Penn State-Nebraska: And the Band Played on...

Penn State-Nebraska: And the Band Played on...

Our good friend Kevin McGuire of the Examiner.com joins us to share his thoughts on today's Penn State-Nebraska game. For more of our game day coverage—from bomb threats to tears to candlelight vigils featuring Lavar Arrington—click here.

Penn State has been through one of the worst weeks a university could imagine for the most part, but on Saturday there will be a four-hour window to attempt to escape from the off-field scandal that has taken the nation by storm.

On Saturday, football will be played in Beaver Stadium. As if Senior Day is not an emotional enough time already, the impact and fall out of the sex abuse scandal linked to the university and football program sheds a dark cloud over what has been largely the most anticipated game of the Penn State season, against Nebraska.

The two most recent additions to the Big Ten (Penn State in 1993 and Nebraska this season) are paired up in a guaranteed crossover rivalry series under the structure of the new Big Ten, and today opens a new chapter in program history for both schools. For Penn State, enter new head coach Tom Bradley.

For the first time since 1949 a Penn State game will be played where Joe Paterno is not on the coaching staff. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Bradley has assumed the interim head coaching responsibilities following the dismissal of long-time program icon Joe Paterno, who has been tied to the Jerry Sandusky investigation by the state. His job will not be easy, as no man wants to be the first to take over on the sideline following a legend, and true icon for not just Penn State but also for the sport of college football. But he seems determined to allow the seniors and captains on this team to take the lead. He has said this is their team, and he is there for them.

As far as the game is concerned, understanding it is far down on the list of priorities this week, there is a good amount of importance riding on the outcome. A win brings Penn State one step closer to the Big Ten championship game. Penn State controls their own fate in the Leaders Division race, needing to win two of their final three games to clinch a spot in the conference's first annual championship game. For Nebraska, a win will help them stay in the thick of the Legends Division race as the Cornhuskers attempt to keep pace with Michigan State, who Nebraska has already defeated.

Penn State's players appear to be focused heading in to this game. It has been two weeks since their last game, so you get the feeling that after everything that has gone on in State College, this defense is going to be ready to hit some players in the other color uniform. Nebraska is also coming in to this game with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, obviously for different reasons. Nebraska was upset last week at home by scrappy Dan Persa and Northwestern. The loss dropped Nebraska from the top ten in the rankings and the win is perhaps more important for them than it is for Penn State.

Penn State, emotionally, could be drained in this game, but the character on this team is pretty resilient. They have battled different kinds of adversity all season, from a prolonged quarterback flip-flop, to digging deep for tough wins against on the road and finding the strength to pick up some revenge wins this season against Iowa and Illinois. They have earned the spot they are currently in. Now it is time for them to capitalize on the opportunity.
Penn State is certainly not seen in the same light as they once were, but these players have absolutely nothing to do with it. They should not be punished for what happened off the field. This game is for them, first and foremost.

It should be quite a day, to say the least.

Tim Tebow's baseball bid 'kind of a slap in the face,' says Phillies reliever

Tim Tebow's baseball bid 'kind of a slap in the face,' says Phillies reliever

CHICAGO — David Hernandez has great respect for what Tim Tebow did on the football field.

But as for Tebow's bid to become a major-league baseball player at age 29 after not having played the game since he was a junior in high school — well, Hernandez has some strong opinions.

The Phillies' relief pitcher first voiced them on Twitter when Tebow announced his intentions two weeks ago and echoed them when it was announced Tuesday that the former Heisman trophy-winning quarterback had scheduled a private showcase for major-league scouts to be held next week in Los Angeles. As a matter of curiosity and due diligence, the Phillies will have a scout peek in on Tebow's workout. As many as 20 other teams are expected to be on hand as well.

"I think it's ridiculous," Hernandez said of Tebow's bid to reach the majors. "Hats off to him for getting an opportunity, but I just don't think it's very plausible that he'll get anywhere.

"Nothing against him, but just from the standpoint that getting to the major leagues is a long grind. It's not easy. There's a lot of work that goes into it. 

"It's kind of a slap in the face for him to say, 'I think I'll grab my things and go play pro baseball.' It's not that easy."

Hernandez, 31, pitched in high school and college then spent more than four seasons in the minors before getting to the majors with Baltimore in 2009. Before signing with the Phillies last winter, he pitched for Arizona and survived Tommy John surgery. 

In other words, he's put in the time. He knows how difficult it is to make the climb to the majors.

So does catcher Cameron Rupp. He was recruited to play linebacker at Iowa, but baseball was his first love and playing in the majors his goal. He played three years for his home state Texas Longhorns before being selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2010 draft. 

Rupp laughed when he first heard of Tebow's intention. 

He remained skeptical when he heard Tebow had lined up a showcase.

"If that's what he wants to do — good luck," Rupp said. "Guys play a long time trying to get where we are. And those that are here are trying to stay here. Staying here is the tough part.

"High school is one thing. A lot of guys play high school and were good and get to pro ball and are overmatched. He's an athlete, no question. But you can't go 10 years without seeing live pitching and all of the sudden some guy is throwing 95 (mph). That will be a challenge. 

"I don't know if he thinks baseball is easy. It's not. It'll be interesting."

Bench coach Larry Bowa is a huge sports fan, loves football and loves what Tebow did on the field at the University of Florida. 

But Bowa has been in pro ball for 50 years. He played in the majors for 16 years and has managed and coached in the majors. Like Hernandez and Rupp, Bowa is skeptical about Tebow's chances and he wonders about the former quarterback's overall understanding of the challenge he faces.

"Whosever idea it is, they don't respect the game of baseball," Bowa said. "It's a hard game. You don't come in at age 28 or 29. I'm not saying he's not a good athlete, but this is a hard game and there are a lot of good athletes in pro ball that never get to the big leagues. 

"I don't think it can happen. There are guys 28 or 29 that are getting released everyday. How can you take 10 years off and all of the sudden be facing guys throwing 95, guys throwing sliders?"

Tebow did show some baseball tools as an outfielder/pitcher in high school. He hit .494 with four homers and 30 RBIs as a junior at Nease HS in Ponte Vedra, Florida, before giving up baseball to focus on football. He played three seasons in the NFL with the Broncos and Jets but failed to stick. 

Clearly, he still has the competitiveness, desire and work ethic that he took to the gridiron. It's just difficult to see that ever getting him to the major leagues. 

But if he ever does ...

"Who knows, maybe I'll face him," critic David Hernandez said with a laugh. "Hopefully he doesn't hit a home run off me. That would be the ultimate comeback."

MLB Notes: Angels closer Huston Street has season-ending surgery

MLB Notes: Angels closer Huston Street has season-ending surgery

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street has undergone season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

Street had surgery to repair a torn meniscus Wednesday in his native Texas.

The surgery puts an end to the least impressive season of Street's 12-year career. The three-time All-Star is 3-2 with a career-low nine saves and a 6.45 ERA.

Street hasn't pitched since July 31. He missed significant playing time earlier this season with an oblique muscle injury.

Street is expected to be healthy for next season. He is under contract for $9 million in 2017.

He is the sixth player to undergo season-ending surgery for the Angels (52-73), who are on pace for their worst season in 23 years.

Nationals: Katie Ledecky to throw out 1st pitch
WASHINGTON -- Swimmer Katie Ledecky is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night as the Washington Nationals host the Baltimore Orioles in game three of a four-game series.

The 19-year-old Bethesda native returned from the games in Rio with four golds and a silver medal. It will be the third time Ledecky has thrown out the first pitch at Nationals Park.

The Nationals have lost the first two games of the Beltway rivalry series.

Ledecky set world records in winning the 400m freestyle and 800m freestyle. She also won gold in the 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, and silver in the 4x100m freestyle.

She will be a freshman at Stanford in the fall.

Phillies beat writer promises to 'eat his shoe' if Tim Tebow ever plays in MLB

Phillies beat writer promises to 'eat his shoe' if Tim Tebow ever plays in MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies are among the teams who will go give Tim Tebow a look during his baseball workout for roughly 20 MLB teams.

That's according to Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury who writes that the chances of Tebow making it to Major League Baseball as "extremely thin."

Then, when appearing on Philly Sports Talk on Tuesday evening, he tossed in the added bonus of shoe eating.

"I think this is more of a due dillegence thing just to say that you were there," Salisbury told Michael Barkann. "This guy hasn't played baseball in more than a decade. Before that it wasn't like he was a standout. He was more of a tools plalyer, a good athlete."

"If he ever plays a day in the big leagues I will eat my shoe," Salisbury said.

I think it's safe to say we are all pulling really hard for Timmy to make it now.