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June 2010 Archives

Blog Athlete of the Year Candidate II: Jason Yeisley

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Part II in a five-part series on the All-Sports Blog Athlete of the Year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before we begin to count down the days to the start of the 2010-'11 sports season, the All-Sports Blog is going to take a look back at 2009-'10.


We have pinpointed four standout athletes as candidates for Blog Athlete of the Year recognition.  While this award may fall short of the glitz and glamour of an ESPY, the Blog Athlete of the Year recognition honors incredible achievement on and off the field of play for one Penn State student-athlete.


The All-Sports Blog has pinpointed four candidates to become the Blog Athlete of the Year.  Our list includes women's volleyball outside hitter Megan Hodge, track/cross country standout Bridget Franek, Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark and men's soccer forward Jason Yeisley.  Over the next four days, we will present a case for each of the four athletes before announcing our pick for the Blog Athlete of the Year.


After presenting our case for Bridget Franek, we have turned to men's soccer forward Jason Yeisley for day two of the five-part series.  Yeisley left Penn State as one of the most decorated student-athletes on campus.  Looking through the quantity of awards Yeisley received in his four years at Penn State is a task in itself.


Unlike the other three Blog Athlete of the Year candidates, Yeisley's storied Penn State career was marked by excellence and adversity.  After a serious knee injury forced Yeisley to miss the entire 2008 season, the Allentown native returned to the field for a stellar senior campaign.


If there was an award handed out to Penn State's comeback athlete of the year, the decision would have been unanimous.  Yeisley's hard work and relentless rehabilitation paid off in 2009.  He led the Nittany Lions to 12 wins, including an undefeated regular season home record, a second place finish in the Big Ten, the Big Ten Tournament title game, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.


Yeisley was a central figure on the Big Ten's top scoring offense, totaling eight goals and five assists to tie for second on the team with 21 points.  His senior season culminated with the conference's coaches naming him Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.


In recognition of excellence on and off the field of play, Yeisley was announced as the 2009 winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's soccer, an honor presented annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I men's soccer.


He then went on to be named the 2010 male recipient of the Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award, Penn State's Big Ten Sportsmanship award winner as well as the Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient.  He graduated last December with a 3.61 GPA.  Yeisley was then drafted by FC Dallas in the MLS.


Yeisley's contributions to Penn State Athletics stretch beyond statistics in the record books.  What he accomplished during his senior season is truly remarkable.  Overcoming a serious knee injury is an arduous task in itself.  But to come back from an injury of that magnitude and excel on the field and in the classroom the way Yeisley did in 2009 is incredible.


Yeisley's Big List for 2009-'10

- 2009 Big Ten Men's Soccer Offensive Player of the Year

- 2009 winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

- Second on the team with 21 points

- Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award winner

- 2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team honoree


We have given our take on Bridget Franek and Jason Yeisley.  Next up is Nittany Lion women's volleyball outside hitter Megan Hodge. Stay tuned tomorrow.

Blog Athlete of the Year Candidate I: Bridget Franek

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Part I in a five-part series on the All-Sports Blog Athlete of the Year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before we begin to count down the days to the start of the 2010-'11 sports season, the All-Sports Blog is going to take a look back at 2009-'10.


We have pinpointed four standout athletes as candidates for Blog Athlete of the Year recognition.  While this award may fall s  hort of the glitz and glamour of an ESPY, the Blog Athlete of the Year recognition honors incredible achievement on and off the field of play for one Penn State student-athlete.


The All-Sports Blog has pinpointed four candidates to become the Blog Athlete of the Year.  Our list includes women's volleyball outside hitter Megan Hodge, track/cross country standout Bridget Franek, Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark and men's soccer forward Jason Yeisley.  Over the next four days, we will present a case for each of the four athletes before announcing our pick for the Blog Athlete of the Year.


First up is Bridget Franek.  The Hiram, Ohio, native manufactured one of the most impressive senior seasons in cross country/track history at Penn State.  Franek is one of few Nittany Lion student-athletes starring on two different teams in Happy Valley.  While cross country and track have similarities, they are two separate entities and two different seasons.



Therefore, Franek's athletic season stretches throughout the academic calendar.  She competed in cross country during the fall, indoor track during the winter and outdoor track during the spring and summer.  And there was a common theme throughout all three seasons - winning.


Franek was nearly perfect during her senior season.  The Ohio native won the national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.  Additionally, she won the individual and team Big Ten cross country championships.  Franek won the mile run and the Lions captured gold in the team competition at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.  She also won the 3,000-meter steeplechase and team title at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.


All that being said, Franek tallied a national championship, three Big Ten individual championships and three Big Ten team championships during her senior season alone.  Additionally, she is a 10-time All-American during her Penn State career after going 12-for-12 in NCAA Championship appearances in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.


Franek has been a relentless worker since she arrived on campus in 2006.  While her accomplishments on the track are staggering, Franek may be a better person off the track.  She is a model student-athlete with a great academic record.


Franek's Big List for 2009-'10

- National champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase

- Three Big Ten individual titles - Cross Country, One-mile (Indoor) and 3,000-meter Steeplechase (Outdoors)

- Instrumental in the Big Ten "Triple Crown" - Cross Country, Indoor Track and Outdoor Track

- All-American in cross country and track

- Academic All-Big Ten


We have given our take on Bridget Franek.  Next up is Nittany Lion men's soccer star Jason Yeisley. Stay tuned tomorrow.

Summer Series: Introducing The Blog Athlete of the Year Candidates

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2009-'10 Penn State sports season is officially over.


While most Nittany Lion sports fans are beginning to count down the days until the football season opens (67 days for those wondering), the All-Sports Blog wants to take a look back on a tremendous sports season before we look ahead.  With that in mind, we are going to begin a week-long feature series on the top Nittany Lion student-athlete from the past season.


The All-Sports Blog has pinpointed four candidates to become the Blog Athlete of the Year.  Our list includes women's volleyball outside hitter Megan Hodge, track/cross country standout Bridget Franek, Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark and men's soccer forward Jason Yeisley.


Over the next four days, we will present a case for each of the four athletes before announcing our pick for the Blog Athlete of the Year.  All four are deserving candidates.  Franek, Hodge, Clark and Yeisley had superb seasons and careers, for that matter.


But before we start analyzing each of the four candidates tomorrow, we need to take an overall look at Penn State's 2009-'10 athletic season.  The Nittany Lions are poised for another Top 15 finish in the annual Learfield Directors' Cup standings, marking the 12th time in the 17-year history of the award that Penn State has been a Top 15 institution.


5521465.jpegHeadlining the list of accomplishments was the women's volleyball team.  Head coach Russ Rose and the Lions captured an unprecedented third straight national championship after an epic victory over Texas.  Additionally, the Lions have now won 102 straight matches following a second consecutive undefeated season.


The fencing team was also crowned national champion, marking its 12th title since 1990.  Two national championships in the same season is a superb accomplishment for the athletic department.  Penn State has won 19 national titles since its first full season in the Big Ten (1993-'94)


In addition to the national crowns, five different squads - women's cross country, women's soccer, women's indoor track and field, women's outdoor track and field and women's volleyball - captured Big Ten titles.  Penn State teams have now won 65 Big Ten championships since joining the conference.


Overall, 19 different Penn State teams competed in the NCAA Championships, or bowl game, in 2009-'10.  Having 19 of the 29 teams in the NCAA Championships is another outstanding achievement from the athletic department.


Penn State was equally as impressive in the classroom.  Ten Penn State student-athletes earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America┬« accolades, with five first team selections.  Penn State has had 112 Academic All-Americans┬« since Tim Curley became Director of Athletics in December, 1993, a total higher than any other Big Ten institution has all-time since the Academic All-America┬« program began in 1952.


Also in 2009-'10, the NCAA reported that Penn State student-athletes earned a school record-tying 89 percent Graduation Success Rate, 10 points higher than the national Division I average.  The football squad's 89 percent federal graduation rate and record 85 percent GSR figure led all teams in the final 2009 Associated Press Top 25.


Also, a total of 235 athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2009-'10.  All time, Penn State has 3,547 Academic All-Big Ten honors.


When you combine the athletic department's on-field excellence with its accomplishments off the field, it puts Penn State on a level very few institutions can compare with.  Year after year, Penn State Athletics sets the standard academically and athletically in the Big Ten. 


Director of Athletics Tim Curley, the head coaches, support staffs and student-athletes themselves deserve a lot of credit for making Penn State one of the finest athletic departments in America.  Congratulations to everyone involved for a terrific season on the field and in the classroom.


Stay tuned tomorrow when we begin our look at the Blog Athlete of the Year candidates.  First up is Bridget Franek.

Early Test for the Three-time Defending Champs

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been a heavy news week for the women's volleyball team.  As we noted yesterday, Megan Hodge earned the Honda-Broderick Cup, was named Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year and garnered an ESPY nomination, all in a span of three days.


Another piece of news was released from the women's volleyball world earlier in the week when the 2010 schedule surfaced on  Anytime a team is coming off a national title, the title defense schedule is noteworthy, let along coming off three-straight championships.


As has been the case for a number of seasons, the Lions will play each of their opponents in the Big Ten twice, once at home and once on the road.  The Big Ten portion will fill 20 slots on the schedule, with the rest of dates belonging to non-conference foes.


Scheduling non-conference matches can become a challenge for a team coming off a championship.  Nonetheless, Penn State's 2010 non-Big Ten schedule features one of the most highly-anticipated non-conference weekends for anyone squad on campus.


5510604.jpegMark your calendars for Sept. 10 and 11.  The Nittany Lions will head to Gainesville, Fla., for an early-season tournament featuring host Florida, Stanford and Texas.  Keep in mind that the Lions knocked off Stanford in 2007 and '08 in the national championship match.  As for Texas, those two teams played one of the most epic matches in the history of the sport to decide last season's championship.  All three teams will be at one site in September.


Additionally, the Lion football team plays at Alabama on the 11th.  The second weekend of September is going to be a blockbuster couple of days around the athletic department.  Ironically, both events will take place in the heart of SEC country - Gainesville, Fla., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.


As for the rest of the women's volleyball slate, the Lions will take on eight teams from the 2009 NCAA Tournament, including five teams from the final AVCA Top 25.  The list includes national runner-up Texas, national semifinalist Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Stanford, Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan State.


The season will open on August 27 in Chapel Hill, N.C., at a preseason tournament.  North Carolina, Villanova and Campbell University are the teams slated to participate.  This season's national semifinals and championship will be on Dec. 16 and 18 in Kansas City, Mo.


Key Dates on the Schedule:

Sept. 3 - The Lions open the home schedule at Rec Hall with a 7 p.m. match against Seton Hall.

Sept. 10-11 - Florida, Stanford and Texas.  Northing more needs to be said.

Sept. 24 - The Lions open the 2010 Big Ten season at Illinois.

Oct. 1 - Penn State plays host to Michigan State in the first Big Ten home match of the season.

Dec. 10-11 - University Park and Rec Hall plays host to the NCAA Regional Semifinals and Finals.

Megan Hodge: A Champion's Champion

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Few Penn State athletes have built a list of accomplishments that can compare with former Nittany Lion outside hitter Megan Hodge.


The North Carolina native etched her place among Penn State's best after an incredible four-year career under Russ Rose on the women's volleyball team.  Hodge's accolades stand out in the record books across any college sport, not just volleyball.


On Wednesday night, Hodge was named the 2009-'10 Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year by the Big Ten.  The Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year recognition capped a week with two prestigious awards.  Just two days earlier, the standout outside hitter was named a co-winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup, which is handed out to the top collegiate female athlete.


Hodge shared the award with Connecticut women's basketball star Maya Moore.  Moore had a superb season with the Huskies, but this award belonged to Hodge.  Hodge willed the Nittany Lions to their third consecutive national title with an epic performance against Texas in the championship match, which capped an undefeated season.


The laundry list of accomplishments during Hodge's career could stretch a bio into several pages.  Let's try to wade through some of the list to illustrate just how special Hodge was for the Penn State program.


4105494.jpegIn addition to the two prestigious awards this week, Hodge was a four-time All-American, two-time Big Ten Women's Volleyball Player of the Year, named the Touchdown Club of Columbus 2009 Female Athlete of the Year and a finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award.

Statistically speaking, Hodge was in a league of her own during her Nittany Lion career.  Part of the winningest class in program history, Hodge amassed a career record of 142-5.  She tallied 4.67 kills per set while leading the Lions to the 2009 national championship.


While the numbers are incredible, they don't do Hodge justice.  She brought incredible size, athleticism and a superb feel for the game to the floor every night.  For the vast majority of her career, Hodge was dominant in a way few players in the history of college volleyball can compare with.


The Lions fielded a staggering lineup throughout her career, but Hodge played an integral role in three consecutive championships and back-to-back undefeated seasons.  Her presence on the floor will be missed this fall when the Lions look to extend their 102-match winning streak.


Hodge's excellence on the floor carried over into the classroom, as well.  Hodge was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, a two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American.  She also became the program's third Academic All-American of the Year.


Since graduating in May, Hodge has been a key figure on the U.S. National Team at the Montreux Volley Masters in Switzerland.  She started all five matches and helped lead the U.S. to a silver medal.  Hodge is currently competing with Team USA in the IX Pan American Cup in Mexico.


And just announced today, Hodge is a nominee for an ESPY Award.  She is a candidate for the ESPY handed out to the National Collegiate Woman of the Year, which will be announced on July 14 in Los Angeles.  Hodge joins Tina Charles and Maya Moore of Connecticut women's basketball and UCLA softball player Megan Lagenfeld as nominees.  Fans can vote for Hodge from now until July 10th.  Click the link below to vote.


ESPY Voting


Russ Rose has coached his fair share of incredible athletes in his 31-year tenure at Penn State.  But Hodge makes a strong case to be at the top of the list.  Her accomplishments are truly incredible.

Interesting Decisions to be Made Following Big Ten Expansion

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With Nebraska on board as the 12th member of the Big Ten, a number of things are set to change when the conference's members begin play for the 2011 season.


While the vast majority of the changes will impact all of the sports teams in the Big Ten, the focal point of discussions involves football.  Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and his staff have some big decisions to make in the very near future to get things on track for next season.  When you look on the future schedules portion of any Big Ten team's website, you will see dates and opponents for the 2011 season. 


But with Nebraska now in the mix, you can scrap all of the travel plans beyond 2010.  The first order of business before scheduling is the creation of two six-team divisions.  From there, the scheduling and championship game details will fall into place.


For now, though, we are going to take this opportunity to give our take on divisions, scheduling and championship game. 


Let's start with the divisions.  This model is not going to be the perfect solution, but it is one idea for Delany to consider.  Before we get into the specifics, the new divisions will not be based solely on geographic proximity.  First and foremost will be fairness. Without further ado, here is the blog's take on the Big Ten's divisions.  We have two options:


Option A5469689.jpeg





Penn State






Michigan State

Ohio State


Option B





Penn State





Michigan State


Ohio State




***The only changes between the two are Wisconsin and Minnesota being switched with Indiana and Purdue.


It may seem strange to put the team furthest east (Penn State) with the vast majority of the westernmost institutions in the conference, but there are some reasons behind that.  The four marquee draws in the Big Ten are Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State.  Those four teams will likely be split up.  You could argue that Ohio State and Penn State should be in the same division, but the conference would then have to put Michigan and Ohio State in opposite divisions.


That alignment could potentially set up two consecutive weeks of Ohio State and Michigan playing one another, should the scenario arise that both teams play each other during the last week of the season (as they already do) and then meet in the championship game.  That will not fly with either school.  Although Option A would work, we prefer Option B for it keeping geography in the discussion while preserving rivalries and keeping things fair.


Should the Big Ten opt to play nine conference games next season, the six teams in each division would play each other once.  There would also be at least one and maybe even two "protected" cross-division rivalries (Penn State-Ohio State).  And there would be two no-plays each season, as is the case right now.


Using Penn State as an example, the Lions would play Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue each season.  The annual cross-division games would include Ohio State and Michigan State, which would ensure the Lions maintain their current rivals.  Penn State would then play two of the remaining four teams in the other division each year - Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois.


If the conference opts to play eight games, things would change, but our hope is for nine games.


Ideally, you would like to see things align geographically, but there is no possible way that Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State would play in the same division, so we are likely going to see one of the three powers in the opposite division.


With the divisions aligned, let's move into the championship game information.  Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis have reportedly already expressed interest to host the Big Ten title game.  While Chicago would be a nice host, playing outdoors at Soldier Field in December doesn't seem like it will win out.  Ford Field in Detroit would also be a nice venue, but Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is the natural choice.  It is a perfect venue, geographic location and city for the championship.  The city already plays host to the basketball championships, why not add football to the mix.


The top team from each division would play in Indianapolis in early December to decide the Big Ten crown.  Under our division alignment, Penn State could play either Michigan or Ohio State in Lucas Oil Stadium for a Big Ten title.  That should get Penn State fans fired up just thinking about it.


It will be interesting to see what Delany and the Big Ten officials decide.  Stay tuned in July as the conference makes decisions that will shape Big Ten sports for years to come.

Meet the Big Ten's Newest Member

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in 20 years, the Big Ten Conference added a new member when Nebraska officially accepted an invitation to become the conference's 12th institution on Friday.


A month marked by rumors of super conferences and expansion has made a normally quiet June far from being one of the slowest college sports months of the year.  Nevertheless, the Big Ten made its move on Friday when the formal announcement took place to introduce a 12th member in Lincoln, Neb.  Whether or not the conference's expansion process is done or not remains to be seen.


For now, though, let's learn a little more about the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  The first thing that comes to my mind when sports fans hear the word Nebraska is Cornhusker football.  Nebraska is synonymous with great college football tradition.


Former head coach Tom Osborne is a legendary name when it comes to college football.  Osborne, who is now the athletic director, guided the Huskers for 25 seasons.  He won three national titles and amassed an overall record of 255-49-3.  Osborne was a model of consistency in his quarter century leading the Cornhuskers.  His teams never won fewer than nine games and finished in the AP Top 15 in 24 out of his 25 years.


Nebraska has won five national titles since 1970, which is tied for the most in college football.  The Cornhusker football program ranks No. 4 on the all-time win list with 827.  For those wondering, Michigan is No. 1 (877), Texas is No. 2 (845), Notre Dame is No. 3 (837) and Ohio State is No. 5 (819).  Penn State is No. 7 on the list with 812.


The "Sea of Red" at Memorial Stadium is iconic in college football lore.  The 81,000-seat home of Nebraska is currently riding an NCAA-record sellout streak of more than 300 games, and counting.  The stadium underwent a renovation project prior to the 2009 season when two new video boards were installed.


Needless to say, the Big Ten added a top-tier football program in Nebraska.  Having four of the top seven football programs of all-time in the same conference puts the Big Ten a step above the rest.


While Nebraska football may dominate the school's athletic culture, do not overlook the depth of the athletic department.  Nebraska has 21 athletic teams, 12 women's and nine men's.  Numerous Husker teams have a rich history on the field of play.


The baseball team has been to the College World Series three times this decade.  Nebraska's men's basketball squad has made the NCAA Tournament six times, including five in the 1990s.  The women's team has been in the tournament nine times, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2010.


The Big Ten's women's volleyball landscape will change when Nebraska begins play.  The Huskers will bring another national power to the conference.  Nebraska owns three national titles, all since 1995, and 11 NCAA Semifinals appearances.


Penn State's most recent match against the Huskers was an epic display of women's volleyball.  The foes met in the 2008 national semifinals before a crowd in excess of 17,000 in the Qwest Center in Omaha.  The Lions ousted the Huskers in five sets en route to their second straight national title.


Just thinking about Nebraska's first visit to a packed Rec Hall for a women's volleyball match gets the competitive juices flowing.


As for the university itself, Nebraska was founded in 1869.  The current undergraduate enrollment is 18,526.  The main campus is located in Lincoln, which is the capital city of Nebraska.  The population of Lincoln is 251,624, making it the third largest city in the Big Ten behind Columbus and Minneapolis.


Nebraska is slated to begin play during the 2011-'12 season.  We look forward to one year from now when the Huskers are preparing for their first season in the Big Ten.


Stay tuned to the blog for much more on the addition of Nebraska.  The conference is exploring how divisions will stack up, scheduling and potential football championship sites.  We will offer our take on those subjects.  

Franek Caps Stellar Career with a National Title

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most student-athletes can only dream of the career Bridget Franek manufactured in her four years at Penn State.


The talented distance runner ended her Nittany Lion tenure at the NCAA Championships over the weekend in grand style.  Coming into the national championships, she had won numerous team and individual conference titles over her four-year career.  She had already etched her place in the Penn State record books as one of the school's all-time best distance athletes.


One thing was missing from her incredible list of accomplishments.  Franek took care of that on Saturday afternoon in Eugene, Ore.  The Hiram, Ohio, native motored to a gold medal run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase to claim her first NCAA Championship.


Franek became just the fourth Nittany Lion in school history to win an NCAA title in the NCAA era of women's track and field.  And Franek did it in impressive fashion.


The Lion senior entered the weekend as a favorite in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.  Franek cruised to a decisive 13-second victory over Colorado's Emma Coburn to win the event.  Winning the event is an impressive accomplishment, but doing it in the manner Franek did is truly remarkable.  She dominated the field with a time of 9:38.86, which was the second fastest time in her career.


Franek leaves Penn State having gone 12-for-12 in NCAA appearances in cross country, indoor and outdoor track.  In those 12 appearances, she notched 10 All-American performances.  Franek's accolades deserve a page of their own in the record books.


She won five individual Big Ten titles (cross country, indoor and outdoor track), including three this past season.  She played an instrumental role in leading Penn State to five different Big Ten team championships in her four years on campus.


Zeroing in on her senior season, alone, Franek was nearly perfect.  She won the individual and team Big Ten cross country championships.  Franek won the mile run and the Lions captured gold in the team competition at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.  She also won the 3,000-meter steeplechase and team title at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.  Saturday's national title was just icing on the cake after an incredible final season.


Franek has been a relentless worker since she arrived on campus in 2006.  While her accomplishments on the track are staggering, Franek may be a better person off the track.  She is a model student-athlete with a great academic record.  Additionally, she is very well spoken and a pleasure to interview.


Franek's gold medal run over the weekend fueled the Nittany Lion women's track team to a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships.  The Lions were just two points behind Florida for third in the final standings.  The men's team finished 23rd.


With the track championships complete, the 2009-'10 Penn State sports season has now officially closed.  Congratulations to everyone in Penn State Athletics for an outstanding season.  The 2010-'11 sports season is just around the corner.  Action will begin at the end of August.

All-Sports Blog Archive

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Check out all of the content from the All-Sports Blog since it launched in the archive link listed below.

All-Sports Blog Archive


Penn State's Big Ten Anniversary

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - June 4, 1990 was a day that changed the landscape of Penn State Athletics forever.


That is the day Penn State signed the paperwork to join the Big Ten Conference.  Twenty years later, Penn State Athletics is still reaping the benefits of joining the ranks of the Big Ten.  As we all know, the Big Ten is an elite conference with 11 outstanding institutions.


The Nittany Lions hit the ground running, and they have not looked back since joining the Big Ten in 1990.  Penn State's sports teams integrated into the Big Ten over the course of four seasons.  The fall of 1991 marked the first year of competitive play by a Nittany Lion team under the Big Ten banner.

It is fitting that Russ Rose and the women's volleyball squad notched the school's first victory as a member of the Big Ten.  For those wondering, the Lions knocked off Pitt, 3-2 on August 30, 1991 in the first game in school history as a member of the Big Ten.  The women's volleyball team also owns the honor of winning Penn State's first Big Ten title, which came in 1992.


The 1992 volleyball title was the first of 65 Big Ten Conference championships for Nittany Lion sports teams.  Of the 65, 55 of those have been regular season titles, while 10 are postseason crowns.  The Lions have won 24 titles since the 2005-'06 season, which is second for most among Big Ten schools during that span.


In addition to the success in the conference, Penn State teams have set the standard among Big Ten schools on the national stage since the Lions joined in 1990.  The Lions' first full year of competition took place in 1993-'94.  Since then, Penn State has won 19 NCAA Championships, which is more than double the total of any other school in the Big Ten during that same time period.  Iowa and Minnesota are tied for second with nine.


Needless to say, Penn State's affiliation with the Big Ten has been a resounding success.  Both the conference and athletic department have grown substantially since the two aligned 20 years ago.  In addition to the outstanding field of competition in every Big Ten sponsored sport, the partnership has included a long list of benefits off the field.


The list includes anything from automatic bowl game tie-ins to an outstanding television package with ESPN/ABC and last, but the headliner is the Big Ten Network.  The BTN changed the landscape of Big Ten television, providing 24 hours of nonstop programming for the conference and its members.


When Penn State joined in 1990, thoughts of a live telecast for a field hockey or softball game were farfetched, to say the least.  Now, you can find just about every sport competing under the Big Ten banner on the BTN at least once during a season.


Penn State has just begun its Big Ten journey.  Just 20 years into the partnership, the future is bright for the Nittany Lions and their affiliation in the conference.  With talks of expansion looming, it will be interesting to see how the next member(s) fit in.  One thing is certain, the decision in 1990 was a slam dunk for both the Big Ten and Penn State.

Getting to Know the Next Head Coach of the Men's Soccer Team

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics recently announced the hire of Bob Warming as the next head coach of the men's soccer program.  Those of us at the blog figured we needed to introduce Coach Warming to the Penn State family with some interesting news and notes about his prior coaching experience.


You can read through the press release on for just about everything you need to know about Warming as he enters his stint as the next head coach at Penn State.  We decided to dig inside the press release and pick out some of the notable items from Warming's impressive coaching resume.


Without further ado, let's meet the 11th men's soccer coach in Penn State history.  The 32-year veteran comes to Penn State after a 14-year stint at Creighton (1990-'94, 2001-'09).  In his time at Creighton, Warming amassed 190 victories, seven Missouri Valley Conference regular season and postseason championships, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and a College Cup berth in 2002.



Those accolades, alone, are outstanding.  Warming stands atop the record books at Creighton.  In between his tenures at Creighton, he guided St. Louis to four conference championships and trip to the 1997 College Cup.


His glowing resume is just as impressive in the classroom.  Warming will be a great fit for the Penn State Athletic Department.


One thing to keep a close eye on is the 400-win tracker.  Warming needs just 17 wins to reach 400 for his career.  There is another head coach on campus that is within six victories of 400.  Joe Paterno has 394 career wins heading into the 2010 season.


If the Lions have a solid season in men's soccer and football, we could be looking at two head coaches reaching the 400-win plateau in the same season.  We will be keeping a close eye on that as the fall wears on.

For now, though, Warming is eager to get started in Happy Valley.  He is currently in the process of transitioning from Omaha to State College.  Two of Warming's children will attend Penn State.  And his quote in the press release is a good indicator of how Warming feels about being on the sidelines at Jeffrey Field.


"My entire family is excited about Penn State," said Warming. "It was going to take a very special situation for us to ever leave Omaha and all the relationships we had built there and all the developments we have made with the soccer program. Penn State is that opportunity on every level."


Warming inherits a team with 17 letterwinners and nine starters back for 2010.  The Lions played in the Big Ten Tournament championship game and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament field in 2009.  With a wealth of talent coming back and a coach ranking 15th on the all-time NCAA men's soccer win list, 2010 has the potential to be a very big season for Nittany Lion soccer.


Warming is one of just two active coaches to take two different schools to the College Cup.  Can he make it three at Penn State?  

Men's Golf Team Catches Fire at NCAA Regionals

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 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion men's golf team manufactured one of the biggest turnarounds of the spring sports season over the weekend by earning a spot in the NCAA Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn.


After a 10th place finish in the Big Ten Championships three weeks ago, the Nittany Lions garnered an at-large berth to get into the NCAA Regional competition.  And the Lions made the most of their regional visit to Yale over the weekend.


Heading into the tournament, it was hard to figure how the Nittany Lions would fare.  The 10th place effort at the Big Ten Championships raised some questions.  Nonetheless, it was clear on day one of regional competition that the Nittany Lions were going to be heard from at Yale.

A red-hot start set the tone for what turned out to be an outstanding weekend for head coach Greg Nye and the Nittany Lions.  A pair of seniors posted standout performances throughout the weekend in New Haven, Conn.  T.J. Howe fired scores of 69, 68 and 66 to earn a share of first place in the regional.  Fellow senior Kevin Foley finished in a tie for fourth with a 67, 67 and 72.


Howe made history with his combined 7-under par performance, earning the best individual finish by a Nittany Lion golfer at NCAA Regional competition.  The third-round 66 also topped his personal best career round.  It was a tremendous performance from Osceola, Pa., native.


The NCAA field is made up of 30 teams.  Each of the six regions sent the five low teams into the NCAA field.  As a team, the Lions finished fourth in the 14-team field, which will automatically send them to the 2010 NCAA Championships from June 1-6 in Chattanooga.  This will mark Penn State's 17th NCAA appearance and fourth under Coach Nye.  The Lions last competed in the NCAAs in 2008.


The Course at Yale has been very friendly to the Nittany Lions over the years.  Penn State posted a second place finish in NCAA Regional competition in New Haven to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships in 2004.


In a span of two weeks, the Lions went from a 10th place team at the conference championships to a fourth place team at a 14-team regional with several ranked teams.  As we said to kick off this post, it is remarkable to think that the Nittany Lions finished 10th out of 11 at the Big Ten Championships earlier this spring.


Howe and Foley were the catalysts, though.  They played some of the best golf of their Nittany Lion careers.  Howe was the only player in the field to shoot three consecutive rounds in the 60s.  Foley was on Howe's heels throughout the weekend, but a two-over 72 in the final round kept him from potentially giving the Lions a clean sweep atop the leaderboard.


Nonetheless, it was a tremendous performance from the Nittany Lion golf team over the weekend.  Three rounds of superb golf firmly put the Lions in the NCAA Championship field.  Congratulations to Coach Nye and the rest of the team for an outstanding weekend at Yale.


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