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Posted: Wednesday June 18, 2008 12:17PM; Updated: Thursday June 19, 2008 12:32PM
Stewart Mandel Stewart Mandel >
COLLEGE FOOTBALL MAILBAG

College football mailbag (cont.)

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Stewart Mandel and Jordana Spiro
Not the worst way to take in a ballgame on a nice summer day ?
Photo courtesy of Michelle Sisco
Stewart Mandel's Mailbag
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Stewart, when was the last time you did a Mailbag without discussion of the Mailbag Crush? Let's get focused here!
--Dr. Dave, San Marcos, Texas

Actually, I purposely abstained from all Crush discussion last time around because I knew I'd be devoting quite a bit of space this week. At the time, I was only days away from what ended up becoming the most significant moment in Mailbag Crush history.

Those of you who don't like when the Mailbag strays from football, you might as well go ahead and skip to the next question. For everyone else ...

I've made a lot of dumb decisions in my time. Naming Jordana Spiro the Mailbag Crush was not one of them.

The picture you see to the right was taken on a recent Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. A few weeks back, upon seeing the first barrage of ads (including an enormous billboard just a few blocks from my office) for the new season of My Boys, it dawned on me that I was going to be in Los Angeles for my buddy Bruce's wedding right around the same time as the show's season debut last Thursday. Between that and the impending end to Jordana's 12-month reign as Crush (which began last Fourth of July), I called to see if we might be able to meet up to conduct some sort of send-off interview.

As luck would have it, TBS was hosting a promotional event with the cast prior to a Dodgers-Cubs game the day of the wedding. Long story short: Crush and ... what is it, Crushee? ... finally met.

While watching the game (or at least pretending to) from box seats along the first-base line, Jordana and I soaked up the sun while having a lovely conversation about our respective career paths, our hopes and dreams, and, of course, her show (All-new episodes Thursdays at 9:30! ... Highly recommended online viewing: Last season's "Douchebag Intervention" episode). Jordana, who spent more than a decade paying her acting dues, confided that had the My Boys pilot not been picked up in 2006, she was contemplating leaving the industry.

Three seasons later, her face is on billboards, she's being introduced on the field at a Dodgers game and being lionized regularly in this column. Sadly, she's never attended a college football game, but we're going to put an end to that soon enough: Schedule permitting, she now has a standing invite to either the Sept. 13 Ohio State-USC or Sept. 20 Georgia-Arizona State games, both of which I assume I'll be covering.

All in all, our Crush was every bit as delightful in person as one might have imagined -- which suddenly makes it awfully hard to part ways. One of the very first things she said to me, in fact, was, "I can't believe you're passing me off." Over the past couple of months, you guys have been flooding my inbox with nominees for 2008 -- Missy Peregrym of the show Reaper seems to have quite the cult following -- but I've got to tell you, none of them seem particularly worthy heirs to the throne.

Basically, Jordana is LSU (without the quarterback questions), the reigning champ until proven otherwise, and no one's yet beaten her out. In light of the Dodgers game, any new contender is going to have to make a pretty strong case.

We should have plenty of time to discuss this -- starting this week, the Mailbag goes weekly from now through December-something.

There have been a lot of rumors floating around that Rutgers' Greg Schiano will become Joe Paterno's successor as early as the 2009 season. Why are the Penn State faithful so delusional? They say Penn State has more history than Rutgers. Well, Michigan has more history than Penn State and he turned that job down. They say Schiano has strong ties to Penn State. Well, he has strong ties to Miami and he turned that job down, too. Why do these people think that Penn State is more attractive than Rutgers? This is not the 1980s.
--Ryan, Schuylkill County, Pa.

Allow me to count the reasons:

1) Schiano spent six seasons at Penn State learning from Joe Paterno during the early, formative stages of his career, as opposed to two seasons at Miami under Butch Davis following a stint in the NFL. Which do you think he has stronger ties to?

2) At Penn State, Schiano would likely be able to maintain his hold on New Jersey talent while also tapping into the far-richer Ohio and Pennsylvania pools. He would likely help restore the school's national cachet as well.

3) In 2006, Rutgers went 10-2 and wound up in the Texas Bowl. The same result at Penn State gets you an invite to a BCS game. Last season, the Scarlet Knights went 7-5 and ended their season in Toronto. At Penn State, 7-5 still earns you a trip to Orlando.

4) Most importantly: Penn State can likely afford to pay Schiano nearly triple what Rutgers does (especially with all the money it's saved by not having to pay Joe Paterno market value these past 40 years).

That may sound overly cynical -- but only if you haven't been following the coaching world these past few years. I don't doubt Schiano has been sincere in his oft-professed loyalty to his home-state school. Obviously, he demonstrated that pretty soundly by turning down Miami and Michigan. But Miami is also a mess, as he well knew. And a well-informed source told me after the fact that Schiano got serious cold feet after turning down the Wolverines and tried unsuccessfully at the 11th hour to get himself back in the running.

It's only speculation at this point whether Penn State will even offer Schiano the job -- much will depend on how much clout, if any, Paterno will hold in the selection of his replacement. If the opportunity does arise, however, I would be stunned if he isn't on the first flight to State College.

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