Sandy Barbour will be the next athletic director at Penn State

With such a tightly-lipped search, the name Penn State announced as its new athletics director was guaranteed to be a surprise. And this one certainly delivered on that promise.

Former Cal athletics director Sandy Barbour will be Penn State's next AD, the school has announced. 

Barbour was the head of the Golden Bears' athletics department from 2004 until she was replaced less than a month ago. Her final day as AD was just 11 days ago. Instead of moving over to the academic side of Cal's sport management program (Barbour earned a master's degree in sport management from Massachusetts in 1983), as was planned, Barbour will now run one of the most high-profile athletics departments in the country.

Though she experienced a number of successes in her decade leading the Golden Bears, the Cal football program bottomed out in recent years. Cal's 44 percent graduation rate was the lowest among major conference football programs, leading to the ouster of head coach Jeff Tedford. Under Tedford's replacement, Cal finished a Pac-12 worst 1-11 in the first year under new head coach Sonny Dykes. Additionally, Barbour secured a new football training facility and a much-needed renovation of Memorial Stadium, but university then had to take "drastic measures" to manage the project's debt (estimated at $445 million just 13 months ago) after the financing plan collapse,.

Overall, Cal football is 16-33 since 2010. 

At Penn State, Barbour will be charged to work with new head coach James Franklin, hired in January, to continue to move Penn State forward from the horrific ending of the Joe Paterno era, and all that came with it.

"Sandy is an excellent fit for Penn State and the Big Ten," Penn State president Eric Barron said in the university's announcement. "She stood out among a highly qualified pool of candidates. I am excited by her energy, her experience and her knowledge of intercollegiate athletics. I look forward to working with her to further strengthen Penn State's rich athletics tradition and student-athlete success."

So surprising is this move that there isn't much left to do but shake your head in amazement. Not only did Barbour land another job before Cal could hire a replacement, she got a $100,000 raise in the process. After earning $600,000 over her final year in Berkeley, Barbour will make $700,000 at Penn State, equal to what Mark Hollis receives at Michigan State.

Surprising, indeed.

Three and Out: The No. 1 rule of being a defensive coordinator, a live alligator, and Scott's Christmas present

Doug: The No. 1 rule of being a defensive coordinator (and offensive line coach): don't smile.

Zach: Committing to Florida with a live alligator? Committing to Florida with a live alligator!

Zach (Scott is on vacation, so you get a double dose of me today): The Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League will don these jerseys for Military Appreciation Night. I know what I'm getting Scott for Christmas.


Photos: Orlando has completely renovated the Citrus Bowl

The city of Orlando is plunging nearly $200 million into the Citrus Bowl, a 68-year old stadium that sorely needed not only a face lift but an entirely new skeleton. 

At present, the Citrus Bowl hosts the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day, the Russell Athletic Bowl between Christmas and New Year's, the Florida Citrus Parade in between those games, the Florida Classic between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman in late November... and that's it. The brand new Cure Bowl launches this December, and the city's MLS franchise plays there as well, but Orlando isn't plunging nearly a quarter of a billion dollars into a stadium with its grandest designs on keeping three bowls and a soccer franchise.

Orlando isn't hosting a Super Bowl without an NFL franchise, but it wants the next best thing - the College Football Playoff Championship. Simply put, that wasn't happening without massive upgrades to the Citrus Bowl.

Even with the new stadium, Orlando faces tough competition for the title game. Tampa is already set to host the 2016 championship in January 2017, and Atlanta figures to be the favorite for the 2018 game. Miami will be in the mix as well.


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Dino Babers' idea of program building: Coaches lift with the team

Building a program starts with a mutual building of trust between the players and the coaching staff.

There are a million different ways to do it, but new Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers, who has a 19-7 record in two seasons as the head coach at Eastern Illinois to go along with two FCS playoff appearances, has an interesting approach with his staff.

Asked what he does to get to know his players better yesterday, Babers responded by talking about his staff's open door policy in which position coaches will leave meetings (as long as it's not a full staff meeting) to be with players, and then he talked about how he has his staff lift with the players.

"The other thing that we do as a staff is that we lift with the our football players. That gives us an opportunity to be around them all the time, and plus it keeps the coaches in shape."

Excellent idea. How many other head coaches (at any level) make sure their coaches are taking every single opportunity to be around their guys like that? I love it.

BGSU head coach Dino Babers from THE BLADE on Vimeo.

Photos: First look at Ohio State's new locker room (with waterfall)

Ohio State's campus has been pretty busy over the last few days. Earlier this week they turned on the permanent lights on top of the stadium for the first time, and they also recently put the finishing touches on their new locker room.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith tweeted a few pictures of that new locker room this morning, and the first look is quite impressive. It even has its own waterfall.

I'll update the article with more pics as they become available.

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On second look, that waterfall is actually a waterwall.

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