ESPN's Matt Millen will be the analyst for both the Insight Bowl on Friday night and the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl.
Millen drew notoriety for his 7 1/2 seasons as president/general manager of the Detroit Lions, who went 31-84 during that time, one of the worst stretches in NFL history.
Millen also drew acclaim in November for his emotional and stern response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, his alma mater.
Millen grew up in Hokendauqua, Pa., became an all-American linebacker at Penn State and played 12 NFL seasons, winning four Super Bowls with the Raiders (1980, 1983), 49ers (1989) and Redskins (1991).
Millen was an NFL analyst for FOX before joining the Lions. This season, he called two OSU games (Texas A&M, Texas) and two OU games (Kansas State, Baylor).
The difference in calling the NFL and college is so many guys. Because you have 100 guys on a (college) roster, and you don't see them week in and week out. I come down to NFL Films, still do NFL Network, I can pretty much know their roster. I've known them through college. They don't change that much. A college roster, there's a lot of moving parts. Guys move relative quickly. The good players you only have for three years. And they develop.
It's kind of fun. Because take a Landry Jones, for example. Landry Jones is a better player now than he was two years ago. He's a better player now than he was at the beginning of the season. You have to track that. Takes a lot of tape work.
Then the pieces around him change. Lot more moving parts, though schematically, they don't change that much. But they do in terms of how players develop and what skill sets they bring.
I enjoy the game. I enjoy being around the game. Different aspects of the game. The game of football is just a fascinating game. We talk about guys who have a certain skill set, but it's still about people. It's about what they bring to the table, their qualities as a person.
What the game does, it magnifies your strengths, but it also magnifies your weaknesses. That's through the great little quality known as pressure. Pressure comes in a lot of different ways. Whether on a national TV audience or maybe 100,000-seat stadium, or maybe playing against a great player, or maybe expectations placed on you, or maybe it comes from within. Sometimes pressure crushes a guy. Sometimes they get better. That's the part that's fascinating.
Who handled pressure the best? Heck, there's a lot of 'em. Joe Montana probably tops the list. Joe, the bigger the game, the better he played. Steve Young wasn't too shabby. Jim Plunkett, you could put him right up there. I've always said if Jim Plunkett had not been drafted by the New England Patriots, we might be saying that Tom Brady is the next Jim Plunkett. His ability, he was a great decision-maker. In a lot of ways, (Stanford's Andrew) Luck is like him. Luck has some Plunkett in him.
Marcus Allen, Howie Long, Greg Pruitt. I loved Greg Pruitt. Greg Pruitt was one of my favorite players. At Cleveland, he had his hello/goodbye shirt. He came to the Raiders. It was a pleasure to play with him. He was still a great player, though his knees were beat up. One of the funnest guys to be around. Kenny King, there's another one. So many guys I had the pleasure to play with who rose when the lights came on.
Al Davis (Raiders owner) forgot more football than people knew. He was always two steps ahead of you. He never asked a question he didn't know the answer to. He would always make you uncomfortable with his brain. Then he would put you in a position to answer. He was a fascinating guy.
One of those guys who was probably the smartest guy in the room. You could always learn from him.
Tom Flores (Raiders coach), cool under pressure. Tom was one of those guys, kind of a player's guy. As long as you got the job done, he let you go. If you didn't get the job done, he addressed you. I learned that my rookie year. As long as you were playing, he was fine. If he said anything to you, it was rare. It was because you needed to get something straightened out.
Bill Walsh, I didn't have as my head coach. But he was around (the 49ers). I used to talk with Bill all the time. Bill Walsh to me was thorough. Bill was detailed. Bill gave every subject thought. He broke it down to its purest form. He had the ability to address a thing on its elementary elements. He was able to make the sophisticated simple. And he loved the game. It oozed out of him.
George Seifert, he had a great ability to let his players play the game. Some coaches can't help themselves. They become part of it. Get in the middle. George didn't do that. Yet he was firmly in control.
Joe Gibbs, to me his greatest strength was the ability to adapt and adjust. He could do that as well as anybody. It was like that when I played against him and it was like that when I played for him. He could see things and adapt ‘em very efficiently. Joe could see things really quick. So could Bill Walsh. Those guys, when they see it, adjust on the fly, are rare people.
Probably the guy I learned the most football from was John Madden. I rode in that bus a lot of years. Learned a lot of football from him. Probably the most enjoyable times I ever had was sitting on the Madden cruiser, driving across the country. We'd talk about everything from Vince Lombardi to every current coach, comparing the way the game's played to how it is was, to rules, all kinds of stuff.
Couple of things you always knew: it was going to be great football conversation and in-depth conversation. Lot of X's and O's drawn up on pieces and papers. And we were always going to eat good.
I live in Pennsylvania; John has a place in New York. If we were going someplace, he'd pick me up at my farm, we'd drive to wherever. My wife would cook a bunch of food, we'd thrown it on the bus, we'd eat form eastern Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh, then we'd be farting and burping up to Minnesota or someplace.
Hokendauqua, when I was growing up, it was four streets. A little company town, Thomas Iron Company, a front-runner for Bethlehem Steel. Kind of out in the sticks. Just a hard-nosed, working-class area. The town was no frills. I'm no frills.
I grew up with seven sisters and four brothers. Growing up, the greatest lesson I learned was the difference between a need and a want. I learned you didn't need a lot of things. You need very few things. I'm not one with a lot of wants. I just take what's necessary. I'm pretty simple. From the food I eat to the people I hang out with. Give me the meat and potatoes.
Coach (Joe) Paterno's probably the best preparatory coach I've ever been around. He had a great ability to break stuff down, know what they're going to do and prep you for it. That's why his bowl record was always so good. Give him two weeks, he'd always beat you. Chances are, we're going to win. Like his '86 national championship again Miami. Miami was a better football team.
The scandal, that was brutal. I still feel the same way. There's a part of me that's just sad. There's a part of me that's angry. I just don't understand how stuff like that can happen. And there's the other part of me too that still says, let it play itself out. Let the people whose job it is to prosecute prosecute and defend defend and let's find out the truth with all this speculation. I want somebody to be able to take away the sensationalism of it and just give me the facts and let the guilty, if they're guilty, be punished, because they deserve. But most of all, I just want it to end. If the allegations are true, it makes me sick.
Penn State will recover. But the university has to heal. And I happen to believe the group that will help it recover the fastest and the best will be the football program. They need to get the right person and they need to get it up and running. Need to get back to doing what they do well. That has always been the foundation that Coach Paterno laid. It's not going away. I have no idea what happened in this last thing, but I do know there are thousands of lives he has helped, and he has touched, and he has molded. There's a lot of good things Coach Paterno has stood for. It's a good base for someone to come in and build on.
The Lions, I guess when I look back on it, what I take from it, I think, what can I learn from it? There's a lot of positives. Things to take from it. I don't know what else you can do with it. There's some great people in Detroit. Great fan base. They love their football. Bottom line, we just didn't get it done. Hey, I'll step up front and center. I'll take the hit.
In the NFL, there's a couple of things you have to have. You have to have first and foremost, a quarterback. If you don't have a quarterback, you don't have a chance. And we didn't get one. Lot of other factors, but you have to have that. You can build around a quarterback. Look around the league right now, you can see the teams that have 'em, and the teams that don't. There's different ways to go about things. You have to agree on one, and move on. We didn't get that done.