Honest look at Chambers, Sanderson

Commentary

Those weekly Penn State coaches radio shows remain good listening, whether you can catch them on radio or listen through the gopsusports.com site.

They’re worthwhile listens regarding men’s basketball and wrestling because the respective coaches, Patrick Chambers and Cael Sanderson, are so honest.

They’re different, with Chambers in recent weeks clearly feeling some heat and sounding somewhat defensive while Sanderson seems so low-key and relaxed that it’s silly.

At their core, the shows provide access and insights. That’s always a good thing. Even when Chambers works to share an all-positive message — not wanting to offer excuses — he invariably sounds like he’s sharing reasons why the team has struggled at times. Some might call those excuses, but Chambers is so genuine and positive it works.

Listeners hear the emotion in the coach’s voice. That might not translate to Ws on the court, but it does produce good radio.

Plus, while host Steve Jones works to keep an even, no-worries-here approach to the radio show and program, Chambers knows he’s getting some heat.

That led to an interesting interaction on a recent show when he took a proverbial swing at a softball question that was supposed to keep the all-positive train of thought on track.

Instead of a superficial answer, Chambers went a little deeper. Listeners could hear a little bit of defensiveness in his voice. The team’s supposed struggles might be as simple as one eligible player, and the quality of the radio show is just as simple. It’s the honesty of the team’s coach.

Likewise, Sanderson’s comfortable conversations with Jeff Byers each week provide information about the team because Sanderson seems to share things like an open book.

That battle at 197 pounds with two standout wrestlers? He’ll address it head-on, with some cliches but nonetheless honestly. So, listeners know there will probably be a wrestle-off before the postseason begins.

Sanderson earlier this week discussed officiating as well as the passion of opposing fans. He was forthright, while sounding a bit aw-shucks and down to earth.

In that way, he’s a wonderfully appealing face of the program. Ironically, it’s radio that allows people to see that face, which is cool.

Bowl business

The NFL Pro Bowl, which invariably gets belittled as the worst pro sports all-star game kicks off at 2:50 p.m. today on ESPN.

Still, the football-lite version of the game also consistently draws strong ratings and viewership. The on-air team includes play-by-play man Sean McDonough and analysts Matt Hasselbeck and Louis Riddick, along with reporter Lisa Salters.

Tuner tidbits

n For the second time in three days the top-ranked Penn State wrestling team gets national exposure with a match on live TV. This afternoon’s match at No. 18 Rutgers (2 p.m., BTN) follows a meeting with No. 14 Minnesota on Friday night at Rec Hall.

n The nation’s top-ranked men’s ice hockey team, Notre Dame, visits Pegula Ice Arena for a two-game series against the Nittany Lions on Friday and Saturday, with the Friday night matchup set to air at 6:30 p.m. on BTN. Penn State visited Notre Dame for a pair of games earlier this season and lost both.

n “The Two Bills,” another installment of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 documentary series, will make its debut at 9 p.m. Thursday on ESPN. It features Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells being interviewed together for the first time since 1991. The film traces the relationship of the two coaches over nearly four decades.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

COMMENTS