Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #5 – Arizona Cardinals – Levi Brown

The Arizona Cardinals wasted little time in taking the best available offensive lineman, Penn State’s Levi Brown, despite several higher-rated players being on the board.

What the Experts Say: Profile:

Evaluation: More of a finesse lineman, Brown has the physical, mechanical and intellectual tools to be a starting tackle at the next level. Must develop some consistent fire to his game, which will help him be a top-notch blocker.

STRENGTHS: Intelligence, Intensity


Levin Brown Penn State Uni Photo Biography: Former defensive lineman who switched to offense as a freshman and then started at tackle the next four years. All-Conference choice after his junior and senior campaigns.

Pos: Nice-sized pass-protecting lineman with a good understanding of his position. Blocks with leverage, immediately gets hands into defenders, then controls them at the point of attack. Strong, easily holds his ground and rarely gives up an inch of room. Makes outstanding use of angles and body positioning, and effectively seals the edge. Flashes power and blocks with solid fundamentals.

Neg: Lacks adjustment and overall blocking range. Does not consistently play with a nasty attitude.

The Washington Redskins, who have only one pick left today, are on the clock.


Most draft analysts including ourselves didn’t see Brown going this high but it doesn’t come as a complete shock because his stock has been steadily rising over the past two weeks. In fact, some front offices saw Brown as an equal if not better talent than Joe Thomas heading into this weekend. Of course, the departure of Leonard Davis has created a vacancy at left tackle so getting Brown fills the Cardinals’ most pressing need. Brown should immediately step in as the starter opposite free agent signee Mike Gandy and for good reason. He is bigger and more physical than Thomas. His ability to open up holes and wear down opponents over the course of a game should please both RB Edgerrin James and new head coach Ken Whisenhunt who is expected to run early and often.

Though Brown isn’t an elite pass blocker and he needs to work on his footwork, he’s no slouch either so he should be able to hold his own depending on the matchup. More importantly, he has the athleticism and quickness to develop into an excellent pass blocker who can consistently hold his own on an island.


Penn State’s Rene Portland resigns

She retires with over 600 career victories.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland resigned, ending a 27-year tenure that included 606 wins and allegations she discriminated against lesbian players.

Portland resigned Wednesday night, the university said in a statement.

The coach faced a series of discrimination allegations during her tenure. Most recently, Portland and Penn State settled a lawsuit in February by former player Jennifer Harris, who claimed Portland had a “no-lesbian” policy on her team.

Portland built the program into a powerhouse, though it slipped to subpar records in recent seasons.

“This was obviously a difficult decision,” Portland said in Thursday’s statement. “I am very appreciative of the opportunity to coach at Penn State, which has become a special place for me and my family. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish with the Lady Lion program through the years.”

Portland compiled a 606-236 record at Penn State, and earlier this season became the ninth women’s basketball coach to win 600 games at one school.

I don’t know anything about the controversies swirling around Portland to pass any kind of judgment. As to coaching women’s basketball, few have done better. Good luck in retirement Ms. Portland.


Revenge of the Nittany Lions?

Note: this preview is being done without the benefit of seeing any highlights from the Minnesota game, solely relying on my pessimistic Dad’s assessment of what happened during that scare. I had quite a busy weekend and had to miss the game (and if I had stayed in Maryland, I probably wouldn’t have seen it anyway.) So it is possible that I am missing something here.

Penn State’s biggest game left in the season is coming up this week. Michigan comes to Happy Valley Saturday to play in the second largest stadium in the country (second, of course, to Michigan Stadium).

Last year at this time, Penn State was unexpectedly doing well. They were unbeaten. They had beaten Ohio State. The hardest game left was Michigan, which was struggling that year with questions at quarterback. Penn State had a senior QB who was phenomenal. They went into the Big House and played a battle for the ages. After the last Penn State touchdown, I called a fellow Penn State fan in this area who had to miss the game to tell him that we were up, and that with one minute left, I figured they had won. We were both very excited, as the prospect of an unbeaten season was going to be much easier with Michigan out of the way.

Then Chad Henne came on the field and lead the game winning drive (with the help of seconds added onto the clock by the refs, which I still disagree with). Henne did an excellent job, and forced me to make a second, much more depressing phone call.

Anyway, this year, the situation looks reversed. Penn State has the questionable quarterback that could be a year away from greatness (although that is far from assured). Michigan has the senior who looks phenomenal. Michigan is coming into Beaver Stadium. They have defeated Notre Dame, a game they were expected to lose. The only big difference is that this isn’t the biggest game left for them, as Michigan was for Penn State last year – Michigan has yet to face Ohio State. I foresee a good game. Penn State will want revenge. They would love to take Michigan out of the national title picture by giving them a loss. Can it happen? I think it can, although I think it is going to be hard. Here’s what is going for Penn State.

1. Lack of Mario Manningham on Michigan. The Manningham/Henne pairing has been quite productive. Taking Manningham away because of injury is going to hurt Henne and the offenses ability to make plays.
2. Defense. Other than the Notre Dame game, Penn State’s defense has done an excellent job keeping the team in the game. Paul Posluszny finally seems to be back in form.
3. Tony Hunt. This running back seems to be the real deal.
4. Wideouts. Penn State has good ones. If they get the ball, watch out.

The main concern is opening up the passing game. Anthony Morelli has not been doing a great job with that so far. He has struggled all season. Penn State fans certainly hope that he can have a game like Chad Henne had last year (without the added second, of course). I can’t remember if Henne was particularly good the whole game, but he did do well when it counted, and that’s what Penn State is going to need. They are playing in Beaver Stadium (a stadium I finally got to see last weekend, although it was empty. From the outside, it is an ugly stadium). This is going to help tremendously – Penn State has great fans. This should be a fun game to watch, unless Michigan opens it up early and takes the crowd out.

Finally, if Penn State wins, and then Michigan beats Ohio State at the end of the season, and all three teams win out, we face the nightmare scenario for the Big Ten Championship. Each team will have beat one of the three top teams, and each team will have lost to the other. I’m not sure what tie breakers apply after that, but since the Big Ten doesn’t have a championship game, it will be fun to watch if that does happen. So Fight On State!


Joe Paterno Ties Longetivity Record

Joe Paterno ties record for coaching longevity.

When Joe Paterno runs out of the Beaver Stadium tunnel on Saturday afternoon to kick off another Penn State season‚ he’ll officially equal a record for coaching longevity established 74 years ago.

Predictably‚ Paterno said he knew nothing about the impending milestone until asked about it during Tuesday’s teleconference.

When his Nittany Lions open the 2006 campaign against visiting Akron‚ the 79-year-old coaching wonder will begin his 41st season stalking the sidelines for Penn State‚ joining another football legend – Amos Alonzo Stagg – as the only major college coach to serve so long at one institution.

Stagg spent 41 seasons at the University of Chicago from 1892-1932.

That is simply an amazing run, and puts Paterno in the company of a simply amazing coach. Let’s take a look at Stagg’s accomplishments:

He is credited with numerous innovations‚ including the huddle‚ the lateral pass‚ the man in motion and using a tackling dummy in practice.

“I’m in good company‚” Paterno said.

“When I was a younger coach‚ (Illinois coach Robert) Zuppke had a book out and Stagg had a book out. They had a great impact on the game and I read those books‚ but I never met (Stagg). I met his son when he coached at Susquehanna‚ but I never met the dad.”

First off, that is an amazing list of accomplishments for Stagg. However, staying with any program for that long is amazing – and I am certain that when Paterno was starting, reading the book written by Stagg to learn about coaching, there is no way he thought he was approaching that record. Paterno will certainly go down in history as one of the best coaches in college history, and definately one of the best of this era (Bobby Bowden being the other standout). It is impossible to imagine Penn State without him, considering that Paterno had been coaching almost 20 years when I was born. I have known no other Penn State coach, and have no idea who will come next.


Paterno and Bowden Headline 2006 Hall of Fame Class

Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden have been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Since Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden failed to meet the qualifications for induction into the college football Hall of Fame, the folks who run the hall simply changed the rules. Instead of requiring a coach be retired, the National Football Foundation decided to make any active coach over 75 eligible for induction. With the red tape cut, the winningest coaches in Division I-A were elected Tuesday and can now be called Hall of Famers.

“I wasn’t expecting it because I thought you had to die first — and I didn’t want to volunteer for that,” Bowden said during a conference call. “They might have changed the rules to get me and Joe in. But I’m very excited about it.”

Paterno, who will turn 80 in December, has won 354 games and two national championships in 40 seasons as Penn State’s head coach. No one has ever coached longer and won more games at one Division I-A school. The 76-year-old Bowden leads major college football with 359 victories, 286 — and two national titles — since taking over at Florida State in 1976.

Certainly, these guys deserve it.

The two coaches will be joined by a slew of players:

    • Bob Anderson — RB, Colorado, 1967-69
    • Bennie Blades — DB, Miami (Fla.), 1985-87
    • Carl Eller — T, Minnesota, 1961-63
    • Steve Emtman — DL, Washington, 1989-91
    • Thomas Everett — FS, Baylor, 1983-86
    • Chad Hennings — DT, Air Force, 1984-87
    • Chip Kell — OG, Tennessee, 1968-70
    • Mike Phipps — QB, Purdue, 1967-69
    • Mike Rozier — RB, Nebraska, 1981-83
    • Jeff Siemon — LB, Stanford, 1968-71
    • Bruce Smith — DT, Virginia Tech, 1981-84
    • Emmitt Smith — RB, Florida, 1987-89
    • Charlie Ward — QB, Florida State, 1989, 1991-93


NFL Draft 2006 – Round 1 #20 – Kansas City Chiefs – DE Tamba Hali

The Chiefs went 10-6 last year and just made the playoffs. They are, however, getting rather old at key positions, notably quarterback. There’s not a first round QB left on the board.

The pick: Penn State DE Tamba Hali

The crowd at the draft doesn’t like it and, frankly, I’ve never heard of him. But Rick Gosselin had him projected to go to KC here and had him rated #27 overall.


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