Thursday, May 25, 2006

Spy Game | by Jay

A couple of fun behind-the-scenes reports I didn't want to see get swept away into the internet ether. First is an account from DomerJD over on NDN, who saw JoePa address a Penn State alumni function.

Before everyone kills me, I didn't pay for the ticket... The ball and chain mentioned to me a few weeks ago that Paterno was going to be in town giving a talk, so I agreed to go because I thought it might be interesting. I am sort of dumb and didn't realize what I was agreeing to.... I get there and there's a thousand people for "A Night With Joe Paterno" sponsored by the PSU Alumni Association.... I felt sort of unclean, and I fully expected that someone would be waiting outside after to revoke my ND alum status.

I don't have much to say about the talk itself, because he sort of rambled and I couldn't really make heads or tails of it.

At the end, he opened it up to questions. I think I was the first person with my hand in the air. I asked him about PSU's intentions of continuing the series against ND beyond 2007- if there had been any discussion at PSU about it, and if he wanted to continue to play ND. (When I was asking my question, he stopped me at one point and yelled at me for talking too fast). He said that he doesn't think the series will continue beyond 2007. His comment was that initially there was some discussion about a six-game series, but that ND has a lot of people who wants to play them and he doesn't think that PSU is going to fit into the schedule.

Then he started talking about how he thinks that the twelve-game season is a terrible idea, and started talking about money and how football has to finance "all fifteen of the women's sports" so if there is going to be an extra game it's going to be a home game. Then he started talking about how ND needs to upgrade their athletic facilities so they need additional home game revenue as well, and made some comment about how "we can't go ask the Church for money for athletic facilities like they can." So I guess the upshot is that from the PSU side it doesn't sound like we're going to be playing them after 2007. I know this is probably not news, but I thought it was interesting to get Paterno's comments on it.

Also, during his talk he made mention of the upcoming season and the first few games. Here's what he said:

Akron: "Don't count them out, they are a tough team and their QB threw for 3000 yards last season."

Notre Dame: "Notre Dame... aren't they a 1-AA school? (laugh from the crowd) No, seriously.... I shouldn't make fun of them, I knew them when they were Catholics. (more laughs from the crowd, as I attempt to shoot laser beams at him out of my eyeballs)"

Ohio State: "That will be a tough game."

I know he was playing to his audience, but I thought it was a bit foolish for a coach to deride a team that is probably going to hand his ass to him on the road as "I-AA." To be fair, he made some pretty unkind comments about some of his own people. And, at one point when two guys were confused about who he had called on to ask a question, he said "It doesn't matter who goes first- you're both ugly!"

Also a report from a Trojan alumni dinner from one of the USC boards, with Pete Carroll addressing the gold and cardinal faithful (thanks to Hobbs for pointing this out):

Attended the Trojan Alumni dinner in Simi last night and thought I share a few tidbits about the evening. First of all the Reagan library is a great venue, and all in attendance had a chance to take a tour and go through the Air Force One exhibit, if you have not seen it worth trip by itself, add PC to the evening and you have a good night.

Sold out house, around 500 people in my estimation, the excitement was tremendous, and Coach was joined by the 10 members of the band and a couple of song girls.

During dinner, PC made the rounds went to all the individual tables, took photos, signed autographs, and made a few comments to each table. It was like he was running for office.

When he arrived at our table I asked him if we were going to lose any of the new kids to grades, his response was, "we're looking real good on all but two or three, and we are just waiting to find out." He didn't name the 3. Someone asked about Sanchez and his statement later repeated during his speech to the entire crowd was that in a couple of weeks this will all be cleared up and I think all of you (meaning Trojan fans) will be proud of the way he reacted and how it was handled. I took that as good news. Of course this lead to a Reggie question and he said that all of that was about some people trying to take advantage of media presence around Reggie at the time of the draft. PC appeared very confident that SC was going to beat the rap(s) actually very comfortable with it, and later when addressing the crowd assured everybody that SC was going to come out of this ok.

PC did say that most of what his happening in the media around the program is due to the success and they are going to be even more diligent in trying to avoid any such allegations in the future. Mentioning that we have to make sure the kids on the team, and their parents, and Alumni and friends of the program are all aware of the rules. I am not sure how you do this, but that's the plan.

PC spoke of the NFL draft, as a point of pride that 17 playes will be in NFL Camps. PC said he and his staff had accuratley predicted where everybody was going to go in the draft. He used Justice as an example of someone who cost himself millions of dollars by not listening and playing one more year. At our table he told us that the staff had told Lendale to stay another year, because he would have been a featured back and they were sure he would have been a top 10 pick if not higher if he stayed. Hopefully Lendale's example will pay off for another kid in the future.

PC said he was extremely pleased with how recruiting is going. Stating that kids are so excited about the program now they want to commit right away. He said it's a trend that is occurring over the last two years and we will apparently be seeing more kids commit early to SC this year then in prior years. PC was confident that this class would be on par if not better then the last three classes. His quote, “trust me you will be happy, very happy with the next class.”

PC made all the same comments about the incoming class that I have read everywhere else on the net. Fastest class ever, they will contribute right away, and we expect all of them to compete to play right away.

During his speech the one surprise to me at least was when Carroll said that both Maiava, Maualuga had won starting linebacker spots in Spring. This was news to me, since Maiava has apparently beaten out Rivers. I new Sugar Rey was close to doing so but I thought he was still a dead heat. Apparently not anymore according to Carroll’s comments last night. PC loves Maiava and made it clear he is now the starter. I looked at the depth chart and it lists KM second behind Rivers, but the horses mouth says KM in the lead going inot the fall. Carroll did say that all the backers will play a lot and that Rivers will rush from the End this year on certain passing downs. But he was clear that KM won the spot. PC very high on CW coming back, said that CW will be large contributor. Expects the rushing yards to be picked up by CW and one of the new comers, mentioned Johnson Gable and the Texas kid and expecting one of them to step up and get carries. PC also said that for the first time he can say publicly that Desmond Reed maybe back and contribute next year. PC said that Nike has outfitted DR with a special brace that allows him to run and that DR is working out, running, with the plan to be ready for fall camp.

PC made some off handed remark about kid ND signed, saying they may be sorry about that one. Now I took it like he meant it as a critical comment about JC but my buddy took it that PC was joking on that line. Never mentioned JC's name, except to mockingly say, "oh I better be careful this is Clausen Country".

PC went through the season’s schedule gave all teams praise except for uctla, apparently does not think much of them (indicated this by not saying it), but did emphasize that’s real important that we get them this year. He said at our table, our streak needs to be longer then theirs so they know their place. I thought that was well said.

PC was a pro's pro speaking, with jokes (about opponents and staff and self) and a great game story about ND and of course the passion of a man who loves what he is doing.