Tom Bradley made it clear ahead of time that he didn't want to talk about Penn State, where he spent 37 years as a player and coach — serving as the Nittany Lions interim head coach for four games in 2011 after the Jerry Sandusky scandal unceremoniously ended Joe Paterno's career.
And, it turns out, Bradley didn't really want to talk much about himself either.
But what the enthusiastic Bradley did want to talk about during an interview on Tuesday was Saturday's Patriot League showdown between Lehigh and Fordham in the Bronx, which he will be working for the CBS Sports Network (12 p.m., dial position 176 on Service Electric, 380 on RCN).
"I really enjoy working for the CBS Sports Network, and they've been great … but come on, this isn't about me, let's talk about the game," Bradley said of the battle between the undefeated Mountain Hawks, ranked No. 10 and No. 13 in the FCS national polls and the unbeaten Rams, who are ranked 12th and 13th.
Bradley was a defensive coach, but he's pumped up about the offenses that figures to be on display when Lehigh and Fordham get together.
Lehigh features Brandon Bialkowski, who has thrown for 1,530 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games and the Rams counter with Mike Nebrich, who has tossed for 1,377 yards and 12 touchdowns in five games. Bialkowski has a passing efficiency rating of 152.4, Nebrich 161.3.
"These quarterbacks are eerily similar," Bradley said. "They're both tremendous players. This game to me is interesting because it doesn't matter if anybody gets a lead, especially if you're Lehigh, because they seem to play better when they're behind the 8-ball. I just think it's a fascinating game."
Bradley has spent almost his entire professional life on a much larger stage at Beaver Stadium than the one he'll work in on this fall Saturday. Fordham's Jack Coffey Field only seats 7,000.
You sense, however, that he has great respect for the coaches and players at these schools and it doesn't matter to him whether there are 107,000 or 7,000 in the stands, it's still football.
"These teams have some excellent football players, but maybe the difference [between FBS and FCS schools] is that they don't have as many," Bradley said. "The skill in the Patriot League, especially on these two teams, is very impressive. Being at Penn State, we followed the Patriot League because we had Bucknell right down the road and Lehigh's not that far away. We heard and read about them all the time."
This will be Bradley's fifth game in his first season as an analyst.
"I can't grade myself on this and tell you that I'm getting better," he said. "I feel like I am. It has been fun to watch all of the different programs. I got to see Stanford play Army and I've been out to Tulsa and all over the place. It has been a great experience and it's amazing how much the people at CBS know and care about college football. They approach every game like it's the national championship game."
You can tell that Bradley loves being around the game. He couldn't wait to talk to the coaches or get out to a practice. The Xs and Os ooze out of him.
Bradley, sounding like a much younger version of John Madden in the old Miller Lite commercials, still has the passion. He will interact with Lehigh coach Andy Coen and Fordham's Joe Moorhead no differently than if he was dealing with Urban Meyer and Nick Saban.
"These two programs have done everything the right way," he said. "I have so much respect for the men who run these programs — Andy Coen is a great coach and Joe coached the quarterbacks at Akron and his offenses used to give us fits at Penn State."
The Johnstown native, nicknamed Scrap, also does radio commentary and podcasts on Steelers games and said that Pittsburgh has all of a sudden become a baseball town.
"The Steelers are struggling right now and I do those call-in shows where everybody wants to jump off the bridge," Bradley said. "I try to talk them down and tell them that the sun will come up tomorrow. In sports, it's always what have you done for me lately."
You sense that while Bradley enjoys his work in the broadcast booth, he misses the sidelines, the interaction with the players and those film sessions when you break down an opposing offense.
"You grow up with the game, you play the game, you coach the game and when you do all that, you love the game," he said.
For now, though, his main task is getting in a few words of analysis between plays — no easy feat considering the uptempo, no-huddle offenses everybody seems to employ.
"You have to make your comments very quickly," Bradley said.
It's a good thing Bradley talks pretty fast anyway.
As for a potential return to the sidelines, which most Penn State fans believe he deserves for his dedication to the game and the dignity he displayed in the turmoil of November 2011, Bradley, again, didn't want to say much.
"We'll figure that out down the road," he said of coaching again. "I'm just excited to be doing what I am doing and I am looking forward to this game."
KEITH'S CAN'T MISS … It's strange not to have the Phillies or the Yanks involved in the MLB postseason, but there are plenty of storylines to follow in both leagues on the road to the World Series. TBS has most of the division series coverage with two games on Thursday night and then all four series are in action throughout Friday, beginning with the Cardinals on the MLB Network at 1 p.m.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun