Warning for thin-skinned fans: The Penn State bashing is about to begin around the country as politicking for BCS bowl berths heats up.
For the record, there's no way under any scenario of competitive fairness that Penn State deserves a BCS bid over Iowa.
Also for the record, the opinion here is the Nittany Lions will indeed be selected over the Hawkeyes for the Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl. The huge national following and Joe Paterno factor will mean far more to the bowls than hurting Iowa's feelings.
Major college football is not a sport, it's a business. It's not about being fair, it's about making money and putting butts in the seats.
Penn State will do that better than Iowa.
And the big bowls know it.
If the Lions are indeed picked instead of Iowa and undefeated Boise State, get ready for a huge backlash against the BCS selection process and heavy criticism of Penn State by the national college football media.
Many fans believe analysts like ESPN's Mark May and ABC's Craig James already have an anti-Penn State bias. Just wait until those guys, and many others, sink their teeth into the Lions' BCS resume as it compares to the likes of Iowa and Boise State.
You can practically hear it now:
"Penn State hasn't beaten anybody," James might say. "Wins over Temple and a bunch of weak Big Ten teams should never be enough to get into a BCS game."
Or how about this ...
"They looked lousy in their two biggest games and lost both of them at home," May might say. "Just because people like watching you and your coach on TV doesn't mean you deserve anything."
For at least a few weeks - beginning with the Dec. 6 BCS selection show - Penn State would be a big part of the national conversation about what's wrong with college football. That would be tough to hear for university personnel and fans who pride themselves on having always been part of what's great about the sport.
None of this, mind you, will be Penn State's fault.
The school should not have to apologize for having the country's largest alumni association, for having an enormous traveling fan base that spends a lot of money or for having an iconic head coach who is beloved.
In essence, if the Lions are selected to a BCS game, it will be more of a lifetime achievement award than for what they accomplished this season.
Here's a look at the resumes:
* Penn State and Iowa are both 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten.
* The Hawkeyes beat PSU at Beaver Stadium (21-10) and gave league champ Ohio State a great game on the road with a freshman backup quarterback (losing 27-24 in OT).
* The Lions were little match at home against the Buckeyes (losing 24-7).
* Iowa's 17-10 loss to Northwestern was a fluke because starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi got injured and missed the second half.
* Perhaps the only advantage PSU had on the field is that it crushed Michigan State (42-14) and Michigan (35-10), while the Hawkeyes struggled against both (30-28 over Michigan, last-second 15-13 win over Michigan State).
* In the polls, the Lions (13th) and Hawkeyes (11th) are both in the top 14 of the BCS standings, and thereby eligible for at-large consideration. Penn State is ahead of Iowa in both the AP poll (12th vs. 13th) and USA Today coaches poll (11th vs. 13th).
It will be unfair if Penn State gets selected over Iowa, but fairness means nothing when you consider one very big thing.
Our economy is in the toilet.
The effects are being felt everywhere, including these exotic bowl destinations that are in business to make money. They have to sell tickets and generate ad revenue.
If Boise State can sell 15,000 tickets, Iowa can sell 30,000 and Penn State can sell 45,000 while drawing tons more TV viewers, why would the bowls give a darn about being fair or which team beat the other during the regular season?
Just like everyone else in these tough times, they care about paying the bills.
That's why Penn State will end up in either the Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl, and Iowa fans will end up complaining about how life's not fair.
(Note: As several Iowa fans have pointed out the past two days, I failed to give the Hawkeyes enough credit for selling bowl tickets. Still, there's no arguing that Penn State would be a better draw to national advertisers and TV viewers.)
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.