Friday, January 13, 2017

For Steelers playoff game, listen before you watch

Planning to watch the Steelers-Chiefs playoff Sunday afternoon?

Before you do, listen. Seriously, find the Steelers pregame show on radio, about 45 minutes before kickoff if you can, and listen to the question-and-answer session with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Steelers.com reporter Bob Labriola.

While the coach’s pregame Q-and-A session was long the province of play-by-play man Bill Hillgrove, Labriola has been handling the assignment more often this season. Both are proven veterans covering the team, but Labriola somehow elicits a little more from the coach.

Last week’s best example came when Labriola himself shunned an easy storyline. He asked Tomlin if cold weather was less a factor in games anymore because of better athletic apparel.

To his credit, and with a dose of honesty, Tomlin agreed that was the case and added another caveat. He said almost all stadiums have heating systems under the turf these days, so that makes cold weather even less of a factor.

The give and take was good. Not earth shattering, but at least honest, getting away from a cold weather cliché. It was good radio.

In fairness, Labriola misses sometimes, as he did on a different question last week. That was when he asked how the Steelers’ 5-1 record in division play would translate to the playoffs. Well, since the division includes the hapless Browns and underachieving Bengals, it was hard to believe 5-1 meant as much as he intimated. The question sounded like a softball.

Still, that’s nit-picky and rare. For folks who want to “see” the Steelers better, listening first is a good idea.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

ESPN's 'MegaCast' provides the best kind of excess

It’s excessive, overkill and way too much.

It’s also almost perfection in terms of a sports broadcast.

That’s the MegaCast -- ESPN’s all-hands-on-deck, every-outlet-possible approach to covering the College Football Playoff championship game.

When Alabama and Clemson meet again Monday night (a rematch of last season’s championship game), the MegaCast offers a little bit of everything for just about everybody who has an interest in the final game of the season.

Of course, ESPN provides the traditional game broadcast. The network’s No. 1 on-air team, play-by-play man Chris Fowler and color commentator Kirk Herbstreit, handle the coverage along with sideline reporters Samantha Ponder and Tom Rinaldi.

On ESPN2, there’s a “homers broadcast” with former Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and former Alabama center Barrett Jones. They’ll work the game from the sidelines, and be encouraged to show their bias/enthusiasm as Joe Tessitore handles play by play with contributions from Adam Amin.

Additional options include:
n  “Coaches Film Room” on ESPNEWS, which airs with limited commercial breaks. It’s exactly what it sounds like, coaches watching the game and offering comments. Contributors this year include: Dino Babers, Syracuse; PJ Fleck, Minnesota; Mark Helfrich, formerly at Oregon; Mike CacIntrye, Colorado; and Matt Rhule, Baylor. Analyst Brian Griese joins the coaches.
n  “ESPN Voices” on ESPNU, which has an interesting collection of ESPN analysts and contributors watching the game and commenting, including Michelle Beadle, Keyshawn Johnson, Bill Walton and Marcellus Wiley.
n  “Finebaum Film Room” on SEC Network, with again, more people watching and talking, notably Paul Finebaum and network analysts Greg McElroy and Booger McFarland.

Finally, several options exist on ESPN3 (online), including an announcer-less game, an outlet with up-to-the-minute statistics and data, and even a view from just the stadium SkyCam.

ESPN’s personnel and technological investment in the game is, in general, excessive. That means more than 1,000 staff members on location in Tampa. The network also has more than 90 cameras in the stadium, 35 replay machines and 70,000 feet of cable.

MegaCast is great because it allows fans to control how they consume the content, and more and more people expect and want that.

For ESPN, it’s pretty much a win-win scenario. There’s no counter programming that would work against the national championship game anyway, so it has wisely gone all-in with its approach. And with slightly different approaches to the same thing, there’s an appealing variety.

Sure, some viewers could be confused by the "homers broadcast" if they somehow think that’s the main offering, but the network usually dos a good job of differentiating. And the different options should serve those who consume on multiple screens well.

Really the only thing ESPN could do better would be to tap social media around the game. Consistent on-screen handles and hashtags would help people know how to contribute, feel a part of the conversation and multiply the game’s impact.

Overall, the MegaCast is nearly perfect -- seemingly gluttonous in some ways, but in other ways, so many ways, the future of sports television. This marks the fourth MegaCast. With it, ESPN was the originator of multi-platform offerings for big-time TV sports. It has been copied and grown as a result. Those are good things for sports fans.

So, enjoy the MegaCast on Monday. It’s worth watching, even if you only consume the traditional piece, because that it exists matters.

Maybe, someday, the NFL and the Super Bowl will notice, too.

And, if you're not watching TV, the all-sports network has the game covered on ESPN Radio, too. That's a normal game broadcast with as strong pairing of Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Finding room for 'retiring' Chris Berman an appropriate, savvy move by ESPN that benefits everyone involved

Everyone knew Chris Berman's role at ESPN would be reduced months ago, but what he would do when he "retired" was either avoided, because there was nothing to share, or speculated about, because the possibilities as a result of his departure at the all-sports network (and potentially at its competitors) was endless -- just too good to ignore.

On Thursday, ESPN ended all the speculation. Berman, 61, while nudged toward a reduced role, would remain with the network that he helped build and define.

A six-time National Sportscaster of the Year, Berman has been with ESPN since 1979. He arrived in Bristol, Conn., a month after the fledgling network launched. He was among the founding fathers of on-air talent for ESPN and his prominence grew as the network itself became a more powerful force in sports and society.

When the NFL season ends though, Berman will be done with consistent, high-profile assignments. He has hosted "Sunday NFL Countdown" for 31 years, and was the lead host for coverage of the NFL Draft and Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby. Along with that, older viewers knew him for "SportsCenter" assignments and his pervasive use of nicknames as well as a trademark "back, back, back" call for home runs in baseball highlights, and at the Derby.

His signature approach connected with fans, especially earlier in his career. To some that same approach later seemed dated, and as he continued with it some perceived him as tone deaf to criticism. Still, Berman seems mostly respected by colleagues and peers who publicly shared abundant praise after the ESPN announcement.

Also, criticisms of his approach and work have generally seemed like a faddish/media-only practice not parroted by regular fans who were comfortable with his schtick. Ultimately, it was not a made-for-TV thing. Berman was himself and it worked for more than three decades.



In retirement, he'll "make appearances on-air" and "serve in public-facing roles," according to the ESPN release. While he will not be involved with studio coverage of the NFL on a week-to-week basis, he will appear each week on "Monday Night Countdown" with opinion pieces and perspective on historical events. He'll also host "NFL PrimeTime" highlights after the NFL's conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

Along with those football duties, he'll handle play-by-play during the MLB Divisional Playoffs on ESPN Radio and participate in the annual ESPYS Awards.

In a timely and well done interview (above), Berman told John Ourand of Sports Business Journal that he never considered leaving ESPN, and that he wanted to end his career where it started. He said the lull from when it became public that he would be retiring until the announcement was due in large part because he was in the middle of his season. Just as athletes and teams often do not negotiate in the midst of a season, Berman said that was his approach the past few months as well.

 "I'm leaving, but I'm staying," he said. Berman said having the ability to pick his spots and spend more time with his wife at their home in Maui was appealing. "It'll be different, but I'm around."

Berman leaves ESPN at a time when the network, while much bigger and more pervasive than what it was in 1979, remains perhaps just as challenged as the start-up entity was three-plus decades ago. Back then, ESPN was seeking relevance. It built that, long before it could afford to spend for sports rights fees, on the personalities of its on-air talent -- people like Berman. In some ways especially Berman.

Now, with subscribers cutting their cable cords by the thousands on a regular basis, with so many more outlets for sports news and information available, and with bloggers, critics and Internet snarks ready to share an opinion about anything, the chances of a personality cutting through the clutter and making a difference (let alone a mark on ratings and viewership) seems much more unlikely.

Berman deserves a spot on any Mount Rushmore of ESPN talent. There's no doubt about that. He has been the face of the place for the lifetime of many sports fans. Sure, his approach might seem silly to some anymore, but he's passionate, solid and talented.

It was wise of him and the network for him to remain as some sort of elder statesman. That's much better than having him leave for someplace else. Even if it was unlikely, and even if he was not appreciated by some, that would've hurt everyone involved -- like an all-time player in any sport finishing his career in some other city.

So, while things like his "Swami" segments and "The Two Minute Drill" might no longer get airtime, and perhaps appropriately so, Berman, who received the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozell Radio-Television Award for longtime exceptional contributions in 2010, will still be where he belongs -- on ESPN.

Monday, December 26, 2016

'GameDay,' Johnson, Ali coverage among best of 2016


With just a few days left in 2016, that’s enough time to take one last look back at 2016 in terms of sports television with my selections for the best individuals and moments of the year. Here we go:

Best Studio Show: “College GameDay,” ESPN. The show remains, by just a smidge over “Inside the NBA” on TNT, the best pregame programming available in any sport. It gets bonus points for ambition by broadcasting on location each week. Plus, it combines consistency and known quantities with a willingness to try new things. Its hold on the top spot remains more precarious than in previous years, though, as the result of talent changes (and expect more of those as soon as next season). The “MLB Postseason Show” on Fox/Fox Sports 1 deserves note for some big moments this season, too.

Best Studio Host: Ernie Johnson, “Inside the NBA” (TNT). He stands out for his consistent, quality work. On a program full of personalities, his personality shines through and he makes room for everyone to make their points. It’s thanks in large part to him that the show can be both comfortable and fun. It’s also honest and endearing -- and that’s all because of the humble, well-prepared Johnson, who had two moments go viral late in the year with a compelling and sincere post-election opinion piece (above) and with the poem he read at the funeral for colleague Craig Sager. Johnson’s just a good guy who regularly does great work.

Best Play-by-Play Team: Mike Emrick/Eddie Olczyk, NBC/NBC Sports Network. If the NHL were as popular as the NFL, this combination would be revered. As it is, those who follow hockey and simply appreciate good sports television know they’re the best in the business. While Emrick provides context and emotion, Olczyk keeps pace with information and insights.

Best Play-by-Play Talent: Sean McDonough, ESPN/ABC. Pick a sport (college basketball, college football, NFL, baseball) and McDonough can handle the call. He’s steady, and he also brings a bit of attitude -- not afraid to critique NFL officiating for example -- that make his work enjoyable. As a result, he sounds less of a company man for the respective broadcast partners and more like and informed, unbiased pro doing his job. That’s something fans of every sport appreciate.

Best Color Commentator: John Smoltz, Fox/Fox Sports 1. Elevated to the network’s top baseball team (with Joe Buck) in 2016, Smoltz was steady during the regular season and then super in the postseason. He made point that educated and informed viewers. He shared experiences from his career. He was concise and prepared. He was the best in the business at his job last year.

Best Sideline Reporter: Doris Burke, ESPN/ABC. It is the must unforgiving job in all of sports TV. Sideline reporters rarely get much time to share information, often seem like an extravagance (Really, a full salary invested in NFL reporters who get maybe three minutes of airtime a game?) and more often come across and inane -- even when they are prepared. Still, Burke’s work consistently stands out. She’s a respected pro who usually avoids silliness and does her job. That’s appreciated and refreshing.

Best Insider/Expert: Adam Schefter, ESPN/ABC. Every network has a top information person, and some have several who get billing or credit as being well connected with people in front offices across the sport. Few rival Schefter, though. He often carries two telephones and never seems to sleep or miss a story. Sure, he’s missed some, but he’s one of the most valuable talents at ESPN for a reason. And that’s because he meets the expectations of NFL fans, who trust that he’ll break stories and if he does not he’ll find a way to get information they want.


TV Moment/Story of the Year: Death of Muhammad Ali, ESPN. Legendary boxer Muhammed Ali died June 3, 2016. It was a Saturday and news of his death was reported by ESPN at 12:28 a.m. Sunday. Fortuitously for the network, that came while “SportsCenter” was on the air and ESPN then went with commercial-free coverage until 4:14 a.m. -- nearly four consecutive hours. Ali’s death deserved that kind of coverage for many reasons, and that ESPN delivered was a testament to its spot as the all-sports network its competitors hope to become. Plus, ESPN’s work was more than talking heads. Thanks to those who were on air, those behind the scenes had time to compile footage for highlights while still others made calls to get guests on the phone and on camera from locations across the country. It was stellar work.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's 'Tailgate' time on BTN, and that's a good thing for fans


While the launch of the Big Ten Network in 2007 was aspirational and audacious (a first-of-its-kind network specific to a college athletic conference seemed both precarious and prescient back then), the network’s latest endeavor comes with many similar challenges -- and, like BTN itself, with room for ample success.

The debut of “BTN Tailgate,” an on-site pregame show originating each week from a conference football game, comes Saturday from East Lansing, Mich., site of the matchup between No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 8 Michigan State.

The show debuts at 10:30 a.m. and the game, which also airs on BTN, kicks off at noon.

Producer Marc Carman, like a head coach with a talented team, is ready for the months of preparation and meetings to turn into an actual show. He has some typical logistical concerns (any good producer would) but those pale in comparison to his excitement.

“I’m just looking forward to getting into the truck,” Carman said. “I’m not worried about content and look. I’m not worried about attendance. There’s no better more important game in America this weekend and we’re there. Plus it’s a noon game, and we’re 90 minutes out.”

The “Tailgate” team -- host Dave Revsine and analysts Gerry DiNardo and Anthony Adams -- has been working through rehearsals for weeks. There was no live audience, of course, but mock storylines, standing segments and repetitions together have been important in building the most important part of any show: chemistry.

Carman expects the show to possess an energy and personality, and he expects that to come across well with viewers.

In addition, he thinks preparation has put the production team in a good position to utilize the “Tailgate” set to its fullest potential during the inaugural season.  The footprint of the site will not rival that of ESPN’s award-winning “College GameDay” and BTN wisely plans to take a measured approach to the this season.

For example, there will be no mock football field for live demonstrations of Xs and Os or separate standup areas for reporters. For “Tailgate” simple might simply be the route to success in the inaugural season.

“For the most part our set will be our home base,” Carman said. The network has invested abundant time in finding just the right place for the set each week, too. That included site visits to every conference school during the summer. The biggest motivation was finding places with heavy foot traffic and where college students could congregate.

Thanks to “GameDay,” college football fans of all ages know the drill with on-site pregame shows. It’s largely about fans and interaction, a model perfected by “GameDay” and practiced by and by any number of other, not-quite-as-good studio shows on other networks and for other sports.

While the shadow of “GameDay” could loom over the launch of “BTN Tailgate,” Carman insists that’s not the case. He and his team are focused only on their endeavor.

“I’m not going in thinking we’re trying to compete with ‘GameDay.’ We’re not going to be that. They’re 20-plus years in. We’re starting from where we’re starting,” Carman said. “I’m much more personally focused on what we’re doing. Our mindset it to do a great 90 minutes and go from there.”

“I really feel like we’re moving in a good direction.  I don’t think there’s a tone of comparing.”

Make no mistakes, though, there will be comparisons. And, if BTN’s track record is any indication, “Tailgate” should live up to a viewer-pleasing standard.

Best of all for the network, the show has already earned strong support from sponsors. Of course that includes a debate segment, dubbed Slim Jim Settle the Beef, and four presenting sponsors -- each with its own on-site presence.

All of that support is enough to make network officials optimistic about an even longer version of “BTN Tailgate” next year. First things first, though -- an initial show with a look and feel Carman thinks viewers will like and an on-air team he thinks they’ll like even more.

The network has rallied about the program, too.

“This is my sixth year at BTN and I’ve never seen a more coordinated effort to prepare everything as I have for this show,” Carman said.Our communications, our event planning, so many groups have come together. For me all that starts to unlock great possibilities for what we can do and the stories we can tell.”

On location, BTN promises more than just the chance to watch TV happen. While the show airs at 10:30 a.m., activities begin at 9 a.m. and include a DJ and ample interaction between the on-air talent and fans.

This week’s show is the first of six campus visits already set for the “Tailgate” this season. Once November begins, the show will move to more week-by-week approach, allowing it to “be where it should for the games it should,” according to Carman.


For now, where “BTN Tailgate” should be is on TV each week at 10:30 a.m., and that should be a good thing for viewers.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Close-to-home death challenges ESPN as it honors Saunders, but does not offer a cause

(Reprinted from Aug. 21 Altoona Mirror.)

It’s been 11 days since ESPN’s John Saunders died and while the praise for his career and testimonials about him as a colleague and person have been appropriate, compelling, emotional and honest, there’s still something missing about the story… any form of journalism.

Not to be morbid, but viewers who invested hundreds of hours of their lives, probably more, watching Saunders great work through the years still do not know how he died.

Sure, we’re not his family, and his family can certainly choose to share what they wish, but TV and radio provide a special forum, one that helps build a bond, between those who work in the industry and those of us who consume their work.

In Saunders’ case we got quality every time, no matter the assignment. He was solid, in studio or on play by play, whether it was college football or some other sport. He seemed unflappable, and that’s how his colleagues have portrayed him in the past week or so.

In that way, we as viewers feel validated -- that the person we saw was the person he was. Maybe it’s just me, but it would be nice to know what really happened. It would not make us feel less of him, but it might help us better understand the circumstances of a family member or someone else we know. Maybe we could better support a cause or an individual as a result.

What’s frustrating is that had any other 61-year-old sports personality of Saunders’ stature died ESPN would have at least provided some context and indication about the person’s death. In this case, though, everyone at ESPN seems to close to the story to step back and report.

Kudos to Saunders’ colleagues on the Sunday morning roundtable, “The Sports Reporters,” for at least acknowledging Saunders’ ill health and battle with diabetes during on-air testimonials last week. Other reports have hinted at depression and long-standing injuries.

Viewers, folks who pay a cable bill or want to trust ESPN for its journalism, might not deserve all the specifics but they do at least deserve some reporting related to the story. It’s too bad that has not happened.

Cliché corner
It seems like the start of football season inevitably means an onslaught of more sports clichés and unchecked silliness than almost any other time of the year.

Two examples came to mind again this past week, and each prompted either a question or a need for more information, which is why such clichés fail and frustrate audiences (whether they’re listening, reading or watching).

First, a TV report stated that a football player “gained 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason.” No media member ever reports if someone gains 10 pounds of fat. Maybe the media might note that someone gained weight or looks overweight but if you start a sentence with “gained 10 pounds …” and ask a long-time sports consumer to finish the sentence, they know the cliché as well and will invariably state “… of fat.” It’s just lazy work.

Second, over use of jargon is often the result of a reporter trying to show their expertise while consistently not serving the audience.

It was prominent in Penn State football stories recently about the linebackers, who play the “mike,” “sam” and “will” positions. Sure, there are savvy football fans who know that means middle, strong and weak side, respectively. And they might even know how a team defines its strong and weak side alignments.

Here’s the thing, though, journalists and media should serve an audience by making things easy to understand or even educating them. Just tossing out the mike, sam or will does none of that. Providing context would be helpful, and is honestly necessary.

‘Tailgate’ time
Big Ten Network plans to unveil an on-site, Big Ten Conference-specific pregame TV show similar to ESPN’s ultra-successful “College GameDay” this fall.

“BTN Tailgate” will debut Sept. 24 from the Wisconsin-Michigan State game in East Lansing, Michigan, that morning. The show airs live, beginning at 10:30 a.m., hosted by BTN’s Dave Revsine with analysts Gerry DiNardo and Anthony Adams, the former Penn State standout who played for the Chicago Bears.

Network officials expect the show, like “GameDay,” to rotate among campus sites during the season.

If Penn State can start strong, its home games with Minnesota (Oct. 8), Ohio State (Oct. 22) and Iowa (Nov. 5) all could be worthy of consideration for a “Tailgate” visit.

“GameDay” has not visited Happy Valley since Sept. 26, 2009, when Iowa traveled to for an 8 p.m. game and secured a 21-10 victory.

Tuner tidbits
n  The Steelers’ third preseason game, a trip to New Orleans to play the Saints, airs at 8 p.m. Thursday on WTAJ-TV (Channel 10).
n  This week means a full slate of action at the Little League World Series. While the money that drives the event, both for ESPN and Little League itself, seems obscene, and the happy-happy, joy-joy stories for the week probably are more true than false, its fairly easy for me to get over those critiques because the approach and intimacy of the broadcasts do produce generally good TV. Plus, my affinity for the event probably dulls my cynicism a bit.
n  Man, UFC’s Conor McGregor knows how to shape himself as a media spectacle and try to sell tickets for his pay-per-view events. His match Saturday night with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 ended after press time, but there’s no doubt McGregor is a champ in terms of promotion -- and UFC, despite a supposedly strained relationship with him, has milked that skill for all the media attention it can. That’s a big part of what can drive what it’s all about it boxing and UFC. But, while boxing has not been able to build or support such breakout personalities, several UFC types play well in the media.
n  In recent months ESPN has devoted more and more airtime and online attention to pro wrestling. Weekly segments with WWE “superstars” and more stories online about events and news, including tonight’s “SummerSlam,” represent a hopeful approach for ESPN, as it hopes to attract a few more TV and web viewers. It’s hard to argue that attention for the troupe’s scripted events represent any form of journalistic progress for ESPN. At the same time, because ESPN has lost multiple millions of subscribers (it’s base had dropped from nearly 100 million to just under 90 million in the past couple of years because many have moved away from cable), it’s probably happy to secure any form of consistent audience it can find.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Penn State's big loss to N.Y. Jets -- and it's not the QB

Most Penn State fans do not know his name, but they probably appreciate his work and know a bit more about their favorite varsity sports teams because of his dedication and talent.

For the past eight years Penn State alumnus Tony Mancuso has worked for the university’s athletic department. He helped grow the online presence for athletics and largely drove the use of video.

His feature stories and multimedia work provided behind-the-scenes access to big moments for the most high-profile teams and offered glimpses at the interesting and passionate personalities who drove all of Penn State’s 31 varsity sports teams.

Honestly, Mancuso was a behind-the-scenes force himself -- taking an opportunity for what was ostensibly a content creation and writing job and making it bigger and better. He was a member of the team, but he made the team better.

He experimented and taught himself video skills to complement his strong writing. He became the go-to man for compelling online content as Penn State worked to tell its own story and deliver information directly to fans. He was invariably a good-news guy, which coaches and student-athletes appreciated and which had to make his always busy, tug-me-in-every-possible-direction position enjoyable.

By his own count, Mancuso covered Penn State events in 26 states and two countries. There were games, practices, Coaches Caravans, other special events and so much more.

Mancuso also managed a group of student writers that regularly populated the Nittany Lion All-Sports Blog, which can be found at GoPSUsports.com online. When he started, there were five student writers and that group grew to a dozen the past few years.

Plus, Mancuso, at a time when the athletic department was enduring terrible turmoil, seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

He was almost always right there beside Bill O’Brien when the football coach made his rounds locally, regionally and nationally. He did much of the same when James Franklin took control of the program.

The resulting content was compelling and honest (at least as honest as possible for program- or team-created content).

It was not just football (103 consecutive games). Mancuso was everywhere, covering regular season and postseason competitions in every varsity sport. There were also national championships in fencing, men’s gymnastics, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and wrestling, as well as almost every single success for the athletic program along the way.

He was not everywhere, it just seemed that way.

His genuine, inquisitive nature made his interviews with everyone from freshmen standouts to athletic directors (there were at three during his time on the job) interesting. Sure, he was the in-house guy, but he was savvy enough to bring some fandom and perspective to the position for it to work really well.

His presence also coincided with an explosion of the use of the internet and videos to connect fans to teams. Not surprisingly, interest in Penn State was reflected in online visitors. The blog on GoPSUsports.com attracted a few thousand visitors in 2010. The past three years, there have been more than 1 million visits each year.

Mancuso would deflect praise, and he did not develop the Penn State sports website alonre, nor did he hold any sort of major editorial control. That’s just a disclaimer, though.

His drive, personality and talent made the blog worth visiting. His use of video made the big-budget, big-time department personal. His work also made some of Penn State’s icier people at least a little personable.

He did quality work that benefited the program overall, and that fans should appreciate. And if they did not notice his work already, they might notice his absence going forward.

Mancuso recently accepted a digital media position with the New York Jets. His last day of work at Penn State was Friday.

With the Jets, he’ll make decisions about what appears online and how it’s used, which videos accompany stories, how information gets used on social media and much more. He earned the opportunity, based on his Penn State track record and after participating in eight-week-long hiring process that included 16 (yes, 16) interviews.

At Penn State, his loss will be significant. Too often the university finds ways to create layers, allowing a couple of people to do the job that one person could typically handle.

Mancuso is not typical, though. Finding one person to replace him will not be easy. In fact, it’s probably unfair to his eventual successor to expect them to meet the standard he established.

For the sake of fans, hopefully someone can at least come close. But it will not be easy.

When news of Mancuso’s move made it to me, two things came to mind. First, good for him (and Christian Hackenberg who will have a familiar face around). Second, Mancuso seemed to typify a saying by one of my favorite Penn Staters, men’s volleyball coach Mark Pavlik. With consistency, Pavlik talks about Penn Staters as ordinary people who do extraordinary things. That’s Mancuso.

As he departs, Penn State loses a good person and fans lose a valuable member of the media who provided important connections to their favorite teams.