PSU always relevant on the national stage

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Penn State, and yet with a little bit of help, the Nittany Lions could be heading to the Rose Bowl.

That’s certainly what you would call something to be thankful for.

There are so many things that Penn State football fans can be thankful for, but mostly it’s this: Your team is definitely one of the “haves” of college football, and there are so, so many “have not” programs that have never and will never be able to enjoy such a life of luxury in the sport.

Every Penn State game is on national TV. It’s been that way for decades. So you never, ever have to miss a game. Fans of the vast majority of programs in this country would love for their team to be such a big draw that TV networks fall over themselves to televise games.

Beaver Stadium could attract 100,000 fans if the Lions were lining up against 22 random folks you find at Walmart. The opponent doesn’t really matter. Going to a Penn State game is an event in and of itself to 100,000-plus fans each and every home game.

Going to fantastic bowl games is pretty much considered a birthright for Penn State fans. Think of all the awesome exotic locations the Lions have visited on an annual basis and how fans can make those trips for some terrific vacations. Even this year, the worst-case scenario is the Outback Bowl in Tampa, and I’ll tell you, I love going to Tampa and the Outback Bowl.

Not to be mean about other schools, but think about what life would be like if you were a Purdue fan. Or Indiana. Or Cincinnati. Or Central Michigan. Or one of 100 other college football teams. It would be a dream come true to go to a prestigious bowl game just once — EVER!

Penn State goes pretty much every year. You’re spoiled by it.

We in the media are spoiled by it. Honestly, we are. Bowl trips are fantastic. Reporters who cover the overwhelming majority of college programs never get to experience the best bowl games.

I look at this in reverse when it comes to basketball. I love college hoops, but I’ve spent 20 years covering Saint Francis, which has never made the NCAA Tournament in that time. Penn State basketball fans know the drill, because the program has largely been irrelevant on the national stage for decades.

It’s fun to follow a team that matters. A program that matters, year in and year out.

Penn State football fans have been able to experience that for an entire lifetime.

Yes, there have been some lean years here and there, and the scandal was horrendous. But it only took five years after the scandal for PSU to bounce back, win the Big Ten and get to the Rose Bowl.

That’s what you call a charmed existence.

And definitely something to be thankful for as a sports fan.

Cory Giger can be reached at cgiger@altoonamirror.com.


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