Can Penn State Fix the Big 10 After Ban?

With the news that Penn State will have both full scholarships and playoff rights returned to the program next season, the question now is can the Nittany Lions  save the Big 10 Conference. While the Big 10 still remains one of the power conferences in college football, it has been losing ground over the past decade. Conferences such as the Pac 12, ACC, and Big 12 have all significantly improved in terms of talent and yearly recruiting. These three conferences have even begun to close the gap on the best conference in the land, the SEC. While the rest of college football is on the upswing, the Big 10 has been heading in the wrong direction.

Can Penn State Save Big 10?

Can Penn State Save Big 10?

After this past weekend the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans have gone from favorites to compete in the college football playoff to long shots. The reason? The strength of schedule is the biggest concern especially with the quality of teams in the conference.  While the Spartans at least played a national power like Oregon, Ohio State continues to schedule cupcake non conference games which makes a loss even more devastating. Now with both schools having one loss apiece it now looks like both teams will now have to run the table if they want any shot at making the playoff.

How does Penn State help the fledgeling Big 10? Despite the limitations set by the NCAA the Nittany Lions have been able to still have very good recruiting classes and more importantly continue to win. Already off to a 2-0 start this season if Penn State can return to being a consistent top 25 program over the next few seasons they could bring back some much-needed respect to the Big 10.

Time for the Nittany Lions to roar again?

Time for the Nittany Lions to roar again?

Let’s face it, outside of Michigan State and Ohio State everybody else in the conference has just been average at best. Rutgers could be a dark horse program that may eventually boost the conference, but right now as a whole especially is average at best. With the Michigan Wolverines being a disaster while Wisconsin and Nebraska have stalled over the past few seasons.

One thing that Penn State does over it’s fellow conference opponents is some very good young quarterbacks coming into the program through recruiting including one of the best young signal callers in the country Christian Hackenberg. Despite Hackenberg getting off to a slow start this season, you can expect to hear his name associated next with the NFL Draft.

Penn State has weathered the storm admirably and has continued to build a very good program despite their limitations in recruiting. Now with their full scholarships all back it could be time for Penn State to go from surviving to thriving.

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Connecticut #1 in all of college sports?

The Champs are here!

The Champs are here!

In a span of 24 hours the melting pot of college basketball wasn’t Dallas or Nashville, but Storrs Connecticut. For the second time in history the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams are the National Champions at the same time. The school is now an incredible 13-0 in National Title games with four men’s championships and a record best nine National Championships for the women. 2014 will be remembered for the historic run of the men’s team after going through the ringer the previous season and the sheer dominance the women’s program which once again ran the table with 40 wins. After this week the main question shouldn’t be about UConn’s dominance, but the state’s dominance as a whole. Is Connecticut becoming one of if not the best state in the nation for college sports?

Hockey is on the rise in the Nutmeg state

Hockey is on the rise in the Nutmeg state

I can already hear the yelling and screaming already. What are you nuts? Connecticut the best state for college sports? Blasphemous! But is it? In the span of twelve months the state has won 4 National Championships. Last year, Yale won the hockey National Championship to go with the three championships the Huskies added, two in basketball one in field hockey. We all know about basketball. The UConn men remain one of the best programs in the country, and the women are in a league of their own. However, the nutmeg state has become a hotbed for college hockey. Last year both Yale and Quinnipiac made it to the finals in hockey and both have been perennial powers for years with consistent top 15 rankings in the country. With UConn hockey moving into Hockey East and steadily improving, the question is becoming when not if another team from the Constitution state will win the National Championship.

Yeah, but what about football? True Connecticut is not a football state, this isn’t Alabama with the Crimson Tide and Auburn. I think that is pretty obvious, but across the board the other sports in this state prove that Connecticut is the cream of the crop in college sports. Field Hockey? UConn won the National Championship in 2013. Baseball? UConn reached the regionals for the first time in 2013. Along with these national appearances the Connecticut schools have won numerous conference championships across the board.

Connecticut could soon be the place to be.

Connecticut could soon be the place to be.

With already established powerhouses, and strong up and comers, the Nutmeg state could soon be more than just the center of college basketball, but the NCAA universe as well. With some of the greatest underrated fan bases in the country, it’s not hard to see why Connecticut loves it’s college teams. With dominance in basketball and hockey, if Connecticut can establish another team or teams that become perennial powers, it will be hard to argue that Connecticut is not a great home for college sports, but “the home” for college sports.

 

College Hockey Key for Hartford Whalers Return

Quinnipiac's rise to National Power has helped hockey grow in the Nutmeg state

Quinnipiac’s rise to National Power has helped hockey grow in the Nutmeg state

In a recent interview Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy recently revealed that there are at least three groups that want to purchase an NHL franchise and relocate it to Hartford. While there are numerous obstacles such as the NHL brass and the arena situation in Hartford, one major key for a pro team to call Hartford home is actually hockey at the college level. True a new arena is a necessity despite the 35 million dollars in upgrades Malloy has said will be going into the aging XL Center, but at the end of the day it will be the interest in hockey that will get the NHL back. Arenas can be built, teams can be bought, but fan support needs to be earned.

While Governor Malloy has made it clear that a new arena is one of if not the biggest necessities for an NHL team, he believes that college hockey is the key component in making Connecticut a major hockey market. With so many professional teams in the area and minor league teams, it is a difficult sell to fans to watch the Wolf Pack in Hartford. It’s like asking college kids to have alcohol less beer at a party, not exactly a tempting offer. With the UConn

UCONN games could help build fan support

UCONN games could help build fan support

hockey team entering Hockey East next season, Malloy has said that if UConn can become a big draw in Hartford, it could be a key factor in proving that the state can support an NHL team. With the success of the Quinnipiac and Yale programs becoming key players on the national stage, if UConn can become a top tier program with drawing power, then Connecticut could be the home of some of the best college hockey in the country. If UConn can get great support, Malloy feels this will be a huge step forward in attracting the NHL back to the Insurance Capital. Malloy has been on record stating: “If you want NHL hockey back in Hartford, then you need to support UConn hockey”.

Whalers fans need to show their support

Whalers fans need to show their support

If Nutmeggers can support the three college teams on consistent basis with great attendance, that could make up for the lackluster attendance at Wolf Pack games and allow the NHL to have a franchise in Hartford. If anything, the fact that the Whalers are still being talked about despite leaving in 1997 just proves how much the franchise meant to the state. With fan trips to games, including some recent ones to Islanders games, the Whaler fans base is strong and ready for a team. Now with groups within the state bidding on other NHL

Fans? The Whalers still have a great following

Fans? The Whalers still have a great following

franchises and a governor who has already proven that he wants a team back in Connecticut, it is now on up to the Whaler Nation to take over. If we can prove that we support the great college teams that the state is providing while continuing to show support for the green and blue, the NHL will have to listen. With the Success of the Winnipeg Jets and a few teams that could be looking for new homes in the coming decade, why not Hartford? With the new realignment Hartford would be a perfect fit in the Metropolitan or Atlantic divisions. While there is still a long road ahead for a Hartford Whalers return, if the Whaler fans continue there support for the state’s college teams the question could be when not if the NHL comes home to Hartford.

To see the entire Governor Malloy interview (click here)

 

 

 

Why Nick Saban shouldn’t coach in the NFL again

Saban has built a dynasty in Alabama, but he shouldn't consider going back to the NFL

Saban has built a dynasty in Alabama, but he shouldn’t consider going back to the NFL

College football has been slammed by a red tidal wave for the past five years. More specifically, the Alabam Crimson Tide. As they continue to be the premier team in college football they owe their dominance to their architect and leader, Nick Saban. All great empire’s have had supreme rulers at the helm. Rome had Caesar, France had Napoleon, and the Yankees had George Steinbrenner. Nick Saban towers over the college football landscape, from his throne in Tuscaloosa. The emperor of college football, with three national championships for Alabama has concurred every mountain and obstacle college football has thrown at him. However, this doesn’t mean that Saban should abandon his kingdom  to stake his claim in the NFL.

Many feel that Saban has accomplished everything that a college coach could dream of. Multiple national championships, championships at different schools, and built a college football super power. Despite his accomplishments, Saban shouldn’t coach in the NFL, unless he is completely committed. He’s been there before, two years with the Dolphins with a sub par 15-17 record that gave him a bad reputation as the so-called “Nicktator” in Miami. NFL teams aren’t also banging down the door for Saban either, and they shouldn’t. He’s already had a chance that ended in mediocrity and scandal when Saban signed with Alabama despite still being under contract with the Dolphins. Now why would a team take a shot on Saban? He’s already proven that if it doesn’t work out, he will look to find the next best opportunity. Plus why should he leave college? He just signed an extension that will pay him over seven million dollars a year. He has a higher salary then mostNFL coaches. If anything, if Saban really wants a so-called challenge it should be at another school. Say he wants to get out of Bear Bryant’s shadow, go do something that

Why go back to mediocrity in the NFL when Saban could be the greatest college coach in history?

Why go back to mediocrity in the NFL when Saban could be the greatest college coach in history?

no coach has ever done, win a national title at three different schools. With only tepid interest from NFL team’s and Saban’s poor handling of both the media and professional athletes, why go be mediocre in the NFL when Saban could become a college legend. Heck he’s already won four and likely on his way to his fifth National Championship. Saban is in striking distance of the coaches record for most national titles, including Alabama’s Bear Bryant’s mark, which is six. If he does go to another school he will have won three National Championships at three different schools and when it’s all said and done Saban has a great opportunity to win the most National titles of any coach in history.

While on paper Saban looks like an NFL ready coach, he is not. He may churn out the top prospects and titles, but it’s not that easy in the NFL. Saban can’t recruit the best players like in college and he has to win over professional athletes. Those tirades may work on college kids, but not on NFL veterans. They know what to do, they don’t need someone screaming in their ear every five seconds. True, Saban is a great defensive mind, but his lack of a creative offense makes him a difficult hire. Don’t forget, Alabama’s talent level is head and shoulders above everybody else in college football, just look at last years championship game. In the NFL, Saban will be on a level playing even or below the playing field depending on what team hires him. He won’t have the most talented team, and most likely have one of the least talented teams if a team were to hire him. Without the talent, Saban faces a difficult challenge just to be competitive. Let’s see if I was Nick Saban do I want the best team in college football or one of the worst teams in the NFL? Look, Saban might want to prove he is an NFL coach and might go that route, but I believe that he’s tried that already and with the lack of success in the pros ultimately means that we won’t see Saban in the NFL again. As long as he is coaching, there will always be rumors of the Nicktator returning to the NFL, but that is highly unlikely. If anything, listen to the college rumors around Saban. I see Saban “Hooking them horns” long before patrolling an NFL sideline. Whether he chooses to continue to build his Alabama empire, or take on a new challenge at Texas, one thing is for certain, Saban will try to be the greatest college coach ever. Sorry NFL, the big fish is going to stay in the small pond. Do you think Saban will return to NFL? Take our poll and comment below! 

U Conn Do it! Why UCONN needs to build a new hockey arena

If UCONN hockey wants to make it to the big time, they need a new arena

If UCONN hockey wants to make it to the big time, they need a new arena

In 2014-2015 the Connecticut Huskies will enter new territory. Starting next year, the UCONN hockey team will be joining one of the better leagues in college hockey, Hockey East. At this point many people may even be asking “wait, UCONN has a hockey team”? It’s easy to be forgotten at a school known for its powerhouse basketball programs, and its recent dominance in soccer and baseball. Not to mention a school whose effort to build a national football program has gone off the rails in the past few years. By joining Hockey East, the hockey team will now be entering the big time. It’s been a program that’s been heading in the right direction. With more scholarships and an impressive 19-14-4 2012-2013 season, the program is ready to make some noise on the Storrs campus. There’s just one problem.

Let me see scholarships? Check. New uniforms? Check. A new coach with National Championship credentials? Check. A suitable arena to house the team? Oh there’s the problem. The Huskies do not have a suitable home which could be the final piece to the hockey puzzle. The solution? Give them the home they deserve. After years of pouring millions of dollars into the other athletic programs, it’s time for UCONN to invest in their hockey program’s future. Despite being built-in 1998, the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum is not a suitable home. This arena was built for a second-rate college hockey program,  which UCONN was at the time, but now it’s a joke that a Hockey East team calls this home. While the hockey program has announced that the Hockey East games will be played at the XL Center in Hartford, this is just another problem. The massive 15,000 seat arena can barely be filled for a UCONN basketball game and will look empty even if 5,000 fans show up to a hockey game. On top of that the arena is outdated, 30 minutes from campus, and will cost the school about 25,000$ to play a game there. What’s the solution to all of this? Build this team a new arena.

The Huskies need to build a facility that will not only house this team for the future, but to use as a tool to recruit top prospects. Let’s face it, despite the direction of the program, the arena situation is a major turnoff. If I’m a recruit do I want to play in two arenas that are terrible, or go to a beautiful arena of a Hockey East rival? Sounds like an easy decision easy to me. If UCONN wants to be successful in hockey just look 40 minutes south at Quinnipiac University.

After building their 52 million dollar TD Bank North Sports Center basketball and hockey complex in 2007, the Quinnipiac Bobcats program blossomed. Coach Rand Pecknold has even said that the arena is one of the biggest recruiting tools and why they have been able to become on of college hockey’s premiere programs. Six years after opening their new arena, the Quinnipiac Bobcats were playing for a National Championship, in large part because they used their arena as a major recruitment tool. UCONN has the resources and space to build a new arena. A 3000-4500 seat arena would be an adequate sized arena for this team. Bigger then their current arena but not as colossal as the XL Center. Plus, they can add all the bells and whistles to make it a state of the art home that will make Hockey East rivals envious. With Connecticut now becoming one of the better locations in the country for college hockey, thanks to Quinnipiac and the National Champion Yale Bulldogs, the state of Connecticut is becoming a major player in college hockey. We’ve seen how quickly the Yale and Quinnipiac programs have emerged onto the national stage, with nowhere near the resources that UCONN possesses. If UCONN builds a new arena and uses that as a great recruiting tool, I predict within 5 years after the arena’s completion UCONN will be a nationally ranked program. Hockey has always been a staple in New England culture, shouldn’t one of New England’s best schools share in the tradition of great hockey?  I’m not saying that UCONN can’t be great in hockey without a new arena, but it would defiantly speed up the process. Remember what they always said in Field of Dreams? If you build it they will come! If UCONN builds it, great hockey will come. Who knows. Maybe one UCONN hockey and basketball teams will be fighting over who can win the most National Championships and who is truly Connecticut’s team.

The ones who didn’t get away : SMU college football’s greatest mistake.

With the "Pony Express" of Eric Dickerson and Craig James, SMU became one of college football's greatest dynasties

With the “Pony Express” of Eric Dickerson and Craig James, SMU became one of college football’s greatest dynasties

SMU. What do these three letters mean to you? Don’t worry take a few seconds. Done? Ok good. My guess is that you have no idea what those three letters stand for. It’s ok, you can thank the NCAA for that. Back in the early 1980’s the Mustangs of Southern Methodist University, SMU, fielded one of the greatest team’s in college football history. From 1981-194 the Mustangs would be 41-5-1 with three conference championships. Not only that, but they had arguably had the greatest backfield tandem with NFL greats Eric Dickerson and Craig James. So what happened to them? Why does none know of this great football dynasty? One word: money. If I was to list all of the NCAA football programs who have made illegal payments to student athletes, it would take forever. A few do come to mind though; USC, Miami, Ohio State, Alabama, and Kentucky just to name a few. Why is SMU different? Well they were the ones that were penalized the most. What happened was that SMU boosters were actually signing players to professional contracts to come play college football. Just ask Dickerson, where the most common joke is that he took a pay cut when he came to the NFL. All of a sudden after Ron Meyer took over a struggling program in 1978, SMU soon became a recruiting juggernaut. In 1979 Eric Dickerson was the most sought after player in high school football. While originally committing to Texas A&M, which itself was shady because he somehow wound up with a gold Trans-Am, at the last-minute Dickerson decided to commit to SMU. Many coaches and fans were left wondering, how the heck is SMU getting all these players? During the eighties the team would be hit with sanction after sanction when it became apparent that SMU had been giving incentives to its players. In 1984 the program was put on probation for two seasons after it was discovered that an offensive lineman, Sean Stopperich, had been given money and a house for his family from SMU alums. After this probation the NCAA created the so-called “Death Penalty” for second time offenders to the NCAA rules. After two 6-5 seasons, SMU would find itself in the crosshairs of the NCAA. After not being

David Stanley blew the lid off the SMU program

David Stanley blew the lid off the SMU program

allowed to join the team after a drug problem, linebacker David Stanley interviewed with Dallas Channel 8 and exposed that SMU was still paying players even after the 1985 probation. The main reason SMU didn’t stop the payments is because they knew that if they stopped the payments, someone would talk. After the news broke, the NCAA decided to act. On February 25, 1987 the NCAA banned the SMU football program from playing any games or scholarships as the program was issued the “Death Penalty”. With the death of the SMU program, the lone star state lost not only lost the only major college football team in the state’s largest metropolis Dallas, but it exposed a rampant problem of illegally recruiting throughout the state of Texas. To make matters worse, the chairman of SMU who has promised to clean up the program was none other than Texas governor Bill Clements. Think about it, the governor of the state didn’t stop a cheating scandal for a college football program.  After the Death Penalty, SMU’s top players were allowed to 1smuthe University, which a vast majority of them did. It wasn’t until 1989 when the SMU football program would return to the field. However, with their reputation and a crack down on recruitment, SMU found it impossible to recruit the same talent they had before. Marred the scandal the program the Mustangs were forced to join Conference USA after the SWC dissolved. Despite the move from 1989-2009,  SMU would only have one winning season. Despite a recent resurgence in the program, including moving into the American Athletic Conference, the program still is nowhere near being a national competitor like in the early eighties. While only time will tell use how Penn State’s probation will affect the school long-term, it’s clear it will not be as severe as SMU. While many of the schools today get put on probation or might lose some scholarships or bowl appearances, it doesn’t come close to suspending the entire program for two seasons. Did SMU deserve to get slammed for its actions? Absolutely! Did it deserve the opportunity to compete for thirty years? No. After the Death Penalty was issued and the impact of the decision was realized, it’s my personal opinion that the NCAA will never issue another Death Penalty again. First there is too much money at stake, especially if they ever had to get rid of a top program for one year. Also, I believe the NCAA thought that SMU could recover, but after realizing the damage it did, the NCAA will not put another program through the same turmoil. Just look at Penn State. This was a program

The legacy of SMU still lingers, especially with all the corruption that still surrounds college football

The legacy of SMU still lingers, especially with all the corruption that still surrounds college football

that had egregious crimes, and while they did get severely penalized, they were allowed to keep their program. Of all the people who suffered the most from SMU’s penalty, it was the kids. The fans, and athletes who didn’t get money were being punished for something that they weren’t involved in. Why should a whole school, football program, and city suffer for the bad decisions of a few individuals? While Penn State fans are upset about their bowl appearances and Joe Paterno’s wins being forfeited, but they still have a competitive team to root for. SMU had to go two years without a team to cheer for and have gone almost thirty years without a team that they could dream would be in the hunt for a National title. I hope SMU can get there one day. While it is a steep climb to the top, this program has been steadily moving the right direction for the past couple of seasons. This is a team that I think a lot of fans can get behind. A team and fan base that has gone through so much finally rising from the ashes and reaching upward. Being a UCONN fan myself, I’m ecstatic the SMU Mustangs are joining the AAC. They are a team on the rise and a team that once again could make some national noise in the future. Who knows, maybe one day SMU fans the Pony Express will ride once again.