Posts tagged ‘Bob Warming’

Talking Football—the Global Version—on the Coaches Caravan

Futbol or football? Walsh, Warming and Franklin find common ground at the Coaches Caravan.

Futbol or football? Walsh, Warming, and Franklin find common ground on the Coaches Caravan. Photo by Mark Selders

It’s a small irony that, while riding the bus on a Coaches Caravan trip that is understandably focused on football, I’m indulging in the chance to talk at length about soccer. That’s “football” to most of the rest of the world, of course, and as men’s soccer coach Bob Warming has jokingly reminded every Caravan crowd thus far, it remains the most popular sport on the planet. Warming knows as well as anyone that most Penn Staters are more interested in “American” football, and he’s okay with that. He knows his sport is on very solid footing in the States.

Certainly it’s in great shape in Happy Valley. In Warming and Erica Walsh—both of whom are on the bus this week and speaking at every Caravan stop—Penn State unquestionably has two of the best college coaches in America. Warming, a two-time national Coach of the Year during stints at Creighton and St. Louis, has led the Nittany Lions to the last two Big Ten regular season titles. Under Walsh, who doubles as an assistant coach with the U.S. women’s national team, the women won six straight Big Ten titles from 2007-2012.

As a regular at Jeffrey Field since my undergraduate days—for a lot of reasons, it remains one of my favorite spots on campus—I’d catch most of the men’s and women’s games even if the teams were mediocre. Happily, they’re terrific, and Warming and Walsh have a lot to do with that. Being able to pick their brains on this trip—even as James Franklin jokingly yells at us to take all the soccer talk to the other end of the bus—has only clarified why they’re both so good at what they do.

From Warming, it’s insights into the strangely adversarial relationship between Major League Soccer and the college game, and anecdotes about how soccer savvy today’s young players are about the international game. From Walsh, it’s insider knowledge about the challenges of the recruiting process and the workings of the national team set-up. From both of them, it’s good humor and an appreciation (or tolerance, at least) for a passionate soccer fan who can’t get enough of hearing all they know.

As cool as it’s been, I can say I haven’t been surprised. A couple of years ago, I sat in on a class for area soccer coaches looking to add a certificate to their resume: It started with an X’s and O’s session with Warming, who previewed that night’s game with Indiana, arguably the Lions’ biggest regular-season match. He detailed key matchups against the Hoosiers, told us certain players’ tendencies to keep an eye on, and explained the high-tech video system the program uses to fine-tune its scouting and game prep.

After watching the first half of the match at Jeffrey Field, we were joined in the bleachers by Walsh—she was in the midst of her own season, remember—who proceeded to give us an incredibly detailed halftime breakdown of what was and wasn’t working for each side. Based on her knowledge, you’d have thought she was coaching one of these teams, not running a top-10 women’s program of her own.

In both cases, these coaches gave generously of their time, showed off a remarkably thorough understanding of their sport, and conveyed that knowledge in a way that illuminated the game for all of us. Sitting across from them this week on the bus, I’ve been lucky to soak up more of that soccer intelligence. It’s been a blast.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

May 8, 2014 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

Kicking Off Another Coaches Caravan

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One of the hundreds of fans who got to meet James Franklin on Thursday night.

It felt a lot like the past two years: Loyal Penn State fans turning out for an offseason football fix and a chance to meet the new coach.

It also felt very different. Different venue. Different coach. The start, once again, of a different era.

James Franklin took center stage Thursday night at Pegula Arena, where the third Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off within sight of Beaver Stadium. More than 400 fans turned out, and it appeared all who wanted to had the chance to take a quick picture with Franklin at the photo station on the upper concourse. Other coaches—Patrick Chambers, Bob Warming, Russ Rose, and a few members of Franklin’s new staff—mingled with the crowd over appetizers, before fans settled into their seats to see Franklin, Rose, and Warming speak from a chilly stage on the ice.

There are plenty of photos and video from the main event over at GoPSUSports, but we also kept an eye out for things fans might have missed. A few tidbits of note:

* The new coach and new president had what we believe was their first meeting Thursday at the pre-event reception. Eric Barron and his wife, Molly, popped in briefly and spent some time talking with Franklin (below), then made their way out—mostly unnoticed—before the coaches took the stage. Barron, the subject of the cover story in our May/June issue, officially takes over as Penn State president on May 12.

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* As you’ve no doubt noticed, in nearly every posed photo since he arrived on campus (including the one at the top of this post), Franklin is holding up his index finger in a “No. 1” pose. Hoping to ask him how and why that became the thing he does when the Caravan hits the road next week.

* Roger Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g, our executive director, presented Franklin with a life membership Thursday night—meaning he’ll now be getting The Penn Stater at home. We expect an occasional letter, Coach.

The Caravan hits the road for real next Tuesday, and I’m excited to be back on the bus for a third year. I plan to have a bunch of updates over the next two weeks, both here and at The Football Letter Blog. If the past two years are any indication, I should come out of it with some great stories. Hope to see you on the road.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

May 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

As Bill O’Brien Might Say, “Next Man Up.”

One year ago, almost to the day, dozens of media members sat in the Beaver Stadium press room listening to Bill O’Brien explain—and, to an extent, defend—his interest in NFL jobs before finally reconfirming his commitment to Penn State. As I wrote at the time, O’Brien “hasn’t—and at this point, clearly won’t—put an end date on that commitment.”

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On Thursday, Athletic Director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g sat in front of a slightly smaller group of media to confirm that O’Brien was resigning his post to take the same position with the NFL’s Houston Texans. You can read the university’s official statement on the search for O’Brien’s replacement here, but here’s the takeaway:

* A national search for O’Brien’s successor is already underway. The six-person search committee is led by Joyner and includes VP of administration Tom Poole ’84g, associate AD Charmelle Green, recreation, park and tourism management professor and faculty athletics representative Linda Caldwell, men’s soccer coach Bob Warming, and Football Letterman’s Club director Wally Richardson ’96, ’03g.

* Long-time defensive line coach Larry Johnson, now the only holdover from Joe Paterno’s staff, is leading the program on an interim basis.

* Emphasizing that he hopes for a quick resolution to the search, Joyner said the “atmosphere of this search is very different, much more attractive” than the drawn-out process that led to O’Brien’s hiring two years ago. “We were very deliberate then,” Joyner said. “We’re going to be deliberate this time, but much faster.”

* Joyner said Penn State has already been contacted by potential candidates or their representatives. “We have a tremendous amount of interest in this position,” he said, adding that there would be no official comment on potential candidates during the search process.

* Of O’Brien, Joyner was consistently complimentary. “I want to emphasize how happy we are for Coach O’Brien and this tremendous opportunity for him, and that we’re extremely grateful for the past two years,” Joyner said. He said he believed O’Brien came to Penn State with plans for a longer tenure—”We always worked on the future … things we could do to improve our program”—and that the coach “always had Penn State’s bests interests at heart.” Ultimately, Joyner said that while he believed Penn State made “every effort to make it attractive for him to stay … I believe he was presented with an opportunity that, for his family and his future, he just could not pass up.”

* Asked if he was hoping to find a coach who was likely to stick around beyond two seasons, Joyner said, “I think that’ll be very important. Consistency is important.”

* Joyner said that while a Penn State connection isn’t a prerequisite, it’s a factor the search committee would consider.

Here’s to a quick, thorough, and successful search.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 2, 2014 at 6:27 pm 1 comment

Penn State Gets Its Man — Again.

The men’s lacrosse team has announced its new coach, and based on his résumé, the hiring is a great one. Jeff Tambroni, who led Cornell to the NCAA Final Four in three of the past four seasons, is the man charged with leading the Nittany Lions to a place among the game’s elite. Tambroni replaces longtime Penn State coach Glenn Thiel ’66, who retired in May.

The hiring looks like a coup for the Lions, who lured a proven coach from a successful program to take over a team that finished just 2-11 last season; indeed, the move left many in the lacrosse world scratching their heads. But Tambroni says family ties explain it: He was an All-American at Hobart College, but his wife, former Cornell field hockey coach, Michelle Frates Tambroni ’91, was a field hockey standout for Penn State. (Michelle hopes to help Char Morett ’79 with the field hockey team in some capacity now that she’s back in town.) Regardless of the details, it’s another impressive hire for Penn State, who brought in respected Creighton soccer coach Bob Warming to replace Barry Gorman last month.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

June 20, 2010 at 8:48 am Leave a comment

Breaking Down the World Cup with Bob Warming

I was excited to sit down the other day with new Penn State men’s soccer coach Bob Warming. We spent about an hour on Monday talking soccer, mostly about his plans for the Nittany Lion program; given what he did with fewer resources at Creighton—the Blue Jays won seven Missouri Valley Conference titles and made 11 NCAA tournament appearances during his 14 seasons—it’s no surprise he expects to return Penn State to its days as a national title contender.

I’m a bit of a soccer geek, so it was a blast to talk about the game with someone who knows it as well as he does. And the timing couldn’t be better: The 2010 World Cup kicks off Friday in South Africa. I’ve got a Q&A with Warming in the works for the magazine’s Sept./Oct. issue, just in time to preview the Nittany Lions’ 100th season, but for now, here’s the coach’s take on the players to watch over the next four weeks, a preview of Saturday’s much-hyped USA-England match, and his pick to win it all.

Three players to watch…

Leo Messi, Argentina: “Right now, he’s the best player in the world.”

Xavi, Spain: “The completion rate of his passes is remarkable, and they’re always into the heart of the defense.”

Wayne Rooney, England: “I think he’s the most interesting player to watch. I don’t know if he’s the best player, but the run he had in the English Premiership this year was remarkable. I think it’ll be interesting, especially for the casual soccer fan, to see this pugilistic, hard-nosed forward with so much skill.”

A primer on the U.S. team’s tournament opener against England, a talented squad shouldering massive expectations at home…

“The U.S. has to be very willing to go ahead and play. Because it’s England, because of the magnitude of the game, I think the worst thing you can do is sit back and not try to play. But I think if you play, it’ll rattle their confidence a little bit. I think that’s essential. (U.S. goalkeeper) Tim Howard is going to have to come up with that one big save early that’ll set the tone. And then Landon Donovan (above) is going to have to be a terror, because he’s the one guy I think that England might fear. He’s the best player in the history of the country, and he can’t be invisible. He’s gotta be dominant.”

His pick to lift the cup next month…

“It’s hard to argue with Spain, Argentina, and Brazil, but I’ll pick the U.S., because that’s where my heart is. It’s not realistic, but that’s where my heart is. And if I have to pick someone else? I like Spain.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

June 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Bob Warming Takes Over the Men’s Soccer Team

There weren’t a lot of obvious replacements for Barry Gorman, the longtime Nittany Lion soccer coach who resigned in April. Not that there weren’t plenty of great candidates, of course; there just weren’t many who could match Gorman’s experience—he spent 22 years on the Penn State sideline—and success at the collegiate level.

On paper, though, the Nittany Lions appear to have found their man.

Bob Warming, a college head coach for 32 years, most notably with a very successful Creighton University program, has been named the 11th head coach in Penn State soccer history. Warming won 73 percent of his games at Creighton, a tenure that included 11 NCAA tournament berths and seven Missouri Valley Conference titles in 14 seasons. His 383 career victories rank sixth among active Division I coaches and 15th all-time. As of Sunday night, he was telling Omaha media that rumors of his depending departure for Happy Valley were just that; now that the truth is out, he’ll be tasked with preparing a brand new team for a season that starts in a little more than three months.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

May 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm 1 comment


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