After tense win, Penn preps for William & Mary


After tense win, Penn preps for William & Mary

As his Penn football teammates rushed to the back of the end zone to mob Kyle Wilcox, David Park remained in a crouching position on the sideline, exhausted, immobile, deeply emotional.

The Quakers had just won the longest game in the 138-year history of the program, beating Dartmouth, 37-31, in four overtimes at Franklin Field on Saturday. And Park was a huge reason why, scoring a second-quarter defensive touchdown and blocking a chip-shot field goal in the final seconds of regulation to send the game to OT.

It was quite the remarkable performance for the Quakers’ senior linebacker, who lived in South Korea until he was 12 and had never even heard of football until middle school, when he first strapped on the pads and “didn’t know any rules and got like four penalties a game.”

Less than a decade later, Park made the most memorable play in one of Penn’s most memorable games in recent history. But before he could celebrate, he had to catch his breath and stop cramping.

“I was just on my knees,” Park said. “I was so tired. It was very emotional for us.”

Wilcox felt the same way at the end of the four-overtime marathon. And his journey into Penn lore was equally improbable. Wilcox, who was a defensive back last season, wasn’t even on the team’s running back depth chart when Saturday’s game began but, because of injuries, assumed the role of primary ball carrier late in the fourth quarter and into overtime.

And after Dartmouth failed to score during its possession to start the fourth overtime, Wilcox ended the Ivy League opener when he bounced to the right sideline and ran into the end zone from 20 yards out.

But as his teammates celebrated, he could only think of one thing.

“I really wanted water,” Wilcox laughed. “I don’t think I ever got so many carries in such a short time period in my life. It was very hard to get water.”

Such was the scene in the exuberant moments after Penn’s dramatic victory for Park, Wilcox and the rest of the overjoyed yet overtired players. And the mood’s been just as good at Franklin Field this week, even if head coach Al Bagnoli has scaled things back in practice so the Quakers can deal with the achy muscles that came along with playing the longest game in program history.

“It was tiring, physically and mentally,” Park said. “But we’re really glad we won. I’m really proud of everyone that fought right until the end.”

How does a team come back from such a wild game? For the Quakers, it might be an especially difficult task, considering they play a very good scholarship squad in William & Mary on the road this Saturday (3:30 p.m.). It’s the last non-conference game for Penn, which has its eyes set on its third outright Ivy League title in the last four years, and almost like an exhibition because of the archaic rule that prohibits Ivy schools from qualifying for the FCS playoffs.

But the Quakers are still eager to keep the momentum rolling from their win over Dartmouth.

“To me personally, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the kids on the team, we don’t go into non-conference games saying it doesn’t matter or it doesn’t count,” Wilcox said. “I want to win no matter what. I don’t think anyone likes losing. I’m personally not changing anything and I don’t think other guys are changing anything either.”

Wilcox admitted he hopes Saturday’s game, and then the team’s remaining six conference tilts, won’t be quite as crazy as Penn’s win over Dartmouth and that the Quakers can “just seal the win at the beginning.” But as stressful as Saturday’s game might have been, it was still something he’ll never forget.

Consider the roller coaster of emotions: When Dartmouth was lining up for the potentially game-winning field goal in the final seconds of regulation, Wilcox remembers turning to starting running back Brandon Colavita on the sideline and saying, “Oh well, we’ll get it next week.” Colavita’s response: “It’s not over yet.” Wilcox thought to himself, What is he talking about? They’re on the freaking 4-yard line about to kick the game-winning field goal with four seconds left. Then, he watched in disbelief as Park somehow got his hands on the 21-yard field goal attempt, keeping the game -- and the Quakers’ chance at another outright league title -- alive.

“From the time Park blocked it,” Wilcox said, “I knew the team was going to do whatever it took to win.”

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he added. “And I’m really happy I got to be a part of it.”

UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

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UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

Because of his success at Villanova, Jay Wright is always a hot name when a high-profile coaching job becomes available. But Wright really does seem happy at Villanova. 

It looks like Wright subscribes to the idea that money can’t buy happiness. 

The Los Angeles Times published a story today about UCLA’s long and winding search for a new head coach. Before they eventually landed on Mick Cronin, they went after some big names in the coaching world, including John Calipari and Wright. 

While Calipari showed some real interest in the gig, it doesn’t seem like Wright gave it a second thought, not even after UCLA offered to double his salary, according to the LA Times

Read by the LA Times, here’s part of what UCLA’s senior associate AD Josh Rebholz said in a text message to donors after the school failed to hire Calipari: 

We would have loved for Jay Wright to walk out on the floor, but even when we offered to double his salary, he still wasn’t coming. Nothing we can do about that. But I am proud of our effort. We didn’t assume anything, took our shots and I believe will end up with a solid coach who will embrace UCLA and build a program we all can be proud of and root for.

If that’s true, that UCLA offered to double his salary, Wright turned down a ton of money. According to USA Today, Wright makes $3,878,768 per season, so doubling that would give him an annual salary of over $7.75 million. That would be the second-highest salary in college basketball behind Calipari and ahead of Mike Krzyzewski. 

It seems like Wright really does love it here. 

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

Sports fans, it’s the best time of the year.

Even if you don’t have a team in the dance, you’re probably filling out a bracket and will be just as interested in all the games, until your bracket has been busted.

Speaking of a bracket, if you’re looking for something clean to print out, click here. If you're looking for analysis, our friends at NBC Sports have you covered.

Good luck this year and be sure to be gracious in both victory and defeat in your office pool.