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Insider

Five things to watch this weekend

11/10/2011

An end of an era at Penn State

The entire country’s eyes are on Penn State, including recruits and especially parents. Following the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the small valley town and entire country, some of the university’s leaders -- most notably legendary coach Joe Paterno -- have all been pushed out the door.

As of now, Penn State hasn’t lost any commitments, and it might be a while before any of them make a decision on their future. The consensus among recruits is that Paterno retiring or being forced out would not have much of an impact, and that stayed rather consistent in the immediate moments following the announcement. However, the way the Penn State Board of Trustees went about relieving Paterno only caused anger and sadness among some recruits.

With Tom Bradley named interim coach and the rest of the staff in place, recruits will have a chance to continue to talk with the coaches they have the strongest bonds with as few, if any, had a strong relationship with Paterno. Once the rest of the staff’s fate is decided, and it’s very likely they will all be shown the door, too, then there could be a mass exodus of recruits.

How does Penn State react on the field?

Aside from Alabama, this is Penn State’s biggest home game and it wanted to bring in a lot of recruits. A handful were thinking about coming, including DE Noah Spence (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) and junior TE Adam Breneman (Camp Hill, Pa./Cedar Cliff). It’s unclear whether they will still attend.

It’s forgotten – and maybe it should be – that Penn State is atop the Leaders Division and is 8-1 on the year, undefeated in the conference. With a win against Nebraska, Penn State could come very close to clinching a spot in the conference’s first Big Ten championship game. If the Penn State players and seniors can rally around all of this and finish out the season with an appearance in a Big Ten championship game and a January bowl game, it could send a strong message to recruits that the program will be OK without its leader for the last 46 years.

Cincinnati to showcase area’s best high school teams

Following the intense contest early in the season that ended with a missed field goal for the win, it is only fitting Cincinnati programs Colerain and St. Xavier will meet again – this time for a chance to make it to the regional championship.

These two teams already do not like each other, and the rivalry only got more heated after Colerain coach Tom Bolden took exception to some of the chants the St. Xavier student section was yelling following St. Xavier’s win at Colerain in September.

That game will take place at the University of Cincinnati’s stadium and will be preceded by another great game.

Top-seeded Middletown (Middletown) and Cincinnati Moeller will square off for the other spot in the Division I Region 4 championship. Middletown has arguably the state’s top junior in Jalin Marshall, and Moeller was undefeated through its first seven games before finishing 0-3 against some of the country’s best teams, not just the state’s.

Four-star receiver Monty Madaris, maybe the most explosive receiver in the state is Moeller’s biggest weapon, but Middletown’s option offense could limit his time on the field.

Michigan battle

Junior Shane Morris (Warren, Mich.De La Salle) is already being hailed as possibly the next great pocket-passer at Michigan, restoring the school’s history of traditional pro-style quarterbacks with size and a strong arm.

Morris is already committed to Michigan, but he will get a great chance this weekend to show why the Wolverines and many other programs are already so high on him. De La Salle will play Detroit Cass Tech, which has the state’s top two prospects. Terry Richardson, the state’s top prospect, is a cornerback committed the Wolverines. The state’s No. 2 prospect is Royce Jenkins-Stone, an athletic linebacker.

If Morris can beat them, he’ll already start cementing his legacy as the “Next Big Thing” at Michigan.

Notre Dame getting in on uniform changes

College football has become a fashionista’s dream -- or more aptly nightmare -- based on some uniform combinations.

It started with the upstart programs such as Oregon and Boise State. It has now trickled into the country’s programs steeped in tradition. Notre Dame will wear different jerseys and a new helmet this weekend.

The players and fans are excited about it, and there is no doubt uniforms have an effect on recruiting. Prospects always talk about the jerseys when discussing Oregon, and Maryland received a lot of attention -- good and bad -- about its jerseys. And there is no such thing as bad publicity.