PSU maximizing its exposure

Kudos to Penn State coach James Franklin and his team for how they’ve dealt with the media in the aftermath of the Big Ten Conference championship game and leading up to the Rose Bowl.

Their message has been one of determination, focus and thankfulness. They’ve embraced the opportunity, and that has played well publicly.

It’s a good look for the coach and the team.

Conversely, some Penn State fans (an active and vocal portion on social media and a few talk-radio callers) have come across as one of the worst things in sports: poor winners.

While Franklin and Co. have displayed humility and promised ongoing hard work leading up to the bowl game, a disappointing proportion of fans instead seem hardheaded and petty.

They want to complain about Penn State missing the College Football Playoff. They want to guess about a conspiracy against the Nittany Lions nationally.

Heck, even a few seemingly sensible ones want to toss away logic and dissect postseason honors shows. As a result, they whine about the lack of blue-and-white highlights in the shows — taking that as another premeditated slight against Penn State.

Those fans should do one more thing, though. Stop. Just stop.

Stop complaining. Stop lumping “the media” into one big pile that invariably has a bias against them or their team.

That’s just not the case, and especially so in the comparatively black-and-white world of sports where we get winners and losers all the time.

After all, it’s pretty clear what’s happening and what’s not — because there are on-field results that determine what’s happening.

In this instance, the media is not slighting Penn State.

While the program was a bit under the radar at the start of the season, all the attention focused on the Nittany Lions by the end of the season was an ongoing, positive infomercial for Franklin and his program.

It’s been a boon — attention the team has earned for its efforts on the field. And it’s something all those associated with the program, or who support the program, should simply enjoy.

Bowl business

Twenty-six bowl games kick off in the next 13 days before the College Football Playoff semifinals begin on Dec. 31, and most of those games will air on ESPN.

For Pitt-Northwestern at the Pinstripe Bowl (2 p.m. Dec. 28), the broadcast team includes Ryan Ruocco, Mike Golic, Mike Golic Jr. and Paul Carcaterra. That’s the kind of pairing (the Golic father-son thing) ESPN trots out at least once each bowl season for a couple of reasons.

First, TV talent generally does not attract viewers to games. It’s the matchup that matters.

Second, for an afternoon game during the holidays, especially a mid-level bowl game, it’s a fine time experiment and have some fun in the booth.

Who knows? It could produce something interesting to at least complement the game.

Steady ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge, the quarterback who led Penn State to its first national championship in 1982, will work the Peach Bowl (3 p.m. Dec. 31), one of the College Football Playoff semifinals, on TV with Joe Tessitore.

He’ll then move to ESPN Radio for the championship game (8 p.m. Jan. 9) with Sean McDonough.

For the Penn State-USC matchup in the Rose Bowl (5 p.m. Jan. 2), the big game merits ESPN’s top college football tandem of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. They’ll handle the Fiesta Bowl with Clemson vs. Ohio State (7 p.m. Dec. 31) and also work the championship game’s TV broadcast.

Gruden’s game

With the Los Angeles Rams looking for a coach after Jeff Fisher was fired, one familiar name has been offered as a candidate by some in he media.

It’s a name that’s almost always associated with such high-profile openings, and it’s almost invariably incorrect speculation that seems irresponsible reporting by the media.

Jon Gruden? Really?

Any hint that he would leave his cushy and lucrative “Monday Night Football” spot for the pressure of returning to coaching seems silly.

Gruden has not monetized his position quite as well as John Madden, but he knows he’s in a good situation. The role, along with “Gruden’s QB Camp” and other ESPN assignments, are enough to make him valuable to the network, too.

There’s just no logical reason to jump back to coaching. He’s already won a Super Bowl. There’s nothing left to accomplish, except fall short of any expectations.

So, like Madden and Bill Cowher before him, expect Gruden to stay put on TV.

Tuner tidbits

n This afternoon’s Steelers-Bengals game airs at 1 p.m. on CBS. It was initially scheduled for “Sunday Night Football” but moved out of that spot in favor of a Buccaneers-Cowboys matchup.

n  Last week’s Army-Navy game on CBS attracted 7.9 million viewers, the most for the game in 24 years. Along with the first Army victory since 2001, the game included some on-air time for President-elect Donald Trump and was the final college football game for veteran broadcaster Verne Lundquist, who gave a touching sendoff.

n  Kudos to Fox and its in-booth tandem of Gus Johnson and Joe Klatt for its work during the Big Ten championship game. As always, Johnson had the emotion and intensity necessary for a big game, and the overall broadcast reflected well on the network that will be home for many Big Ten games going forward. While Fox has not had a strong track record, the quality of that conference championship game broadcast was clear from start to finish.

Sampsell comments on TV and radio for the Mirror. He can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

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