Saturday, July 4, 2015

Up Next: Tony Romo's alma mater, Eastern Illinois

For those of you who are interested in any Penn State opponent, no matter how overmatched they may seem, here are some things you may not know about the Panthers of Eastern Illinois:

Up Next: Tony Romo's alma mater, Eastern Illinois

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For those of you who are interested in any Penn State opponent, no matter how overmatched they may seem, here are some things you may not know about the Panthers of Eastern Illinois:

   --The school is the alma mater of current Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (OK, maybe you did know that).
   --Romo, who sent the EIU coaches a tape of high school highlights and won himself just a partial scholarship as a freshman in 1999, won the 2002 Walter Payton Award as the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision/Division I-AA.
   --Two NFL head coaches who graduated from Eastern Illinois are Sean Payton (Class of '87) of the New Orleans Saints and Brad Childress (Class of '88) of the Minnesota Vikings. The university also claims former Denver boss Mike Shanahan (Class of '74) as an alum.
   --Payton, by the way, holds the career records at the school for total offense and passing yardage, not Romo.
   --Jake Christensen, the Panthers' starting quarterback, is a transfer from Iowa who played against Penn State at Beaver Stadium in 2007 (16 of 29 for 146 yards and a touchdown in the Hawkeyes' 27-7 loss).
   --Christensen's father, Jeff, who starred at EIU from 1980 through 1982, played with the Eagles for a portion of the 1985 season.
   --Counting the younger Christensen, 10 players on the EIU roster are Division I-A transfers. Its leading rusher, Mon Williams, was a much sought-after high school player who went to Florida, but tore his ACL in 2007 and got just one carry last season.
   --Eastern Illinois head coach Bob Spoo, 71, finally gets a chance to coach against someone a decade older than he. He is in his 23rd season at EIU.
   --Less than 38,000 people have watched the Panthers, home and away, play their first five games. The number who watch them Saturday will be almost triple that.
 
Inquirer Staff Writer
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About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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