Monday, August 03, 2009

Penn State's Terrible Schedule (or Reason #441 Why Penn State Should Play Pitt)

With the college football season about one month away, I figured that now
would be an appropriate time to write about the 2009 season. Specifically,
I'm writing about Penn State, who is considered to be one of the country's
top teams and a National Championship contender. Let me save everyone the
discussion now. If Penn State is undefeated several months from now, they do
not deserve to be ranked among the top few teams. May I present exhibit A to
the jury? (Yes, I'm playing a lawyer here today).

Penn State has 8 of its 12 games at home including its match against the
other Big 10 favorite, The Ohio State University. In fact, Penn State
doesn't leave State College until their fifth game of the season against
Illinois, and 6 of the team's first 7 games are at home.

Exhibit B: The non-conference schedule.

Penn State's first three games are against Akron (5-7 last season), Syracuse
(3-9) and Temple (5-7). In mid-October, they host Eastern Illinois (5-7), a
1-AA school in the Ohio Valley Conference. Is it even possible to schedule a
weaker non-conference schedule? I guess you can give Penn State credit for
scheduling a Big East team, except that Syracuse finished 2007 at 2-10; 2006
at 4-8; and 2005 at 1-10. Oh, they do have former Duke basketball player
Greg Paulus, so maybe that makes everything okay.

Exhibit C: The non-conference schedule of other top teams.

I know what you're thinking. Yes, Penn State is not facing the top
non-conference competition but they need to focus and prepare for the Big 10
season. Well, let's look at the non-conference schedule of other top

- USC travels to Columbus to face Ohio State
- Alabama meets Virginia Tech to start the season
- Florida ends the season against its rival Florida State
- Oklahoma begins the season with a home game against BYU, who went 10-2
last season, and later travels to Miami to take on the Hurricanes.
- While the non-conference schedule for Texas is similar to Penn State, at
least they play a road game at Wyoming.
- Finally, Utah, the team that ended the 2008 season at #2, plays at Oregon
and home against Louisville.

I think the title of this post shows where I stand. I am a University of Pittsburgh fan and really want Pitt and Penn State to start facing each other again. Pitt-Penn State used to be one of the best rivalries in college football, but it doesn't exist anymore. Joe Paterno has built an amazing football program and given so much to the university, and I know that this sounds mean, but they probably won't play Pitt again until he dies.

I'm not suggesting that Pitt is currently on the same level as Penn State, but they would be an upgrade over Temple and Eastern Illinois. To look at it from another perspective, if a team from the Big 12, SEC and Penn State all finish the season with one loss, Penn State won't be in the national title game. Based on their schedule, they shouldn't complain.

Update: I started writing this post last week and posted it Monday morning. I just noticed this afternoon that the Post-Gazette wrote a similar article about Penn State's schedule yesterday starting with this:

Penn State is poised to make a run at its second consecutive Big Ten Conference title this season.

But the Nittany Lions' soft non-conference schedule -- ranked second-worst among BCS schools by The Sporting News -- could make it hard for them to contend for the national championship.


Brad said...

We Are...

Sean said...

a school that needs to upgrade its schedule. (Please see the 2008-2009 men's basketball team and the reason why they did not make the NCAA Tournament.)

Adam said...

Look, I'll be the first person to tell you our schedule sucks this year, and that it'll probably come back to bite us in the ass like it did last year in football AND basketball.

But the truth of the matter is, Syracuse was a 10 win football team when we scheduled them. How the hell were we supposed to know they were gonna go fetal as bad as they did?

Penn State schedules one home-and-home every year. In 2006 and 2007 it was Notre Dame. In 2008-2009 it was Syracuse. In 2009-2010 it'll be Alabama, and Nebraska and Virginia are coming down the line as well. Some are hits, and some are misses. Watcha gonna do? You're scheduling these teams 5-6 years in advance.

But just because the schedule sucks this year doesn't mean we should just call up Pitt and say "What the hell, let's just swap you for Easter Illinois". It isn't that easy. Pitt isn't going to accept the one-and-done deal like said directional school and Temple did. They're gonna expect us to come to Heinz Field, and when you're Penn State, that becomes the problem.

It's not because we're infinitely better than Pitt that we don't schedule them, it's that we legitimately cannot afford a second indefinite home-and-home with Pitt every year in addition to the one we already have with other schools.

Penn State home games are the life blood of not only the football team, but the entire athletic department. Unlike a school such as Pitt, our athletics are completely self-sufficient from the university because of football revenues. We don't need the taxpayer money that other schools need to support our teams. We get that money though home games.

So unless Pitt fans want to start paying for the women's field hockey team's trip to Ames, Iowa this fall, they need to wake up and accept the fact that when Joe Paterno says we need 7 home games every season to pay for that kind of thing, he means it, and isn't hiding 30 year old sour grapes behind his comments.

If Pitt honestly wants to Penn State, they have 4 choices:
1. Join the Big 10
2. Get good enough to earn the home and home like they did in 1997-2000.
3. Take a one-and-done deal like Oregon St. did.
4. Accept the 2-1.

Whether Joe's still kickin' or dead and gone for 20 years, the status of the rivalry won't change until one of those four things happen.


Sean said...

Adam - I should know better than to have a debate with you, but it looks like it's going to happen anyway.

Why would Pitt ever take a one-and-done deal or accept two games at Penn State for one game in Pittsburgh? How does that make any sense for Pitt?

To your point that Penn State needs home games to support its athletic department, are you suggesting that this is only a recent development? Did they go bankrupt for playing home-and-home games against Pitt in the 1960s through 1990s?

To Joe Paterno's point that they need 7 home games every season, why does he have 8 this year? With the extra revenue they will get from the 8th game, why would they ever switch back to only 7 home games?

Syracuse's last good year was 2001.

By the way, I would support the idea of having one game at Pitt, one game at Penn State and one game in Philadelphia.

Adam said...

#1 Oregon St. did it last year. They came in, had their asses handed to them, and went on to have a pretty decent year, almost setting up a rematch in the Rose Bowl before they shat the bed against Oregon. Oregon St. has been much more successful than Pitt of late, too. Maybe it doesn't make sense for Pitt, but in Penn State's mind, it doesn't have to. There are others chomping at the bit to get into Beaver Stadium any way possible, so why waste our time on a program that thinks it's still 1978?

#2 Penn State played as an independent until 1993, and the teams have only played four games since PSU joined the Big 10. There's a reason for that. We used to be able to pick all 11 opponents. Now we can only choose four. If Pitt isn't gonna kick us extra home games to make up for their ineptitude, then they're not worth our time anymore.

#3 I kind of lied. The goal is an average of 7.5 home games now. That means we only leave Happy Valley one in the OOC every two years. Seven last year, eight this year. That's 7.5 over two years. Like I said. One home and home, the rest one time deals against inferior schools. If you're Pitt, make your team good enough to earn a home and home, as I said they did in 1997-2000, or accept your also ran status and suffer the 2-1 or 1-and-done.

#4 And that's when they were scheduled.

#5 Why would we play a game in Philadelphia? Penn State is located in State College, PA, in case you didn't know, because it's approximately half way between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It's the PENNSYLVANIA State University, not the Greater Philly State University. It sounds to me like you're suggesting Penn State is a Philly team, which is mindlessly ignorant.

Penn State is closer to Pittsburgh that it is to Philadelphia. Allegheny County has the highest concentration of Penn State graduates on the planet. There are more Penn State grads in Allegheny County than Pitt grads, so why in the name of God would we play what should be a home game in Philadelphia in a stadium half the size of our own?!

Anonymous said...

"Why would Pitt ever take a one-and-done deal or accept two games at Penn State for one game in Pittsburgh? How does that make any sense for Pitt?"

..Because for that one year they play Penn State at Heinz Field it will be a sellout. Unlike the typical Pitt game at Heinz Field where the average attendance last year was 49,352. It’s a sure fire guarantee Pitt v. PSU at Heinz field would have those 15,698 empty seats filled.

The bottom line is – Penn State currently is a superior program, has more fans, and boasts FAR greater attendance. As a result, they pull in way more money than a program like Pitt. Its simple dollars and “sense.” Pitt has far more to gain by renewing this series. So unless one of the four things Adam mentioned above occur, this conversation is all for not.

And on a side note - Pitt doesn't even sell out for the back yard brawl. How sad is that?

Adam said...

Well Sean? Your response?

Although if you make none, I can respect that more than the typical Mondesi's House pissing match that inevitable ends with me being called any number of names.

Sean said...

Adam - No name-calling here. We can have civilized discussions without insulting someone.

Anyway, my response is that it all comes down to money. Penn State feels like home games are more important than playing a rivalry game every year. The way the economy is and the reduced public funds going to higher education, I understand it. Money is the key for both sides. Two games at Penn State for one at Pitt makes no sense for Pitt financially either. One sell-out at Heinz Field would not make up for two road games in State College.

As for the Philadelphia game, that was a proposal I saw floated a few years ago by a PA legislator. The idea was a compromise so that there wouldn't be a 2-for-1 at State College or a 1-for-1. This way the money (and tourism dollars) would stay in Philadelphia. Yes, Philly is no where near Pittsburgh or Penn State, but both sides have fans that would travel and both sides have fans that already live Philly (or Jersey, DC area, etc.) I didn't come up with that idea, and I haven't heard anything about it lately. Plus, both teams recruit from Eastern PA and New Jersey.

Sean Grimm said...

1st Post:

Pros and Cons for Pitt versus Penn State:

Pro - Pitt strengthens Penn States traditionally weak schedule

Pro - A 1 for 1 game puts a game every other year in the county with the highest population concentration of alumni for Penn State

Pro - Penn State can use the game as a recruiting tool for Western PA
(play in front of your extended family 2x in your career)

Pro - With the concentration of alumni, negotiate a better gate to compensate with the .5 home game you lose.

Con - Loss of revenue

Con - Loss of additional home game every other year

Con - Potential "L" in the win column

Even though there are fewer cons, I think the financial landscape will eliminate the chance of Pitt playing Penn State. Even though that extra game was added to the schedule (for this type of rivalry) both teams are guilty of adding I-AA cupcakes to bolster the W/L column and add revenue.

Steve said...

"Penn State’s athletic department reported $91 million in revenue last year — more than $53 million was generated by the football program."

"The Nittany Lions will play eight home games this fall, and the average season ticket price went up again this spring, from $52 to $55. That increase and extra home game alone will likely provide more than $7 million."

Why would Penn State renew a rivalry with Pitt and forfeit millions of dollars?

I know all Pitt fans are still living in the 1970's but I will break it to you. There is NO RIVALRY between Pitt and Penn State. There has not been a rivalry for many many years. It is about money and Penn State isn't going to give up millions of dollars to make Pitt happy.

Someone please answer this question for me. Why is it that Pitt fans care so much about playing Penn State, but Penn State fans could give a crap less about playing Pitt? It is kind of like the dork in school wanting to hang out with the popular kids. The only reason I even remotely want Penn State to play Pitt, is so Penn State can smash Pitt and then all you lunatic Pitt fans can get the idea out of your head that Pitt even belongs in the same sentence as Penn State.

If you want to play Penn State and gain some respect, leave the garbage Big East and join the Big Ten.

Adam said...

Dear Sean,
-TRADITIONALLY weak schedule? How about recently weak. May I refer you here:

-Did Pitt beat USC last season? Oregon St. did way more to bolster our profile than Pitt would have in the same spot.

-If you're in Pittsburgh, and you're a real Penn State fan, the 3 hour drive to the game doesn't bother you one bit. I've been doing it all my life.

-I'm pretty sure we're doing just fine in the WPIAL right now, thank you.

-Potential "L". Pahahahahaha.