Sunday, September 20, 2009

A happy Saturday in the valley

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The stadium shook and the crowd roared every time Penn State marched into the endzone. And that was during a 31-6 snoozer against... Temple? I can only imagine what it feels like to witness an important college football game here when the Nittany Lions play a real opponent at Beaver Stadium.

These people take their football seriously. Of course, most college football fans do. I should know, coming from West Virginia University where there are no pro sports teams in the state. Each Saturday, people from all across West Virginia gathered at Mountaineer Field to watch their team play.

But Happy Valley is different. From the thundering "We Are ... Penn State" cheer where the students actually shout "Thank You" to the alumni, to a slow motion wave around the stadium following the Lion's first touchdown. It's pretty neat.

Then, of course, there's that goofy Lion mascot, who must have fleas becuase he's constantly scratching his ears. He crowd surfs through the student section, break dances on the field and directs the crowd to a chrescendo of cheers before kickoff. But with the game decided long before either team took the field, my girlfriend, Tiffany, and I spent most of our time watching him as he entertained.

It's just unfortunate, though, that Penn State and head coach Joe Paterno feel the need to play so many cupcake non-conference teams (Akron, Syracuse and Temple) rather than schedule a real rival, such as the Pitt Panthers. It's all about ticket revenue from home games, and they certainly packed the stadium. But it's sad that most left before the start of the fourth quarter. Oh, and as for that giant S in the middle of the student section? It melted into metal bleachers long before the game ended.


  1. College football, especially the Div I schools, is all about money. Ticket sales to pack people into the 105,000 seat stadium, contributions from alumni hinged on how the success of the football program, TV revenue, and bowl game receipts, all are important to the school. Meanwhile many of the athletes are only there to play (be exploited?), hoping to cash in at the professional level. Yes, yet more basis of money.

    So, Mike, the games look puffy from most viewpoints, but not from the economic view.

    Nice day to be outside, though, huh? How do you possibly find a place to park and navigate the vehicular traffic (... people traffic too)?

  2. We were VERY fortunate to get the tix and a parking pass (for free) from an old friend. We parked in a huge grass lot about a half-mile from the stadium, so we didn't have to worry about pedestrians. It was very congested, but we were able to get out of Happy Valley in less than an hour.

    As for the cream puff schedule... JoePa and PSU won't play Pitt because PSU wants 3-to-1 game ratio. Obviously, Pitt would never agree to that like Temple. But I think you would get more attention and better television ratings with that matchup. With all the Penn State alums living in Pittsburgh, I know Heinz Field would be packed every time the two teams played here.

    And like you said about the weather... Couldn't have a nicer day to make the drive and enjoy a football game.

  3. I don't remember much emphasis being place on athletics when I attended IUP in the Dark Ages. That probably has since changed.