Since becoming the Penn State head football coach, Bill O’Brien has done all the right things. When the news broke of his hiring, I drank Four Roses straight from the bottle. Now, I’d like to think our fourth Rose Bowl appearance isn’t too far off. Whether it’s promises of an actual offense, hints at actually gameplanning for a specific opponent, or the overhaul of the weight room, BOB has completely won me over.
His quotes during the Coaches’ Caravan have been tantalizing. It really is the dawn of a new day for Penn State football.
Everything that BOB has said has brought a smile to my face. Until yesterday.
“For instance, we could open the season maybe at a neutral site or maybe at Beaver Stadium – that’s not set yet,” he (Bill O'Brien) told a room full of 216 supporters.
“That would be against, obviously, a major college power -- like an Alabama, like a Southern Cal, like a Stanford.”
The first-year Penn State coach indicated that playing at such neutral sites as the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field in Landover, Md., and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., are attractive options.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for playing better opponents. I would love to see Tim Curley’s dictionary because the words “marquee” and “meh” seem to have been switched. All he did was line up the same teams Penn State played as an Independent. No imagination. Nothing new. Boring.
Like a never-ending Jason Kendall contract, Penn State fans are saddled with Curley’s scheduling albatross for quite some time. Virginia (AGAIN), Syracuse (AGAIN), Rutgers (AGAIN), and Pitt (AGAIN).
So when BOB spoke about playing major college powers, I was thrilled. Could we have road trips to Baton Rouge, Austin, and Athens coming up? They’ve been down, but how cool would it be to infiltrate the Vol Navy? If you need to cross Oklahoma off your list, why not do it by playing in Norman?
Sadly, this is but a pipe dream. The excitement of a “big name opponent” comes with the major downer of “neutral site game.” Ugh.
College football is great because of the traditions and pageantry that accompany a fall Saturday on campus. With precious few home dates a year, each game is an event that literally overtakes towns. Road trips are so exciting because you get to check out different towns and a new gameday atmosphere with their own traditions. College football fanbases are extremely passionate because they chose to attend that school and represent their alma mater with pride in daily life. And what better way is there to experience that passion than setting foot in town as a visiting fan on gameday?
But let’s ignore all the things that make college football so great and so unique. Throw two good teams in a big city and call it “college” football. In other words, let’s make it more like the boring, sterile NFL.
No thank you.
I would much rather sign a 2-for-1 deal to play New Mexico than play against Florida State in a “kickoff classic” in Washington DC.
I’d prefer to do a home-and-home with Washington State than set foot in New Jersey to play Oregon.
Screw it; let’s give Ole Miss a game just so we can experience The Grove.
If playing at a neutral site is what it takes to get a marquee opponent on the schedule, then frankly I’d rather play Pitt every year.
Yeah, that’s how much I loathe neutral site games.
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