The Washington Times - October 24, 2008, 01:25PM

Navy basketball coach Billy Lange is a rather sharp guy, both in terms of building a program and keeping up with things away from his Annapolis office.

He also isn’t afraid to toss out book suggestions, as he did yesterday when he mentioned a time Gary Barnett wrote about the 1995 Northwestern football team.

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I had a free moment while football practice was wrapping up yesterday and punched “Gary Barnett Northwestern” into amazon.com, figuring that would lead me to what I wanted to find.

It worked, of course. But the most interesting thing I found was the fourth item on that page, a book published earlier this year.

That happened to be “Football’s Eagle & Stack Defenses.”

The author? Ron Vanderlinden, with a foreword by Joe Paterno.

Vanderlinden, of course, resurfaced at Penn State shortly after his firing at Maryland after the 2000 season. He’s coached linebackers there ever since, and after some lean years early on, has produced some truly impressive players. Paul Posluszny comes to mind.

Unsurprisingly, the product review ignores Vanderlinden’s stint in College Park, where he was 15-29 in four seasons but left the cupboard full enough for Ralph Friedgen to win an ACC title in his first season. Here’s the “about the author”:

Author Ron Vanderlinden has been coach and architect of several of the most formidable defensive teams in the past 20 seasons. From the University of Colorado’s national champions in 1990 to Northwestern’s Big Ten title-winning team in 1995 to the revitalized, high-pursuit Penn State attack, Vanderlinden’s well-drilled defensive players and units have enjoyed tremendous success.

I can’t provide a good or bad review for Vanderlinden’s book, in part because I haven’t read it and in part because it’s clearly targeted at coaches rather than the general public. My opinion would be pretty worthless as a result.

That said, there’s a decent chance this year’s D1scourse Challenge winner might get a copy of this gem if I decide to cough up the $13.57 to purchase it. For contest participants, consider that just another bit of incentive to keep making picks each week.

Well, that and a t-shirt from the EagleBank Bowl – a game that will include Navy if the Midshipmen can win two more games.

And that takes this oddball entry full circle.

Patrick Stevens