Forty-two lines on 21 topics: I really, really hope I'm wrong because I like Bill O'Brien a lot. But this ain't gonna be pretty at Penn State. This is not a football job. It's a renovation, reclamation, resuscitation of one of America's great programs and the restoration of self-image for the university, its alumni and a region. And Penn State turns its lonely, post-Paterno eyes to a guy they may have never even laid eyes on until O'Brien wasbeingrestrained while screaming at the greatest quarterback of his generation a month ago. Yow. O'Brien's a football coach who's never been a head coach. And he's led the cloistered, monklike existence of a Patriots' assistant in which every syllable is parsed by Bill Belichick for tone and appropriateness. O'Brien serves up organization-approved pablum and non-answers on his conference calls every week. Neither he nor Nick Caserio stray from the Patriots' talking points. This Penn State job? It's everything but football right now and if the school or O'Brien have deluded themselves otherwise (and here's proof they have) then O'Brien's about to be fed into the wood chipper. Fortunately for Penn State, O'Brien is smart as hell, genuine and a terrific communicator. He will present exceedingly well in his introductory press conference, I guarantee that. But this job needs a Tony Dungy-type right now and O'Brien is a fire-and-brimstone football guy who, inevitably, is going to lose patience with the persistence of the media. Unlike what he goes through now, this isn't going to be eight people on a Monday conference callhalf-assedly askingwhy Chad Ochocinco hasn't been a bigger factor. This is NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, SNL, Jon Stewart, the NYT, the BBC and every other organization with air time and bandwidth to fill and a stomach-turning scandal that is going to go on and on as it moves through the judicial system. Nobody's going to care much about the route tree. And never mind recruiting in a Pennsylvania living room when file footage of Sandusky in his Nittany Lions gear pops on the screen, have you heard the reaction of the football alumni? Said former linebacker Brandon Short: I dont want to be affiliated with the university if they dont choose a Penn State guy because of our standards, our graduation, all the things that have been important . . . its no longer Penn State, so we might as well be in the SEC. They are intent on turning it into a booster culture. Ira Lubert went out and purchased a national title with wrestling and hes under the illusion that he can do that in football. Well, ask (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder about that. Penn State is a family and it is real and if they choose to get rid of Bradley and not hire a Penn State coach, then theyve turned their backs on our entire family. I don't think Bill O'Brien's going to get a fair shake there. But I hope - I really hope - I'm wrong. Meanwhile, as Bill Belichick asked in 2010, "Who's been wrong more than Charlie Casserly." Good question. I'll take the Texans over the Bengals in the first AFC Wild Card game. I'm going with the Broncos over the Steelers in a seismic upset in the second one. In the NFC, Saints rout the Lions. And the Giants take out Atlanta. I think the Saints are playing the best football of anyone right now. Their road to Indy - Detroit, at San Fran and probably at Green Bay - is so hard they won't likely get there, though. A little non-football? Marquis Daniels does curious things on the basketball court for the Celtics. Hoop game for my son's seventh-grade team on the Vineyard on Sunday. Only been over there once in my life and never been to Nantucket (landlubber). Everyone's invited to the Renaissance Patriot Place on Monday at 6:30 p.m. for Comcast SportsNet's pre-playoff party. Food, drink, a Q&A, special guests and the Patriots cheerleaders to count you down to the BCS National Championship game between LSU and Alabama. Last May, after 11 years of minivan driving, we traded that mess in for a pretty nice SUV. We miss the minivan. "She sounds hideous." Favorite commercial these days - in a rout.
The New England Patriots have announced that they've released defensive tackle Darius Kilgo.
The move creates an opening for wide receiver Griff Whalen, who they have reportedly signed to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Kilgo, a sixth-round pick out of Maryland in 2015, did not make an appearance for the Patriots after being claimed off waivers from the Broncos last week. He played 81 snaps for Denver this season.
Whalen, 26, played in two games for San Diego in 2016 where he caught two passes for a total of 22 yards.
The former Colts wideout is perhaps best remembered in New England for his part in Indianapolis' disastrous fake punt against the Patriots last season.
FOXBORO – John Harbaugh explained on Thursday the difference between the rules loophole his Ravens exploited recently and the one the Patriots exploited in the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff Game that caused him to cry, “Foul.”
What it boiled down to? Everyone knew about the loophole the Ravens took advantage of when they committed an en masse holding penalty at the end of the game against the Bengals.
Nobody had seen what the Patriots successfully pulled off when they made eligible receivers ineligible and vice versa and went on a touchdown drive that changed the tenor of the game.
“You’re right. I don’t want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said when I asked what the difference was. “That’s all been hashed out. I believe what I believe and I think it’s all been proven to be right.
“The point about [the punt hold] is, it’s been talked about, it’s been looked at, it’s been something that’s been used for 20 years so it’s nothing new,” he explained. “It’s nothing that hadn’t been addressed before by officials or the competition committee.”
Harbaugh said that, in Super Bowl 47, his Ravens used the tactic and his brother Jim, coach of the Niners, took it up with the Competition Committee. John Harbaugh supported the change, he said. The league declined.
“Everybody knew about that so it didn’t create an unfair advantage for anybody,” said Harbaugh.
LISTEN: New Quick Slants podcast w/ more stories of Ravens antics
After the Patriots beat Baltimore in a tremendous game, Harbaugh was in a snit in his postgame press conference alleging the “nobody’s ever seen that [eligible-ineligible trickery] before.” He said the play was “illegal” and “deceptive.”
I mentioned that Alabama had run the play in a nationally televised game against LSU and that the Titans had done the same thing on a game-ending play against the Jets a few weeks earlier.
Aside from whether or not the information was accurately communicated by the officials, the tone of Harbaugh’s comments left little room for interpretation. He indicated the Patriots were underhanded and that his comments seemed to discredit New England.
“That was not the intent and if you go back and read my comments at the time and the tone of it anybody that takes it that way is taking it the wrong way,” said Harbaugh. “That was not the point of it at all. You had an eligible receiver that wasn’t identified and an ineligible receiver that wasn’t identified as such. The official had no way to identify that for the defense so there was no signal or any other way that they could do that. That was something that was addressed the very next week. If somebody wants to look at it some certain way, that’s not my concern.”
When I offered that referee Bill Vinovich not only identified Shane Vereen as being ineligible but added, “Don’t cover 34…” over the stadium mic, Harbaugh wasn’t having it.
“That’s not something that had ever been gone over,” he insisted. “Players were never taught don’t cover that player. When you’re on the field, you can’t hear that microphone. That’s not something you can even hear or are listening for. The next week there was a tweak.”
Indeed there was. And not just with the officials then being on the hook to make more detailed announcements. The further tweak, perhaps spurred by the formation chicanery and Tom Brady’s recommendation that Baltimore “study the rules” came when the Ravens passed on intel to the Colts for the AFC Championship Game. One of the recommendations from Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg was to watch that the Patriots’ sideline staff didn’t monkey with the kicking balls. That was included in a letter to NFL Operations man Mike Kensil along with an allegation that it was “well known around the league” that the Patriots deflate footballs before the game and that the league needed to keep an eye on that.
Harbaugh hasn’t hidden from the fact he found Brady’s comment offensive.
"I was pissed off," he said this past summer. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed...So yeah, that should never have been said."
He has, however, disavowed any talk by his staff about the Patriots allegedly deflating footballs. "Any conversation that was had with the Colts had nothing to do with deflated footballs, which is what we've been saying since the very start," Harbaugh said in 2015. "I know that we've answered the questions from the beginning to the end very simply. Our yes is yes. Our no is no. We've answered questions directly and honestly and straightforward from the start."
Whether the Patriots’ formation plays and the Ravens response to it led to a $30M investigation that hijacked the NFL’s attention for 20 months and resulted in a four-game suspension for Brady is still not definitively known. Could Rosburg and the Colts equipment man have possibly discussed kicking ball chicanery without sharing notes on the belief the Patriots deflated footballs? Rosburg and former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Ravens coach Dean Pees were both spoken to by investigator Ted Wells. What did they offer
Just like everything else between Ravens and Patriots, it’s complicated.