Here are some interesting items from the sports world that you might have missed ...
DID YOU HEAR football analyst Matt Millen give a shout out to Lehighton High School after Connecticut's Robbie Frey returned a kick 95 yards for a touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl. Millen said that Frey played his high school ball for the Lehighton Indians. He did mess up the Indians' conference, however, saying that Lehighton played in the Lehigh Valley Conference instead of the Mountain Valley Conference. Millen, a former star at Whitehall High School and Penn State University, has been known to occasionally slip Pennsylvania football references into his broadcasts. A couple of weeks earlier, during the Thursday night NFL Network game between the Chargers and 49ers, Millen mentioned that undefeated Allentown Central Catholic would be playing the following day for a Pennsylvania state football championship.
DID YOU REMEMBER that Auburn was not even on most experts' BCS title game radar before the season began. The Tigers started 2010 further back in The Associated Press Top 25 than any champion since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989. Auburn began the season at No. 22. The previous lowest preseason ranking for a national champion in the Top 25 era was Oklahoma, which went from No. 19 to No. 1 in 2000. The AP wasn't alone in missing the boat on Auburn, however. The website CollegeFootballPoll.com has a look at the preseason predictions from eight major services. Of those eight, only Phil Steele (15th) and The Sporting News (17th) even had the Tigers ranked among the top 20 teams in the country heading into the season. Both Lindy's and Sports Illustrated didn't even have Auburn in their top 25.
DID YOU KNOW that the Lehighton High School field hockey pipeline to the University at Albany doesn't show any signs of drying up. Four Lehighton graduates Alysia Hough, Chelsea Neff, Kristi Troch and Corinne McConville were members of the Division I Albany program this season. Although Hough and Neff will both graduate this spring, that number will remain unchanged as Indian seniors Echo Bretz and Jordyn Homyak have both given verbal commitments to Albany. Bretz and Homyak were the top two scorers on this year's Indian squad that reached the PIAA Class AA title game. This year's Division I commitments are the ninth and 10th in the five years that Shawn Hindy has been the Indians' head coach. During that span, the Indians have also had another 10 girls go on to play Division II and III field hockey.
DID YOU REALIZE that there were four players from the TIMES NEWS coverage area playing in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) this season and all four saw their head coaches leave in the past month. Northern Lehigh graduate Tyler Tkach's career at Pitt ended last weekend when the Panthers beat Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Pitt played the game without head coach Dave Wannstedt, who resigned under pressure immediately following the regular season. The circumstances were different, but the outcome the same at the two other schools with area players on their roster. At Connecticut, where Lehighton's Robbie Frey and Marian's Mike Ryan both have one more year of eligibility remaining, coach Randy Edsall announced less than 24 hours after the Huskies loss in the Fiesta Bowl that he would be taking the Maryland coaching job. At Temple, where Palmerton's Matt Falcone is a sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining, head coach Al Golden left to take over at the University of Miami.
DID YOU THINK you would ever see the day when Tom Bradley would be coaching someplace other than Penn State. Bradley had been part of Joe Paterno's staff for 32 years, the last 11 as defensive coordinator, and has long been thought to be the unofficial "head coach in waiting" at Penn State. But with Paterno showing no signs of stepping down anytime soon, Bradley began interviewing for head coaching jobs this year, including ones at Temple, UConn and Pitt. Although he didn't get any of those jobs, it will almost certainly be just a matter of time before he lands a head coaching job somewhere. When that happens, it will be interesting to see if it starts a mass exodus among staff members. Longtime line coach and top recruiter Larry Johnson has been mentioned prominently as someone who Bradley would like to take with him if and when he gets a head coaching job. Paterno's staff has been noted for its unmatched loyalty and longevity, but that might be about to change.