved to the White Building gymnasium and raised $72,132 for the Four Diamonds Fund. In 1988 the event raised $297,311 and began to be known and recognized as THON. In 1990 the event became officially known as the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon and raised $671,572. THON 1992 is one of the more notorious Dance Marathon's. It was the first THON to break $1 million raised for the Four Diamonds Fund. The $2 million mark was breached during THON 1998 ($2,001,831.51). The event outgrew the White Building and was moved to Rec Hall in 1999, where Penn State basketball, volleyball, wrestling, and gymnastics events were held. Over $3 million was raised for THON 2000 ($3,076,983.97). The numbers continued to rise. THON 2005 ($4,122,483.65) and THON 2006 ($4,214,748.18) raised more than $4 million for pediatric cancer research.

The event that took place last year was the biggest to date, in more ways than one. THON moved out of Rec Hall and into the Bryce Jordan Center, a 15,261 seat arena where numerous sporting events and concerts are held annually. THON didn't miss a beat last year and those involved were able to raise $5,240,385.17 for the Four Diamonds Fund. THON 2007 was the 35th anniversary of the Penn State Dance Marathon and the 30th year that the events proceeds went to the Four Diamonds Fund.

THON 2008 logo and theme.

The event has grown to well over 700 dancers, 3,000 organizers, and 10,000+ involved. In THON's 35 year history, the event has raised close to (if not more than) $50 million dollars, a majority of which has gone to the Four Diamonds Fund: Conquering Childhood Cancer.

2003 - $3,600,793.18
2004 - $3,547,715.48
2005 - $4,122,483.65
2006 - $4,214,748.18
2007 - $5,240,385.17

Total Money Raised for The Four Diamonds Fund, 2003-2007: $20,726,125.66

Revealing of the total amount raised at THON 2007.

This is truly an amazing event, one that I wish everyone could witness. It is really hard to put into words. You can view videos of the main event, such as the revealing of the final total or each year's "line dance", on YouTube (just search for Penn State THON). I have been to the past four THON's and will be returning to Penn State for THON 2008. A majority of the bloggers here are involved with THON. This year, it is an honor to have two bloggers dancing (E and TAS). Steely McDonati danced in 2005.

Want to send a letter to E or TAS at THON? You can do so through this link. Your message will be printed out and handed to them during Mail Call on Sunday morning. Appreciate what they write here? Want to wish them luck? Send them dancer mail! Make usre you address it to Eric Wertz or Tom Sabbatelli.

I have added the THON mission statement to the right sidebar as well as a link to donate to the cause. Also, to get an idea of the magnitude and importance of the event, view these videos: THON 2008 - Promo Video, Heroes, & Road to THON. Thank you for taking the time and reading about something completely unrelated to the site. I urge you to research the cause further. You won't regret it.

To learn more about THON, visit or
To learn more about the Four Diamonds Fund, visit
To donate to THON, visit

Injuries Mounting for Flyers

The Flyers have been the surprise team in the NHL this season, after suffering through their worst season in the team's 40 year history in 2006-2007. Currently in third place in the East with 65 points (four behind division leading Pittsburgh) and sixth in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers have had a substantial turnaround. After all, they had only achieved 57 points through the entire season last year. But the feel good story in Philadelphia has come to a steady halt as the team has gone 5-5 in their last ten games and seem to lose a player every night. Last night's lost to Pittsburgh, the first to the Penguins this season, resulted in not just an L but a dent in their lineup. Simon Gagne was injured in the first period with what appeared to be his third concussion in four months. Gagne, who missed 30 games combined after his first two, hope to return before the end of the 2007-2008 season. He is just another player added to the list. Joffrey Lupul just returned to the ice on February 9th after missing more than a month with a spinal cord contusion and a concussion. Currently out are defensemen Rory Fitzpatrick (sports hernia, since 1/16) and Braydon Coburn (ruptured artery, since 2/10) as well as winger Scottie Upshall (ankle, 2/16). None of the three are expected to return within the next week. Fitzpatrick and Coburn may be out for at least another 10-14 days. Despite Gagne missing as much time as he has, he is still a point/game kind of player (illustrated by his 25 points in 25 games this season). It is hard to justify the losses of Fitzpatrick and Coburn, though their defensive prowess has helped fill a hug hole on the Flyers blueline. Hopefully the team can stay strong and stay in the thick of the Eastern Conference race. Anything can happen in the playoffs.

*NOTE: This isn't meant as an excuse. Every team has injuries. The Pens are playing without Crosby and the Avalanche are playing sans their top three guys. Many other teams have injuries too.

I'd also like to welcome back the Rangers to the race. What the hell were they doing the first three months of the season?

And totally unrelated to hockey...a great find by Kelly Ross. How did I miss that?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Delayed signing a good thing for Penn State

Just wanted to emphasize a lot of what Eric wrote. A lot of the things I said last night have changed. Pryor is most likely not signing today. And I don't consider Michigan the front runner. Eric is most likely right about why Michigan may be third. Does Pryor really want to go to the program that is completely overhauling its system? There will be drastic changes in Ann Arbor. And I read more articles about Pryor and some friends gave me insight and it echos what Eric wrote: Ohio State was his choice. However, that he is going to delay signing can only be a good thing for Penn State and even Michigan. It just shows that he isn't sold on the Buckeyes in some way, even if it is a family reason. If it is true that he doesn't want to play right away - a very good idea - then Ohio State and Penn State are the better options. I can't imagine being this young man right now. What an excruciating, long process. This could probably hasn't gotten any time to himself. Hopefully he makes the right decision and does what he wants to do. Otherwise it could be a long college career for him, and not in a good way. From my experience and from an atmosphere standpoint, you can't go wrong in Happy Valley.

New Life for Penn State in the Pryor Sweepstakes?

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pryor will not make his college decision later today. In the article, it also says that Pryor will "probably make a visit to Penn State." Pryor's father said that the two exchanged their selections and that they did not match. His dad says he didn't pick Ohio State. It is purely a guessing game but it looks like Terrelle probably picked Ohio State while his dad almost certainly picked Penn State. I was wondering why he never dropped PSU off the list. I think it's safe to say that it is because of his father. Why else would he come to Penn State for yet another visit? Does this mean that Michigan is effectively off the list? The more I think about it, the more I think that he's a little afraid to commit to a program that's being completely revamped. Furthermore, his dad also claimed that playing early is not important for Pryor and that it might even be better that he sit back and learn the college game first (another strike against UM and pretty much confirmation that he picked PSU). If you asked me, after reading the article, I would say that Pryor's list reads:

1-Ohio State
2-Penn State

I thought PSU's chances were slim and none but after this latest setback, there is reason for hope.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pryor to commit tomorrow?

One of the most dynamic high school players in Pennsylvania football history will make a decision tomorrow that could alter the look of the Big Ten for the next three years. Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette is reportedly set to decide his college of choice at a press conference set for 12:05pm tomorrow (Wednesday, February 6th). The Associated Press claims that Pryor has decided against Oregon and lists Michigan and Ohio State as his top two choices. However, Penn State is indeed in the running despite being viewed as his third choice. I give the edge to Michigan because of Rich Rodriguez's offense. I would not count out Penn State though. They are expected to use an offense in 2008 similar to the one used in 2005, when Michael Robinson earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and lead Penn State to an Orange Bowl victory and #3 ranking. Daryll Clark will be running that same offense this year. Pryor could redshirt in '08, learn from Clark throughout the year, and be poised for a two to three year run as QB at Penn State. What are the odds the uberprospect signs with Penn State? Slim. Maybe 15%? Who knows. We will find out tomorrow.

Super Bowl III v. Super Bowl XLII

So apparently people think this past Super Bowl was the biggest upset. While I do agree that this was an upset of near epic proportions, it pales in comparison to what the New York Jets did to the Baltimore Colts 39 years ago. Yes, that event happened more than 15 years before any of the bloggers here were born, but that shouldn’t make the event any less than what it was.

Let’s begin with a little comparison of the regular seasons the favorites (New England and Baltimore) had before they crashed and burned in the Super Bowl…

As we all know, the Pats went 16-0. Through 8 weeks, they were on a torrid pace, beating their opponents by an average of 26.5 points. They obviously proceeded to win all of their games, but not as convincingly as they did prior to escaping Indianapolis with a win. They had multiple close calls, winning by only a FG against the Eagles (at home), Giants, and the horrifically bad Ravens. In the playoffs, they were solid, but just weren’t bowling through people like they had to start the year. Regardless, they just kept on winning and lighting up the scoreboard, finishing the season with the NFL single season record for TDs (75) and points (589). Don’t get me wrong, New England had a regular season for the record books.

The Baltimore Colts went 13-1 the season they played the Jets in the Super Bowl. Their one loss came against a Cleveland Browns team that finished the regular season a respectable 10-4. The Colts ended up avenging this loss by annihilating the Browns in Cleveland 34-0 in the NFL Championship Game. Outside of the regular season loss to the Browns, all of their wins in the regular season were by at least 11 points outside of a 28-24 win against the 10-3-1 LA Rams in the season finale. They also posted 4 shutouts (including the playoff game). Keep in mind, the Colts were doing this with Earl Morrall, a journeyman quarterback who was filling in for Johnny Unitas, who was knocked out with a season ending injury early. He did a more than adequate job, winning the NFL MVP just as Tom Brady did with the Pats this year. While they had the #2 scoring offense in the league, they won with defense as they only gave up 144 points throughout the season, tying the NFL record at the time.

Fast forwarding to the main event, the Super Bowls, both the Patriots and Colts came in as enormous favorites. The Patriots were favored by 12 points over the Giants (10-6), while Baltimore was favored to beat the Jets (11-3) by 18. Only Super Bowl XXIX (where the 49ers crushed the Chargers) had a larger spread (18.5 points) than Super Bowl III. One reason for the difference in the spread was that the Jets came from an inferior league. The AFL was widely regarded to almost be somewhat of a ‘minor league’ to the NFL. They still got some top notch players but not nearly as many as the NFL. Many members of the Jets that year were rejects from various NFL teams, including the Colts. That’s one glaring difference between the two Super Bowls. Today, you know that all of the best players are in the NFL as there is no other league to really compete with it. In reality, if the Jets were in the NFL for the ’68-’69 season, they more than likely would have a record very similar to, if not worse than the ’07-’08 Giants.

The actual manner in which the game was won also (in my eyes) proves that Super Bowl III was more of an upset. While the Giants played a fantastic game, they were losing for a nice chunk of the game. The Jets scored a TD early in the second quarter of Super Bowl III and never looked back. They shutout the high octane Baltimore offense until there were 3 minutes left in the game. The lone Baltimore TD was virtually scored in garbage time as the Jets were already up 16-0. The Jets were bigger underdogs than the Giants were, and they beat their opponent much more handily. The Giants needed an fluky (albeit amazing) play by Eli Manning and David Tyree to pull out this win.

Hear me out…remember how everyone was saying before the Super Bowl that the Patriots might be the best team of all time? From what I have found, the Colts are one of 5 teams in the Super Bowl era that have gone the regular season with 0 or 1 loss. That means they’re in the same club as the Patriots (if I’m wrong, tell me…I’m not 100% on that). Am I saying that the 1968 Colts are better than the 2007 Patriots? No, not necessarily. However, I feel that a lot of people forget about what the Colts did that year because of what they did in the Super Bowl. Today, people still talk about the historic seasons that 18-1 ’84 Niners and ’85 Bears had because they won the super bowl. I guarantee you that the ’68 Colts would be grouped in that discussion had they won Super Bowl III has they would have gone 16-1. Just seeing how many people say that Super Bowl XLII is the biggest upset, hands down, goes to show how that if a juggernaut goes into a Super Bowl and loses, time will erase them. Honestly, how many of you knew that the Colts were 15-1 heading into the Super Bowl? That’s one hell of a season and people just don’t remember because they didn’t get the ring and in time, the thing the Patriots will be remembered for is choking in the Super Bowl. Yeah, people will remember they were the first 16-0 team but what does it matter if you can’t win the big one?

In the end, the fact that an 13-3 team from what was considered an inferior league could come into the Super Bowl and handily defeat a 15-1 team from a superior league is astonishing and there is no question in my mind that the Jets winning Super Bowl III is easily a bigger upset than the Giants winning Super Bowl XLII.

Well ok...maybe Super Bowl III wasn't an upset to everybody.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Welcome to Perfectville: Population 1 (Established 1972)

Hold up

I better see a change in the outcome of that poll on the right. Ok, it's only 7 votes so far (the one pro-Jets vote being mine) but it definitely rained on my anti-Belichick parade. The Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III was BY FAR the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. Yesterday doesn't even compare to what the Jets did. Right now, I have homework to do and racquetball to play but you can count on a post about this in the near future.



Interesting ESPN fan comment

So I was reading the endless amount of Super Bowl articles on ESPN (as well as the thousands upon thousands of comments) and came across this gem:

Hopefully you could read that. I almost fell out of my chair. He was stopped? What was this person watching? Surely it wasn't XLII. Maybe it was a dog posing as Eli in Puppy Bowl IV on Animal Planet?

Oh look! Eli was stopped!

In case you want to see the Eli Manning-David Tyree play again, here it is:

And one more time, for good measure, CONGRATULATIONS NEW YORK GIANTS.

18-1 forever

18-1 is still good, right?

Not if you don't win the Super Bowl, Tom.


Super Bowl Odds and Ends

The feeling of New England losing is quite possibly the best feeling I have ever had as a sports fan. Seriously. None of my teams have ever won anything big. Sure there are countless division titles and even a few conference championships (1993 Phillies, 1997 Flyers, 2001 Sixers) but ZERO championships in my 23 and 1/12 years. The best bet for a championship was probably the 1994-1995 Penn State football squad but the voters screwed them. Screw you Cornhuskers! Anyway, this really is a wonderful feeling. Not only did the Patriots lose, they lost the Super Bowl! Amazing. 18-1. Honestly, who cares? 18-1 means nothing. Sure there was the undefeated regular season but if you don't win the Super Bowl the 18 straight wins are moot. This was one of the greatest and most exciting Super Bowls ever. I can remember back to Super Bowl XXVI (Redskins/Bills). I had considered Super Bowl XXXIV the best I had witnessed (Rams/Titans) followed by Super Bowl XXXVI (Patriots/Rams). XLII may become the new number one. The underdog won and it was a tightly contested game. Brilliant. I had contemplated not watching but glad I did. So here are just a few things that XLII has brought to my mind:

Finally, can you guess the last thing we heard as we were walking (OK, hustling) out of the stadium right after the final play? That's right, it was the sound of euphoric Giants fans chanting, "Eighteen and one! Eighteen and one! Eighteen and one!" Yes, it's safe to say the Boston-New York rivalry has been taken to new heights. As a tennis umpire would say, "Advantage, New York."

Eighteen and one! Eighteen and one! Eighteen and one!

I can still hear them. I will always hear them.

  • What will happen to the Patriots if it is determined they cheated before Super Bowl XXXVI? Does the Lombardi trophy get yanked and handed to the Rams? Does this call in to question the Patriots wins in XXXVIII and XXXIX as well? If evidence shows they cheated then are the Panthers and, gasp, Eagles the rightful champs? These questions must be answered. In my opinion, if there is evidence that the Patriots cheated by taping the walkthroughs then New England must forfeit their titles.
  • Why did the media continue to place New England on a high pedestal? Did they not see that a majority of the country wanted them to lose? Cheating, especially at a game beloved by so man Americans, is not tolerated in our culture. So why did the media ignore that fact an pump up the Patriots? Why did they shove them down our throats? I will guarantee that most people outside of New England wanted the Giants to win. Hell, I know Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles fans that wanted the Giants to win. A conglomerate of assholes is not well received by anyone...except the media, apparently.
  • Speaking of assholes, Belichick actually left the field before the game was over. That sure is going to hep your image. I'm really tired of people backing him. He is an asshole. A rogue coach that no one seems to respect, even past coaches of his (see Mangini, Eric). The way he runs his team is pathetic. He may be a football genius. Maybe. But when you are an egotistical bastard that won't matter much.
  • Karma won. 18-1. Super Bowl LOSERS. You got what you deserve.
  • Another thing, to all those retards ripping on the 1972 Dolphins, stop already. I have seen Patriot fans call these old 'ballers classless, arrogant, assholes, etc. Oh really? I find nothing wrong with them celebrating that they are the only undefeated team ever. And for those of you that say they gloat, check how many times they decided to go public with their champagne toasts. Zero. They do it in private together with their families. The only reason you hear of it is because of the media. If you hate hearing about them tell the writers and broadcasters to stop interviewing them. The '72 Dolphins are the only undefeated team. Of course that should be celebrated! They have done something no one else has ever done! Wouldn't you be happy if you were the only person EVER to accomplish something? So stop with the excuses and stop with the putdowns. And the last people on Earth to rip on those Dolphins should be the Patriots organization and their fans. Classless? Arrogant? Assholes? Check the mirror.
  • This is the demise of the Patriots dynasty. Sure they'll be good for a few more years but they won't win another Super Bowl with the current cast. Every team has an end. Bye bye New England. Who will step up from 2010-2019? (Please let it be Miami, please!)
  • Can the Tom Brady talk stop now?
A great end to the 2007-2008 season.

18-1 forever. HA!

Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.

Lots to be said about that Super Bowl, but if you were watching then you know what happened....and if you weren't then its impossible to explain (sorry Mom).

Easily the second most enjoyable Super Bowl of my lifetime, and definitely the most enjoyable game I've ever watched in any sport that didn't involve one of "my" teams. The feeling of watching the underdog Giants knock off the hated Team X was almost as great as the feeling experienced when the Steelers won two years ago.

Congrats to Plaxico Burress, who didn't leave Pittsburgh on the greatest terms but whom I still have fond memories of spiking the ball in the middle of the field, catching nearly everything thrown his way in Big Ben's rookie season, and of course the incredibly cheesy CBS announcer (Randy Cross maybe?) saying "If you don't know, Plaxico!". You deserve it man.

Congrats to Jay Alford, who came oh so close to tasting a championship in college if it wasn't for one second at Michigan in 2005. He got his revenge on Michigan by JACKING UP the QB on the final drive. Went from near goat against the Packers to one of many heroes.

Congrats to Eli Manning, for finally escaping the shadow of Big Brother.

Congrats to Michael Strahan, for enduring the worst Super Bowl of my lifetime (XXXV vs. the Ravens), sticking with the same team, and finally becoming a champion. Overcame a bitter well publicized divorce, injuries, and old age to make it.

Congrats to David Tyree, for in addition to catching the Giants' first TD, making what will be right up there with Lynn Swann as one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history. Absolutely incredible.

Congrats to Tom Coughlin, for going from thisclose to getting fired after starting 0-2, to winning the Super Bowl.

As for the other side, they got what they deserved.

Belichick proved how classless he was by quitting on his team and running away to the locker room with time still on the clock.

Brady tasted turf for the first time all season, and showed that he was human after all. Go cry to what's her face.

Randy Moss - you still haven't won a Super Bowl but I can't feel sorry for you. Maybe if you would have tried harder with the Vikings and Raiders you wouldn't have had the need to sign with a front runner.

Karma reigned supreme tonight. Thank you New York Giants, and to the Patriots, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out of Arizona.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

17-0 > 18-1

The medias pretty boys crumbled. How does 18-1 feel fellas? Perhaps next year you can join the 1972 Dolphins. Sure, 16-0 is nice. And historic. Too bad you couldn't finish. A great end to an otherwise miserable football season. Cheers to Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, David Tyree, and a vast majority of the Giants defense. Also, congratulations to Penn State graduates Kareem McKenzie and Jay Alford (did you see that sack on Brady!?!?!). SUPER BOWL 42 CHAMPIONS!!!

And yes, I predicted the Giants would win. Suck on that New England. See what happens when you can't tape a teams walkthrough?

For the Record

My gut tells me to go with the Giants. However, my brain is screaming louder than my gut so the pick is New England. Also, has anyone else realized how this is probably the worst super bowl imaginable for Jets fans? Two chief rivals going up against each other. I'm not gonna lie, I'm kinda rooting for the Giants because they're a NY team and because I hate the Patriots with every ounce in their body. Plus, hearing Tom Brady saying that the season means nothing without a super bowl win would be music to my ears.

Happy viewing everyone!

Random thought but if one of the presidential nominees pledges to declare the day after the super bowl a national holiday, he or she has my vote.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

USC 118 - WVU 31

So yeah, that's my final score for an online game I just played. I'm typically WVU but the other guy picked them first so I decided to try out USC. I think I like them. Granted, the kid quit late in the first half down by about 28, the computer stepped in and couldn't really stop me either. I needed this game after getting smacked around by people and losing my last 3 games. Anyway, the stats from this game are nuts and I just wanted to share...

John David Booty: 35-48, 900 yards, 10 TD - 2 INT, 3 rushes for 11 yds and 2 TD
Mark Sanchez (because the computer spited me and injured Booty late in the 4th): 3-5, 73 yds, 1 INT

Chauncey Washington: 7 rushes, 12 yds, 2 TDs, 5 receptions for 93 yards and 1 TD

Patrick Turner: 17 receptions, 538 yards, 5 TDs
Vidal Hazelton: 10 receptions, 246 yards, 4 TDs

On defense there were 9 sacks, 1 fumble recovery and 4 INTs and Cary Harris returned me 2 punts for TDs. I don't know if I'll ever be able to top 118 points's not easy to do with 5 minute quarters.

Friday, February 1, 2008

College Basketball Checkpoint: America East Conference

So these comprehensive college basketball rankings haven't been working out the way I've wanted them to, so here's my plan. Starting today, Feb 1, there are exactly 32 days until the first conference tournament begins on March 4. There are 31 conferences in Division 1, so each day until March 4 I will summarize each conference, giving the current standings, teams that are projected to make the NCAA Tournament, and each teams chances of advancing in said tournament. Then, starting March 4, I will attempt to predict the results of all 30 conference tournaments (the Ivy League doesn't have one), in what may be a first kind of endeavor. Then on Selection Sunday (March 16), if you follow these closely, you'll have an easier time filling out your bracket.

Today, we start with the America East Conference. Traditionally, this is a one bid league, and this year appears to be no different. However, the champion of this conference's tournament has a history of giving higher seeds some trouble in the Big Dance. 13 seed Vermont knocked off Syracuse a few years back, and 16 seed Albany gave UConn a heck of a run just a couple years ago.

Standings (as of Feb 1):
1. Binghamton 6-2 (10-10)
Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) 6-2 (14-7)
Vermont 6-2 (11-9)
4. Albany 4-4 (9-11)
Hartford 4-4 (10-13)
New Hampshire 4-4 (7-13)
7. Boston University 3-5 (6-14)
8. Maine 2-6 (6-15)
9. Stony Brook 1-7 (4-16)

Likely NCAA Teams: The winner of the conference tournament will likely receive the only berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Team Most Likely to Pull Off 1st Round Upset: UMBC. The Retrievers clearly have the best non-conference resume of the top three teams. They went 8-5 out of conference, including a 9 point loss to Ohio State.

How Would Penn State Do In This Conference? This conference is bad enough that our lovable losers would likely be right in the mix for the top spot.