Episode 92: How Does New Big Ten Schedule Affect Penn State Football?

In this episode, we discuss how the Big Ten football scheduling changes will affect Penn State. Should Penn State have a protected matchup within the Big Ten? We also discuss football recruiting updates, NBA Draft prospects, and Track & Field All-Americans. WE ARE!

Timestamps

00:09:44 Advantages and disadvantages in Big Ten football scheduling.

00:13:25 Big Ten criteria for protected matchups, excited for USC game.

00:21:53 USC’s football schedule, some considerations discussed.

00:25:14 Incoming QB Ethan Grunkemeyer excels at Elite 11 competition.

00:32:52 4-star receiver Tyseer Denmark commits to Penn State, other recruiting updates.

00:41:29 Penn State launches new NIL collective: Happy Valley United.

00:49:46 Big Ten players projected to go in NBA Draft.

00:59:33 New basketball transfer portal commitment from UNC.

01:08:27 Penn State track and field excels at NCAA championships.

Transcript

Andrew Burd [00:00:00]:

What’s up, Penn State fans? Welcome back to the Nittany Blues podcast. Glad to have you all here with us. We missed last week’s episode due to some scheduling conflicts, some things in life got in the way, but we are back. So, Vince, good to see you, man. Haven’t seen you a couple weeks. How you’ve been?

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Vince Fadale [00:00:14]:

Doing good and a a lot better that the air quality is better.

Andrew Burd [00:00:18]:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s for sure. Yeah. Now that the smoke has cleared out, we can finally all go back outside with confidence. And go enjoy all the things that we love. So speaking of which, how did you enjoy

Vince Fadale [00:00:29]:

your race in New Jersey? that you had recently. It was really good. It was a great time. So if you’re if you didn’t hop hop on the pod last week, Do an escape to Cape triathlon. That’s down in Capemanian Jersey. And the cool thing about that race is you get to jump off the the Capemai, Louis Ferry. And it’s kinda like an escape from Alcatraz vibe where you get to actually jump off the boat. You do your swim, bike, and run. And I’m not in the best swim fitness, but the current was at my back, so that was really helpful. I I like PR’d in the my milestone. I like 10 minutes or something just because the the current is at my back even though I wasn’t swimming particularly well. And then pretty much tied my fastest mile per hour on the bike at twenty three miles an hour. And then we did a five mile run, and the course is different than previous year. So in the previous years, you’d run, like, on these sand sections, but this was, like, half of the run half of the five mile run was on sand. So that was a a pretty difficult challenge, but I had the fastest run split of the day. And that was good enough to run me up into 2nd place. So — Nice. — just like all of our favorite Philly sports teams, second seems to be the theme for me in life this year. Yeah.

Andrew Burd [00:01:48]:

Hey. You know, the silver medal is still pretty good. Little side note slash question, is that race also where your host bio picture on the website comes from you jumping off that boat.

Vince Fadale [00:02:03]:

Yes. That was the picture, and that was a really cool story. So it was a that that would that year or that day was a crazy morning because there was fog, so we couldn’t start the race on time because, like, the lifeguards wouldn’t be able to see swimmers in the water. So eventually, we had to do a shortened swim. I I think we talked about this last week, and the race director just, like, I was standing there ready to go because I wanted to be I was trying to, like, race. I wanted to be in, like, the first couple people to go. So I was kinda, you know, up towards there. I’ve been waiting a while, and the race director just points at me. He’s like, you. You’re jumping off the boat first. Wow. And, typically, like, they have a role that there’s, like, no doing, like, diving or flips, but, like, whoever gets picked first always — — whatever the hell they want. Yeah. They they they just end up doing that. And, like, it was wild because, like, I say, thought I was gonna be jumping off with other people. Like, I thought we were going 5 at a time because that’s what they said at the race meeting. And they did the countdown, then everyone’s like, go. Sorry. I, like, sprint it as fast as I can. Like, I’m in, like, a James Bond movie. I just sprint and just jump as far as I can off the boat. That way, I’ve just won slightly less distance. Oh, very smart. It was but, yeah, I felt like James Bond just, like, running off an exploding boat or something and, like — Yeah. It was definitely way scarier when I was running and jumping because, like, I did it. And I felt like I was in the air forever, like — Yeah. — 20 seconds. Like, I was like, in slow motion. And then, like, this time I I jumped off, like, with the group, and I was like, I felt like I wasn’t in the air for, like, 3 seconds. which is, like, probably more accurate for for jumping 12 feet. So it didn’t feel like so as crazy as before, but you know, overall, really cool experience. I’m never gonna get a better profile picture of my life. That will be my Facebook profile. It just I’ve accepted at this point in life I’m not gonna get better on. And and if I do, like, I I love to be rude and wrong, I’ll say that several times, but I I don’t think it’s happening.

Andrew Burd [00:04:05]:

Yeah. That’s fair. No. It’s a kick ass picture and even better story. So no. I’m glad to hear it. Sounds like you had fun, though, and your lungs survived, which was the most important thing. So — Yeah. You know, I think we can count count some small victories and all aspects of that. But You know, in these 2 weeks since we’ve last recorded, there’s been a lot of stuff that’s happened in the world of Penn State Athletics both in football, basketball, and also some other sports. Obviously, your beloved track and field and all that. So we got a lot to get into here. What do you wanna start with first?

Vince Fadale [00:04:42]:

I think we have to talk about this football schedule because this football schedule is is wild. It seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to to anything, so I think we gotta die down into this first.

Andrew Burd [00:04:53]:

Cool. Yeah. So just you know, in case you’ve been living under a rock as a Wednesday football fan, so The big news out of the Big Ten in the last couple of weeks was that as of the 2024 season, the Big Ten Conference is gonna be doing away with divisions, with the official edition of USC and UCLA to the conference instead opting to have the 2 best teams meet up for the big 10 championship game at the end of the regular season. And so this is pretty momentous for Penn State in a couple of different ways. Number 1, obviously, is that Penn State is not gonna be facing the juggernaut of Ohio State in Michigan every season. So that’s pretty big. Another thing is obviously, the options and those opportunities to go out west to play those schools like USC And UCLA, with higher frequency than, you know, if USC and UCLA were put into, let’s say, the west conference and and say would have to wait for kind of the off year with a crossover game to potentially go out to LA. So I think that’s some exciting opportunities for the players So I think that’s it’s it’s good for Penn State, but I also think it’s good for the big 10 because, you know, the Big Ten East has run the conference for the large handful of the past, you know, past several years now with either Ohio State or Michigan taking the conference title with Penn State sneaking in there, of course, in 2016. So I think this is a good move for the conference, especially now that they’re gonna be adding a couple of really storied programs here. They’re not gonna be reliant on the west to kind of, like, produce a worthy contender to all this. And, obviously, there’s some, like, deeper levels to this, which we’re gonna get into with, you know, things like protected matchups, but what are your thoughts on it?

Vince Fadale [00:06:49]:

I I do think it’s good just because the Big Ten West seems to get a a free ticket. It it seems to be a different team every single year, and I feel like the big time east, it’s a, you know, really difficult to get there. And you just see 3 big 10 East teams every single year. All three of them are better. than the, you know, teams in the Big Ten west. Sometimes even Michigan State, you can lump into that category as well. So, really, It is gonna be good to have some new matchups. However, I do think it is going to be a negative because in the Big Ten East, there are so many good rivalries that we will no longer or have and look forward to every single year.

Andrew Burd [00:07:30]:

Yeah. Great notes. And I think that you make some interesting points there with the lack of rivalry games because that’s another part of this conversation, which has Ninety Nation kind of been a lot of discourse recently about this idea of these protected matchups. And more so the fact, the Penn State is the only team in the Big Ten, which doesn’t have one under this new format. So another angle to all this is that the big 10 released a list of what they’re calling these protected games or these protected matchups against different teams So even though these divisions are gonna be dissolved, these games are always going to remain. A couple being obviously, the game between Ohio State and Michigan. They’re preserving USC against UCLA, which is a a yearly rivalry game. between those 2 schools. Minnesota and Wisconsin to name another. You know, there’s a couple of different 1 Michigan and Michigan State. Like, there’s a couple of those different games floating out there. But what’s interesting, though, is in the conference, Penn State is the only team to not have a protected matchup, which you can look at it a couple different ways. Maybe you you see it as kind of like a slap on the wrist that the Big Ten doesn’t feel like Penstate serves to have a protected matchup. You could also look at it as like a, you know, hey. Like, whatever. We’ll play whoever comes our way. and we’ll kind of in crawl and claw our way to the Big Ten championship game that way. I I guess I’m I’m kind of in the middle, but all just kind of in the state of, like, being perplexed because when you look at all the games, it’s, like, The powers that be didn’t think that Penn state versus Ohio state was worthy of being a protective matchup, but they thought Maryland and Rutgers was Like, I you know, I’m not gonna sit here and say that, like, we are Ohio State’s rival, like, anywhere near to the point of Michigan because that would folly to even say that. But I think we can at least hold a candle to the rivalry aspect with Ohio State closer than Maryland and Rutgers. So I don’t know if I if I’m crazy on that front. So, I mean, I guess I would say I’m kind of in the boat of, like, I don’t really care in the grand scheme of things. I was just kinda it’s just kind of weird that, like, we’re the only team that doesn’t have. 1.

Vince Fadale [00:09:44]:

Yeah. I I found that really bizarre too. And the thing I found more bizarre, not just like some teams had won, but you know, you have Iowa over here with 3 protected matchups. Like — Mhmm. — Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, which Those programs are those are 3 programs that aren’t at the top. Now I don’t think they’re the worst programs. Like, Nebraska’s been kinda down there in Minnesota and Wisconsin have been solid at times, but, you know, those are three games where they get to avoid the Ohio states. Those are three games where they get to avoid Michigan and USC. And I think that’s kinda a little bit of an unfair competitive advantage. And now Does that mean they’re gonna get a trip to the Big Ten championship game? No. You know, they still have to win win their games. You still have to play who’s on on your schedule, but You know, I do think it’s it is kind of unfair that, you know, some, like, Maryland get I I mean, Maryland gets to play Rutgers every single year. Like, that’s an easy win. So it is kind of annoying from that standpoint, but but at the same time, I I think it is bizarre that you don’t see, like, Penn State in Michigan State with the Land Grant trophy that’s Penn State’s only trophy game. Right. That they have. So that’s kind of bizarre. And Michigan State is one of those teams who even though they most of the time, they seem to be less talented than us. They still find a way to beat us, and — It’s always good to happen. Yeah. It’s always a good game. And You know, East Lansing, there’s some voodoo magic around that field. And that’s why I’m so happy that they’re, you know, they’re playing in Detroit, and I think that should be their game every year. I think it’d be really cool for them to be at Fordfield every other year and then in Beaver Stadium, the the other half of the times when Penn State gets to host. So I think that’s really cool and really surprising me that that wasn’t up there. And, you know, you could argue other matchups for a Penset. You could argue USC just because of, you know, the history of Rose Bowl. You could argue you know, Ohio State, you know, got geographic rivalry there. You could argue — Mhmm. — Rutgers just because of geography. Even that’s more of a — — just that. Yeah. I mean, like, they’re not a rival to us, but to them, we are. So — Yeah. And it’s like, geographically, it’s like if you’re if you’re gonna try to, like, create these these rivalry games

Andrew Burd [00:12:11]:

in the like, in these glass cases of these protected matchups. Why not try to manufacture that between Penn State and Rutgers. Like, why like, why is that a bad option? Yeah. And I was really surprised out of this past season when we didn’t play Iowa because Iowa seemed to be the one team

Vince Fadale [00:12:27]:

from the Big Ten West that we seem to play every single year. And I kinda like that idea of the rivalry developing. Mhmm. Got that crazy, Joanne Johnson, Catch in the end zone with Time expiring. You know, Kinnik is crazy at night just like Beaver Stadium, and I think that that White House’s gonna be a really awesome experience. So but so, like, it is it is weird. It’s just very weird to see Some teams have 3, some teams have 1, 2, and then pen state. I mean, I guess, we’re getting what we asked for when we call call our unrivaled, but, you know, it is kinda bizarre that they didn’t make us, like, pick arrival or even if we wanted 1, they didn’t allow us to. I am curious which side which way it was. Did Penn State not want a protected rival or did the big 10 say, nope. These are our rivalry games. This is it. I I would like to know what’s behind that. Yeah. I know. And, unfortunately, it’s likely a situation that will never

Andrew Burd [00:13:25]:

fully know, like, what the dealings were behind that. I just you know, it it’s like at the end of the day, it’s like if Penn State didn’t meet the criteria for, you know, whatever they’re looking for, fine. But it’s like show me that criteria between Maryland and Rutgers. That that’s my only thing. You know? It’s just like if if you’re not gonna put us on the same level as Michigan, Ohio State, fine. Completely fair. But there’s a lot of other teams and a lot of these other protected matchups out there that kinda have me, like, scratching my head a little bit. But I digress. So, you know, obviously, still we’ve got some exciting matchups coming up here in the next couple of years. We got confirmation that. We’re gonna have USC coming to Beaver Stadium in 2024, and I think everybody — Please be November. Yes. That’s one thing. We want it to be late in the season, we want a cold Beaver Stadium. I think number 2, we’d all love it for it to be at night because — Maybe now. Yeah. You know, god willing. And then number 3, make it the white out. Like, it’s like you, you know, you welcome to the big tent. like, we’ll show you the very best, like, that you’re gonna get in this new conference of yours. Like, come come enjoy. But I think that would be awesome too. Like, you know, from, like, a fan perspective as well because it’s like when we had Rutgers or not Rutgers. Auburn fans coming to the White out a couple years ago and then them, you know, kind of saying like, wow. This is, like, really cool. Like, it’s a little different from what we experience in the SEC, but this is, like, just mind blowing and stuff. I think the same will be true for a lot of guys out there because, I mean, they obviously got, like, a a rich history of, you know, stretches of dominance in the in the pack 12 and stuff. So I think seeing that as, like, their introduction into, like, what the big ten could truly be for them, I think would just be something really cool and really unique. So I think that, you know, in my opinion, I think that the powers that be Pencee probably already have that game circled as the whiteout. Doesn’t matter when it is in the season. They’ve just decided, like, this is gonna be it, like, period.

Vince Fadale [00:15:28]:

Yeah. It has to be, especially with all the the bad blood there there is between USC and, you know, us losing that rose bowl with the Trais and Shaquon and you know, Sam Darville. — before that. Yeah. Yeah. Mark Sanchez. So it’s it’s a it I I think that that’s gonna be good rivalry. They they did play Penn State was not in the big tent early years, so they do have a little bit of a a rivalry there as well. But so Do you have any final thoughts before I I wrote down what I think would be a better Big Ten schedule than what the Big Ten created, and I did this in about 5 minutes.

Andrew Burd [00:16:02]:

No. I don’t think I do. I’m excited to hear your thoughts here.

Vince Fadale [00:16:06]:

Okay. So what I did for my schedule, this is off the assumption that there’s going to be 9 big ten games. So what I did is I gave 3 teams for all all every team in the big 10. I gave every single team 3 protected matchups. Okay. Okay. So then the the remaining 12 teams, you would play 6 teams 1 year, 6 teams the next year. you’d alternate home and away. So it’d kinda be like the NFL where, like, every 4 years the schedule kinda repeats itself. Yeah. So — Okay. So this is what I have for every team’s first protected matchup, and you can let me know if I if I missed something or made a wrong here. Okay. Alright. So first, I have the game. So I got Ohio State in Michigan. No one’s gonna argue with me there. Mhmm. I’ve u USC UCLA, I’ve Indiana Purdue. They’re big rivals. I got the Land of Lincoln game, Northwestern, Illinois. Maryland and Rutgers are 2 mid Atlantic teams who are very new to the big 10. So I left them to be together. I got Minnesota, Wisconsin, the battle of Paul Bunyan’s Axe. I have Iowa and Nebraska. They have a rivalry game. I think it’s, like, the the heroes game or the heroes cup or something like that. Right. And then last, I got Penn State, Michigan State for Delang Grant Trophy. How does that first round of teams sound with a protecting matchup?

Andrew Burd [00:17:28]:

Good and logical.

Vince Fadale [00:17:30]:

So these are all pretty much rivalries that they already have. So it really baffles me that the The minds of the big tent couldn’t put this together. It took me about, like, 30 seconds to just go through all the teams. I know. Okay. Now here’s my second rival. So this is the 2nd protected game for all the teams. I have Michigan Michigan State, Big In State Rivalry, Yep. I have Minnesota, northwestern. So you got kinda Chicago, Minneapolis, 2 Midwestern cities battling it out. I have Illinois, Wisconsin. Both of those are kind of kind of the same vibe. Wisconsin has, like, a little cavalry with Illinois in the Midwest. I have Rutgers, Indiana just because those are 2 more basketball schools. I have Iowa perdue. So you have Iowa with all of crazy things that happen in Kinic. You have perdue with, you know, the craziness of them, like, upsetting Ohio State. So you got the spoiler makers. You got Kinic. You got that rivalry going on. I think that could be a good one. I have Nebraska, Maryland. They’re both relatively new teams. I have Penn State and USC. as my second protected rivalry game. And then I have Ohio State And UCLA. I think that could be good. Ohio State lost to Oregon, which is a pack 12 team a couple years ago when CJ Stroud was a freshman. So I think that’s another potentially good match If we get a West Coast team, Ohio State gets a West Coast team. What are your thoughts around too?

Andrew Burd [00:19:05]:

So if if I had a guess, you’re gonna say, Penn State, Ohio State in round 3, which if that’s the case, then the thing I’m about to say is is kinda moot. But I would I would kinda say that you know, Penn State, Ohio State. Like, even though the record is is pretty lopsided in Ohio State’s favor, I would still put it as, like, the number 2. But I do like your your thinking though, like, with Penn State USC. Like, there’s an interesting angle there that hasn’t been fully explored, like, from a rivalry aspect because we just don’t play them as often. But, you know, we played them enough, like, where there’s some history to kind of build that narrative, build that storyline. So I’m not gonna fight you too much on it. Yeah. So I feel like I feel like it’s one of those games where

Vince Fadale [00:19:49]:

they don’t play much, but when they do, it’s, like, it’s on. It’s — Exactly. Yeah. — always a competitive game and you know, so I think that that’s that’s why garnered the number 2 spot. Yep. Alright. And here here’s my last protected one. I got Penn State, Ohio State. So I don’t think you’re gonna argue with me too much on that one. I got Michigan, Minnesota. the the little brown jug games. That’s a rivalry game. I have Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers Purdue, both basketball schools again. I have Maryland, Indiana. Again, kind of the basketball schools, kinda go and add it in football. And this one, I think, could be really fun. UCLA and and state. They’re both more known for their basketball program, but they’re both, like, pretty solid at football. So I think that could be kind of a arrived early that kind of flourishes throughout the years. I have Iowa USC. USC getting the clinic experience. I think would be really cool. And then I have a northwestern Wisconsin. Again, Wisconsin has, like, a little rivalry with, like, Illinois and and things of that nature. So that’s why what I did. So did I mix anything up, any of the big 10 West OR East that you think should be different, or did I do a good job here? No. I think you did a pretty good job. I think the

Andrew Burd [00:21:05]:

the one that might be up for debate if you kind of threw this out to the masses might be having USC versus Michigan as that 3rd protected matchup just because I think there is enough, like, history between Penn State and Michigan to kind of warrant that, you know, dating all the way back to, like, the famous drive of 1994 when Carrie Collins led them against the led them to victory against the number 5, Wolverine’s in the big in the big house and stuff like that. Like, there’s, like, certain storylines like that that I think you can draw upon. However, I think, you know, it’s probably gonna be a 5050 split of, like, people being like, no. We have to play Michigan or, like, 50% of people being like, no. You know, like, let’s explore, like, this new thing that we can, you know, kinda build upon. So, you know, I think that’s that’s, like, the only coin flip, but I think you nailed the rest.

Vince Fadale [00:21:53]:

Okay. Yeah. And To make that work, we would have to move Iowa up to Minnesota. That would actually work with how I have it lined up. And then you could have Michigan USC But then I feel like UCLA definitely gets a tough schedule with us, Michigan, and UCLA every single year, but It’s USC. I don’t feel too. I wouldn’t feel too bad for them. But — Yeah. — I did I did put Michigan, Minnesota just because they do have a trophy So I did that — That is true. — warranted. And then I think Iowa was a big opponent for USC that I think would be a a cool matchup because, like, USC has their matchup with Notre Dame every year. That that’s another big game in college football that they have. So that’s kind of the the vibes I was going for for USC. I think you could maybe try to fit, you know, Michigan in there with Penn State. I think you could look at Iowa just because of all the good games we’ve had Iowa over the years even in basketball when I watch some play. Seems like they go to overtime or it’s only a couple points. Basketball’s always exciting between Penstate and Iowa. And then, you know, just for geography, you could argue Maryland and Rutgers for us as well. But, again, you know, for us, we’re at the they’re at the very bottom of our totem pole in terms of rivals. I know for them, we’re we’re at the, you know, very top as you you know, hear their fan bases, you know, channing f Penn State and, you know, all this crazy thing that crazy things that they do. But, you know, that’s what they do. We we don’t really care about them too much. We we take care of our business and have bigger fish to fry. So that is my schedule. That took me took me maybe 5 minutes to make up, and I found every single team 3 protected opponents without repeating. So — Yeah. — kind of odd that the you know, all the best minds of the big 10 couldn’t do that on it. It took me 5 minutes. Yeah.

Andrew Burd [00:23:46]:

Yeah. You know, I like I said, I I don’t think we’ll ever know the full picture of how those decisions took place. I think that your schedule makes a ton of logical sense. So, you know, we’d have to, like, compare notes with the new commission or the big den or whoever was in that room to discuss and be like, listen. Like, what the heck? So this this it kind of, like, brings me flashbacks of when Penn State first or when the Big Ten first started rolling out divisions with, like, the Leaders And Legends division. Like, there just didn’t seem to be much, like, rhyme or reason behind those divisions. They just kind of were created out of thin air. Like, this this kinda has, like, a similar feel to that, but regardless. So Obviously, there’s gonna be a lot of intrigue in 2024, not only because of the new teams joining the Big Ten, but also because of this massive shift in the scheduling. So We’ll be looking forward to seeing how the 2024 season shakes out. When we’re gonna see USC coming to Beaver Stadium, there’s gonna be a lot of interested people to see when that’s gonna and I’m sure that the town of State College is gonna be eagerly awaiting that date as well just to see their the money that the town is gonna receive just go through the freaking roof.

Vince Fadale [00:25:06]:

Do you know how to hotel prices are gonna be insane. Yeah. Like, probably more expensive than the game tickets.

Andrew Burd [00:25:14]:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Easily. Yeah. So I think that this this is gonna be it’s gonna be a landmark year for sure. So it’s gonna be interesting to see how that plays out because that’s also gonna be, like, year 2 of Drew Hour behind the helm, very experienced duo of great running backs, Just a whole slew of talent everywhere that you look. So it’ll be very interesting because I think that we’re gonna be welcoming USC when we’re just about as good as we possibly could be. So I think there is that aspect of it as But got anything else on this, or do you wanna talk about some high school quarterback news that I got for you? Oh, I I heard some good things about Mister Grunkemeier. Yes, sir. Yeah. So the new Incoming QB, Ethan Gronkmeier of this next upcoming recruiting class after the addition of Jackson Smolik following, of course, Bopebula and Drew Hour. Ethan made it to the finals of the elite 11 competition, which if you’re unfamiliar is kind of the premier high school quarterback competition in the country. It’s by invitation. You have to be kind of brought in, and there’s different rounds that you have to go through and perform at these different camps to then be selected for the next round. And the reason why this is kinda significant is because, basically, any kind of household name quarterback that you’ve seen in college football over the past, we’ll say, like, 10 years has been represented in this competition. So you go back to, like, Bryce Young, elite 11. You go to I’m pretty sure, like, Anthony Richardson went to elite 11. Christian Hackenberg, you know, if we go back to Penn State, elite 11. Like, there’s there’s so many names out there that I that I can’t even remember. I mean, it’s like Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, CJ Stroud. Like, all the any big name quarterback that you can think of has competed in this competition, and, basically, we’re all locked to make the final roster. And that is, like, the final 11 quarterbacks that they deem to be kind of the, quote unquote, best of the high school quarterbacks in the And what’s really significant about this past competition is that Ethan Grenkemeyer made the final roster of quarterbacks in this most recent competition. So that’s awesome just for him on a personal level. He was competing with the best of the best in the country including quarterbacks like Dylan Riola, who’s committed to Georgia, Julian San, who’s committed to Alabama, and Aaron Nolan, who’s committed to Ohio dates. So, I mean, these are the premier program incoming quarterbacks that he’s, like, just going toe to toe with. So that was really huge. obviously falls in the footsteps of Drew Hour, who was named to the finals Ross or to the final roster in the 2021 version of the competition. So there’s a Penn seats building kind of a legacy of these quarterbacks coming in who just have these who’s just shown to have the right stuff in high school. And what’s kind of a little interesting too there as well with, like, the connection between Grunkemeier and Oler is that they both work under the same quarterback coach. So the same guru who took Drew Hour and made him a 5 star quarterback is also working with Grunkemeier. there’s a lot of people out there saying that so right now, Gronker Myers listed as kind of a a unanimous, like, 3 star recruit. They’re saying it’s only a matter of time before he come becomes a 4 star guy. Like, that’s the kind of improvements that he’s making. So it’s almost like an hour, like, trajectory that he’s following here. So that should just get PennSafe fans excited. You know, we want our guys to do well for themselves and to represent, you know, not only their abilities, but also kind of what they’re gonna bring to the table on the field for Penn’s date. So this is just pretty cool on multiple levels. What do you think?

Vince Fadale [00:29:17]:

I think it’s awesome. It it’s making me think of that Dennis Reynolds quote from that one. It’s always sunny episode, and he’s like, I’m a 5 star man. I’m like — Yeah. Yeah. He is a 5 star man. Like, we we gotta give Ethan Grekemeyer, you know, his credit as well as the you know, the Penn State coaching staff for almost finding this diamond in the rough and — Again. Yeah. — really getting it right. And Right now, he’s only a, you know, a 3 star recruit. And I think I saw a graphic that was ranking, you know, the top 11 quarterbacks, and you had Grenkemeyer number 1 at the top for Penn State. Then you have, like, Georgia and Ohio State quarterbacks, you know, just right behind them. So I thought that was really cool that he he was the guy out of everyone. The 3 star guy just outperformed everyone at this camp and earned the number one ranking. So to me, That was really cool. Really good job on coach Franklin and the coaching staff. And, you know, hopefully, NIL doesn’t, you know, mess up things, and then he goes somewhere else. Hopefully, he just stays the course and we see him in the blue and white, and maybe he’ll be, you know, the successor to Drew Aller. It’s kinda crazy to think. I mean,

Andrew Burd [00:30:25]:

I mean, we were talking a lot, you know, last season kind of about the lack of depth that we were likely looking at at the quarterback spot after Sean Clifford left, and then you had Christian Bayou leaving the program. So kinda left a little bit of a gap. Seems like that gap is filling rather quickly.

Vince Fadale [00:30:46]:

Yeah. And, you know, it comes down to recruiting and you know, that’s the reason Coach Franklin is the the head football coach and then any lines. He was brought here because he was a great recruiter, and you know, those dividends are paying off. So — Yeah. — kudos to him just for being able to recruit, but, you know, for the that scouting team for being able to find the talent. Absolutely. And I think

Andrew Burd [00:31:08]:

EuroStitch deserves a lot of props here as well because he’s been really instrumental with bringing in not only Alr, but also evaluating guys like Smolik and now Gronkemeyer to bring them to Happy Valley. I mean, you wanna talk about, like, diamonds in the rough? Like, these are two guys that fall that fall into that same category. So usage, I’m I’m expecting big things. you know, this this upcoming season. It’s like, you wanted your Ferrari. You got your Ferrari, man. Let’s

Vince Fadale [00:31:36]:

let’s see how it runs. Yeah. And I heard some really good things about your tits just because I I think he had early connections to Shippensburg University. Mhmm. And one of our friends went there. you know, he did football in in high school and did did track there. And his roommate one of his roommates was the quarterback, and he was trying to get into the NFL. So really talented. He was like, Mike, your chitch, is like the smartest guy. Like, he’s so smart. So that’s really the you know, through my, you know, 6 degrees of separation, that’s the only thing I’ve heard about them. And — Yeah. — I I think I you know, I think I think it’s fact and not fiction. I I think this one’s a fact. You see him bringing good quarterbacks to doing good things. So, you know, all the credit to him and I think he’s one of those guys kinda like Manny Diaz where we in a, you know, Juwan Cider where we have to be really doing everything we can to try to keep them in blue and white because other programs are gonna be coming for them very soon. Yeah. No doubt. We gotta be counting our lucky stars. So

Andrew Burd [00:32:37]:

Obviously, we will wanna, you know, kinda make the most of his time in Happy Valley, but, obviously, we’ll be happy for as long as he wants to stay. So you’re ready for some additional recruiting news?

Vince Fadale [00:32:50]:

Yeah. Give give it to me. What what’s not next?

Andrew Burd [00:32:52]:

So the latest thing that’s come through the pipeline actually happened earlier this evening, 4 star wide receiver, out of Roman Catholic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tyzier, Denmark, chose the Ninety lines as his next destination after high school He was a recent Oregon commit recently decommitted from the Ducks. There was a lot of expectations that he was going choose the Nittany Lions as his next team. So, obviously, those predictions came true, committed earlier this evening, and what’s really kind of cool about all this is, you know, not only does Penn State get another 4 star blue chip wide receiver to add to a very talented room and a and a room that’s getting even more competitive since Penstate has been so active in the transfer portal the last couple of years that position. This is really kind of the 1st domino with new wide receivers coach, Marcus Higgins. You know, we haven’t seen a ton of movement on the recruiting side of things as far as commitments from the receiving side. A lot of that probably being due to Higgins coming into this role after the conclusion of the season. Gonna get his feed under him, like, from a recruiting standpoint, all of the big name receivers out there likely had somewhat established relationships with big name receivers coaches around the country. So you you’ve got, like, your guys at Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, USC and Oregon all gonna be, like, grabbing those guys because of the kind of the clout that those programs bring. And the level of coaching that they provide. So I think this is just Penn State making a big stride in that direction to make sure they’re on that same level. So I think this is gonna be the first of a couple of wide receiving commitments to fall for Higgs So I’m just very excited to see what the near future holds because they’ve also been hosting a lot of recruits on official visits the past couple weeks, and The buzz is that Penn State’s kind of in the driver’s seat for a lot of them. So I think this is gonna be a big one that’s gonna be in, like, a series of new guys to kind of join the fray.

Vince Fadale [00:35:05]:

Yeah. I think this is something that’s really needed to you know, I think if you’re looking at weaknesses in terms roster or maybe maybe unproven is the better word. I think the wide receiver position is one you could look at. Mhmm. You know, there’s a lot of guys like Kaden Saunders, Mari Evans, you know, Dante Cifis, there gonna be a lot of new names. You know, Calgary Lambert Smith is kind of the the one guy who’s coming back that we know we know we know what he can do. Yep. But the tight end position, we’re kind of unsure of what we’re gonna get. We don’t know what how Theo Johnson situation’s gonna play out. So, you know, one way to kinda help with that is to get some good wide receivers. That way you can kinda, you know, spread out the field because we have so many fast guys that you have to be really concerned with the speed that they can bring to the field and the separation they can create. and, you know, have the threat for, you know, big play opportunity down the field. So I think that’s one thing that I’m really happy to see and I think can help this football team improve. Yeah. No doubt.

Andrew Burd [00:36:07]:

And, you know, the the receiving or the wide receiver is such a a premium position at any level of football. So the more guys that you can add to your group that can potentially be that star play maker that Penstate has looked for in the past couple of seasons and the likes of John Dodson and Parker, Washington, and a slew of other names like the better. So really happy about that. Some other commitment news that have happened recently Penn State, you know, kinda continuing that trend of 4 star blue chip guys. They secured a commitment from 4 star safety, and I hope I’m pronouncing his name correctly. And if I’m not, I apologize. You know, this is a guy who a lot of the scouts have been looking at being very versatile can come and play up if needed, can play different positions in the defensive backfield. So Penn State seemingly adding another dynamic playmaker in the defensive backfield gives me some kind of flashbacks to Jair Brown, which if we can add more Jair Browns to the Penn State roster, I’m certainly not gonna complain about that. So that’s that’s huge. Penstate did, however, lose the commitment from Florida, offensive linemen, Derek Plaz shortly after he announced his decision to commit. He hasn’t ruled. Penn stayed out as the option for his his college team kinda said in his announcement, his de commitment announcement, I guess I’ll call it, is that he seem he felt like he rushed his decision, whatever that means. So he’s gonna be opening things back up. But you know, these things are are difficult for a seventeen or sixteen year old in certain cases to kind of finalize exactly like what they’re gonna be doing for 4 years out outside of high school. So, you know, it’s whatever. It’s just the same. It’s you know, kind of the flow of high school recruiting into college nowadays, but Wednesday is still on the up and up. Yeah. And it is kinda bizarre just because

Vince Fadale [00:38:10]:

it’s like, you can take your time.

Andrew Burd [00:38:13]:

You don’t have to sign your NOI

Vince Fadale [00:38:15]:

till January, typically, that’s when I kinda got my offer in when I when I was doing Collegiate athletics in in high school. So I can sign commit I can sign the piece of paper until I think, you know, January. So, you know, there is there is no rush. I mean — Yeah. — you can verbally I mean, commit. But if you’re not sure, why why do that? And, you know — There’s gotta be, like, some

Andrew Burd [00:38:40]:

study out there or, like, somebody has to have asked this question somewhere along the way because it it just almost seems like now there’s, like, such a culture of, like, committing early because you know you have the option to, like, decommit. So it’s like almost like a weird, like, stepping stone in your recruiting journey where it’s like you almost wanna like, double down and know if you really wanna commit somewhere or if maybe, like, you’re able to kinda gauge the reaction to see if you wanna test the waters elsewhere. I don’t know because, I mean, obviously, I’m I’m I was not, like, a a recruited high school football player or you know, athlete in general, so I can’t say one way or the other. But it is just, like, strange, like because you’re 100% right where it’s, like, you have all this time. Like, if you wanna will do whittle down your schools and, like, really make sure them, like, go ahead. You know? There’s gonna be space for you wherever you wanna go. So it’s it’s just odd because it happens, like, with, you know, the the premier guys too. Like, all these, like, 5 star plus guys who, you know, are choosing between, like, Alabama, Georgia, and, like, Texas and Ohio State or whatever, like, they’re flipping their commitments on, like, the last day as well. You know? So it’s just it’s just kind of a weird like, era

Vince Fadale [00:39:52]:

of recruiting and commitments. Yeah. And that’s why kinda before we started this podcast, I’ve never been a big high school recruit guy because I’m like — Mhmm. they haven’t signed in a lie, so they can just change their mind whenever they want. And — Yeah. — I think it is kind of bizarre to seem do it with less than 2 weeks after committing just because I I can understand if you wanna commit early. That way, you know, you’re kinda almost guaranteed that scholarship spot and know, the coach isn’t gonna give to someone else because they can only, you know, have x amount of players at each position. So, like, I understand if you get a great offer from Penn State, you wanna take that spot. But also, like, part of me is speculating and be, like, being like, oh, what if he’s getting better NIL offers from another program or he thinks that That program’s NOI might be better even though he might like Penn State better. And yeah. I feel like it’s almost be almost becoming like a moneyball situation kinda like, you know, Major League Baseball where they don’t have a salary cap. And I think you’re gonna see the this is the new college football. It’s it’s not gonna be like the NFL where, you know, any team can be good. Like, the NFL is very fair because they salary caps. You can only you can’t keep all your best players, you know, drafting. You can draft a player. Whereas college is very different. You know, you you can gotta have as many 5 star guys as you want. So — Yeah. That that that’s where you know, I I think it’ll take a while if If teams wanna catch up, they can try, but I don’t see teams like, you know, Indiana records catching up anytime soon. Yeah. No. I think that’s that’s a great point.

Andrew Burd [00:41:29]:

But I also think that that’s a great segue to this next bit of news, and it it’s in regards to Penn State’s effort on the NIL front. So, obviously, there’s been a ton of discourse around Penn State and and NIL with kind of a renewed spotlight put on it with the departure of Michael Schrewsbury from the basketball program and Penn State seemingly lack of effort on that front being a huge determining factor in Shrewsbury leaving for the fighting Irish. And so very momentous news from the athletic department in the last couple weeks was the unveiling of the new combined NIL Collective for Penn State titled Happy Value United. And the way that they kinda describe themselves is as a a collective that is committed to growing Penn State’s presence in the NIL world, at least from, you know, their initial — description of themselves seems like there’s gonna be kind of a special emphasis on football, kind of like a, you know, kind of a small section of the collective that’s, like, dedicated to it, which, you know, it’s you can think of whatever you want about it, but at Penn State, football is the big moneymaker, so that’s gonna be that it’s always gonna be that way. But, you know, I think that this is this is good on a for a number of reasons. for Penn State to just kind of remain competitive in this new era of college athletics. And, also, it’s been very well received by the Penn State athlete community you know, with for obvious reasons. But also one thing that they all seem to be really jazzed about is the fact that this is gonna be kind of a way for them to connect with community. So not using NIL as a way to improve their own financial status, but also to, like, work in the community that they care so much about, kind of give back in, like, special ways that NIL is going to allow them to do so. So I think that’s pretty cool. You know, it’s gonna I think it’s gonna spawn a lot of really great things, a lot of really great, like, movements and charities and just things that these athletes care about. they’re gonna be able to make, like, an impactful change in the world that they really want to. So, you know, that’s a that’s a bit like a profound, I guess. But, you know, I mean, just huge news in general just as far as Penstate kind of making that leap into the next phase of what what a top tier athletic department looks like. What do you think?

Vince Fadale [00:43:56]:

Yeah. I think it’s great that they’re trying to do some things to benefit the community. I know Penn State, oftentimes, sometimes isn’t the most communally friendly. Like, I know we used to have a sprint triathlon, and it was an awesome race that we used to have, you know, on a, you know, Sunday in the summer. And They were just not letting us, you know, do this race even though, like, the YMCA was offering to, like, pay them our local YMCA to use it. So, like, as some being able to do something fun for me and then, like, not being able to do that thing that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. So it is nice to see Penstate doing more of these things to, like, give back to the community. So I think that’s really cool. And then, also, I I liked that I feel like this is gonna be, like, our new catchphrase and be, like, helping all thirty one sports. Like, I think that’s gonna be good for the the basketball program as well. Yep. So Really good to see that, you know, it’s gonna help out all the programs because, you know, the football money is always gonna be there. You know, Penn State has the best fans And if you’re looking at football fan bases, there’s not a really good football crap program in the entire Northeast or Mid Atlantic region. So geographically, you know, Penn State should dominate that an entire region. I’m sure we have a lot of fan. lot of big football fans in the Maryland area just because all the players we get from there in New Jersey, so on and so forth. So, you know, I I think that, you know, that’s the biggest strength in this NIL era is that Penn State has the largest alumni base, and I think, you know, the most passionate fan. So I think this this era is gonna benefit Penn State, and you’re gonna be see some, you know, big things happening at Penn State within the next Like, I think you’re gonna see us closing that gap to Ohio State on a more consistent basis.

Andrew Burd [00:45:54]:

Yeah. I I think you’re right because, I mean, all the pieces were there for Penn State to kind of not only maintain its relative, like, power level in college athletics overall, but to kind of, like, improve it standing in that regard. And I think it really just was gonna take a concerted and organized effort to create the foundation for that to kind of grow and become anything that it possibly could be. And it kinda sounds like this new collective is kind of fitting that mold. So I think that’s that’s a reason for all of us to be excited for the future of not only obviously our football program, but also are 31 other sports that all kick ass and, you know, their own unique ways. I mean, we we could talk all day about the accolades of of other sports. I mean, we we’re obviously gonna be singing the praises of a couple of other sports here in this very episode. So, you know, just to talk a little bit about how Penn State just dominates in a lot of other ways in their athletic endeavors. So just exciting news overall. So, Vince, that kinda wraps it up for football for me. You got anything else?

Vince Fadale [00:47:03]:

That’s everything on the football front for me, but I think we should talk some ball because there is some big basketball news. tomorrow night. So if you’re listening to the podcast, we record it on Wednesday. But if you’re listening now, The NBA draft is tonight, Thursday night, 8 PM, and Jaylen Pickett and Seth L1y both have an opportunity to be drafted, and this could be the first time in school history that Penn State has had 2 players drafted in the same draft. earlier when I was looking at mock drafts a few months ago. Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundi did not appear on on the mock drafts, which is really surprising to me. Just seeing the things they did in the basketball court this season, I could see them you know, having real MBA roles, and that’s something, you know, that surprised me in in these mock drafts. And then I was still still kind of surprised to see them getting drafted later, both in the second round Seth Lundy was projected to go number 41 overall with Jalen Pickett going at

Andrew Burd [00:48:13]:

45.

Vince Fadale [00:48:14]:

Andrew, what are your thoughts on Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundi? Do you think they will get drafted higher or lower?

Andrew Burd [00:48:25]:

I think that 4145 is around, like, where I think I would predict both those guys to go. I think that we kind of knew from the jump once the off season started that, like, both of those guys had NBA potential. Seth Lundy especially really kinda seems like he’s just molded for being a role player, being that three and d guy, especially with his size and with his athleticism and length, So it it really seemed that that really manifested itself in the off season with the scouting combine. Saw a ton of love for him. And I mean, like, pick it. You know, he’s just a guy that, like, as he gets more exposure, people just love him more and more, and that happened on the national stage as well. I mean, like, he became like, a meme slash sensation with bootyball. Everybody knew him going into the NCAA tournament and stuff like that. So he was continuing to get some love from those pro scouts some at the combine as well. So I think they both did themselves a huge favor in the off season performing as well as they did. We knew that they would, you know, because we know our guys So I’m I’m just really looking forward to both of those guys kinda coming in and just wrapping Penn State at the next level. I think that both of those guys are gonna find themselves a good opportunity.

Vince Fadale [00:49:46]:

Yeah. And I was kinda surprised this see some of some of the other guys up higher than them, especially in the big 10. Like, in the mocks I saw, I think they have, like, Kobe Buffkin going at, like, 13, and Jed Howard was up there in the first round. You know, Chris Murray from Iowa. So there’s a lot of, like, Jalen Hood Chaffino of both of them as well along with the Bryce Sensibaugh out of Ohio State. So that’s a lot of players in the big 10 that are projected to go ahead of them. So to me, I think I think they both have potential to go late first round, I I think they can get there. And I do have a a bold prediction, and I’ll I don’t know how bold it is now, you know, with someone else agreeing with me, but I do think about Seth Lundi will will get drafted over Jalen Pickett He is 2 years younger, I believe. So the like that he is younger, he’s on a he’s gonna be ready to win now. So he’ll be he’ll fit in really well with a, you know, a team that has some players who can create their own shots, and then you’ll have a you know, Seth Lundi. He’s a great catching shoot 3 point shooter, and he can even do a durable step back. So that’s really difficult to do. He’s really good at that. and along with that, he’s a really great defensive player. So he can defend a lot of different positions. So I I think he’s gonna be a really great role play player in the NBA, and I I that’s why I think I’ll give him the edge over Jaylen Pickett. But I do think Jaylen does have a good chance to go in the first round just based off his ability and what he can do. I think he’s not gonna benefit from being able to back down smaller guards. In the NBA, you know, everyone’s bigger, stronger, faster, and he’ll have to be a little bit more creative in scoring. But I I do think that he’s gonna have success. I think he can be a a good backup point guard. And and he’s he’s also another guy who I expect to be on a a win now team. When you look at mock drafts, a lot of these mock drafts have guys in, like, the the Ignite league and guys who are, like, eighteen, nineteen years old. And they’re going to these teams who aren’t very good. And part of that is because they’re not like the Philadelphia 70 where they wanna win now while Joel Embiid’s window is short. There there are teams that don’t have great star players, and they’re trying to build something over a long period of time. So That’s why I think you might see them go a little bit lower, but those are but in terms of talent, I I I think they’re both first round guys.

Andrew Burd [00:52:25]:

Yeah. I think those are some really solid points, and I I think really the way that I would sum up my thoughts on Lundy versus Pickett as NFL or excuse me, NFL. As NBA prospects is that Lundie seems to kinda be the guy that almost any team could find a role and a use for, whereas pick it kinda seems like, you know, an offense could be built around him. I mean, he’s versatile and athletic enough that he’ll fit whatever scheme you put him into, but we kind of know what he’s best at. in certain situations. So I think that he’s, like, more of like a like a higher ceiling kinda guy than Lundy. It would just kinda take, like, a specific circumstance for him to have that best success. So, you know, I think he’s gonna be successful wherever he goes. I just think that kind of the immediate allure of Lundy is a little bit higher. So, you know, I think that your analysis is spot on. It’d be awesome if one e if either one of those guys went 1st round, I mean, that would just epic because I can’t even remember the last time that Penn State had a first rounder in the NBA draft. I mean, has it ever happened?

Vince Fadale [00:53:32]:

I don’t know. Maybe Calvin Booth, who is now NBA finals champion with the — Yeah. — as he is the GM of the Denver Nuggets. It’s a shame Carrie. Didn’t stick with his decision to stay at Penn State, but — I know. — really really happy for Calvin to you know, bring home, you know, a a trophy to Penn State.

Andrew Burd [00:53:56]:

Yeah. Yeah. No doubt. I mean, it’s cool on multiple levels with him being the head Ancho of the nuggets. That was their first trophy in franchise history, so that was really cool. Apart of me, it it stung to see the nuggets be so good in the playoffs because of the whole you know, JAL Embiid discourse that’s happening in Philadelphia right now. And — Embiid Jokic debate — Yeah. — it never ends. Like, it it just got, like, like, a gallon of kerosene thrown onto that fire. So that is gonna be raging on throughout the entire off season. And so part of me is just like, oh god. Like, why does he have to be so good? Like, part of me is like that. But Either way yeah. I mean, just a, like, a great run by that team. It seemed too, like, a lot of the praise was directed booth’s way because of the way that he constructed the team. You know? So this is not like a blow the top off kinda team that’s just gonna beat you with, like, pure star power. Like, there’s plenty of great playmakers on that team, but you’re not looking at, like, you know, big 3 on the heat type of superstar power like you saw with LeBron Wade and and Bosch. You know? So it just seemed like this was good, solid, core of basketball players brought together by a very smart GM in Galvin Booth.

Vince Fadale [00:55:20]:

Yeah. I and you see it, Jamal Murray, I think, is very underrated. He does a lot of good things for that basketball team, and you know, Aaron Gordon, great athlete, surrounded with shooters. So they have a really solid roster and kind of a a sneaky good one seed. They almost remind you of the bucks a little bit, have, like, everyone’s like, they’re the one seed, and then they usually don’t go super far once playoffs come around. But really cool to see them get it done in a Penn Theater win in an NBA finals trophy. So that’s that’s really cool. There are some more pensaders that are doing some big things. You know, the Happy Valley Hoopers are going to be going to the the tournament where they’re going to be playing some other teams for a $1,000,000 dollar winner take all prize purse This event is has some slightly different roles in in things of, like, time management. And I think they typically play 1st team to 82. I I could be wrong, but they they construct it in a way so that way in at the end of the game, it’s not coming down to just free throws and fouling, and it’s kind of a new style of basketball just to keep the game more fast paced. That way you’re not stopping free throws and time out. So Really cool. And kind of a fun story. John Harrah is the captain of this team and kinda organizing the team. I actually saw his backpack the other day. Do you wanna hear that story?

Andrew Burd [00:56:49]:

Yeah. I’d love to hear it because you sent me that picture, and I’m like, what the heck is going on here? So, yeah, go for it.

Vince Fadale [00:56:57]:

Yeah. It’s great. So I’m just hanging out the state college YMCA, you know, working my job, and You know, I’m lifeguardian, so I’m just chilling there. And I I have my backpack on the ground in the bake in the break room, and I see this Penn State basketball backpack right next to mine, and it has a 21, and it has hair on it. I’m like, there’s no way John hair is here. So I I talked to my my one coworker, and and he says, oh, yeah. That’s John Harris’s backpack. Like, my uncle got it for me, and I guess he set for Christmas 1 year. His uncle was like, okay. I can give you a duffle bag or a backpack for your gift. And he’s like, well, that sounds kinda lame, but okay. And then it was, like, John Harris stuff. So I don’t know. It’s crazy. How he came in possession of it? But kind of a funny story, but I guess he said his uncle’s, like, a big pen state basketball fan. And he said he had a assigned jersey. I forgot who he was from. I think it was a maybe a Taylor battle signed Jersey — Oh, cool. — or someone before him that was really good. So I was like, oh, that’s really cool. So, anyway, like, I was like, oh, okay. Like, kind of a fun story behind it. So you know, ran into John Harris back not John Harris, but John Harris’s backpack the other day. So that was pretty cool, but he’s going to be leading the the Happy Valley Hoopers Some other members of that team are truly beloved miles dread is gonna be playing. So he’ll be spacing the floor, and hopefully, knocking down some clutch threes. Sam Sessoms is also on the squad. He spent 1 a couple years at Penn State before transferring to Copenhagen State this past season. Trent Butrick spent some time within any lines before going to UMass. Mike Watkins is back. John Reeves. He was a really good, you know, defensive player and got really good offense towards the end of his tenure, Taylor Nussbaum, Kerst1s Junior, Chef Garner. So maybe we’ll see flavor flavon TV. That’ll be fun. And also on the squad, this this is a little controversial. Jamari Wheeler. What are your thoughts, Jamal — Yeah. — Jamari Wheeler rounded out the squad?

Andrew Burd [00:59:14]:

No. No. No. No. He lost that Happy Valley card. like, he he threw that into the dumpster and lit it on fire. So, I mean, there’s gotta be some some good freaking grace on the part of the rest of that team to just forget that past because we sure as hell are not gonna forget it.

Vince Fadale [00:59:33]:

Yeah. Now He did spend 4 years at Penn State where I think Sam Sassum only had 2. So, you know, there is some And Trent Patrick did the same thing, but he went to UMass, which is not arrival. But yeah. Jamari Wheeler still rubbed me her the wrong way a little bit, but you know, he gave us for a good year. So I I guess we’ll let it slide. If John Harrah lets it slide, I guess we can let it slide as they go into the tournament, the the first the first team they’re playing is called the nerd team. So I it’s gonna be pretty embarrassing if we don’t beat that. squad. So we can get get get through them and get to the round of 32 because that’ll be really embarrassing if we lose to a team called the nerds squad. Like — This sounds like something out of the movie dodgeball. Like, these are the names that the teams in in the movie dodgeball would have. Yeah. Absolutely wild. So we talked a lot about Indian Live Basketball. We had, you know, some MBA talk. We had some draft talk. We have the tournament. We also got Coach Roads filling out his last scholarship rocker roster spot. We got Demarco Dunn, a guard out of North Carolina. This was a guy who is really, you know, highly regarded in high school, big recruit, you know, from the North Carolina tarials. You know? So anytime you’re getting a guy from UNC, you know, it’s a guy who’s highly recruited. My I have some family who’s some die hard UNC fans, and they said he was a, you know, really solid defensive player, and he has the potential to be a good scorer too. He’s kind of inconsistent with his scoring. But I believe when when you share that with me, I think he’s a 64, 65 guards somewhere around that range. So it will be really good to have his size on the floor. And if he if he can put together you know, some offensive tools and make good use of his playing time. I think he could be a a solid offensive weapon. Also, he’s got teammate Puff Johnson there. So they have a little bit of team chemistry and, you know, got 2 VCU guys. So, hopefully, that VCU UNC connection can you know, mesh well, and we can create some good offense for coach road squad as they take their talents to the Bahamas in August.

Andrew Burd [01:01:54]:

Yes, sir. Yeah. It’s it’s exciting from multiple angles. One is being that we finally have a full basketball team again. So I think that’s number 1. You know, we’re we it seems like forever ago now that we were wondering where these guys were gonna come from and then Ace Baldwin Junior committed. and the rest just seem to fall into place. So that’s number 1. Number 2, I think you’re spot on. I think that roads has done a pretty good job of finding some very quality players out of the transfer portal from really great programs like UNC. with this most recent addition and done. I think that, you know, I think that, like we’ve talked about on past episodes, it’s it’s really just gonna come down to the season to really see, like, what is in store for us in 2023, 2024 because we just don’t know yet. You know, this is such a this is such a, like, patched together team that I don’t think anybody is gonna know what to expect. So I’m just excited, you know, because we’re Penn State basketball even though we did hit, you know, a bit of a speed bump with the Schrewsbury having the level of success that he did and then immediately bolting, I think that Penn State on a national level is still on an upward trajectory. So it’ll just be kind of another interesting chapter in that recent history that I’m I’m looking forward to seeing.

Vince Fadale [01:03:23]:

Yeah. I I think that’s a good analogy. I I think overall, the the trajectory is going to be upward over the next 5 to 10 years for Penn State. I do think you’re gonna take a a dip down. I’m not gonna be expecting them to make the NCAA tournament or, you know, win an NCAA tournament game. But I do I do think not this year, but the following year, you could kinda see them back there as, you know, Coach is able to utilize his philosophies and, you know, break down film with the guys. The guys get another year in his system to learn how he wants them to play together and you know, getting new young talent too. I I think that’s one of the more difficult things. And they say it takes 5 years to really build a program. Coast Cruze has kind of been an anomaly almost. Is that still

Andrew Burd [01:04:11]:

true, though, in, like, this most recent era of, like, the transfer portal and NIL because I feel like that’s, like, shrunk down now to, like, 2 or even one. But am I like, do you agree with that, or do you still think it’s still that, like, 5 year time frame?

Vince Fadale [01:04:28]:

Like, I’m like, I’m gonna give coach roads, like, 4 or 5 years to like, before I get a 100% being, like, he’s a good coach or he’s not ready for PowerFi basketball just because, like, it so much of it is talent acquisition and the ability to get good players. Like, no one knew Jalen Pickett was gonna be this, like, amazing player. Like, he was the reason we we got there. Like, if we don’t have Jalen Pickett, we’re we’re non NCAA tournament team. And we’ll ace Baldwin Junior be that, we we don’t know if he’s gonna be — Hopefully. — to that level. And, you know, had a lot of great veterans. I had been at Penn State for a long time, led by, like, Seth Lundi and, you know, Miles Dread. you had guys like Andrew Funk come in, who was amazing. Is Leo Boyle gonna be that? Maybe. But, like, it’s it’s one of those things where we we don’t know. And, you know, we don’t have, you know, Kevagai at center. there’s a lot of question mark at the, you know, the front court position. So it’s just kinda one of those things that, you know, if we’re throwing darts at a dartboard, that’s kind of what we’re doing we’re trying to figure out who’s gonna work, who’s gonna go in well with the system, who’s gonna how are these guys gonna mash on offense? Defensively, I’m not super concerned, but offensively, I am trying to figure out how this team is going to score, especially since there isn’t a ton of outside shooting to space the floor. So that’s something that concerns me. But, you know, time will tell. And I think that, you know, is gonna give fans a lot of excitement coming up to this upcoming season.

Andrew Burd [01:06:14]:

Yep. No doubt. It’s just gonna be Interesting either way. So we’ll we’ll see which way the the coin falls. But I don’t have anything else on basketball. You got anything else on that front, or do you wanna talk’s track and field?

Vince Fadale [01:06:30]:

Yeah. Before I think we’ll save the best for last, so we’ll save track and field for the end. The then then he lines women team got some big recruits for women’s soccer. So they got midfielder, Rowan Lappy, from Northwestern, really solid player. And then, also, they got a transfer from Quinnipiac, I’m trying to scroll up here and find her name, but I think she led the NCAA and goal scored, and now she’s gonna be on Penn State So here we go. Quentin Peac Ford, Rebecca Cook transfers to Penn State Women’s Soccer. So this is a a really big deal. Let me see here. Yeah. So she original story. So she led division 1 goal scoring in the 2022 season. It is now heading to Happy Valley, and it’s from Dublin, Ireland. So Really cool story there. So I think you’re gonna see some big things from women’s soccer next year. So I think that’s really exciting. And then we are on to the main event, track and field — Main event. — you know, the best 4th or of it. Nothing better. Nothing better. But the Sydney Lines had 6 all Americans bringing home some hardware. We had some first team all Americans along with some second team all Americans. So I’ll just pull that up really quick. First off, we had Tyler Merckley in the hammer throw. He threw the

Andrew Burd [01:08:04]:

hammer 237

Vince Fadale [01:08:07]:

feet That is his second time being an all American. So absolutely incredible throw. You had We had a second team all American in the poll vault, Tyler Snipes

Andrew Burd [01:08:25]:

which that’s an awesome name.

Vince Fadale [01:08:27]:

Yeah. What a what a great name. I’m trying to get through the Instagram here and find it and do it in the same order. Too many social media posts because they’re doing so good. Yeah. Exactly. Alright. So he got second team all American, which is actually relatively new. So, typically, top 8 get all American, but I guess they started doing second team all American for the top 16. So scrolling down here. Oh, here we go. Found the post. Alright. So he was second team on American Luke Knight. That’s his name, not Snipes. That’d be that’d be a cool name, though. So Luke Luke Knight, he got 2nd team all American. He was top 16. He got 15th in the nation. He pulled all this over 17 feet. So, like, I jumped 12 feet off the ferry. That felt very high when I did a ski trap on. He went over 5 feet higher. So he went almost as high as me standing on top of the boat. That’s just an insane amount to eat your body over an obstacle So really incredible performance there. Also had some more more things happen in the field. Mallory Kaufman put up a monster throw in the shot put. She threw a score record 59 feet 3 quarters of an inch Wow. To get 4th place. She was a first team all or a 6th place finish, so she was a first team all American. while breaking the school record absolutely incredible throw. We also had some distance runners on there, which made me Really happy that warm my soul. The first one was Rachel Gearing. She had a second team all American performance, and I thought she got a little robbed out of a first team all American, and here’s why. So I was watching her race and The gun went off. I saw saw her go, and she got towards the front and was kinda leading the front the whole way. So to advance from the preliminary around to the finals. What they had to do was get top 2 I believe. It was top 2 or top 3. I think it was top 3. And then the second heat, it was top 3. and then they would take the next 2 fastest times. So if you are in a fast heat, you don’t have to place as high. So she kinda got stuck in the front just the way the race played out, so she had to break all that wind. And she missed the finals by 1 or 2 spots, I believe. So she was relatively close. And then the heat behind them, they had, like, the best runner, and she just kinda went really fast. And she was probably I think she won the NCAA title, but everyone else just kinda ran behind her, and she kinda pulled around some of those other girls to the final. So I think Rachel does have a really good chance to, you know, be a a second or a first team all American. I’m not I’m not sure has eligibility left, but she does. I think she has a really good chance to do that. Hailey Kitchen also made it as a true freshman She didn’t advance to the finals, but really awesome to see her there. She actually was the big 10 freshman of the year for outdoor and indoor track and field. And the fur she’s the first person to do get that award in both indoor and outdoor track. So She had a really great season in the 800. Faith Demars, she ran the 5 k. She ran a 1609, which is a very fast time. There were sometimes when I ran a 5 k, my time was not that fast if I didn’t have a good day. So she was seventeen’s just missed out all American by one spot, but she was the mid Atlantic track athlete of the year. So she won a big regional awards, so that that was really awesome to see. And then moving on to the men. The men had some really exciting performances. Handle Robin, just like Hailey, won the Big Ten men’s indoor and outdoor big 10 freshmen of the year along with winning athlete of the year in the the Mid Atlantic region for a track and field. He finished 3rd place as a true freshman in 14595 for the eight hundred meters, which if you’re thinking, man, that’s fast. Like, yeah, that’s fast. Like, that’s getting close to making Olympic teams fast. And — Right. — that’s a that’s a little little over 10 seconds. That’s about 10.2 seconds or 10.1 seconds faster than my PR. So this guy is really, really fast. I’m really excited to see what he can do. in the upcoming year. And then also just by the skin of his teeth, he’s from your from your area, Andrew, around Lancaster. Evan Dornkamp, He went to Manheim Township. Oh, nice. Yeah. School District, so that’s really close. He got in by the skin of his teeth. So he he didn’t get those top free automatic qualifying spots. He ran a 340, 1500, and my PR is a 356. So he ran 16 seconds faster. So 1 1 second faster per 100 and got in by point 02 seconds to get into the final. Wow. So and then he had a good race in the final. He ran 344 and then was able to get 8th place for that last first team all American spot that was awesome to see. Him have really good performance. So, yeah, that rounded up our 6 Big 10 or Penn State all Americans. You also had Mallory Kaufman. She got the the field athlete award in the the mid Atlantic region. So just a lot of awards going around for Penn State Tracking field. a lot of good young talent. So I’m really excited to see where this program is gonna head into the future under coach Vondack.

Andrew Burd [01:14:35]:

Yeah. I mean, I I couldn’t sum it up any better. Just Penn State doing some big Penn State things. And based on what you’ve kinda shared throughout the duration of the season, really seems like this is another program that’s kind of on the rise in certain ways. Really kinda checking some boxes that they seem to always do well and, like, you made the the comment that Penn’s sake can almost be considered, like, mid distance to you or mid you. Yeah. They are to me. For sure. When the pen you win the pen relays, you’re in the 4 by your mid distance to you. Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. So I think that though, you know, Penn State having this level of success on on the national stages, is obviously huge. So I think that we’ll just be looking forward to seeing what’s what’s gonna be next for them next season.

Vince Fadale [01:15:31]:

Yeah. I’m I’m really excited. You know, track is another passion of mine, so it’s really fun to see them doing well there too. And it’s really cool too because we I actually get to share the traffic with them. Coach Gondack and the track program are awesome. They let members of our community run on the the indoor mile series there. So they’re very generous to let us have a race before they start their meet. So, again, love the track and field program there. you know, great program and happy happy that they’re making big contributions to the Penn State community.

Andrew Burd [01:16:07]:

Awesome. Yeah. Good stuff, man.

Vince Fadale [01:16:10]:

So I think that we’ve covered a lot of ground here. This is kind of a jam packed episode with a lot of stuff. kinda tune on. So we had to give the fans a longer episode because we we deprive them of 1 last week. So this one will be a bit a little bit longer. That’s right. So you guys gonna break it up into two segments, probably the football would be our halfway point and

Andrew Burd [01:16:31]:

can go on from there. We’ll include time stamps in the in the show notes if you wanna jump around to stuff. But I think you’d be doing yourself into service if you don’t listen to Vince’s spirited overview and summarization of the track and field all Americans because it’s it’s truly a learning experience or at least I think it is. But Vince. I don’t think I have anything else for this pod. You got anything else on your side?

Vince Fadale [01:16:56]:

Yeah. I I think that’s enough for today. Thank you guys for listening. If you’d like support the pop, please tell your friends, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you enjoy the show, please leave a 5 star review to other Nittany Lion fans like you can find us. interest in new episodes, you can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or other streaming platforms to be notified. Thank you for listening, and we want to remind you that we are.

Andrew Burd [01:17:20]:

The Nittany Blues podcast. See you next time.

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