NCAA Hands Down Penn State Sanctions

On Monday, July 23, 2012 NCAA President NCAA President Mark Emmert made the announcement that the Penn State football program will face a four year postseason ban. Additionally they must pay a $60 million fine to be used to create an endowment to support causes that fight child sexual abuse. The school will also be forced to cut 10 scholarships for this season and 20 scholarships for the following four years. Finally the school will be forced to vacate all wins from 1998-2011, a total of 112 victories, and serve five years of probation. The loss of victories means Joe Paterno is no longer college football’s winningest coach, moving Bobby Bowden into the top slot as the winningest coach.

Penn State President, Rodney Erickson released the following statement regarding the NCAA consent decree.

“The tragedy of child sexual abuse that occurred at our University altered the lives of innocent children. Today, as every day, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse.

Against this backdrop, Penn State accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA. With today’s announcement and the action it requires of us, the University takes a significant step forward.
The NCAA ruling holds the University accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the University community are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity.
The NCAA also mandates that Penn State become a national leader to help victims of child sexual assault and to promote awareness across our nation. Specifically, the University will pay $12 million a year for the next five years into a special endowment created to fund programs for the detection, prevention and treatment of child abuse. This total of $60 million can never reduce the pain suffered by victims, but will help provide them hope and healing.

The NCAA penalty will also affect the football program. There is a four-year ban on all post-season games, including bowl games and the Big Ten Championship game, and a future reduction in the number of football scholarships that can be granted. We are grateful that the current student athletes are not prevented from participation because of the failures of leadership that occurred. Additionally the NCAA has vacated all wins of Penn State football from 1998-2011.

We also welcome the Athletics Integrity Agreement and the third-party monitor, who will be drilling into compliance and culture issues in intercollegiate athletics, in conjunction with the recommendations of the Freeh Report. Lastly a probationary period of five years will be imposed.

It is important to know we are entering a new chapter at Penn State and making necessary changes. We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative.

Since receiving Judge Freeh’s preliminary recommendations in January, the University has instituted several reforms. Today we accept the terms of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA. As Penn State embarks upon change and progress, this announcement helps to further define our course. It is with this compass that we will strive for a better tomorrow.

Penn State will move forward with a renewed sense of commitment to excellence and integrity in all aspects of our University. We continue to recognize the important role that intercollegiate athletics provides for our student athletes and the wider University community as we strive to appropriately balance academic and athletic accomplishments. Penn State will continue to be a world-class educational institution of which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can be justifiably proud.”

Update: Statement by Coach Bill O’Brien

“Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.

I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university.”

[box type=”shadow”]Photo credit, Cole Camplese.[/box]

Penn State Removes Paterno Statue

Earlier this morning, equipment and a construction crew arrived at Beaver Stadium to remove the statue of Joe Paterno. For the first time since it was put into place in 2001, the image of Joe Paterno leading the Nittany Lions onto the field is no longer there. Penn State president, Rodney Erickson, released the following statement describing the rationale for the statue’s removal and the continuation of Paterno’s name on the University Library.

“Since we learned of the Grand Jury presentment and the charges against Jerry Sandusky and University officials last November, members of the Penn State community and the public have been made much more acutely aware of the tragedy of child sexual abuse. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse. I assure you that Penn State will take a national leadership role in the detection and prevention of child maltreatment in the months and years ahead.

With the release of Judge Freeh’s Report of the Special Investigative Counsel, we as a community have had to confront a failure of leadership at many levels. The statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium has become a lightning rod of controversy and national debate, including the role of big time sports in university life. The Freeh Report has given us a great deal to reflect upon and to consider, including Coach Paterno’s legacy.

Throughout Penn State, the two most visible memorials to Coach Paterno are the statue at Beaver Stadium and the Paterno Library. The future of these two landmarks has been the topic of heated debate and many messages have been received in various University offices, including my own. We have heard from numerous segments of the Penn State community and others, many of whom have differing opinions. These are particularly important decisions when considering things that memorialize such a revered figure.

I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.

On the other hand, the Paterno Library symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University. The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno’s commitment to Penn State’s student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts Coach Paterno had on the University. Thus I feel strongly that the library’s name should remain unchanged.

Coach Paterno’s positive impact over the years and everything he did for this University predate his statue. At the same time it is true that our institution’s excellence cannot be attributed to any one person or to athletics. Rather, Penn State is defined by our actions and accomplishments as a learning community. Penn State has long been an outstanding academic institution and we will continue to be.

The world will be watching how Penn State addresses its challenges in the days ahead. While some may take issue with the decisions I have made, I trust that everyone associated with our University will respond in a civil and respectful manner.

I fully realize that my decision will not be popular in some Penn State circles, but I am certain it is the right and principled decision. I believe we have chosen a course that both recognizes the many contributions that Joe Paterno made to the academic life of our University, while taking seriously the conclusions of the Freeh Report and the national issue of child sexual abuse. Today, as every day, our hearts go out to the victims.”

[box type=”shadow”]Photo credit, Kristin Camplese[/box]

BU Football Field Renamed in Honor of Coach Danny Hale

On April 28 the tradition of excellence personified by Bloomsburg University head football coach Danny Hale will be etched into stone. Hale, the Husky’s career wins leader, will be forever remembered as the field at Robert B. Redman Stadium will be named Danny Hale Field in his honor.

Football is a large part of the town of Bloomsburg and surrounding areas, but this commemoration goes much farther than just athletics. Hale is a community member, a participant in many of the town’s activities, and is an important spokesperson for the University. The fact that a part of Bloomsburg Football will forever be intertwined with the Hale name is not only significant for athletics, but also the University and community as a whole. But don’t let the coach hear you bragging about him.

“This certainly is a humbling moment for both me and my family,” said Hale. “I am very blessed to be able to share this honor with my family. I would have never imagined this happening 20 years ago when I accepted this position.”

As a Husky, Hale has posted a staggering 163-54-1 record at BU, with a astonishing .743 winning percentage and currently holds the school record for most victories by a coach. In his 24-year head coaching career, Hale has reached a milestone many coaches only dream of achieving – amassing an overall record of 203-67-1, and a .750 winning percentage. Hale is ranked among the top 10 active coaches in NCAA Division II in winning percentage, and is one of just five active coaches with over 200 career wins entering the 2012 season.

Danny Hale
Danny Hale

In 19 seasons as head coach at Bloomsburg, Hale boasts a n incredible 11 outright or shared Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division titles and has taken the Huskies to the postseason playoffs seven times. Over the last 12 seasons, Bloomsburg has been one of the most successful NCAA Division II football programs in the nation, with a combined record of 111-30 and a .787 winning percentage.

View Danny Hale’s Complete Career Coaching Statistics on Wikipedia

This issue goes far beyond the game of football, however. Hale is a recognizable community figure, with his consistent help in community service. Every year, Hale and his Huskies football team participate in several blood drives through the American Red Cross. Hale has been honored by the Bloomsburg Chapter of the American Red Cross for his work promoting the donation of blood.

Hale also contributes in Bloomsburg’s annual “The Big Event” when groups from the University assist with a spring cleanup of the town and the surrounding areas. In the fall of 2011, Bloomsburg suffered one of the most disastrous floods in the town’s history. Hale and his football team member’s pitched in, staying in the devastated town over the weeks when school was not in session, helping out members of the community.

Some say that athletic fields or even campus buildings should not be named after existing or former faculty or administration members. But many of the athletic facilities at BU have already been named after successful individuals not only on the field, but off of it as well. Redman Stadium was named in honor Robert B. Redman’s accomplishments when it opened in 1974. In Redman’s coaching career, he accrued a record of 38-4, and won three PSAC championships.

In the summer of 2010, the Huskies named their softball field after one of the most successful coaches in NCAA Division II history, Jan Hutchinson, who posted a career record of 958-216-2, for a staggering .815 winning percentage and reached a record 22 consecutive trips to the NCAA Championship Tournament.

The baseball field at Bloomsburg is named after Hall of Famer Danny Litwhiler, who is considered to be one of the greatest innovators in the history of the sport, amassing accolades through college and professional baseball as both a coach and a player.

So at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, come celebrate with Coach Hale, as he will be justly honored for his accomplishments through his successful career, and be recognized as one of the greatest coaches to ever impact Bloomsburg University. His success is not only shown through his outstanding coaching record, but also through the lives of the people he has influenced. Every person to ever be in contact with Coach Hale carries the knowledge and experience they have gathered from his modest man.

“This is not just an honor for me, though.” Hale said. “Every athlete who has played here for me has a part in this day.  All the players, coaches, staff and fans can share in this celebration.”

[box type=”bio”]By Bloomsburg University Student, Dylan Spangler. Dylan is a Junior majoring in Mass Communications. Photographs provided courtesy of[/box]

More than Football: BU Camps Develop Character

Playing football at Bloomsburg University goes much farther than being just an athlete

Playing football at Bloomsburg University goes much farther than simply excelling at sport; the idea of Bloomsburg Husky Football is to help develop each athlete into a well-rounded human being. In a series of annual summer camps, the coaches and players of the BU Huskies football squad actively apply this ideal, teaching younger athletes not only about football fundamentals, but about individual moral decisions and working as part of a cohesive team.

For every camp, the Huskies incorporate motivational speakers as an integral part of the routine. Touching on subjects such as the importance of academics, dangers of drugs and alcohol, proper social behavior, nutrition habits and much more, each day a different speaker presents a valuable message to all of the campers. The staff hopes that these sessions provide a positive influence and inspiration which can be used in everyday life.

“We want the campers to become better athletes,” said Coach Jack Lydic, Assistant Camp Director for the Huskies. “But there is more to life than just football. Our goal is to lay the groundwork for being a well-rounded individual.”

Love of sport and football is what brings the youths to these camps, and there the Huskies offers a variety of options which serve all aspects and age-ranges of players interested in furthering their football aspirations. They offer a Youth Camp for yonger players, specialty camps that develop specific football skill sets, camps for teams, and a Prospective Athlete Camp for graduating seniors aspiring to play at the next level.

The latest addition to the series of camps is the Defensive Lineman camp organized by Coach Bill Perkins, designed to improve defensive lineman’s techniques and skill sets. Regardless of the skills involved, all members of the Huskies’ coaching staff are available, as well as the coaches from the attending school’s staff.

“We try to get the coaches from the other teams involved in our coaching methods,” said Lydic. “It’s really important to get as many coaches for the kids as we can, so they get proper instruction.” Personal and small group instruction is important as well, with the player to coach ratio at these camps is less than 10:1.

Bloomsburg’s Football staff cares about the quality of instruction that all of their campers get; so they incorporate their own varsity athletes as assistant coaches. Roughly 10-12 of the Huskies’ own athletes are involved annually in the instruction, teaching the campers basic fundamentals, and giving them advice about teamwork and sportsmanship.

Jarrett Pidgeon, three year starter at linebacker for the Huskies, has been attending the Youth Camp that the Huskies offer since his freshman year.

“I think it’s really important for the players to be involved coaching the kids,” said Pidgeon. “When I was a kid we always looked up to the older athletes as role models, it’s only proper that we do the same.”

During the team camp, the Huskies coaching staff has drills in order to test the competitive skills of the athletes, and present awards to those athletes whom excel at their specific position. However, the focus for the youth camp is to collectively promote sportsmanship, team camaraderie, and basic skills of the game.

“The purpose of the team camp is to promote synergy and competition for all teams that attend,” said Coach Lydic. “But the underlying theme for our youth camp is to stress the fundamentals of football and just focus on having fun.”

[box type=”shadow”]For more information on all Bloomsburg University Sports Camps, please visit the BU Camps Website or contact the Camp Directors for individual sports directly. The dates and costs for 2012’s football camps are as follows:

Youth Development Camp, June 11-13: 9:00am-1:00pm $100.00 per camper ($50 for additional siblings)

Defensive Lineman Camp, June 30: 9:00am – 4:00pm, $100.00 per camper

Team Camp July 22-25: $300/camper – Boarding, $225/camper – Commuting[/box]

[box type=”bio”]By Bloomsburg University Student, Dylan Spangler. Dylan is a Junior majoring in Mass Communications.[/box]

Lady Lions Fall to UConn in Sweet Sixteen

The No. 4 seed Penn State Lady Lions (26-7, 13-3) suffered a 77-59 loss to No. 1 seed Connecticut (32-4, 13-3 Big East) on Sunday evening to end the 2012 season and their NCAA run. Junior Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) was Penn State’s leading scorer with 19 points.

This was Penn State’s first visit to the Sweet Sixteen since 2004 when the Lady Lions advanced to the Elite Eight, but also saw their season ended in a 66-49 setback to UConn. Penn State is now 3-7 all-time versus the Huskies, 4-8 in the Sweet Sixteen and 29-23 overall in NCAA Tournament play.

Sophomore Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.) was second on the squad with 15 points, while junior Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) tallied 11. Defensively, sophomore Talia East (Philadelphia, Pa.) posted 10 rebounds and Nickson registered five.

The Huskies grabbed a 6-2 lead to start the game before fouling Bentley who hit two at the foul line to close the gap to two, 6-4. UConn followed with a 10-2 run for a 14-4 lead and sent Penn State to the bench for a timeout. East followed the timeout with a layup, but two UConn buckets sandwiching a Nickson basket kept the Huskies leading by 10, 18-8, a little less than five minutes into the half.

UConn continued to charge moving ahead by 14, 24-10, by the 11:23 mark. The Lady Lions fought back with a 9-0 run, including three-pointers from Lucas and senior Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.), to come within five, 24-19. After a Husky timeout, UConn’s Tiffany Hayes hit a jumper. However, Caroline Doty fouled Nickson who made two free throws to bring Penn State back within five, 26-21.

The Lady Lions fell behind by double-digits, 33-23, after a 7-2 Husky run. Despite a three from UConn’s Bria Hartley, Penn State was within nine, 36-27, thanks to baskets from sophomore Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) and Bentley with just over three minutes left in the half. Five points from UConn had the Lions falling behind by 14, 41-27. Nickson prevented another Husky run with a jumper, but a PSU foul sent UConn’s Hayes to the line where she made both shots giving UConn a 43-29 lead to close out the first half.

At the end of the first half, Nickson led the Lady Lions with nine points, while Lucas had seven and Bentley had six. East was Penn State’s leading rebounder with five. The Huskies opened the second half with 10 straight points, but Hayes fouled Edwards who hit two shots at the foul line to end UConn’s run. Trailing by22, 53-31, Lucas nailed a three-pointer at the 15:51 mark to bring Penn State within 19, 53-34. Hartley fouled Lucas who hit two free throws before a Nickson layup to move Penn State closer to UConn, 53-38.

After two UConn baskets, both teams were scoreless for nearly three minutes before back-to-back buckets by the Huskies hard the score at 61-38 with 10:13 to play. Penn State called a timeout and Nickson followed with scored two to end the Husky run. UConn’s lead grew to 16, 66-40, but Nickson and East prevented a Husky run with a basket each bringing the score to 68-44 with a little more than seven minutes remaining.

Nickson continued to be Penn State’s dominant scorer with another bucket at the 6:45 mark. UConn fired back with four points before Penn State scored 10 unanswered points to close the gap to 19, 74-55, with the clock at 4:20. UConn’s next three points came from free throws, making it 77-55 in favor of the Huskies. East and Nickson scored Penn State’s final two baskets to produce the final score of 77-59.

[box type=”shadow”]This post was originally published at Penn State Live by Jeff Nelson. Photo via Flickr.[/box]

Penn State Well-Represented in Super Bowl XLVI

Penn State again will be well-represented on the field and the sidelines at the Super Bowl.

When the New England Patriots and New York Giants clash in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday (Feb. 5) in Indianapolis, Penn State again will be well-represented on the field and the sidelines.

Several former Penn State players and staff with ties to the Nittany Lion football program will be involved in the National Football League’s Championship game, headed by new head coach Bill O’Brien and three former standout student-athletes, Kareem McKenzie, Jimmy Kennedy, and Rich Ohrnberger. O’Brien, who was introduced as Penn State’s 15th head coach on Jan. 6, is the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the AFC Champion Patriots. McKenzie, a tackle, and Kennedy, a defensive tackle, are members of the Giants, while Ohrnberger, a guard, is with New England.

For the 41st time in the Super Bowl’s 46-game history, at least one Penn State alumnus will be a member of one of the teams, with at least one former Nittany Lion guaranteed of being on this year’s title team. Thirty-three former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 49 Super Bowl rings, most recently tight end Andrew Quarless with the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers.

In addition to the three former players, two members of the Giants’ coaching staff – Pat Flaherty and Peter Giunta – are former Penn State assistant coaches and are coaching in their second Super Bowl with the Giants.

A member of the Patriots’ coaching staff since 2007, including the last three mentoring the quarterbacks, O’Brien has been instrumental this season in helping New England advance to its second Super Bowl during his tenure. The Patriots scored 513 points (32.1 avg.) during the regular season, the AFC’s highest mark and No. 3 in the NFL. New England also ranked second in the NFL in total offense (428.0 ypg) and passing (317.8 ypg).

Under O’Brien’s tutelage, quarterback Tom Brady threw for 5,235 yards (No. 2 in NFL) and 39 touchdowns this season, as the Patriots won their final eight regular season games. Wide receiver Wes Welker led the NFL with 122 receptions and his 1,569 receiving yards to rank second in the NFL. Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski (90-1,327) ranked No. 1-2 in the AFC in receiving yardage. Gronkowski led the NFL with 17 touchdown receptions during the regular season.

Ohrnberger missed the entire 2011 season after being placed on injured reserve on September 3. A fourth round choice of the Patriots in the 2009 NFL Draft, Ohrnberger started 35 games at Penn State, earning third team AP All-American and first team All-Big Ten honors in his senior season.

In his 11th season in the NFL and seventh with the Giants, McKenzie anchors New York’s offensive line from his right tackle spot. He has played in 161 career regular season games and has made a remarkable 153 consecutive starts since 2002, in addition to the 14 postseason games in which he has played. The Giants have featured one the NFL’s top passing attacks this season, led by quarterback Eli Manning and 1,000-yard receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Originally selected by the New York Jets in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft, McKenzie won a Super Bowl ring with the Giants during the 2007 season. A product of Willingboro, N.J., McKenzie earned All-Big Ten honors in 2000.

In his first season with the Giants and 10th overall in the NFL, Kennedy has played in six games this season, making four tackles. Drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Rams in 2003, Kennedy has 129 tackles and eight sacks in his career. A four-year starter at Penn State, Kennedy was named the 2002 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection. A semi-finalist for the 2002 Lombardi Award, he was selected first team All-America by The Sporting News as a senior.

Flaherty joined the Giants in 2004 and serves as the offensive line coach. A native of McSherrystown, Pa., Flaherty was a member of the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff in 1982 and ’83, serving as a part-time assistant coaching the offensive line under Dick Anderson. He helped Penn State win the 1982 National Championship with a Sugar Bowl victory over No. 1 Georgia. When Anderson was named head coach at Rutgers for the 1984 season, Flaherty joined the Scarlet Knights’ staff. He was at Rutgers through the 1991 season and coached in the college ranks until joining the Washington Redskins’ staff in 2000.

Giunta joined the Giants staff in 2006 and is the secondary/cornerbacks coach. From Salem, Mass., he was a part-time assistant at Penn State in 1982 and ’83, working with the tight ends. In 1981, Giunta served an internship with the Nittany Lions. He also helped Penn State win the 1982 National Championship with an 11-1 record. Giunta coached at Brown and Lehigh through 1990, joining the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff in 1991. He was the defensive coordinator in 1999 when the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Both Flaherty and Giunta were on New York’s coaching staff in 2007 when the Giants defeated the Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII.
Seven former Nittany Lions playing in the National Football League were on 2011 playoff teams, with at least one Penn Stater on six of the squads vying for the Super Bowl XLVI title. There are 34 former Nittany Lions on NFL rosters, placing Penn State in the Top 15 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.

A total of 325 Penn State football student-athletes have been drafted by NFL teams, including 10 first round draft choices in the past 11 years. A total of 26 Nittany Lions have been drafted since 2006, including 13 in the first three rounds.

[box type=”shadow”]This article originally appeared at Penn State Live. Photo via Flickr.[/box]

O’Brien Announces Several Members of Nittany Lion Coaching Staff

Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien today announced six members of his first coaching staff.

Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien today announced six members of his first coaching staff, bringing together a unit with extensive collegiate and National Football League experience.

O’Brien’s staff includes two coaches who have helped LSU and Texas win the BCS National Championship during the past 10 years. The new Penn State staff also has significant coaching experience and recruiting ties in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast and Southwest regions of the United States.

During his introductory press conference last Saturday, O’Brien announced that long-time Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson would remain on the staff and he will continue to coach the defensive line. Ron Vanderlinden, the Nittany Lions’ linebackers coach since 2001, also has been retained by O’Brien and will continue to coach the linebackers.

Stan Hixon has been named Penn State’s Assistant Head Coach and will coach the wide receivers. Charles London (running backs), Mac McWhorter (offensive line) and John Strollo (tight ends) also are joining the Nittany Lions’ staff. O’Brien is finalizing the quarterbacks coach.

O’Brien is in the process of finalizing the defensive coordinator and secondary coach to join Johnson and Vanderlinden on the defensive staff.

O’Brien, the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, is bringing several coaches to Happy Valley that he worked with during his 14 years as a collegiate assistant coach. O’Brien has previously worked with Hixon (1995-99), McWhorter (2000-01), London (2005-06) and Strollo (2005-06) at Georgia Tech or Duke prior to joining the Patriots’ coaching staff in 2007.

“I said last weekend we were going to put together the best staff for Penn State and I firmly believe we have done that,” said O’Brien. “It was crucial to get an experienced, passionate and enthusiastic staff together quickly so they can hit the ground running. All of these coaches have varied and successful backgrounds coaching in the NFL, college and high school across the country. They have developed extensive relationships with coaches that will be vital in our recruiting efforts. They are excited to meet our current players, get on the road and become part of the Penn State Football family.”
Below are brief biographies on the six members of O’Brien’s coaching staff announced today:

Hixon’s coaching career spans 32 years in the collegiate and professional ranks. The past two seasons, he has served as wide receivers coach with the Buffalo Bills and he coached wide receivers for the Washington Redskins from 2004-09. Stevie Johnson, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle-El are among the NFL players Hixon has helped develop. From Lakeland, Fla., Hixon served as associate head coach/wide receivers coach at LSU from 2000-03. Hixon contributed to the Tigers winning the 2003 BCS National Championship and coached three first-team All-SEC receivers, including Josh Reed, the 2001 Biletnikoff Award winner, who made 94 catches for an SEC-record 1,740 yards that year. He also helped develop Michael Clayton, whose 21 career touchdown catches broke the LSU record. Hixon coached the wide receivers at Georgia Tech from 1995-99, where he worked with O’Brien, as they helped the Yellow Jackets capture the 1998 Atlantic Coast Conference championship. He also has coached at Wake Forest (1993-94), South Carolina (1989-92), Appalachian State (1983-88), and Morehead State (1980-82). Hixon is a graduate of Iowa State, where he played wide receiver, and earned his master’s degree from Morehead State.

Johnson is entering his 17th season on the Penn State staff and 13th year coaching the defensive line. He has been instrumental in the development of seven first-team All-Americans in the past 12 years, including consensus first-team tackle Devon Still in 2011. Still also was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman and Defensive Player-of-the-Year. Jared Odrick (2009), Aaron Maybin (2008), All-Pro Tamba Hali (2005), Michael Haynes (2002) and Jimmy Kennedy (2002) were first-team All-Americans and NFL first-round draft choices under Johnson’s tutelage. His efforts with Courtney Brown helped him earn All-America honors in 1999 and become the No. 1 selection in the 2000 NFL Draft. Johnson also has coached 13 first-team All-Big Ten performers and has had a large role in the success of the defense, punting and recruiting efforts during his tenure. A highly successful high school head coach in the Washington, D.C. area for more than 20 years, Johnson is a graduate of Elizabeth City (N.C.) State University, earning NAIA All-America honors at linebacker.

London comes to Penn State after serving one season as the offensive assistant/quality control coach with the Tennessee Titans under former Nittany Lion standout and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Mike Munchak. During the 2011 season, London helped the Titans to a 9-7 record and 245.2 passing yards per game, missing out on an AFC playoff berth via a tiebreaker. His NFL resume also includes one season as a pro scout for the Philadelphia Eagles (2010) and three years as an offensive assistant with the Chicago Bears (2007-09). He coached for three years at his alma mater, Duke, serving as a graduate assistant (2004-05) and running backs coach (2006). London was a running back and sprinter on the Blue Devils’ track and field team as an undergraduate. In 2005, he completed a coaching internship with the New England Patriots as part of the NFL’s Minority Internship program. He also earned a master’s degree from Duke.

McWhorter joins the Penn State staff after serving as Texas associate head coach and offensive line coach from 2005-10. He joined the Longhorns’ staff as tackles and tight ends coach in 2002 and played a large role in helping Texas capture the 2005 BCS National Championship and play in the 2009 BCS title game. During the Longhorns’ title season, McWhorter’s offensive line was critical in Texas setting an NCAA record with 652 points and a school record with 6,657 yards, finishing No. 2 in the nation in rushing (274.9 ypg). A native of Atlanta and a Georgia graduate, McWhorter was selected the 2008 Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. He was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Georgia Tech, working with O’Brien, in 2000-01. McWhorter began his career as a high school coach in Georgia and moved into the collegiate ranks at Georgia Tech from 1980-86. He was head coach at West Georgia in 1989 and also has been an assistant coach at Georgia (1991-95), Alabama (1987-88), Duke (1990), Clemson (1996-98) and Memphis (1999). Entering his 32nd season as a college coach, McWhorter was an All-SEC lineman at Georgia under coach Vince Dooley.

A 31-year coaching veteran, Strollo joins the Penn State staff after one year as the offensive line coach at Ball State. A native of Long Branch, N.J., Strollo went to Ball State with head coach Peter Lembo after serving in the same role under him at Elon (2008-10). He was the tight ends coach at Duke in 2005 and the offensive line coach during the 2006 and ’07 seasons. A Boston College graduate, Strollo began his coaching career at Middletown South (N.J.) High School and he was a graduate assistant at Springfield College, earning his master’s degree. His coaching resume also includes stints at Maine (2004), Cornell (2001-03), Lafayette (1996-2000), Massachusetts (1991-95), Northeastern (1984-90 and 1981-1982) and Washburn (1983). Strollo served as the offensive coordinator at Cornell and Northeastern.

Vanderlinden is entering in his 12th year as linebackers coach and has been the primary force in helping restore the “Linebacker U.” tradition. Vanderlinden directed junior Gerald Hodges to first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2011 and was instrumental in the development of Cameron Wake, who earned 2010 All-Pro honors. All three 2009 starting linebackers earned All-Big Ten honors and are on NFL rosters, with San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman being named to the 2011 AP All-Pro Team and Sean Lee a rising star with the Dallas Cowboys. In 2007, All-American Dan Connor became the school’s career tackle leader and won the Bednarik Award. Vanderlinden also worked with Paul Posluszny, the 2005 Butkus Award recipient and two-time first-team All-American and Bednarik Award winner. Vanderlinden was head coach at Maryland (1997-2000), defensive coordinator at Northwestern (1992-96) and a defensive assistant coach at Colorado (1983-91). His defensive pupils at Northwestern included two-time Bednarik Award winner Pat Fitzgerald. He also coached at Michigan and Ball State after graduating from Albion College, where he twice earned all-conference honors at center.

The Nittany Lions shared the Big Ten Leaders Division title with Wisconsin and finished with a 9-4 mark during the 2011 season. Penn State played in its fourth consecutive New Year’s bowl game and 44th overall. The Nittany Lions’ 827 all-time victories rank No. 5 in the nation and their 27 bowl wins are third-highest.

Penn State opens its 126th season on Sept. 1, hosting Ohio University. Ohio State, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Indiana, Navy and Temple also will visit Beaver Stadium this fall. For season ticket information, fans should call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

[box type=”shadow”]This story originally appeared in Penn State Live. Photo via Flickr.[/box]

Penn State Selects Bill O’Brien to Lead Football Program

The Pennsylvania State University has selected Bill O’Brien as its 15th head football coach in its storied 125-year history.

The Pennsylvania State University has selected Bill O’Brien, the New England Patriots offensive coordinator, as its 15th head football coach in its storied 125-year history.

O’Brien’s appointment was announced this evening by Penn State President Rodney Erickson and Dave Joyner, acting director of athletics. A 14-year veteran in the collegiate coaching ranks prior to his National Football League experience, O’Brien will be introduced on the Penn State campus Saturday.

A member of the Patriots’ coaching staff since 2007, including the last three mentoring the quarterbacks, O’Brien has worked with some of the game’s most successful and innovative coaches and players in his 19-year coaching career. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Ralph Friedgen, George O’Leary and Chan Gailey are among the coaches and players he has teamed with throughout his career.

A graduate of Brown University, also the alma mater of Hall of Fame predecessor Joe Paterno, O’Brien joined Belichick’s staff in New England as a coaching assistant in 2007 after 14 seasons on the staffs of Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke. He served as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach in 2008, was the quarterbacks coach in 2009-10 and was appointed offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach prior to the 2011 season.

“The Penn State football program has a great legacy and has contributed enormously to our University community,” said Erickson. “A program of this caliber requires a special kind of leader – a leader who will embrace that legacy and maintain the University’s commitment to excellence on the field and in the classroom. We have that leader in Coach O’Brien, and I look forward to working with him in his new role.”

“We have found the man to take Penn State football forward,” said Dave Joyner, Penn State acting director of athletics. “Needless to say, we have been looking for someone with some very special qualities, beginning with a heart that beats to the values and vision of Penn State University and our Penn State football legacy and tradition. That was our starting point, and Coach O’Brien exemplifies those traits that Penn Staters hold so highly. In addition to his model characteristics as a man and a teacher, he’s all about producing winners, and doing so the right way. He will embrace tradition, demand excellence and pursue Success with Honor in every phase of our program.”

“I am thrilled to be the head coach of the Penn State football program,” stated O’Brien. “I cannot tell you how excited I am to get started, meet the team, meet the football alumni and meet all of the people that make this University so special. As head coach of this special football program, it is my responsibility to ensure that this program represents the highest level of character, respect and integrity in everything we do. That includes my coaching staff, our players and everyone involved in the football program. There is tremendous pride in Penn State football and will never, ever take that for granted.”

This season, O’Brien has been instrumental in New England earning a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Patriots have scored 513 points (32.1 avg.), the AFC’s highest mark and No. 3 in the NFL. New England is second in the NFL in total offense (428.0 ypg) and passing (317.8 ypg).

Under O’Brien’s tutelage, Brady has thrown for 5,235 yards (No. 2 in NFL) and 39 touchdowns this season, as the Patriots won their final eight games. Wide receiver Welker leads the NFL with 122 receptions and his 1,569 receiving yards to rank second in the NFL. Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski (90-1,327) rank No. 1-2 in the AFC in receiving yardage. Gronkowski leads the NFL with 17 touchdown receptions.

Under O’Brien’s direction, Brady became the first unanimous Associated Press MVP in 2010 in leading the Patriots to an NFL-best 14-2 mark.

O’Brien began his coaching career at his alma mater, working with the tight ends in 1993 and the inside linebackers in 1994. He joined O’Leary’s Georgia Tech staff in 1995, helping the Yellow Jackets to bowl appearances in each of his last six seasons. O’Brien was an offensive graduate assistant his initial three years in Atlanta. Working with then-offensive coordinator Friedgen, O’Brien served as the Yellow Jackets’ running backs coach from 1998-2000. Georgia Tech finished no lower than third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing all three seasons. O’Brien was promoted to Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2001 and assistant head coach in 2002.

O’Brien was reunited with Friedgen in 2003, joining his Maryland staff as running backs coach. The Terrapins finished second in the ACC in rushing in his first season and defeated West Virginia, 41-7, in the Gator Bowl. Following two years in College Park, O’Brien served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Duke in 2005 and ’06 before joining the Patriots’ coaching staff.

Born in Dorchester, Mass. O’Brien was raised in Andover, a Boston suburb. He played linebacker and defensive end at Brown from 1990-92, graduating in 1992 with a double concentration in political science and organizational behavior management.

O’Brien and his wife, Colleen, have two sons, Jack and Michael.

Penn State is among the nation’s premier programs in success on the gridiron and in the classroom. The Nittany Lions’ 827 all-time victories rank No. 5 in the nation, their 27 bowl victories are third-highest and 96 Penn Staters have earned first team All-America honors. Penn State won National Championships in 1982 and 1986 and since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1993 has won league championships in 1994, 2005 and 2008. Beaver Stadium is the nation’s second-largest facility with a capacity of 106,572 and Penn State has ranked among the top four nationally in NCAA attendance every year since 1991.

Penn State is consistently among the nation’s most successful program in the graduation of its football student-athletes. The 2011 NCAA Graduation Rates Report revealed that Penn State and Stanford earned a football Graduation Success Rate of 87 percent, highest among the teams ranked in the final 2011 Bowl Championship Series Top 25 rankings. Among the 70 Football Bowl Subdivision teams that played in a 2011-12 bowl game, Penn State and Stanford were tied for the fifth-highest GSR.

Penn State Football student-athletes have earned a nation’s-best 15 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections (13 first-team) since 2006. The Nittany Lions’ 49 Academic All-Americans all-time rank No. 3 nationally among all Football Bowl Subdivision institutions.

The Nittany Lions shared the Big Ten Leaders Division title with Wisconsin and finished with a 9-4 mark during the 2011 season. Penn State played in its fourth consecutive New Year’s bowl game and 28th overall.

This article originally appeared at Penn State Live. Photo via Penn State Live.

NCAA to Launch Investigation of Penn State Athletic Programs

Old MainUniversity Park, PA

Penn State has learned via letter from NCAA President Mark Emmert that the governing body of collegiate sports will launch an investigation of the University’s athletic programs in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse by a former assistant coach and charges of perjury against to two senior University officials.

“I am writing to notify you that the NCAA will examine Penn State’s exercise of institutional control over its intercollegiate athletics programs, as well as the actions, and inactions, of relevant responsible personnel,” Emmert wrote. “We recognize that there are ongoing federal and state investigations and the NCAA does not intend to interfere with those probes.”

Emmert set out several questions that University officials must be prepared to answer as part of the probe. Responses to this NCAA inquiry are expected by Dec. 16 in order for the NCAA to determine next steps. To view the letter and the specific areas that will be covered in this inquiry, go to online.

This article was made available through a content partnership with Penn State Live. Find the original article at the Penn State Live website.

BHS Panthers take on Mifflinburg in D4 Class AA Playoffs

TBD’s Biggest Panther Sports Fan, Shelly Lee, Reminds us all of The Big Game tonight at 7PM.

The complete Class AA bracket can be found at

“As we head into the District 4 – Class AA High School Football playoffs tomorrow night in Mifflinburg, watch out for Bloomsburg’s QB, Blake Rankin at the helm of their offense. After last week’s big win over long-time rival, Central Columbia, this team is FIRED UP and ready to go! and to that I simply say, HERE WE GO PANTHERS, HERE WE GO!

Make sure and tune your radio to WGRC for the live action!

107.7 FM Bloomsburg
91.3 FM Lewisburg
90.7 & 107.1 FM Williamsport
90.9 FM Lewistown
91.9 FM Pottsville
101.7 FM State College”