|Lions by the Numbers:
14 : consecutive wins by the #2 men's volleyball team after beating Princeton 3-0 on Saturday to remain undefeated
9 : out of 10 bouts won by the #9 wrestling team against Purdue in their last home match of the season
7 : game losing streak by the Lady Lions; the longest in Penn State history. What do we expect when we take coaches from the Irish
6 : goal difference in the 2 wins by the Penn State Icers over Navy and Delaware
1 : First time the mighty Fighting Illini have been swept by the Lions in basketball
1. As a general question, evaluate your recruiting class. Is it more or less what you expected, were you pleasantly surprised or horribly, horribly disappointed? Were your team's needs adequately addressed or will you be starting a two star running back at center next year?
First off, Penn State hasn't had a recruiting class with less than 15 commits since 2001 when they had 11. This year we hauled in 14 with a potential jewel of a 15th in Pryor so I am satisfied but not excited with this year's recruiting class.
I would have definitely preferred a few more wide receivers seeing as we lose Williams and Butler to graduation and/or NFL next year, but with the limited amount of scholarships we could have offered this year, we got what essentially were the basics. Great linebackers and a decent running back in Brandon Beachum will carry Penn State a long way in the following years.
2. Who were the big catches in your recruiting class? Name two players matriculating to your school whose existence everyone else in the Big Ten will curse for the next four years.
Michael Mauti will make his mark in the linebacking lore of Penn State. And it would be a lie to say Big Ten coaches haven't had nightmares of Penn State linebackers since their inception into the conference. Mauti will simply be another name they will curse the night before playing Penn State. It was simply shocking to see that Penn State actually recruited Mauti from Louisiana considering our track record with Southern recruits NOT from Florida. But Mauti actually turned some heads when he played in the US Army All-American game.
A second would be Jack Crawford. Penn State has always been adequate in developing defensive ends and with 4.5 speed, Jack Crawford should be a beast coming around the corner flushing quarterbacks out of the pocket. With offers from Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan, Rutgers and Boston College, Crawford was a good steal out of New Jersey.
3. You can't win them all. Maybe some slick talking carpetbagger schmoozed his way into your living room, sold you a set of ginzu knives made out of tin foil, and walked off with your wife and your star recruit. Perhaps an in-state lock who grew up with [Insert University Here] posters on his wall and your coach's face tattooed on his arm decided to go elsewhere for reasons no one seems to understand? Did your recruiting class lose someone big on signing day, who was it, and was your school able to yoink someone else to cover his loss?
This one's easy. The loss of Michael Shaw to Michigan hurt. More so than most Lion fans will admit. But with junior Evan Royster, sophomore Stephfon Green (an all star recruit last year), and junior Brent Carter waiting for their turn, Penn State should be set at the position for next year, but the loss of a big name, highly ranked recruit always hurts.
But surprisingly the biggest recruit we lost out on simply because we didn't go all out on this kid was Darrel Scott. This might seem contradictory seeing as I just mentioned that we are not desperate for a running back recruit, but a 4.4, 200 pound running back who scored 45 touchdowns his junior year is always good for any program. He was actually considering Penn State in addition to his final two choices of Colorado and Texas, but as usual Penn State rarely puts forth any effort in recruiting out of the Northeastern zone and we fell out of his radar rather quickly.
4. There's been a spirited debate about this whole "Coaches' Code" among the members of the Big Ten coaching fraternity. Do you believe this exists or is it a line being floated by the guys who couldn't keep their recruiting classes together? Bonus points for declaring your coach a poacher or a poachee in creative fashion!
I made it clear how I felt about Rich Rod in a recent post for stealing 2 recruits from fellow conference members and was simply dismissed as sour grapes by fellow bloggers. But lets face it, stealing recruits from conference members is in fact much worse than taking them away from other schools out-of-conference. Why? Because these are the same people you have to meet, greet and hang out with annually and more often than once. Its like the idea of not taking a shit where you sleep. But Brian at Mgoblog pointed out instances where coaches have 'stolen' recruits and I'd like to note that all of Penn States' steals have been from out-of-conference rivals so at least Joe Paterno can look at his fellow conference coaches in the face at the Big Ten banquet without his peers feeling the need to punch his face in. What Michigan fans point out is true, anything goes when it comes to recruiting, but there is indeed an honor code which has in turn been translated into 'coaches code' between Big Ten coaches. This is the same honor code that coaches honor when they punt the ball being up by at least 2 possessions and begin running the ball when they're up by a bit in the fourth. Its not a written contract, its just a show of respect. Rich Rod obviously did not get the memo when he fled West Virginia in the dead of the night, a classic move by a classy guy.
5. Finally, who's the slickest, smoovest, most Billy Dee Williamsesque recruiter in the Big Ten? Who's the worst, most incompetent, "trip over the flat tire on his Yugo" recruiter in the Big Ten? The slickest has to be Jim Tressel. Do not tell me winning the Big Ten recruiting wars 3 years running is not a testament to his ability to recruit. Yes the 2 national title trips have helped, but he needed recruits to get him there, and he obviously got them prior to the last 2 title debacles. With two title trips in 2 years now on his resume, the only way he could possibly elevate his ability to recruit is if he rolled up in an Aston martin.
On the opposite end of the spectrum has to be (drumroll...) Kirk Frentz. Yes, he gets the most out of his recruits, but after a successful few years in the early years of this century, he was still unable to keep the momentum going. And you can't tell me Iowa is a much harder place to ask football players to attend than Illinois, frigid Minnesota and Northwestern. Yet those coaches seem to haul in a few big name recruits while Iowa just seemed to have plateaued. Hell even Iowa State is doing better than Iowa.