Neil Rudel

John Mehno always delivered the right touch

When the chapter on the best and longest tenured sportswriters in Pittsburgh sports history over the last 50 years is someday authored, the names of Bob Smizik, Ron Cook, Gene Collier and Ed Bouchette will surely be mentioned. One name who won’t be on that list but deserves an honorable ...

Flying above Altoona, football openings

Longtime followers of this column realize I’ve been fortunate to have access to the Mirror helicopter to assist in the most important of stories. Like when Altoona Area High School is searching — OK, again searching — for a new head football coach. Oh, there have been some other ...

Rudel: Baron savors SFU days, coaching ride

TYRONE — Jim Baron made a trip back in time over the weekend. Some 32 years ago, Baron arrived at Saint Francis to coach the men’s basketball team. One of his friends then was Harry Sickler, longtime Tyrone pillar and passionate Notre Dame alumnus who got to know Baron when he was on ...

At crunch time, Lions must be a lot better

Boy, talk about a smorgasbord of potential choices. Rather than an individual position group (receivers, special teams, offensive line), I’m going with the Nittany Lions’ consistent inability to function in the clutch. Body of work, the defense performed admirably since its opening-game ...

Near-comeback caps McSorley’s career

ORLANDO, Fla. — Trace McSorley’s career ended like it began — in a Florida bowl game, against an SEC opponent, attempting to rally the Nittany Lions from a three-score deficit. In the end, as Penn State lost to Georgia 24-17 three years ago in the TaxSlayer Bowl, the Lions could not ...

Barbour extension a good thing

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s been a relatively quiet lead-up to today’s Citrus Bowl, so it was a perfect time for Penn State to spring some off-the-field news. Sandy Barbour, PSU’s athletic director for the past five years, confirmed Monday morning that she will soon sign a new contract, ...

Scott’s leadership stands out

Nick Scott came to Penn State with designs on being a running back and kickoff returner. In fact, after redshirting in 2014, he showed some impressive versatility in 2015 as a redshirt freshman, averaging 4.4 yards on 30 carries, catching four passes and even completing a couple, including a ...

Bowl spirit buoyed; 10-win year alive

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State got more than just a W on Saturday. In blowing out Maryland, 38-3, the Nittany Lions accomplished several things that will carry them for the next five weeks. They sent their seniors, particularly quarterback Trace McSorley, out with a deserved curtain call. ...

PSU’s McSorley leaves a legacy like no other

As a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt in 2014, Trace McSorley remembers a phone call from James Franklin to inform that the coach was headed to Penn State. McSorley felt like he had been punched in the gut. “I was probably a little short (on the phone) because I was upset with how ...

Junior tailback growing into Nittany Lion leader

UNIVERSITY PARK — As C.J. Thorpe, a defensive lineman from Pittsburgh, picked up a kickoff and started rumbling with it Saturday afternoon, Miles Sanders cheered on his good buddy. But Thorpe fumbled, denying himself a SportsCenter highlight, and when he got to the sideline, Sanders ...

Housed: Michigan has way with Lions

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Big House is too big for Penn State. For the second time in three years, the Nittany Lions laid an egg against the Wolverines, losing 42-7, before 111,747 Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Two years ago, the 49-10 loss was early in the third season of James Franklin’s ...

Staff’s growing pains show

For better or worse over its long history, but mostly for the better, Penn State football has been spoiled by the stability of its coaching staff. Even with Bill O’Brien’s two years, Penn State has only had four head coaches in the last 68 years. Of course, Joe Paterno’s 46-year ...

PSU well positioned for future contention

The Wolverines look like they have the inside track to the College Football Playoff, at least this year, but I’ll go out on a limb and say Penn State will get to the CFP first. Penn State is not a final four candidate this year, having squandered that opportunity by dropping consecutive ...

This year’s team can use some old-school methods

I feel like this is a loaded question, but I’ll take an old school argument — surprise, surprise — for the good of the order. Do I long for the days of Woody and Joe locked in a battle of 17-9 or 12-7 (both Ohio State victories, 1975-76) or even a Penn State offensive breakout of 19-0 ...

Opponent helps Lions get well

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Somebody brought up the last-minute onside kick that Penn State didn’t recover, and Nick Scott smiled. “I decided to make it a little more interesting,” the Nittany Lions’ senior safety said after Penn State, despite giving Indiana an extra breath with 49 seconds ...

Lions need veteran WRs to respond

Some nitpicking as the Nittany Lions attempt to avoid a three-game losing streak: Much of this week’s discussion centered around Penn State’s veteran receivers, and while there’s no doubt that the combination of Juwan Johnson, Brandon Polk and DeAndre Thompkins have been a collective ...

Setback, performance leave McSorley ‘­empty’

UNIVERSITY PARK — Trace McSorley became Penn State’s all-time leading passer in the first quarter Saturday, breaking Christian Hackenberg’s record of 8,457 yards, and when the feat was announced to the Beaver Stadium crowd, McSorley drew an immediate standing ovation. Three hours later, ...

Frustration shifts blame to Franklin

UNIVERSITY PARK — The road to the Big Ten championship and the College Football Playoff still runs through Columbus. Penn State found that out painfully Saturday night. And nobody felt the pain more than James Franklin, who was hoarse and animated afterward and challenged his program — ...

Lions’ talent masking their youth, mistakes

UNIVERSITY PARK — Only a true Penn State nitpicker would witness a 53-point victory and come away somewhat unimpressed. So be it. Yes, the Nittany Lions demolished Kent State, 63-10, on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium. Yes, they are 3-0 heading into their Big Ten opener at Illinois ...

Panthers collapse on their own stage

PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi entered the final scheduled home game between these two old Eastern foes making no bones about the fact that the Penn State rivalry has extra meaning to his program. Maybe, in fact, it means too much. Pitt rolled out the most decorated of its incredibly ...