Unlike the other two guys on the blog, I was not brought up in a Penn State household. My college football experience begins with OSU.
No, not that one.
It was the OSU of Oregon State--my dad's alma mater--as we watched them struggle through another losing season on TV as a young kid.
It was the OSU of Oklahoma State as they plodded through another post-Barry Sanders Big 8 season. I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma in the heart of college football country, hundreds of miles away from the influence of professional sports teams.
It was the Directional U's of the first game I attended-I can't recall if it was either the Tulsa U. versus SW Missouri State U. game in 1990 or 1994 or a Kansas State U. home game in 1994.
It was moving to the Middle East and following college sports through USA Today box scores and issues of Sports Illustrated that arrived a month late. I had no team, and information was so limited that it was best to follow the entire college football landscape of Flagship U's, State U's, and Directional U's. I wasn't alone--a couple of us in school would trade broadcasts like baseball cards--VHS tapes of a 1991 Big West game, bootlegs of a Bowl broadcast from a TV station in Israel, anything that made life feel a bit more like home. Even so, there were a lot of gaps which had to be filled with the imagination of a thirteen year old kid.
The first Penn State game I remember watching on TV was the 1995 Rose Bowl after moving back to the USA. I remember thinking it was the smoothest operating team I'd ever seen play. I also remember the crowd loudly declaring that they weren't just another "U."
They were Penn State.
When did I become a fan? I was certain of two things concerning college football as I headed to Penn State as a freshman: the best football was played in the Great Plains, and that the best football fans were in Big XII country. Like most eighteen year old kids, I was stupid and wrong. I remember my first Penn State game: 1997 Penn State v. Pitt on a gorgeous September afternoon. Mike McQueary cut through the Pitt secondary for over 300 yards and PSU won in that smooth, seemingly effortless way that I had seen in the Rose Bowl a few years past. I remember that wall of rocking, proud and supportive fans giving me goosebumps up as they echoed, "We are... Penn State" across the stadium. I joined in.
I'll spare you all of the other memories for now, but I've been there emotionally as a fan from that game onward. Even though I'm a huge fan, I always keep some of that outsider perspective to the game that I got as a kid. I really love to watch the game, and modern technology gets us more connected to it than I ever dreamed--this blog is one such method. On this blog I hope to offer some big picture thoughts of PSU as it relates to the Big Ten, the rest of the PSU season, and the college football landscape. I'll also combining odd little statistics or contributions that individually don't indicate a lot, but together can reveal quite a bit about this game. I may not always be right, but I'll always try to offer you a perspective you haven't heard someplace else.
Having said that, I close with the phrase that ties all Penn State fans together: OSU sucks.
Yes, that one.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org