Reid’s void anything but secondary

Some random thoughts while welcoming spring:

n The loss of Penn State cornerback John Reid to a knee injury that could possibly sideline him for the entire season cannot be underestimated given that Reid was the Nittany Lions’ best pass defender last season and by far their top punt returner. As giddy as everyone was about PSU’s unexpected rise last year, the Nits were still lit up for 30-plus points in three of their last five games, along with the early torchings at Pitt and Michigan.

n College Football Hall of Fame coach Wayne Hardin died suddenly this past week at the age of 91. Despite significantly less talent, Hardin matched up well against Joe Paterno’s teams, losing twice by one point (1975 and ’76) and by just a field goal to the 1978 team, which played for the national championship. Hardin went 80-50-3 in 13 years at Temple and 38-22-2 with five winning seasons in six years at Navy. A coaching giant, indeed.

n Regretfully, I’ve only been to one Penn State hockey game since the Pegula Ice Arena opened, and that was a couple of years ago, but I left there with one impression: With this shrine-like facility, PSU will win a national title someday. The Lions came close this year in falling one step short of the Frozen Four.

n Bellwood-Antis girls basketball coach Jim Swaney told a cool story of three male late-60ish fans attending the Lady Blue Devils’ PIAA playoff game at Hempfield. The trio approached Swaney before the game and asked to meet Karson Swogger. Turns out they played for John Swogger, Karson’s grandfather, during his glory days at Mercer.

n During the NCAA version of March Madness, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall offered an interesting tibdit. Per the CBS broadcasters, Marshall admitted during the first TV timeout, “I forgot to tell you (players) to breathe.” You’d think this advice is a given, but it’s not and works wonders.

n Mike Iuzzolino traveled to Verona last week to become the first player in that Italian club’s history to have his number retired. The impressive 13-minute ceremony can be viewed on youtube. Maybe Saint Francis will eventually get around to it, along with Joe Anderson.

n Though Cleveland is not the top seed, anything other than a Cavaliers-Golden State matchup in the NBA Finals will be stunning.

n They don’t do it often, in part because they draw so well on Saturday nights, but the Curve have a rare Saturday afternoon game today. Good call on Easter weekend.

n None other than Hollidaysburg’s Byron Lasser, wintering in Florida, served as a volunteer marshal at a PGA Seniors event in Boca Raton. Seeing Greensburg native Rocco Mediate working on the practice range, Lasser engaged, “You’ve come a long way since Park Hills.” Mediate picked up the banter, saying, “I won that tournament three times, and that No. 10 is (still) the hardest Par 3 I’ve played.”

n It’s safe to say the combination of love, respect and success attained by Steeler owners Art Rooney (the Chief) and Dan Rooney is unmatched by a father-son combination in sports history. Condolences to these Pennsylvania giants, including Ebensburg’s Kimball family, whose daughter, Greta, is married to Art Rooney II.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoonamirror.com. You can also follow him on Twitter@neilrudel.

COMMENTS