Posts tagged ‘Dave Joyner’

“Clear and Unanimous” Choice Sandy Barbour is the New AD

DSC_5582_Sandy_Barbour[1]Eminently qualified, but with some tough questions to answer, Sandy Barbour was introduced Saturday as Penn State’s new director of athletics.

Barbour, who until earlier this month had worked for nearly a decade as the AD at UC Berkeley, met reporters Saturday in the Beaver Stadium press room. Introduced by President Eric Barron as the “clear and “unanimous” choice for the job, the 54-year-old Barbour described Penn State as something of a dream destination. The Maryland native presented the move as a sort of homecoming, and said Penn State “represents the opportunity to have it all.” She’ll officially start work on Aug. 18.

Barbour’s resume is impressive. Prior to 10 years at Cal—where she led a department that supports 28 varsity programs and won 19 national championships during her tenure—she worked as an assistant AD at Notre Dame and Northwestern and also served an eight-year stint as AD at Tulane. A two-sport standout at Wake Forest, she owns a master’s degree from UMass and an MBA from Northwestern, where she also worked as an assistant AD. She knows college athletics from a coach’s perspective—she was a field hockey and lacrosse assistant at UMass and Northwestern—taught a course on sports management at the University of New Orleans, and even spent a summer as a production intern at the Fox Sports affiliate in Chicago

Media coverage of her time at Cal paints Barbour as a passionate advocate for and supporter of student-athletes, while offering harsh appraisals of her efforts in two key areas: Graduation rates and budget management. While most of Cal’s teams graduated at high rates under Barbour, the rates for football and men’s basketball were among the lowest rates for any major conference program. As for budget issues, Bay Area media were particularly critical of Barbour’s handling of a costly facilities upgrade—a process complicated by the fact that Cal’s aging Memorial Stadium rests atop an active fault line, requiring hundreds of millions in additional costs to make it safe.

Without redirecting blame, Barbour said the low graduation rates of Cal’s highest-profile programs were “unacceptable,” and said she “learned a number of things in that situation that will benefit Penn State.” Barron said he called Cal’s chancellor to ask about Barbour’s role, and was told that “Sandy was a champion for the success of the students, and was putting on considerable pressure to make the situation improve.”

DSC_5785_Franklin_Barbour_BarronBarbour will face very different challenges at Penn State, where she takes over from Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g, who took the job on an interim basis in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, played a lead role in the hiring of both Bill O’Brien and James Franklin, and oversaw three largely successful years for Nittany Lion teams. Noting how the university “stayed together” through the scandal, Barbour said, “I really admire your recent record of looking in the mirror, and recognizing the need to be better.” Barron said Joyner will continue to serve as AD until Aug. 17, and thereafter in a consulting role helping Barbour in her transition.

The location of the press conference, and the presence of James Franklin, who joined Barbour and Barron afterward for photos on the Beaver Stadium turf, emphasized the central importance of football to the athletic department. Barbour referenced Penn State’s reputation as the “Beasts of the East,” adding “I have no doubt we’ll return to that under Coach Franklin.” But she emphasized that, both in football and across the board, Penn State teams under her leadership won’t settle for regional success.

“We aspire to national championships in each and every one of our 31 sports,” she said. “That’s what we’ll work toward every day.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

 

July 26, 2014 at 4:28 pm 6 comments

With Bold Talk and Home-State Pride, James Franklin Takes Over at Penn State

There were a few lines that James Franklin had almost certainly rehearsed.

“I’m a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart.”

“It’s about people. I’m a relationships guy.”

“We now have two daughters and 95 new sons.”

But what might have been the most memorable moment of the press conference announcing Franklin as Penn State’s 16th head football coach on Saturday afternoon appeared entirely unscripted. Wrapping up an answer near the end of the presser, Franklin was emphasizing how much this particular job meant to him. “Best day of my life,” he said.

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There was a pause of two or three seconds before Franklin, noticing his two young daughters, Shola and Addy, in front of the podium, added, “I’m sorry. Third best day of my life.”

There was laughter among the overflow crowd in the Beaver Stadium press room. Having spent the better part of an hour convincing the assembled media and a national TV audience that he had accepted his “dream job,” the 41-year-old Franklin had earned a pass. It was easy to believe that, the births of his daughters aside, Franklin had indeed landed what he sees as the job of a lifetime.

Flanked by university president Rod Erickson and athletic director Dave Joyner, Franklin met the media Saturday after signing a six-year contract worth up to $4.5 million each year. For Nittany Lion fans, the hiring of one of the nation’s most coveted young coaches confirms Penn State as one of the top coaching jobs in college football. “Our program requires a very special kind of leader,” Erickson said. “We ran a careful and deliberate search process, and I believe we have found the right person to lead our program.”

Franklin is a Langhorne, Pa., native who grew up believing “everybody in this state is a Penn State fan.” He first stepped on campus in junior high, when he attended a summer football camp. “I thought I was good enough to play for Penn State,” he said. “I was not.” But he was good enough to be a record-setting quarterback at East Stroudsburg, a career that set him on the path of a 15-year assistant coach, with stops at seven different schools and a year with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.

He got a chance to lead a program in 2011, taking over a historically weak Vanderbilt program and quickly making the Commodores competitive in the talent-loaded SEC. Vandy, with its academic prowess and Cinderella appeal, became one of college football’s feel-good stories, but there were some things the job couldn’t offer—namely, a 107,000-seat stadium, and national recruiting appeal, all close to where he grew up.

“I’m excited to be home,” he said.

Franklin inherits a program that, while still facing NCAA sanctions, finds itself on stable ground after the two-year tenure of Bill O’Brien. Franklin and O’Brien coached together at Maryland in the early 2000s (former Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, then the Terps head coach, actually hired Franklin in College Park), and Franklin said he expects O’Brien would be a “great resource” as he settles into the job his former colleague just left.

Among the noteworthy ground Franklin covered Saturday:

* When asked how long he planned to be at Penn State, Franklin made no promises but said all the right things. “I’d still be at Vanderbilt right now if this wasn’t such an amazing opportunity. We plan on being here a very long time. This is my dream job. This is where I want to be.” He also called himself a “college guy,” consciously or not signaling a key difference between himself and O’Brien, whose NFL ambitions were never a secret.

* Franklin, renowned for his recruiting prowess, was blunt in describing his philosophy for drawing talent: “We are going to dominate the state.” He promised a strong regional and even national recruiting approach, but emphasized that the wealth of in-state talent meant his priority would be keeping Pennsylvania’s best players in Pennsylvania.

* Franklin was asked about the ongoing investigation into a rape case at Vanderbilt involving a number of his former players; while a Nashville DA has cleared Franklin of any wrongdoing regarding his knowledge of the alleged assaults, some in the media have criticized his hiring in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. “It couldn’t have been a more thorough interview process,” he said. “It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever been through personally—as the father of two daughters—and professionally. What I think came out of all this, through their background checks and all the information they got, was that we were honest and up-front, we made decisions quickly, did everything we possibly could to respect the situation, and also worked hard and supported the young men that we have in our program.”

Added Joyner, “This was maybe the most thorough vetting process of any search of any position at this university. We utilized multiple third-party and independent sources … It couldn’t have been a more thorough vetting process with our committee, and with people that asked hard questions and got honest and true answers. My belief, without a doubt, is that James Franklin is a man of extremely high character.”

* Franklin wasn’t put off by the fact that Erickson is scheduled to retire and be replaced by an as-yet-unknown president within the next six months. “That was a concern,” he said,” but what I was sold on, and what I believe, is that Penn State has a plan and a purpose, and a certain type of individual will be attracted to this institution. That’s what made me very comfortable.”

* The status of his Penn State staff, including the possibility of retaining longtime defensive line coach Larry Johnson, remains up in the air. “I am fiercely loyal as a person, fiercely loyal to the people I’ve worked with,” Franklin said. “But I’m also going to have some discussions with people who are here.”

* Franklin joked—well, we think he was joking—about how far he’d go in embracing the off-field responsibilities of the job. That included a pledge not to turn down any speaking engagements, and even to “blow up balloons at kids’ birthday party.”

* Asked about the transition from Vandy’s 40,000-seat stadium to a home field that holds well over double that, Franklin made a promise that doubled as a challenge to his new fan base: “That stadium will be sold out every… single… game from here on out.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 12, 2014 at 12:09 am 5 comments

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

The Penn Stater Daily — Jan. 2, 2014

Signs of Change: On my walk to campus this morning—our first day back after the winter break, so Happy New Year, everyone—I came up Allen Street just as workers had finished stripping the Christmas tree at the Allen Street gates of its decorations.

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About 90 seconds later, I hit the Dunkin Donuts on College and Fraser for my usual morning tea. I couldn’t help but notice the store had recently lost some decorations of its own.

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Until a few days ago, the hand-painted words “O’Brien’s Lions” had taken up most of that window. I asked Cindy, the manager who usually has my order rung up before I reach the front of the line, about the loss of one of her regular early-morning customers—a guy who just happens to be the outgoing coach of the Penn State football team.

“He’s a really nice man,” Cindy said. “He would sign things, and he took a picture with just about everyone who worked here. It’s too bad, but he’s got a chance for his dream job. I don’t blame him.”

At an 11 a.m. press conference today, it’s expected that athletic director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g will confirm that Bill O’Brien is gone after two years in charge of the Nittany Lion football program; the Houston Texans are expected to make O’Brien’s hiring official sometime today as well. For now, the Centre Daily Times is reporting that longtime assistant coach Larry Johnson will oversee the program until a hire is made. There’s no telling who the new coach might be, but media outlets are already listing possible replacements. Among the popular names are a couple of former Lions, current Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak ’82 and current University of Miami coach Al Golden ’91.

I’ll have an update from Joyner’s press conference later today.

Belatedly: YES! We’ve been holding that in for almost two weeks now, ever since the women’s volleyball team won its sixth national championship—and fifth in the past seven years—with a four-set victory over Big Ten rival Wisconsin. If you missed it (or just want to relive the awesomeness), you can find photos and a game recap here, and some great video here. Congrats to coach Russ Rose and his team.

And finally, some New Year’s inspiration: Scuba diver, ski instructor, grad student, Paralympian, and Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 2013—good luck pigeonholing Maggie Redden ’07. The Newark Star-Ledger has a great profile of this accomplished alumna, a childhood polio survivor who was adopted from India and now lives one of those lives that make the rest of us look lazy.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 2, 2014 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Sept. 20, 2013

From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.

More, please: Penn State plans to ask for a 5.1 percent boost in state funding, per Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees. Even if the “ambitious” request is approved, tuition will increase by an average 2.85 percent. Additionally, Athletic Director Dave Joyner said the athletic department may borrow $30 million to offset the dip in Beaver Stadium attendance. For more on Thursday’s meeting, check out Senior Editor Lori Shontz’s post here.

Hoop dreams: There’s four teams left in the WNBA playoffs, and two include former Lady Lions: Guard Alex Bentley, who’s already broken the WNBA record for consecutive three-pointers with the Atlanta Dream, and Tanisha Wright ’06, who helped the Seattle Storm win a title in 2010. Check out the full semifinals schedule for where and when to watch.

President’s pick: Penn State nutrition professor Penny Kris-Etherton has accepted an invitation to join the Science Board of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, a new government initiative to promote good nutrition and exercise. An expert on cardiovascular health, Kris-Etherton will begin her three-year term on Jan. 1, 2014.

Good and evil: Prep for tomorrow’s football game vs. Kent State by catching up with Evil Bill O’Brien. Onward State’s Bill DiFilippo interviewed the anonymous auteur behind B’oB’s (fake) Twitter counterpart, @evilbillobrien—who, apparently, knows a thing or two about dinosaurs.

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Apple picking: When I pulled up to the Starbucks on North Atherton Street this morning and saw an insane line, my first thought went something like this: “Oh man, is Starbucks selling Cronuts now!?” Um, no. The new iPhone went on sale at 8 a.m. at the neighboring Verizon store.  Penn State juniors Jace Blout and Dayne Detweiler made the trek from campus around 6:30 a.m., and when I talked to them at 8:45, they were still stuck outside — Verizon staffers were allowing only small groups in at a time. The two pics above, taken on my three-models-ago iPhone 4, are my best attempt at capturing the crowd. You know, the iPhone could really use a panoramic feature. Somebody get on that.

Mary Murphy, associate editor 

September 20, 2013 at 11:06 am Leave a comment

Nittany Lion Basketball is Going Back to Rec Hall

For one night in December, the rims will be rocking again in Rec Hall.

photo-1It’s long been rumored (and long been lobbied for by those of us with a particularly strong connection to the place), and on Wednesday, it became official: The Nittany Lions will host Princeton on Saturday, Dec. 14, in the gym the program called home for nearly seven decades. The announcement was made by athletic director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g, who was flanked in the Bryce Jordan Center media room by current Nittany Lion coach Patrick Chambers and by Bruce Parkhill, the man who led Penn State to some of its finest moments in Rec Hall.

The return to the old building has been a long time coming. Chambers said they’ve been working on it for at least a year, figuring out the logistics of playing a basketball game in a building that is no longer set up for hoops. That means a portable floor being brought in and set up in the days before the game, figuring out ticketing allotments, and the smaller but no less vital details—Will there be enough parking? Will there be enough bathrooms?—familiar to anyone who remembers packing into Rec Hall for basketball back in the day. But they figured it out, and for Chambers, the motivation was simple.

“We listened to our fans,” Chambers said. “We listened to our alums. We listened to our former players. We heard you.”

For guys like me—a front-row season-ticket holder for two seasons in the mid ’90s—the nostalgic pull of Rec Hall is obvious. It was great to see Parkhill, who was so terrific to talk to last year for our feature on the ‘93 Penn State-Indiana game, at the podium and clearly excited about the game. But the real treat is seeing how people with little or no connection to Rec Hall as a hoop venue are just as excited. Andrew Jones ’11, the former Nittany Lion big man who returned to the program in June to work as a graduate assistant (and who played all his home games in the BJC), tweeted “I still can’t believe this game is happening!!! Bittersweet but awesome nonetheless.” And current students like Maddy Pryor and Darnell Brady, members of the Nittany Nation student supporters section, were at Wednesday’s press conference to unveil the “Return to Rec” banners. They can’t wait.

Neither can I. Now if only I can get my old seats back in the front row…

Ryan Jones, senior editor

July 31, 2013 at 11:05 pm 4 comments

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