What's Up with Penn State?

By Michael Citro on October 24, 2013 at 4:15p
Thank you sir, may we have another?

One of my favorite blog tropes is when one team blog swaps “intel” with a site that reps the other side.

So when Devon Edwards of Black Shoe Diaries wanted to do one of those Q&A swaps with us, I had to jump at the chance. (You can read what I told them here, where I am referred to as 'hideous' right in the headline!) It’s always interesting to field questions from the enemy because sometimes it can reveal what they think and fear about your squad. 

Other times they just want to get some basics, like which players the casual fan should watch for on your team. That’s fine too. You have to cover all the bases.

Johnny and I got some of the Penn State perspective from Ben Jones on yesterday’s Dubcast, so I decided to go beyond the game a little bit and find out what Penn State fans are thinking about outside of this Saturday night’s prime time matchup in the Horseshoe.

Let’s peel back the curtain and take a gander at the wizard.

As Penn State goes through a season wracked by NCAA sanctions and with a true freshman quarterback at the helm, what were your expectations for this season and how does it compare with the reality you've seen so far?

Devon Edwards: Heading into this season, there was so much uncertainty that even making any prediction seemed impossible. After the successes of last year, and the number of returning pieces around Christian Hackenberg, eight wins seemed to be a reasonable expectation, though that was before anyone knew how good UCF was, and, of course, the loss to Indiana. Really, though, considering that Penn State's playing with almost 30 fewer scholarship players than most of its opponents, I think the hope was that the Lions would be able to stick with the better teams, even if they lost, and that Hackenberg would develop over the course of the season to a point where starting next year, when we'll start to fill up the cupboards (but more realistically in 2015, when we're back near full strength) we can be competing for a Big Ten championship.

I'm not sure we're quite on track for that yet, and this season has been a bit frustrating at times, but hey, that Michigan win erased pretty much all the bad vibes left over from the catastrophe in Bloomington.

Penn State fans seem very happy with Bill O'Brien as coach and even most opposing fans can't find anything to dislike about him. But nobody's perfect. What are BOB's weaknesses so far as PSU head coach?

BOB: hard guy to hate. For now.Bill O'Brien might be the anti-Bielema.

DE: Oh, I've got plenty of gripes with BOB, the first being that this year he really seems to have bitten off more than he can chew. Without the kind of senior leaders who led this team through a very uncertain summer —guys like Mike Mauti, Mike Zordich, and Matt McGloin — the team's gotten a bit undisciplined. Without a senior quarterback, his playcalling has really fallen off a cliff (although, oddly enough, in a pass-heavy direction), and despite the growth of Sam Ficken into one of the Big Ten's better kickers, he's still too willing to roll the dice when he doesn't really need to, like, say, going for it in the first half, from inside his own 40, last game. There were very public calls from some, myself among them, for O'Brien to hire an offensive coordinator. But off the field, he's just about perfect.

With Miami's sanctions being handed down earlier this week (and basically consisting of "time served"), what are Penn State fans saying about the NCAA and its punishment these days?

DE: The growing sense among Penn State fans is very similar to the one amongst pretty much all college football fans; that is to say, we believe the NCAA is corrupt, outdated, attention-seeking, arbitrary, and capricious in its punishments. There's not just the sense that we were punished for heinous crimes that were in no way violative of any NCAA bylaws (and without any NCAA investigation), but that Mark Emmert has no idea what he's doing.

A few players at Ohio State getting free tattoos is worse than boosters running the program in Miami, or paying handlers at Oregon? Or, far, far worse, institutionally-sponsored and rampant academic fraud at UNC? The NCAA's priorities are so backwards, it's disgusting. The vitriol has subsided a bit since the sanctions were lessened — and, should the bowl ban be the next domino to fall, will fade even more — but it's hardly just a Penn State sentiment to loathe Mark Emmert.

It seems as if Penn State views Ohio State as a rival but that's not universally reciprocated by Buckeye Nation. Is this a developing rivalry or are these two schools just recurring conference opponents that simply haven't learned to hate each other yet?

DE: Honestly, guys, the whole "We only have one rival and it's Michigan who cares about Penn State harumph harumph" thing is getting a bit old. In the past ten years, we've played, essentially, for three or four Big Ten titles, we play, pretty much, every game in primetime, on ABC, the atmospheres are always insane, we're close enough that plenty of fans make the trip from Columbus to State College or vice versa, we go after the same recruits, and almost every game in recent memory has been as closely contested as any other Big Ten team has consistently played you.

We're two of the most historically dominant teams in one of the best conferences in college football, we have this game circled at the start of every season, the players--on both sides--talk about this as one of the most important games each year, and the fans trash talk each other mercilessly. This is a rivalry, guys. Hate to break it to you. Just because we haven't been playing for 100 years doesn't mean it's not.

Personal note: OK, fella, but you’ll have to line up behind the Wolverines and Badgers.

When the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have met in recent years, there have been an uncanny number of pick sixes in the series thrown by Penn State quarterbacks. Do PSU fans live in abject terror of this happening again or is it seen as coincidental?

Well, yes and no. No, it's not coincidental, because Matt McGloin was never really a quarterback known for taking care of the ball, but yes, we're still afraid of it happening because we have a true freshman quarterback who, while he's lived up to the 5-star, blue-chip, top-prospect label, is still a true freshman who is very prone to making very bad mistakes. Oh, and you still have Bradley Roby, who's one of the best corners in the country. I'll defer to my fellow blogger to illustrate that we Penn State fans are well aware of the trend.

What are your expectations for Bill O'Brien's tenure at Penn State? Is he in Happy Valley for 20 years or does he bolt for the NFL in the next five? Somewhere in between?

DE: Look, nobody's expecting another Joe Paterno who sticks around for 60 years and then dies. But given the incredible challenge of leading Penn State through this dark period, I think it would come as a real shock to a lot of people if he left before he got to see the other side. He's been promising recruits that he'll be here for the entirety of their time at Penn State, and while every coach says that, BOB's always seemed like a real straightforward, no-bullshit kind of guy, and by all accounts, he really does love it here. I think he'll be coaching on Sundays eventually, but I'd be surprised if he did in the next five years.


Comments Show All Comments

GoBucksToledo's picture

Personally, I like it when I'm referred to as hideous by my enemies/rivals.

ohiowhitesnake's picture

That gif has a lot of moxie

I finally got a set of Gold Pants!

Unky Buck's picture

teams like Vanderbilt and Tennessee have pulled out of scheduled games - from the BSD interview

While Vanderbilt definitely helped us take a hit this year in the schedule, Tennessee wasn't on the schedule until 2018-19 and we are the ones that pulled out of that. Can't really blame Tennessee for any of that. Plus, honestly, that OOC is pretty good as it is. Losing Tennessee won't affect that.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Michael Citro's picture


I was trying to remember that and got confused because I did remember Ohio State nixing the future Georgia series for the Pac/B1G tie-in that never happened. "They" say the memory is first to go and they're right. Getting old, man. It's the worst. Whatevs. Cal was still a good team when originally scheduled so I stand behind the scheduling not being as terrible as it's portrayed. #narrative

Unky Buck's picture

Oh, it happens. Most people have forgotten that it was us. I think I've posted that link or a similar one 3 times in the last 3 weeks. Not too worried about it but thought I'd at least let you know.
And I'll agree that Cal was a good team when we scheduled them too. That's the funny thing because the OOC schedule being good comment was about the 2018 or 19 season where we have TCU and UNC on the schedule at the same time. Right now, that's a pretty good OOC set of games but in 5-6 years, it could be utter shit again. We're at least scheduling some of these teams when they are good. We don't have control over whether those teams end up being good or not.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Michael Citro's picture

Right. What if USC and Texas were on this year's schedule? They're both pretty terrible this year.

Buckeye Knight's picture

Good stuff guys.  And I absolutely agree with his assessment of Mark Emmert and the NCAA.

Spider1944's picture

Read "Fourth and Long" by John U Bacon. He paints a pretty chilling portrait of the NCAA in general, and Mark Emmert in particular. I think he said that the NCAA's budget was like 777 million (? Might have been 77) and that they spend less than 1% on enforcement. What a sham. Needs to be fixed. 
GO BUCKS!!! Bring on the Nittany Lions! 

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

cbusbuckeye's picture

State Penn fans want this game to be a rivalry SO BAD. At this point OSU is pretty much mocking how much they hate us.

Chad Peltier's picture

We almost make it more of a rivalry for PSU fans because we deny it's a rivalry. 

TheBadOwl's picture

Well then what about all of the UC fans who swear that they have a rivalry with us?

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

If you just take your food and go at the drive through window you'll never have to listen to UC fans.

Spider1944's picture

Just please! Don't anybody call them "Our little brother". I for one consider it one of the biggest games on our schedule. They are surviving with one hand tied behind their back. They are Penn State for Gods sake.
GO BUCKS!!! Bring on the Nittany Lions! 

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Reading the sentiment on the NCAA just pissed me off even more about the NCAA...when you really put it into perspective of the way they handled OSU's punishment vs. Miami/Oregon/UNC (little to no punishment).

Class of 2010.

Doc's picture

Michael, nice job on both sites.  They are pretty doom and gloom over there, with one guy saying the game should be canceled for their players safety.  I agree with you.  I think it will be a close hard fought game with the good guys winning in the end.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

fear_the_nut70's picture

I say it because I saw the Wisconsin and NW games.  I do think if this team plays up to its ability, it can play with any team in the country.  Unfortunately, when they don't play up to their ability, they are capable of playing down to any team on their schedule.  I think the PSU game is going to look a lot like the NW and Iowa games unless PSU turns the ball over a lot.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

As far as the rivalry goes...I'd only say they became a "rival" in recent years.  But only due to their fans douchebaggery...not their football program.  However, that "rivalry" pales in comparison to *ichgan.  Being born in Columbus you are taught many things.  One of those many things is you are to ABSOLUTELY HATE anything *ichigan.  The team, the state, the colors, etc.  Never was PSU or anything PSU-related expressed to that degree.  So from a "rivalry" standpoint, they just aren't there yet.  Wisconsin. MSU, and PSU are conference rivals, but not bitter rivals like *ichgan.  And quite frankly, I just hate PSU fans...that doesn't support "bitter rivalry" in my humbled opinion. 

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

dwcbuckeye's picture

Interesting and I think somewhat surprising comments from the Penn State fans based on Michael's interview.  Basically calling his Saturday prediction of a relatively tight ball game BS.  They seem to expect something much worse - and I hope so.  I think Michael was being respectful more than anything.
Edit:  It could be a close game a-la NW or Iowa, but come on, we need to put somebody in the B10 away and score some voter points. 

Michael Citro's picture

I think Michael was being respectful more than anything.

My original prediction was something like 38-23, but the more I thought about it, I think Penn State might be as good as or better than Iowa, and look what happened last week. It just doesn't seem to be a year when we really pound conference opponents.

OSU BUCkS's picture

Not a rivalry, no matter how much they try to convince us.

dja.ohio's picture

Metamucil worked!

theDuke's picture

lol the "personal note" sums it up pretty well for me... LMAO


The TresselMeyer's picture


Honestly, guys, the whole "We only have one rival and it's Michigan who cares about Penn State harumph harumph" thing is getting a bit old. In the past ten years, we've played, essentially, for three or four Big Ten titles

^ This is just like the younger sibling that hangs on your ankle begging you to play with him even though you know he usually can't keep up. Not to mention, they've won a whopping 2 BIG titles in the last 15 years (which were shared with OSU). You can play, essentially, for all the Big Ten titles you want in your imagination - its not realistic to imply that Penn State has been on par with OSU in recent memory.

Brady Hoke's reaction to the Urban Meyer hire: "Not good."

deskpoet's picture

So, we're going to the "little brother" realm with PSU?
I think the PSU fella is right--people need to loosen up about TTUN being OSU's "one and only". I don't care all that much for UW, and that makes it a game to look forward to. I think the same applies to PSU, only moreso: putting a beat-down on PSU is only slightly less satisfying than a victory over TTUN. 
In other words, open your hearts for PSU. They're not UM, but they should still be forced to genuflect to OSU each year, and we should take great pleasure from that.

BenW's picture

Even if we began to treat them as rivals, it would still be lopsided, because we would be their #1 rivals and they would be #2 or #3 or #4 for us (Wisky, Sparty?)

Spider1944's picture

PSU has played for 2 B1G titles in the last 15 years. True, and JoPa is gone. If Hoke's comment on the Urban Meyer hiring was "Not good" I don't imagine his sentiment on BO'B at PSU is any different. 
I think any coach will tell you "not respecting your opponent is a recipe for a disaster. 
GO BUCKS!!! Bring on the Nittany Lions! 

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

Jdadams01's picture

"Please be our rival! Please!"

thatlillefty's picture

Dude is right about our games always being exciting primetime match ups. That's a rivalry to me.

GrayDay's picture

PSU fans really should not consider it disrespectful that OSU fans don't view them a "rival."  It's just that it means different things to OSU than PSU fans.  Our unique history with UM - forged long before most of us were born - has rendered us incapable of thinking of "rivalry" as applying to anyone with same as real meaning as it does with that team up north.  And it will probably be that way 100 years from now. 
The vast majority of OSU fans respect PSU's (and the state of PA's) tremendous football history and greatly enjoy that our two legendary programs get to play each other every year now.  We just won't hate you like we do UM.  That's nobody's fault - well, you know, except Michigan's.

dja.ohio's picture

Ask people outside of the OSU and PSU fanbases to name the rivalries in the B1G and they'll come up with OSU v. TTUN.
PSU is a big game, but when you're one of 2 teams involved in the biggest rivalry in at least American sports [ http://espn.go.com/endofcentury/s/other/bestrivalries.html ], throwing around the rivalry tag shouldn't be done lightly. I don't like losing to PSU, and there have been plenty of close games, but losing to them is on par with losing to Wisconsin - it sucks, but life goes on. Lose to TTUN and it's a long, cold, dark winter.

45has2's picture

Spot on. The hatred between ttun and TOSU goes back 110 years and is tied to a state territorial fight, long periods of weasel dominance, poaching of Buckeye players, poaching of Buckeye coaches and their sheer arrogance. From a Buckeye perspective, 28 games does not a rivalry make. No disrespect intended, we just have larger criteria for teams we love to hate.
I've never heard anyone singing: "We don't give a damn for the whole state of Pennsylvania."

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Spider1944's picture

"well, you know, except Michigan's." LMAO

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

InHartWeTrust's picture

Two large fan bases = reason for the primetime coverage.  Most OSU fans don't give a shit about PSU, let alone consider them a rival.  He can spin it however he pleases to help make himself and his readers happy, but it just makes PSU looks desperate.

Oyster's picture

I would offer that many fans consider PSU as our second rival.  It wasn't until lately that the discontent with Wisky started to rise, but the tough games with PSU have been going on since they joined the B1G.  I always enjoy the matchup.  Clean, hard hitting, just like The Game is.  As an example, remember when (I forget the player) the arm band was lost during a play and PSU held it tight, no looking at it, and handed it back at halftime to the OSU staff?  That is respect, and in my opinion, that is a class act you reserve for a rival.
Just my take on the matter, nothing more, nothing less.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

InHartWeTrust's picture

They are a "big game" for us almost annually, a classic B1G matchup, but I just can't consider it a rivalry game at all.  Not saying I am right, and I wholeheartedly hear and support your thoughts in your post...I am sure many share them.
I just feel like PSU is that typical delusional girl who once thought she was hot shit, but now has been struck by reality and brought down a few pegs...leaving her as the desperate girl who wants nothing more than a date to the dance, but no one gives enough of a shit about her to ask her to go.  As far as I am concerned, Penn State can fuck themselves, like the chick I described would on the night of the dance, in a pool of misery ridden tears.
(Sorry for the language, I hate delusional PSU fans)

Nick's picture

Aren't they rivals with Michigan State
muaahahhaaa a 

MN Buckeye's picture

Great job with both interview, Michael! It looks like PSU sees us as MSU sees UM.

Citrus's picture

"If OSU can avoid turnovers it probably pulls out a close win." Michael Citro’s not being serious, here, right? If this is a competitive game in the 4th quarter, then the entire OSU staff and team should be shot and dumped in the Cuyahoga river, where they’ll burst into flames.

The comments on Black Shoe are funny.

Citrus's picture

They’ll win by 100 if Urban Meyer has any balls. The Big Ten should cancel this game for player safety.

KLF Buckeye's picture

I feel like the Wisky rivalry grew out of a combination of Bert being detestable and the competition being good. Penn State has not had either of those characteristics. I guess maybe they see the Buckeyes as detestable because we have dominated for so long and had a little controversy?

Bort's picture

Guys and gals, I have to be completely honest with you.  I think we would be better off if we thought of them as a rival.  I always fear the Penn State game because they always get up for it and I feel like we never do.  Look at the history of the game from the time Tressel took over.  I would not say we were rivals in the 90's, but Tress took over in 2001.  We went 7-3 over the course of his tenure, and yet, almost all 7 wins were closer than they should have been, and the 3 we lost, we probably should have won.  We won pretty handily in 07, which I got to see in person...but we lost in 05 and it cost us a top 3 finish at the end of the season which Penn State ended up getting.  Even when we won 21-6, the game was within striking distance for them the whole time until Malcolm took it all the way back.  In 02, we beat them by 1 and they finished under .500.  I understand every game Tress coached seemed way closer than it should have, but my point is, if we put the same amount of emphasis on Penn State as they put on us, we would win more and win more handily.  I'm not putting them in the category of the state up north, but I've got to be honest about the situation.  It hasn't been until the last few years we've finally given Wisconsin the respect they deserve, and if we gave Penn State the same respect, we'd probably play better against them than we do.

"We've always had the best damn band in the land...now we have the best damn team in the land"
Jim Tressel

Poison nuts's picture

It's real simple for me. It's a rivalry, just not the rivalry. Just like ND & UM. That's certainly a rivalry game - but both of those teams have bigger rivals on their schedules. Nothing wrong with that...man - I really don't like their fans btw, I mean really can't stand them at all.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

sarasotabcg's picture

I respect Michigan but I want to beat them at every opportunity. Same with Wisky and MSU. I pay attention to how they're doing and their injury reports.
I have no respect for PSU fans. It's not just based on my personal experiences; the videos online of their fans' behavior are something to behold. It's pretty obvious that they expected to come to the B1G and dominate, and when that didn't happen they collectively turned into immature whiny bitches. (for fun, research why tbdbitl no longer goes to games at PSU)
They're not a rival; they're the uncle who makes a jackass out of himself at every family gathering. PSU isn't worthy of respect. They're just another team on the schedule that wants to beat us because we're better than they are year after year.

Hovenaut's picture

After living/going to undergrad school in south central PA during the 90's I more than had to put up with my fair share of PSU fans.

The '94 beatdown was tough, before Cooper put together his finest teams later in the decade to settle things out a bit. I still say the 94 PSU team would have been beaten by Nebraska that year....another argument for another day.

The Big 33 Classic had just signed up Ohio high schoolers - want to say in '92 - just in time before Penn State started Big Ten play. They really wanted the Buckeyes as rivals, still do.

The Big 33 Classic pits Maryland kids against the Commonwealth kids now.

I don't hate Penn State as much these days, I live in Maryland and my father is a PSU alum. A few pick sixes over the years cooled things off as well.

I still keep in touch with some folks up there, they still love to hate the Buckeyes. It's still a big game to me, but not the biggest. Never will be.

NC_Buckeye's picture

I've been thinking for a while that the OSU-PSU game should be a trophy game. However, I think the trophy should be real estate. The winner gets to claim Pymatuning Reservoir until the next football game.
(Or at the very least, the winner's state flag has to be flown at the loser's state park office.)
What do you guys think... good idea or not?

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Really, though, considering that Penn State's playing with almost 30 fewer scholarship players than most of its opponents,

85 - 65=30
That is about as succinct a description of Nittites as you'll ever find.
The real question is, how does one visit the BSD crew? When you sign in do you get patted down to ensure that you don't bring any sharp objects into the ward? When they wheel the guy out is he in a straight jacket or do they restrain him to the chair and then let you into the room? Is there an orderly on hand with a tranquilizer the entire time, just in case he gets over excited? Was he lucid the entire time or were the quoted pieced together in between bouts of "FAcTS! EVIDeNTS! 409! 409!! 409!! THHHHHONNNNNN!!!!!!!!!"?

BSDevon's picture

Okay, real quick, I've wanted to jump in to the comments for a little while, but I was to lazy to create an account. And then I saw this. Nobody impugns my math skills and gets away with it! 
Anyway, in the eyes of the NCAA, yes, we're at 65. But that includes a handful of players who quit football and left the team, as well as walk-ons who BOB awarded scholarships to because, well, why not? In terms of actual recruited scholarship players still on the team, most accounts have us at 57. Which is 28 fewer than 85, which, yes, is ALMOST 30! 
All this goes to show you is that I have a very odd sense of where I draw the line into personally offended, but whatever. I can do simple subtraction, bro.

georgiabuckeye's picture

All the gif in the post reminds me of is the nickname Matt McGimli son of Gloin

Spider1944's picture

Mike, You said:
"Cal was still a good team when originally scheduled so I stand behind the scheduling not being as terrible as it's portrayed."
I wish there was someway on Out of Conference schedules they could give the year the game was scheduled and their record at the time. 
My wife and I made a mini vacation out of the Cal game. We were in Frisco and I was asked about our plans. When I said we came out to see the Ohio State game, his response was "Who do they play? Stanford?" And I said "I wish!" And it got me to thinking. At the time the game was scheduled Cal was probably the better team. 
Just wondering...

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

This whole rivalry moniker is a bit overblown!  Yes, TSUN is our hated enemy and there will never be another team that gets to that level.  Having said that, PSU is a great game every year it is held and I cannot stand to lose to them!!!  Now that Burt has sunk to the SEC, PSU has most certainly risen to #2 in my book! 

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

avail31678's picture

I'll put it this way.  IF we were to lose a game this year, I would want it to be against NW, Illinois, or someone like that.
The three teams I REALLY hate losing to are TTUN, PSU, and Wisky.  I hate PSU fans, I hate what they did to TBDBITL.  I can't stand losing to them.
So, when we play PSU, especially since they often play us a tough game, I do get more emotionally attached to the game.
I'd say it's a mini-rivalry.  A big game that I have a lot of heart invested in, but nowhere NEAR the feel of The Game.
I think someone else posted this link, but I will as well...cause it's a good read, especially during The Week:
To quote about The Game: "That is rivalry."