Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Steele, Lindy Release Preseason Picks; JoePa Overrated?

We are still 93 days away from meaningful Penn State football but recently some of the preview magazines have hit stands or released some of their rankings and opinions to the Internet crowd.

Phil Steele, highly recommended by Zombie Nation, had some of his stuff leak out late last week. Among the highlights were Penn State being his #1 surprise team for 2009 and having the Nittany Lions ranked 5th in his Top 25. Not too shabby. Then yesterday ESPNs Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg mentioned Steele's preseason All-Big Ten teams. Penn State netted six first team selections. They were RB Evan Royster, C Stefen Wisniewski, OT Dennis Landolt, DT Jared Odrick and LBs Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee. Notice anyone missing? How about 2008 first team All-Big Ten QB (both coaches and media) Daryll Clark? OK, so he must have been on the second team then. WRONG! Clark fell all the way to third, behind Illinois' Juice Williams (first) and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor (second). Wow. Punter Jeremy Boone made Steele's second team while OG Lou Eliades joined Clark on the third team. RB Stephfon Greene, DT Abe Koroma and CB A.J. Wallace were selected for his fourth team.

Steele's preseason All-American were released as well. No Nittany Lions made his first team. Two (Royster, Lee) were named to the second team and another two (Odrick, Bowman) appear on his third team.

Not to be outdone, Lindy's released their own take on the 2009 season. The Lindy's crew has Ohio State winning the conference with Penn State in second followed by Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin. Iowa - considered by many as a dark horse candidate for the conference - is sixth. That will ruffle some Hawkeye feathers, no doubt. Here's what Lindy's has to say about Penn State, who they ranked 11th in their preseason poll.

JoePa has Lions Positioned for Pasadena
Ten wins a season has (again) become automatic for 83-year-old Joe Paterno. Penn State has 40 victories in the past four seasons and the Lions have the all-star candidates at critical positions — QB Daryll Clark, DT Jared Odrick and LB Sean Lee — to mop up in the non-conference season and scoot happily through the Big Ten before hosting Ohio State in November.

THE GOOD NEWS: Clark is in the running as the top QB in the league, and the Nittany Lions’ defensive quarterback — Lee — was most of the way back this spring from an ACL tear suffered prior to last season. With Lee and troubled LB Navorro Bowman expected to be on the field in September, the defense should take no more than a baby step backward.

THE BAD NEWS: Three multi-year starters at wide receiver — Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood — are gone. Arguably the top two O-linemen from last year’s group, including workaholic A.Q. Shipley in the pivot, have been replaced.

OUR CALL: Penn State faces a low degree of difficulty before carving into what appears to be a soft underbelly of the Big Ten. Then it’s beat the Buckeyes (not the simplest task) and pack for Pasadena.
Royster, Wisniewski, Odrick and Lee are all preseason All-Big Ten performers according to Lindy's. Landolt, Bowman and Boone made the second team. Lindy's follows Phil Steele as saying Daryll Clark is not a top two QB in the conference. This time around Pryor gets the first team nod while Williams heads to the second team. I'd really like to hear the reasoning for this.

In attempt to fill the offseason void (and drum up some hits), Heisman Pundit has released lists of the Top 10 Overrated and Underrated College Coaches. Joe Paterno makes the list. The overrated list. While I admit JoePa is past his prime, I still don't see how he is overrated. The criteria isn't listed by Heisman Pundit so there really is no context. They do make a point saying "this list does NOT mean these coaches all suck", but what's wrong with Paterno?
4. Joe Paterno, Penn State–He wouldn’t be here except for the fact that HE’S NOT REALLY COACHING THE TEAM ANYMORE. Great career, great program builder, but Tom Bradley basically runs this team now.
How is he not really coaching the team? Where is this proof that Joe does nothing? Did he coach from the press box last year? Absolutely. Does that mean he did less in 2008 than in 2007 (or earlier)? No. In fact, JoePa preferred the press box because of the advantages it gave him to coach the team. The one thing I'll give Heisman Pundit is Paterno not making the trip to the locker room at halftime. Sure, Bradley made the speech and game plan alterations. But during the game Joe was still there, voicing his opinion, suggesting plays and overriding his assistants if he felt something wasn't a good idea. How is that not coaching? It's ridiculous to expect head coaches to call offensive and/or defensive plays - that's what coordinators are for! JoePa still is the coach. Tom Bradley is definitely second in command but he still defers to Joe. Paterno's squads have put up 40 wins in the last four seasons. He's still got it.

Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect Heisman Pundit regardless of our conflicting views.

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