Monday, July 16, 2007

College Football at its Best - Penn State Nittany Lions

Today Stiles Points features the Penn State Nittany Lions as part of the series "College Football at its Best"....Mike from Black Shoe Diaries was kind enough to take some time and respond to my questions....he's a 33-year-old engineer living in Philadelphia who graduated from Penn State in 1997....he has been blogging about Penn State since January 2006 and has been running BSD since August of 2006....I want to thank Mike for his time....

  • BlackShoeDiaries - Penn State

  • Q1. Who was the better running back at Penn State - Ki Jana Carter, Larry Johnson, Curt Warner, or Curtis Enis?
    Wow. Tough question. My personal favorite would be Ki-Jana Carter. I was a junior at Penn State in 1994 so I will always have a soft spot for that team. Most Penn State fans consider him the best all around back to play for the Nittany Lions. I have to agree. He had the total package. He could run, catch, and block. But beyond that he was a humble kid that endeared him with the Penn State faithful.

    Not to take anything away from the other guys though. Johnson and Enis were great, but they both had some attitude problems. I’m afraid I’m too young to remember Curt Warner, so I’m probably not doing him justice. A lot of old timers will contend he was the best ever. I’m sorry I’m not informed enough to comment on him that much.

    Q2. What is the greatest Penn State football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
    Another tough question. Why don’t you just ask me which one of my kids I love most? The

    1987 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami has to be the greatest of all time. We were huge underdogs and nobody gave us a chance in that game. The buildup to that game was unbelievable. Miami paraded around all week in their army fatigues while the Penn State kids were always seen in suits and ties. It was a classic street thugs vs. the choir boys battle. At the joint team dinner before the game Jerome Brown stood up and asked, “Did the Japanese sit down and eat with Pearl Harbor before they bombed them? No. We’re outta here.” And with that he led the Hurricanes back to the team busses. On their way out the door Penn State punter John Bruno stood up and asked them, “Excuse me, but didn’t the Japanese lose the war?” The game evolved into more than just a football game between Penn State and Miami. It was a struggle between good and evil.

    Miami had an amazing amount of talent. In addition to Heisman Trophy winner Vinnie Testaverde they had future NFL stars Michael Irvin, Jerome Brown, Alonzo Highsmith not to mention future Dallas Cowboy and Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson running the show. Penn State had guys like John Shaffer, D.J. Dozier, and Ray Isom. Only linebacker Shane Conlan was recognized as having future NFL star potential.

    The Penn State defense won that game. The offense couldn’t move the ball all night. It was the defense that won the game by forcing five interceptions. They got into the head of Johnson and Testaverde. As Miami drove deep into Penn State territory late in the fourth quarter with Penn State holding on to a slim 14-10 lead the tension was so thick my arms and legs were shaking as I watched the television. The pressure was so great on fourth and goal that defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky got lockjaw. He couldn’t call the play. Linebacker Trey Bauer called the play from the huddle. Testaverde rolled left and threw the ball right to Penn State linebacker Pete Giftopoulos. Pete ran around like he didn’t know what to do and just fell to the ground. Joe Paterno won his second National Championship and the entire state of Pennsylvania exhaled.

    Q3. Who is currently Penn State's biggest rival? Do you miss the rivalry with the old eastern teams such as West Virginia, Syracuse, and Pitt?
    In a way I do miss the old rivalries with West Virginia, Syracuse and Pitt. Lately the Big East has been getting some recognition as a credible conference again. I know if Penn State played those teams we would beat them more often than they would beat us. Teams like West Virginia and Rutgers are starting to think they are national players. It bugs me we can’t settle it on the field anymore.

    But I wouldn’t trade Penn State’s status in the Big Ten for anything. We don’t have a natural rival in the conference. Penn State fans like to think Ohio State or Michigan are our biggest rivals, but those teams each consider the other to be their rival so they don’t necessarily reciprocate the hate that Penn State fans have for them. The eight game losing streak and the fact that the two teams didn’t play in 2003 and 2004 kind of cooled off the rivalry with Michigan. Right now I think Penn State fans consider Ohio State to be our biggest rivalry.

    Q4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear a Penn State uniform and why?
    Well, I was born in 1974 and didn’t really start following Penn State football until around 1985, so I probably can’t do the players before that time justice, but here’s my top five list.

    5. Larry Johnson – After spending four years riding the bench and in Joe’s doghouse he broke out for that special 2000 yard season in 2002. I think he broke the single game rushing record three times that year.

    4. Paul Posluszny – All time Penn State career leader in tackles. Arguably the best linebacker to ever play at Linebacker U. He embodied the Joe Paterno mold of the student athlete.

    3. Ki-Jana Carter – Heart and soul of the 1994 offense which many people rank with the greatest offenses of all time.

    2. Todd Blackledge – Starting quarterback on the 1982 National Championship team.

    1. Shane Conlan – Two time All American and member of the 1986 championship team.

    Somebody is going to yell at me for leaving someone off the list.

    Q5. Make your case why Penn State football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
    This is like asking Joe Paterno to show you his best endzone celebration dance. I guess I’m supposed to mention National Championships, undefeated seasons, All Americans, and legendary coaches. Maybe it’s a result of being a Penn State fan so long, but I have a tough time saying Penn State is the best program in the country. Joe Paterno would never tell you he has the best program in the country, so neither can I.

    I think we’re a great program. Maybe one of the top five or ten in the country. Obviously we’ve been very successful on the field, but I think what endears this program to our fans is the manner in which the team conducts themselves with class on the field. There is no dancing in the endzone. No taunting the opponent. When you score you act like you’ve been there before. We wear plain blue jerseys with no names on them. On the road we go completely vanilla. We’re boring, but we’re a team. Off the field Penn State student athletes excel in the classroom as well. In a commencement speech a few years ago Joe Paterno said, “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish. It will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.” Penn State adopted from that speech a slogan that goes “Success with Honor”. Paterno has applied this to his coaching and teaching philosophy and it’s the reason why Penn State fans feel so much pride in their team....

    I want to thank Mike for his time....tomorrow I will feature the Oregon Ducks....


    GMoney said...

    The greatest moment in Penn State history was at OSU last year when JoePa had to run off the field to avoid shatting himself.

    Anonymous said...

    I think you are living in the past if you think that Penn State would beat WV more often tha not. When you last played WV, they were mediocre at best. I encourage you to get PSU to schedule a home and home with WV. I'd like to see that settled on the field myself.

    Anonymous said...

    wow...this guy is a knuckle head.

    What a biased opinion to say, "we woudl beat them more than they would beat us."

    sorry, Pat White and Steve Slaton would have Black Shoes all over the field....nice try.

    How'd you like the whoppin Syracuse gave you in 1987 when your shit school demanded 6 home games on a 10 year contract? I guess after that game, we deserved the 6 home games.

    This guy is a joke.

    tiger said...