Be honest: When you think about big-time college football, how often do you think about the kids actually going to class and getting an education?
Never is the answer for most fans.
We're a bottom-line type of sports society, and when it comes to college sports, GPA numbers usually don't mean anything to people when compared to the numbers on the scoreboard.
They do mean a great deal, however, to Penn State University, and there was a terrific reminder of that prior to the Blue-White Game eight days ago.
Minutes before Joe Paterno entered the Beaver Stadium media room for his spring press conference, receivers coach Mike McQueary could be heard upstairs addressing about 30 high school recruits.
In three brief sentences, McQueary summed up the school's values.
"Don't come here because there's 110,000 people [in the stands]," he told the kids. "Academics is first. Let me make sure I'm clear on that."
Maybe it went in one ear and out the other for those kids, but hopefully they were paying attention and took heed of what McQueary was saying.
Joe Paterno's so-called "grand experiment" of athletic and academic success has been going on for more than four decades. It's a well-known fact, too, that the easiest way for players to get into JoePa's doghouse is to skip classes.
If McQueary's words weren't impressive enough, Paterno made a point to discuss just why he places so much emphasis on education toward the end of his press conference. Sounding like a politician - he would have been a great one, you know - JoePa veered into one of his usual digressions when the topic of Big Ten expansion came up.
It would be easy for him or anyone in the conference to want the best football fit, but the coach does not want the Big Ten to overlook its academic duties to the nation. Some of Paterno's speech:
"The next 30 years is going to be the toughest 30 years this country has ever had since we started the country, since we couldn't make up our minds whether France was our friend and England was our enemy or what.
"We've got to be a world. We've got to train kids out, and we've got to have the faculty that does that kind of research. Everybody is talking about 'do this, do that, green this, global warming,' all that kind of stuff. We've got to somehow make sure that this country is not going to fall behind."
Great academics, not great football, will help make that happen. Thanks to Paterno's long-term vision, Penn State is one of the few schools in the country that offer both.
Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.