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Rudel: Taking a peek into PSU crystal ball


December 31, 2012
The Altoona Mirror

Our time-honored tradition of peering into our annual blue and white crystal ball to foresee what the coming year might bring was interrupted last year because, well, few in the Nittany Nation were in a real festive mood.

A year later, though emotions, at least toward the NCAA and the Board of Trustees, are still fairly raw, life has gone on, and there was plenty to draw on from 2012 to help us look ahead to 2013.

Please join me for a glimpse ...

n During his weekly card game in heaven, George Paterno is stunned to bump into his brother Joe, embraces him warmly and asks, like he (and Joe) asked every writer every weekend for so many years on the road, "When'd ya get in?"

n After his agent previously dismissed rumors linking Bill O'Brien to NFL jobs - and O'Brien himself said he plans to be at PSU in 2013 - the rumor mill begins mentioning his name again and Nittany Lion fans are now nervously keeping their fingers crossed. Penn State responds by providing a healthy raise, even though his contract runs through 2020, already giving O'Brien more job security than any coach in the country.

n Dave Joyner offers to wrestle Anthony Lubrano for the athletic director's position. Lubrano says, "You may cradle me, but I think we should hire the president first, and let him hire the AD."

n Extra security is called to Old Main when word spreads that Mark Emmert is meeting with the Board of Trustees.

n O'Brien admits during spring drills he had no plans to leave so soon but didn't want to turn a deaf ear because he was upset that the school misled him, albeit not intentionally, about the NCAA sanctions. "I really wouldn't leave after one year: I mean - who do you think I am - Lane Kiffin? Besides, you people have suffered enough."

n Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson show flashes, but the Blue-White Game's real star is Zach Zwinak, who rushes for 350 yards.

n A poll of Penn State fans reveal Pitt and Syracuse are overwhelming favorites to be the Big Ten's next two additions.

n At a summer workshop designed to update and discuss its nepotism policy, Penn State invites as forum speakers Father Gabriel Zeis, St. Francis president, SFU vice president for student development Frank Montecalvo and athletic director Bob Krimmel.

n When it's announced that the Big Ten's latest two invitees are Georgia Tech and North Carolina, Mike Krzyzewski puts Jim Delany in a headlock.

n ESPN hires Bernie Fine as one of its college basketball analysts.

n The Lions open the season 6-0 after beating Michigan 30-27 on a Sam Ficken field goal - his 20th straight dating back to last season.

n Pat Chambers declares Tim Frazier, who has successfully recovered from surgery, and D.J. Newbill the best backcourt in America. Chambers later discloses that he doesn't have cable.

n Nittany Lion tight ends, with 75 catches through eight games, are on the verge of an NCAA season record.

n Matt McGloin, on the Eagles' practice squad, gets loose in a wide-ranging interview and says if O'Brien had arrived at PSU a few years earlier, the QB could have been a first-round draft pick.

n For extending the Pitt football series an additional two games, and saying he'd like to play the Panthers every year, O'Brien draws votes for Dapper Dan Man of the Year.

n Leading Ohio State in Columbus in the fourth quarter, the Lions clinch the game when Alex Butterworth throws a 40-yard touchdown pass out of punt formation. In celebration, he flashes his tattoo at the Buckeye bench.

n O'Brien finishes runnerup as Big Ten coach of the year to Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez.

n After an exhaustive search, Penn State names its new president, Michael Mauti.

n Readers of the Mirror and this column are extended best wishes for a happy, healthy 2014.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or

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