Friday, December 31, 2010

Penn State vs. Florida at the Outback Bowl: It's Finally Here

Maybe now the focus will be on the players rather than on the two championship coaches leading the teams.  Maybe now we can concentrate on the game rather than on Joe Paterno's health.

There was nothing unhealthy about Joe Paterno's Pep Rally talk today at the Tampa Bay Convention Center in downtown Tampa.  In fact, it was classic Joe Paterno - he was funny, engaging, and enjoying his ability to rev up the crowd with jokes about Gators with funny looking jaws and "We Are..." cheers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Penn State Football: STEP Reality Sets In As New Seats Available in January

Yesterday we finally received a letter from Penn State's Nittany Lion Club giving us our designated date and time to choose our new seats at Beaver Stadium.

Four of our season tickets in Section WA are being relocated due to the Seat Transfer and Equity Plan (STEP).   Originally we were supposed to select our new seats in November.  But then there was a letter sent to us explaining that the selection dates were pushed back to January.

The actual time window for this first phase of the seat selection process will now begin on January 7, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. and will continue through January 28, 2011 at 6:00 p.m.  According to the letter we received:

"All selection times are assigned in NLC point total order and are eligible to begin selecting every 3 minutes.  This means that the longer you take to select, the more season ticket holders with lower point totals are eligible to secure seat locations before you do."

So what does that mean for us?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Google AdWords Thank You Video for A Campaign That Failed

Aside from the fact that I love Penn State football, I write this blog because it forces me to understand and to experiment with social media marketing.

As a marketing professor, I can discuss in my classes the impact of blogs on opinion leadership that can shape consumer behavior.  I can experiment with content and see what draws the best responses.  I can use Google Analytics to perform a statistical analysis on who's visiting my blog, how often, and from where.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Going Outback Bowling in Florida

The young genius who is quitting will face the old genius who refuses to quit.

Amazingly, after an up and down season, a 7-5 Penn State team has earned a New Year's Day bowl in Florida.  The Nittany Lions will be playing the Florida Gators, a 7-5 team coached by Urban Meyer that has had its own ups and downs. They will meet at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida.

And, announced this week, it will be Urban Meyer's last game.  He has just resigned as head coach of the Florida Gators.   It doesn't sound like he will change his mind this time.  He is 46 years old.  Joe Paterno will be 84 when this bowl game is played, and he has no intention of resigning.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Penn State vs. Michigan State: Sparty Triumphs as a Lion Rally Fails

Ugh.  It wasn't any colder than it was two years ago when the Michigan State Spartans descended upon Beaver Stadium, but it sure felt that way.

Two years ago, a win against Michigan State would have given us a share of the Big Ten championship.  So the stadium was full through the fourth quarter, and excitement was in the air.  The reward for a win was a trip to the Rose Bowl.  The tightly packed bodies in the stands kept us all warm, as we anticipated a championship celebration complete with confetti and roses.

This year, in weather that was in the mid-30s but felt like the low-20s due to wind,  it was Michigan State that was playing for a share of the Big Ten championship.  But a lot of other things would have to happen for them to go to the Rose Bowl, most specifically Michigan had to beat Ohio State, something that Spartan fans had a hard time dealing with.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Joe Paterno Plans to Stay One More Year: No Surprise Here in Breaking News

Anybody who has listened to Joe Paterno talk about retirement knows that he dreads the thought.  That he really doesn't know what he would do if he wasn't coaching football.  He has said numerous times that he doesn't play golf, nor does he have any other hobbies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Penn State-Indiana Football: Great Plays Absolutely Positively Make the Difference

Penn Staters, take note.  This is what football looks like when you're a program that is desperate for money to support competitiveness in Big Ten play.  Where a $3 million guarantee from an NFL field hundreds of miles away from your primary fan base will be enough of an incentive for you to schedule a "home" game closer to your opponents' fans than to your own fans.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Penn State vs. Ohio State Football: Our Lions Will Drive You Nuts

The Citizens Bank game day button for the Penn State-Ohio State game was right on the mark:  "Our Lions Will Drive You Nuts".  And so they did drive the Buckeyes nuts.  For the first half they drove Ohio State fans into a relatively quiet state throughout Ohio Stadium as the Nittany Lions held the Buckeyes to a field goal and scored two touchdowns.

In the second half, the Nittany Lions drove Penn State fans nuts as the defense couldn't stop the relentless running of Dan "Boom" Herron, and Quarterback Matt McGloin threw two passes that were intercepted and run back for touchdowns.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Special Delivery - Again - This Time From Men's Basketball!

They told me we were randomly chosen, but now I'm not so sure.  We had fun twice this week with members of Penn State basketball squads.

This time it was Lewis Preston, Assistant Coach for the Nittany Lion Basketball Team, who delivered the season tickets to our door.  Just in time, too, as the first game is tomorrow night against Lehigh!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Penn State vs. Ohio State: Those "Useless Nuts" Deserve Respect

My husband Terry grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio.  When we first married, we would visit his parents there.  During one of these visits, he took me to a park specifically to show me a buckeye tree.

"They're useless nuts," Terry exclaimed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Special Delivery from Lady Lions Basketball

I don't think much about basketball at Penn State until the football season ends - Terry and I often miss early games in the basketball season because we are away following Penn State football.

But today I had a special delivery.  Let me explain.

This morning I received a call at home from a young lady who stated she was with the Penn State basketball office.  She wanted to know if I would be home that afternoon because they needed to deliver Lady Lion basketball tickets to us. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Penn State Football: 400th Win for Coach Joe Paterno Makes for A Special Night

Probably the most impressive thing about last night's 35-21 win against a feisty Northwestern football team was not the game itself, but the fact that the crowd at Beaver Stadium didn't leave. 

It's not that the game wasn't exciting - more on that later.  But at Beaver Stadium, there is a routine that is consistent at the end of a game no matter what the score. 

My husband Terry refers to this routine as the 3rd quarter crowd, the 8 minute crowd, and the 5 minute crowd.  These are the people who exit the game before its end, often to our genuine amazement even when the game is too close to call.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Penn State Football: Will Northwestern Tip the Big Ten Balance?

The month of October brought to Penn State two Big Ten losses (Iowa and Illinois), and two Big Ten wins (Minnesota and Michigan).  My mantel reflects those standings.  That is, the Hawkeye and the Illinois bear (they have no mascot, remember) remain standing and the Gopher and Wolverine are both lying down.

I'm hoping the Wildcat will next be on its back...making Penn State bowl eligible and bringing Joe Paterno his 400th win at home.

If the Nittany Lions win, I hear there will be some sort of celebration.

So stick around folks after the game!

Go Penn State and Beat Those Wildcats!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Penn State-Michigan: An Unexpected Penn State Win Makes Game Even More Fun

It's one thing to win a game.  It's quite another thing to win a game that nobody expects you to win.  Not even yourself.  It's just a great deal more fun when Penn State surprises and delights.  Which they did last night against Michigan when they achieved a solid 41-31 win.

Yes, that's right.  I confess that I held only slight hope that the Nittany Lions would come out on top over Michigan.  I wasn't even that excited about a game under the lights.   About the only thing I was really excited about was that we had a family member - my husband's daughter Terri Lynn -  visiting us from out of town,  and we were tailgating with friends - Charlie and Lindley - from Memphis Tennessee who would make it to Beaver Stadium only once this year.  We were anxious to see them and catch up.

I was also quite curious about whether or not the Project 7 initiative by students would fill up the stands by kickoff.   And I was glad that the weather was decent, albeit predicted to be a bit cold by game time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Penn State vs. Michigan Football: Students Start Project 7 to Fill Stands Early

Evidently there's a group of students who are as upset as I am about the empty stands in the student section at Penn State.  That's welcome news!

Here's my photo of the student section at the Illinois game as the team ran out onto the field, about 5 minutes before kickoff:

This was Homecoming at Penn State, and it was quite embarrassing.  We were, after all, playing a Big Ten team, Illinois, in a competitive game.  My students would argue with me, however, that the problem was a 12 noon game.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ugly Penn State Win Against Minnesota Gophers Better Than No Win

In his press conference last week, Coach Joe Paterno stated that the Penn State football team had to make plays. 

Penn State cornerback D'Anton Lynn responded to that challenge late in the second quarter when he intercepted an errant pass in the end zone by Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber and then, rather than take a knee, ran it back 58 yards to midfield. 

One play later, on a 42-yard pass from 3rd string backup quarterback Matt McGloin to wide receiver Derek Moye, Penn State scored its 3rd touchdown to make the score 21-7.  Not bad for McGloin's first career pass completion as quarterback!

That series - the interception and the long pass - resulted in a 14 point swing.  We prevented Minnesota from scoring 7 points, and we scored a quick 7 points.  The difference in the 33-21 game was 12 points.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Illinois Exploits Penn State's Team Weaknesses

It's a good thing I didn't plan a big party after yesterday's game to celebrate my husband Terry's 250th game in a row (see Saturday's Centre Daily Times PSU Memories column here or reproduced in the below post).  

If anyone had stuck around after the game long enough to go to such a party, it would have felt like a funeral.  It was best to keep it a low-key day and celebrate another time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Congratulations Terry on 250 Consecutive Games of Penn State Football

From today's Centre Daily Times PSU Memories column.

Fan celebrating 250th consecutive game

Saturday, Oct. 09, 2010
Access this at:

Today, my husband, Terry Todd, will achieve 250 Penn State football games in a row. That includes all home, away and bowl games.

That’s two decades of perfect attendance at Penn State games, accomplished at Terry’s own expense and on his own time.

But Terry’s response to this attendance streak is, “Do you mind if I don’t care?”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Penn State October Big Ten Schedule: Which Mascots Will Remain Standing?

The Hawkeyes, the Illini, the Gophers, and the Wolverines.  Quite a schedule for Penn State in October, and not a good start in the Big Ten.  Herky the Hawkeye will stand tall on our mantel piece until next season.  As mentioned last week, this is getting quite tiresome.

This week we play the Illini of Illinois.  They don't have a mascot.  That was true when we first joined the Big Ten and is true now. 

"What about Chief Illiniwek?" some would ask. Wasn't he their mascot when Penn State joined the Big Ten?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Penn State at Iowa: Disappointing Game, Always a Fun Atmosphere

The Game, Such As It Was

Pardon me if I don't talk much about Saturday night's game.   Our "view from the stands" was looking at the jumbo-tron for play action.  When you're in the corner of the end zone in the 5th row, even under the best conditions it's hard to get a feel for the game. 

Depth perception vanishes about halfway down the field.  Action that occurs in front of you is great.  But unfortunately it always seems when you're sitting at the corner of the south end zone that your team's best actions are near the north end zone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Will the Hawkeye Still Stand Tall?

We have a tradition in our household.  We have been collecting the stuffed mascots of Penn State's opposing teams since we joined the Big Ten in 1993.

In fact, the first Big Ten mascot we ever acquired was Herky the Iowa Hawkeye.

We line up all our mascots on our fireplace mantle each season.  Although I must confess that I never acquired a Youngstown State Penguin.  So I'm using a stuffed Opus penguin - close enough of a substitute for our purpose here!

At the beginning of the season, all the mascots stand.  Then as we play the game, we reflect wins and losses.  If the mascot's team loses, the mascot lies down.  If the mascot's team wins, they continue to stand.

So for now our mantlepiece looks like this:

 The Penguin, the Golden Flash, and the Owl are lying down.  Big Al the Elephant is standing.
So is Herky the Hawkeye, for now.  As are the rest of the mascots on our Big Ten schedule.

Frankly it's been a bit tiresome having Herky the Hawkeye standing all season during the last couple of years.  Nothing would give us more pleasure than to see him join the Owl on his back!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Royster, Wagner Shine in Tight Win

When running back Evan Royster started the Penn State-Temple game with a 50-yard run from scrimmage, I yelled "break out game!"

I came to regret those words as Temple scored two touchdowns over our two field goals and my husband Terry kept yelling, "Break out game??? What, for Temple?"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Penn State Football: Tailgate Excels, The Nittany Lions Not So Much in 24-0 Shutout

It’s hard not to be cynical about September non-conference games.  It’s an ever-present fact of Beaver Stadium economics that Penn State will continue to schedule teams that are willing to get beat up in exchange for a healthy paycheck so that Penn State can get a 7th home game. 

And it’s not just Penn State that does this.  Look around at the non-conference schedules of any Big Ten or other major FBS team and you will see some sort of “cupcake” scheduled for a September game.

Such was the case yesterday with Kent State, a MAC team that many view really doesn’t belong on the same field as a Penn State team. 

Or at least that’s what people believe about such games.  The reality yesterday wasn’t exactly so.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Penn State Football: Despite Loss, Alabama Trip Did Not Disappoint

It is a bit excessive to leave Wednesday night for a Saturday night game, especially when you're flying, not driving.   Terry complained all day Tuesday and on Wednesday morning as we were packing for the trip.

I had to remind him that the reason we were on a tour was that it was the only way we could get tickets to the game, and that when I booked the tour, I really wanted this to be a special trip and was especially looking forward to a tour of the Alabama campus and the Bear Bryant Museum.

Terry grumbled anyhow.  He is only interested in the game. The rest of the tour to him was a necessary nuisance. 

We're used to traveling commercial flights for most Penn State games, but for this tour, a charter plane flew direct from Harrisburg, PA. to Birmingham, AL. on Thursday at 9 a.m. 

So it was a long wait until Saturday night's game.  A very long wait!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

An EmBOLDENed Penn State Offense Earns a Decisive Win

Larry, who sits in front of us, showed up this year with a new T-shirt expressing his feelings about Penn State's new parking fees for day-of-game parking.   Evidently a lot of his friends hadn't gotten the message that day of game parking would be $40 as opposed to $15 if ordered ahead of time. 

Add to that Larry's belief that the STEP program is greedy and will drive a lot of people out of the stadium.  He truly believes he could sell some of his P$U T-shirts on e-Bay.  He has even applied for a trademark on the shirt design he has created.

But, Larry is among Penn State fans who are in fact renewing for 2011 and beyond. Despite his grumbling.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Divisions Okay With Me...Robert Bolden Surprises

In my view it was important to preserve Ohio State as an annual border rivalry and the closest B10 rival geographically.  Wisconsin is also a good opponent and always a fun atmosphere to visit - my favorite Big Ten away game venue - but Thanksgiving weekend every other year in Madison?  Sounds cold.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Penn State-Alabama Memories: That 1990 Win Was Special

It’s funny.  I’ve seen Penn State play in a lot of phenomenal football games since 1990.  In fact, I’ve missed only four of the 244 games Penn State has played anywhere in the country since September of 1990. 

There have been a lot of fantastic games in that time frame, many with national championship implications. 

But when I am asked my favorite game of all time, I always say Penn State-Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1990. 

It was a 9-0 win on three Craig Fayak field goals.  This game had no national championship implications.  In fact, when we played that game, neither team was ranked in the AP Top 25.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Penn State Football: Anticipation and Apprehension Characterize September

For several weeks now, my husband Terry has been counting the days until the first Penn State football game.  He has learned, though, not to share his daily, and sometimes hourly, count with me. 

I dread his count because the beginning of the football season also means the end of summer. 

That means that I have fewer days before my teaching job starts again. 

It's not that I don't love my job.  It's just that I love my summers as well.

Friday, July 9, 2010

With Nebraska Added, Will Penn State Fans Finally Embrace the Big Ten?

It’s been two decades since Penn State joined the Big Ten.  Yet there are times when I have a sense that many Penn State fans long for the days when we weren’t so completely tied to Big Ten conference opponents and dynamics.  I have the impression at times that many Penn State football fans haven’t yet totally embraced the entire Big Ten.   Or they believe that Penn State should have joined the Big East or possibly the ACC. 

This instinct comes through especially as I read people argue about which division Penn State belongs to in the future Big Ten. Some of the comments, for example, on Bleacher Report discussions about Penn State are vehement about Penn State being an Eastern team.  Some people can’t imagine Penn State in a different division than Michigan or Ohio State, as if they are the only competition that matters. 

I am hoping that with Nebraska joining the Big Ten, Penn State fans, especially if they wind up in the same division as Nebraska, will finally come around to embracing the Big Ten in its entirety.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Penn State Ladies' Football Camp: A True Immersion Experience

Note:  This is a long article.  An in-depth description of my experience at this camp.  My goal is to take you there with me as I describe my day.  Enjoy!

Coach Joe Paterno was proven wrong.  When he first heard of the idea of a Ladies’ X's and O’s football camp at Beaver Stadium, his initial reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding.  You’ll have three women show up.”

As he made a surprise visit yesterday to observe practice drills and wish all of us well he quipped, “I didn’t realize we had that many kooks around.”  For a brief clip of Joe Paterno’s remarks, and some video of the game, click here.

This was typical Joe Paterno: down to earth, speaks his mind.  But you could tell from the broad grin on his face that he was delighted with the successful turnout.  His appearance was unanticipated, but it was not a total surprise.  How could he resist?

We were making history as the first group of females to ever play on his beloved and well-protected field at Beaver Stadium—a venue that is known more informally as “the house that Joe built.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Penn State vs. Alabama Memories: Gracious Hospitality by Tide Fans Overcomes Miserable 1988 Loss

Somewhere, in the deep recesses of some file folder in our basement, or perhaps it was just thrown out when we moved, is a business card from an Alabama fan we met in 1988. 

He resided in Dothan, Alabama, a retired ophthalmologist.  He and his wife were sitting next to us at breakfast at the Courtyard by Marriott south of Birmingham, Alabama.  They were clad in crimson and white.  We were clad in blue and white. 

We started chatting about the Alabama-Penn State game that was to occur that afternoon at Legion Field.  Neither they nor we could predict who would win.  We cordially wished each other the best, knowing very well that neither of us really meant it.  It was typical cordial college football fan banter before a big game among opposing team fans. 

Terry and I had been wondering what the best way was to get to the game.  So we figured this couple might know and asked them if they knew of a shuttle bus that would get us to Legion Field.

They told us they weren’t sure.  Then they left the table to go to the breakfast buffet.  When they returned, they said, “Why don’t you come with us?”  We’re going by ourselves and the entire backseat is empty.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Game Strategy or Kisses and Hugs? How Do You Help Females Develop a Passion for and Knowledge of Football?

In football, X’s and O’s refer to specific plays that are used in executing an overall offensive and defensive strategy for a game.  Males often learn the X and O game tactics through their own youth play experience, formal or informal, whether in backyard games, in junior high or high school, or beyond.  For many men, knowing football X’s and O’s is a part of growing up, a decidedly male thing in an overwhelmingly male sport.

For most women growing up, X’s and O’s are more associated with affectionate symbols for kisses and hugs sent on letters to friends as teenagers.  X’s and O’s as game strategy is more often an alien concept than something that is truly understood.  Most women have never tried to play football.  They’ve never seen a playbook.   If they learn it, it’s through osmosis from the sidelines or from watching TV commentary on games.  If they’re lucky, someone knowledgeable about football will explain the game to them.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Halo Effect of Coach Joe Paterno: Respect

I hung up the phone stunned. I had just asked the Rev. Charles MacEachern (Charlie) to officiate at our wedding. He was the retired pastor of my family church in Massachusetts, a friend. The year was 1987.

Charlie asked about Terry. I started with, “Terry is an avid Penn State football fan.” His response was, “Carolyn, that’s all I need to know. Anybody who’s a fan of Joe Paterno will make a great husband.” He immediately agreed to marry us.

“Joe Paterno is my hero,” Charlie explained. “He doesn’t compromise academics to win. He does college football the right way.”

Marketers would call this reaction the “halo effect.” Because Paterno had this halo surrounding him, the halo was transferred to Terry. I could describe Terry in a lot of ways, but “angel” wasn’t exactly on the tip of my tongue.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Loyalty at Penn State is Very Clear Cut: Money Talks

If you read the Centre Daily Times online and follow Penn State football religiously, you know that there has been a rather heated discussion about the Beaver Stadium Seat Transfer and Equity Plan. This plan, scheduled to be implemented in 2011, essentially will re-assign seats based on the seats’ “worth”. That is, chair-back seats on the 50-yard line will require an annual donation of $2000 per seat (there are very few of these). Seats between the 25-yard lines will require $600 per seat. Seats between the 10-25 yard lines will require $400 per seat. All other seats – other than the student section, the visitor section, and the club seats – will require a $100 donation per seat. That's just for the right to buy tickets.

Part of the plan also is the relocation of the student section. Right now the student section starts in the middle of the end zone and extends to the 40-yard line in the East stands. Students work their way up – freshmen sit in the end zone, sophomores in the corner of the end zone, juniors between the 0-20 yard lines, and seniors have the best seats. In the new configuration, students will be in the entire bottom level of the south end zone, and have some sections between the goal line and the 10-yard line in both the east and west stands. 

The visitors will be moved from the northeast end zone corner of the stadium to the very last rows in the Lion’s Den in the end zone – up in the “nose bleed” section. People sitting in those last rows will have to be relocated.

Okay, that’s hard to visualize, so look at the picture to the left. It’s a bit small, but it’s the best I can do. The blue seats are $100 seats. The red seats are $400 seats. Black are $600 seats. Green are $2000 seats. White are student section, and pink are visitors. The purple first tier in the south end zone are club seats, under separate contract, so not subject to this plan.

Does this plan make sense? According to most of the comments posted on the Centre Daily Times website, Penn State is being accused of all sorts of greed and other nasty intentions. People are claiming that they are not being recognized for their years of loyalty.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Decent Travel Schedule For A Change

Spent the day today making reservations for fall away games. It's nice to think that we will connect through Detroit Airport only four times: twice for the Iowa game and twice again for Minnesota. For Alabama, we will be on a charter out of Harrisburg. The rest of the games - Ohio State and Indiana (at FedEx field near Washington D.C.) will be road trips. I didn't even get a call from the credit card company! Usually when I book all our trips for the fall in one day I get a notice asking me to confirm if the charges are legitimate. But I guess just two round-trip flights are under their radar for illegitimate purchases.

Makes me even more excited about the possibility of Big Ten Expansion. The more games within driving distance, the happier we will be. There's nothing fun about airline travel these days.

Speaking of Big Ten expansion, Pete Fiutak of ( makes the following predictions for Big Ten expansion:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Casting a Vote on Big Ten Expansion Teams

Bring it on! That was my initial reaction to the news that the Big Ten Conference is seeking expansion. And it’s still my reaction as I learn that the Big 12 and Pac-10 conferences are also seeking to collaborate in perhaps an alliance or merger.

Talk about expansion to 14 or 16 teams is welcome news. It gives the Big Ten an opportunity to have two divisions, and likely a Big Ten championship game, that would close the gap with the SEC and the Big 12 on rankings and competitiveness in bowl games. As the landscape of college football changes and conferences get bigger, there may also be opportunities to play more competitive non-conference teams, although I think it’s too soon to know that for sure. It depends on how the landscape gets reshaped. So which teams do I think are realistic invitations for the conference? Here’s my list, and some research and thoughts about each:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Future Potential Highlighted at Blue White Game

We didn’t learn much from the Blue White Game that we didn’t already know. Penn State basically has a quarterback problem. There was nothing in the game today that suggests that we will have an offense that is ready to play Alabama at Tuscaloosa on September 11. Instead, the game merely highlighted the work that will need to be done to get Penn State’s offense into shape.

There’s clearly at least a two-way race, possibly even a three-way race, for quarterback. Joe Paterno and the rest of the coaching staff will have a difficult decision to make, and the stakes are higher than usual. It’s not just Alabama that looms early in the season. It’s also Iowa – our Big Ten opener – at Iowa City on October 2. Our non-conference schedule in September – Youngstown State, Kent State, and Temple – does not look like the kind of schedule that will help the team improve dramatically for these two big tests.

The best performance at quarterback was Paul Jones, a freshman who started at Penn State in January. However, as good as he looked with his two touchdown passes, he wasn’t playing against Penn State’s first-string defense. So it’s hard to evaluate his success. And we also know that Joe Paterno is not known for playing true freshmen, even if they start a little early at college. My guess is that Paul Jones will be the most popular quarterback at Penn State in the fall. He will be the one that everyone will call for from the stands when the starting quarterback – Newsome or McGloin - stumbles.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blue-White Confession

This week the hallway conversation at Smeal College is all about the Blue-White game. My students keep asking, “Mrs. Todd, aren’t you excited? The Blue-White game is coming up!” My usual response? “Of course!” But alas, it’s a bit of a white lie.

So I have a confession to make: we don’t always go to the Blue-White game. As the game has become more popular, it has become more of a hassle to attend. And there is an alternative: last year, watching it on the Big Ten Network, this year, watching it on ESPN2. One of the attractive aspects of staying home is listening to Joe Paterno’s comments on the radio while we watch the TV visuals. In a sense, we learn more that way about the current state of the team.

A large part of the problem is parking. The carnival and proliferation of food stands that set up behind the West stands eliminated a lot of spaces, and the popularity of the game has skyrocketed. What used to be 30,000-40,000 people attending the game has swelled to 70,000+.

The parking and game are free, but it’s a free-for-all – no reserved parking - and you don’t know where you will find a space – you have to get there early – REAL early - at 7 or 8 a.m. to get a decent space near the stadium. If you go to the Blue-White game, it’s an all-day affair. You’re competing with 70,000 people for some place to park, with little method to the madness. It’s a great family event and tailgating scene, and a wonderful way for families and students who do not have regular access to season tickets to experience the atmosphere of Penn State football. Another big attraction for kids is the autograph session at the stadium and the carnival.

Two years ago, we arrived about 3 hours before the game started, and there was little parking to be found. We were directed into a field off University Drive. We couldn’t find a space, and there were tents blocking the lanes to get to more parking on an adjacent field. We had to back up, and with all the kids around, it was pretty tense. We settled on a tight parking space– one that we had rejected earlier for being too small – but it was the only one available.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hedging Our Bets on Alabama Tickets

Ordering away game tickets from Penn State is not usually a problem if you’re a season-ticket holder with a decent amount of Nittany Lion Club points. Each year, in April, we are asked to indicate which away game tickets we wish to order. We include the away game ticket order in our season ticket renewal and then we usually receive the tickets 3-4 weeks before the actual game. We can usually order 2 away game tickets, which is just what we need.

However, occasionally there are games where the ticket demand is tough, and we don’t qualify. Meaning, quite literally, that we haven’t donated enough to Penn State to order away game tickets directly from Penn State Athletics. It has happened to us three times since the early 1990’s. Two of those times were when we played Notre Dame in South Bend. We’ve always managed to get tickets, but sometimes at enormous cost.

When it comes to providing away game tickets for Penn State Nittany Lion Club members, money talks. My good friend Jim Meister, Penn State Athletics supporter and fundraiser extraordinaire, told me once, “Carolyn there’s an easy way to solve the points problem. Just make a huge donation.”

What can I say? He’s right. But we have always donated more than the minimum amount to Penn State for the last 40 years, and more recently we became Honorary Coaches. Our problem is for too many years we also contributed significant dollars to a pooled membership where somebody else got all the donation points instead of us. That’s another story... and it’s over now.

So this year, for Alabama, the minimum cutoff on donation points is 650. That means, roughly speaking, that you would need to have contributed about $32,000 to Penn State Athletics over the years in order to order tickets. Essentially, you receive 1 point for every $50 you contribute. I’m ignoring certain other points in this calculation. But those points are just noise. For us, we are not alumni of Penn State (5 points), nor are we lifetime members of the Penn State Alumni Association (10 points). We do get 2 points per year for being continuous season ticket holders, but that doesn’t add up to much. 80 points for 40 years. We are in the top 12% of current Nittany Lion Club members in terms of total monetary donations, but we are a bit short of the 650-point cutoff. So we can’t order tickets through Penn State.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

And So It Begins...

Spring practice for Penn State began on Friday and so the buzz is on about the upcoming football season. In a few weeks, on April 24, 70,000+ fans will descend upon Beaver Stadium for the annual Blue-White spring scrimmage. The scrimmage will include a family carnival and a new "idol" contest to identify Penn State's best musical talent. It's a good time for families - there is an autograph session with the players - and for anyone who wants to have an early look at new talent emerging on the football squad.

The game itself, frankly, is not all that exciting. How can it be, when Penn State simply plays itself, and there are limitations on tackling the quarterback and on the kicking game that are imposed to prevent injuries? I usually watch the first half intently, then get restless. But if it's a nice day, it's fun. It gets everyone into the mood for football. And whenever there is a turnover in players at key positions, there is a lot of speculation after the game about who we will actually see start in the fall. Rumors abound that Kevin Newsome may or may not be the starting quarterback this fall. That the position is wide open. So that will make it even more interesting. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. A first this year.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Favorite Photos and Random Thoughts

Work avoidance takes many forms. Right now it means updating the photos on my blog rather than starting on that exam that I have to create by Tuesday. So I took a favorite picture from each of the games we attended this fall, and replaced the Capital One Bowl photos.

Also, Steve Seitz, who owns a rather unique Penn State trailer that I took photos of at the Capital One bowl, emailed me this photo of "Morning Lion" at sunrise. Now, anyone who knows where the Nittany Lion statue is knows that such a sunrise photo wouldn't exist at the real statue. There would be Rec Hall or some other Burrowes Road buildings in the background if you tried to capture sunrise there. This one was taken with the small replica statue that sits atop Steve's custom Penn State trailer at his Beaver Stadium tailgate. I believe it is a superb photo and I thank Steve for being willing to share it with all of you.

We attended the Lady Lions game last night - the first round of the WNIT - and were very disappointed with their short duration in post-season play. Credit Hofstra - a very scrappy team that outplayed Penn State both on defense and offense. Penn State had no answer for them. We will miss Tyra Grant - I'm sure the end of her career was a huge disappointment, but she gave us four great years of entertaining play. We wish her the best! But overall it was not only a disappointing game but a disappointing season - after a great start that got them a winning season overall, the Lady Lions seemed to fall apart at the end of the season, losing many more games than they won.

In the meantime, this week we were asked to order our FedEx Field tickets for the Penn State-Indiana game on November 20. What a delight it was to go on-line, view ticket options, order what we wanted and actually get a seat confirmation right away! We were allowed to order based on our Nittany Lion Club point total. So Terry and I ordered on the second day.

For the rest of our away game tickets, we do not get the option of choosing our seats. We send them a check for our order and then Penn State chooses the seats for us, assuming we have enough donation points to qualify. Unfortunately the ticket office at Penn State seems to believe that if you have a high point total, you would prefer seats as low as possible. So from my perspective, the more we contribute to Penn State, the worse our away game seats are becoming. We don't necessarily want to be in the nose-bleed section but we do want a decent view of the field and the game. That doesn't happen in the 2nd or 5th row of any game. You get folks with signs who hold them up whenever a camera passes by, or your view is blocked by the team and media standing in front of you.

Also, we don't even know until a few weeks before the game whether or not we have tickets. When you have to make hotel and air reservations in May, you're always taking a chance, especially for the "big" games this year like Alabama or Ohio State.

So how about it, Penn State? The FedEx field ordering process worked very well. Why not adopt a similar process for ALL away game tickets? Or at least, if you can't get the away venues to cooperate in a more sensible ticket ordering process, use available information technology. Why not ask us on the Nittany Lion Club profile what type of seat locations we prefer? A simple flag - prefer lower seats or higher seats - would give some guidance to the ticket office in providing the "best available seats" based on point level.

Well, have to get to back to that exam! Can't avoid work any longer.

P.S. If you're reading this in the Centre Daily Times, click on "View this blog with pictures" to see the photos.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Long Cold Winter of Discontent…

Yesterday, we went to the Bryce Jordan Center for the Penn State men’s basketball final home game against Purdue. The feel of spring was in the air…a pleasant mid-40’s temperature, a bright sunny day. On the way to the BJC, snowmen on people’s front lawns were starting to melt. The snow on our roof is gone, as are the icicles. Finally. But not before we had some nasty damage from an ice dam that will have to be repaired once the warm weather comes. It’s been that sort of winter…long and cold and frustrating. Especially when it comes to Penn State basketball.

The Lady Lions have at least had a winning season, albeit disappointing in the Big Ten after a great non-conference start. They have a shot at post-season NIT play. For the men, the Big Ten Tournament is all that’s left. It would take a major miracle for them to get into the post-season. They have to win the Big Ten Tournament. Not very likely! Although I suppose I should never say “never”.

As we walked up to the Bryce Jordan Center gate, there was a Penn State fan with six tickets to yesterday’s basketball game. He wasn’t trying to sell them. He was simply looking for a family of six who might be able to use them. He found a family of seven clad in Purdue clothing – this family of seven was delighted when he approached them, gave them his six tickets, and told them they were free. The family then bought one additional ticket, and the ticket agent was able to get them that ticket in the same section.

There was something truly heartwarming about watching this exchange take place. To give the six tickets to a Purdue family was an especially gracious gesture. It was the epitome of good sportsmanship, a “feel good” moment about Penn State fans and their attitude towards opposing team fans.

There were a lot of Purdue fans at the Bryce Jordan Center yesterday, a loud and boisterous group. The stakes were huge for Purdue. If they won this game they would clinch a share of the Big Ten championship. Penn State, if they won, would play the role of spoiler. No other stakes – other than the pride of winning their final home game – were available to our team.

It was a hard fought game and Penn State played – well – the way they’ve played all season in Big Ten basketball. Always in the game, keeping it close to the end. They had a chance to win, but ultimately it was a losing effort. A few mistakes here and there made the difference in the score. Penn State is a better team than their record. They can play with anyone in the Big Ten. The breaks haven’t gone their way. But they’re a competitive threat in every game, and they've been quite entertaining to watch.

Somehow throughout this winter of discontent they didn’t quit, and they kept improving, becoming a more balanced offense and defense over the season. There are no seniors on the team, so they will all return. Also, next year Talor Battle’s younger brother, Taran Buie, will join the Nittany Lions. He’s a nationally ranked shooting guard, and the expectations for him will be very high for immediate contributions to the team.

There a lot of posts in Facebook and other blogs that are very negative towards the men’s basketball team and calling for Coach Ed DeChellis to resign. I understand the frustration. But I keep reminding myself of the 2004 football season. A team that doesn’t quit but faces losses knows how to deal with adversity. For football, it turned around in 2005 in a remarkable season that was one second from being undefeated.

Can we expect the same from the men’s basketball team next year?
Some of the signs are there. Will they find more ways to win next season? I think so. I doubt it will be as miraculous as the 2005 football season was, but I think they’ve got the experience and some new talent– and a good shot at winning enough games to get into the NCAA for the first time in a long time.

That’s about all we can hope for - a better season next year and continued improvement. Unless, of course, they somehow pull off a major upset at the Big Ten Tournament this week and win the championship. But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for a miracle. I just want to see them continue to be competitive and play well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And Now For Withdrawal…

There’s always a sense of sadness when the last competitive game of the college football season ends. Football basically dictates how we spend our time every weekend during the fall. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can watch division championship games and a lot of minor bowl games on TV. Watching on TV is not the same as being at a game in person, but we can at least see teams play that we haven’t had a chance to see all season.

Then there’s the Bowl trip – dictating where we spend our holidays – and more bowl games on TV. The Capital One Bowl gave us one last live game to see Penn State finish out the season and send the seniors off in good style. It was also a decent vacation break.

Finally there are the BCS games and the BCS National Championship game, the final college football bash of the season. We missed most of the Rose Bowl on January 1 because we were at the Capital One Bowl, then we suffered through 2 hours of traffic to make it back to our hotel. We were glad, though, to see Ohio State secure a big one for the Big Ten. We missed the Boise State-TCU game because we were traveling home from cold Florida to even colder State College. We watched the Orange Bowl intensely. Glad to see Iowa win, even though Iowa is turning out to be our nemesis in so many ways. Another important win for the Big Ten!

We watched the National Championship game with great anticipation. Terry was cheering for Texas. He likes Mack Brown better than he likes Nick Saban. I was cheering for Alabama. I want Penn State to go to Tuscaloosa and play the pre-season #1 team and beat them (somehow). The key play of the game of course was Colt McCoy’s 1st quarter injury. It was sad to see him not have a chance to play his final game, so I found myself wanting Texas to be competitive even though I wanted Alabama to win.

The game didn’t disappoint – Texas made the best adjustments they could given the circumstances, and true freshman back up quarterback Garrett Gilbert delivered an unforgettable performance in the second half to give Texas a chance to win towards the end of the game. What an opportunity – and a burden – for him to step into Colt McCoy’s shoes. The game would have been very different if McCoy had somehow been able to return.

But credit Alabama – they were awesome as a team. We especially enjoyed watching sophomore Mark Ingram live up to his reputation as this year’s Heisman Trophy winner. As a Penn State fan, I couldn’t help but think about September 11, 2010, when we travel to Tuscaloosa to play this team and see Mark Ingram perform in person. What are our chances? We’ll be debating that all spring… We have gaping holes to fill especially in our defense, and we will have an inexperienced quarterback at the helm….

So now that college football is over, it’s withdrawal time. We will have a chance to see a few Penn State players play in the East-West Shrine game this Saturday January 23 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando – I hope they fixed that field! Darryl Clark, Jeremy Boone, and Andrew Quarless are now in Orlando preparing for this week’s contest.

Penn State players in other all-star games – the Senior Bowl on January 30, and the Texas versus the Nation all-star game on February 6 – have yet to be announced.

These all-star games are – well – a bit boring from a competitive standpoint. After all, who cares who wins or loses? Except possibly the state of Texas! The games, especially the Senior Bowl, seem to be focused on highlighting talent for the upcoming NFL draft. There’s no real excitement from watching them except that you have one last chance to watch some favorite Penn State players do well. For college football fans, it’s slim pickings, but it’s all there is. If you’re a pro football fan as well, you have a few weeks of playoffs, then the Super Bowl. After February 7, though, it’s a long wait until the competition starts all over again in August.

I had a colleague at work a long time ago who coped with winter by taping 6-8 college football games each Saturday during the fall. He would watch maybe one game per Saturday in the fall. He would save the rest for winter. I wonder if he still does that. Or does he, like the rest of us, watch classic games on ESPN and the Big Ten Network reruns, to get us through the winter?

What do you do to cope with college football withdrawal?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Best, Worst, and Most Memorable Moments of the 2009 Season

I thought that now would be a good time to look back at the 2009 season and reflect on some of those moments that defined the season. So here’s my list of the best, worst, and most memorable moments we encountered at Penn State games and in our travels back and forth to away games.

Best Moments:

1. The 4th Quarter at Northwestern: We were tied 13-13 at the start of the 4th quarter, and we were lucky that Mike Kafka, their talented quarterback, was injured. Three fourth quarter quick strike touchdowns by our offense defined that game. The 34-13 score was much closer than it appeared.
2. Winning at The Big House: Okay, Michigan wasn’t a great team this year. But the stadium was packed and noisier than ever due to the new grandstands on either side. We finally got the Big House monkey off our back. Two consecutive wins against Michigan were very satisfying.
3. Michigan State: The Ambience and the Third Quarter: Unseasonably warm weather for November 21 made the tailgating scene especially vibrant. The third quarter of the game. We were tied 7-7 at the half. During the third quarter both the offense and defense poured it on and Penn State scored 28 points! A great deal of fun to watch.
4. The Shutout Against Minnesota: A very good defensive game against a team with a winning record. A very satisfying win. The first clue we had that Penn State would be a good team this year. Minnesota was able to muster only 7 first downs in the entire game. They were held to only 138 net yards. And the weather – the freak October snowstorm and unseasonable cold – could have wreaked havoc. But it didn’t. A very solid performance.
5. The Temple Game: Picture-perfect weather, a commanding win against a team that continues to improve in the MAC conference. Treating some new friends to a game at Beaver Stadium was fun. We always hope the best for Temple. If they continue to improve under Coach Al Golden’s leadership perhaps some day this rivalry will be truly competitive. OK, I hope not…
6. The Akron Game: Mainly because it was the first game of the season. Mild weather, great tailgating, many reunions at tailgates and in the stands as we greet each other after not seeing one another for several months.
7. The Tailgating at the Ohio State game: Mild sunny weather for early November, a sense of anticipation, the Big Ten championship stakes, good-natured banter with Penn State and Ohio State fans before and after the game. You couldn’t beat the atmosphere at Beaver Stadium before the game that day. The best of the season. Even the students were in the stands on time.
8. The Capital One Bowl: An ugly win in ugly weather against a Top 25 very good SEC team.
9. Realizing that on five road trips, we brought home five wins!!! First time that happened since 1994.
10. Hearing the crowd chant “Dar-ryl Cla-rk” as we all exited the Capital One Bowl. He finally got the recognition he deserved.

Worst Moments:
1. Losing to Iowa: For the second year in a row, a loss that shouldn’t have been a loss. Kirk Ferentz seems to have Penn State’s number. The miserable rain didn’t help either!
2. Losing to Ohio State: Penn State got beat. Pure and simple. Ohio State was simply better than us. Didn’t feel quite as bad as Iowa but still tough.
3. The first half of the Indiana game: The emptiest student section of the season, for Senior Day. Penn State throws two interceptions and loses two fumbles in the first half. We were lucky to be tied 10-10 at the half. Penn State finally finds some rhythm with 6:50 remaining in the 3rd quarter, but it was a very sloppy game, and the final score of 31-20 didn’t make us very happy. Too many mistakes for a November game. Although a win’s a win.
4. Traveling to Illinois: Our wonderful airline schedule, changed with no notification to us, involved an 8 hour layover at Detroit on the way to Champaign, and a 5 hour layover on the way home. We were able to change our flights to Detroit to “only” a 3-hour delay, but a mechanical made for another two hours’ wait before we finally boarded the flight to Champaign. We could do nothing about the return trip. We were feeling under the weather that week and almost didn’t go. The airline travel didn’t help our spirits. But at least we brought home a win.
5. The Eastern Illinois game: Nothing good to say about playing a team that’s so under-matched against Penn State. Except perhaps for the best half-time band performance of the season.
6. The excuses my students gave every Monday for why they weren’t in the stands on time on Saturdays.
7. The Harrisburg Patriot-News Leak of the “STEP” Plan: Couldn’t believe that Penn State wouldn’t immediately release the plan to calm all the rumors that were circulating.

Most Memorable Moments:
1. The bus trip after the Minnesota game: In a miserable rainstorm, we waited patiently for a shuttle bus to take us back to the Lowe’s shopping center near our house. But all the shuttle buses were destined elsewhere. So a Penn State guard finally commandeers a shuttle bus destined to the airport and changes the route. It turns out the bus driver doesn’t know the way. Passengers have to guide her to all the stops. We managed to keep our good spirits throughout the ordeal of the freakiest October snowstorm on record.
2. When I was feeling “under the weather” before the Illinois game, and considering staying home, my new boss told me “You can’t miss that game. It’s what you live for!” And then he and another colleague offered to cover my Monday classes if I needed a day to rest and recover. Illinois was my 100th game in a row!
3. The fun conversations while waiting for the Champaign flight with the preacher, the grad student and the frat guy (see October blog post). Preacher Happy Leman was the proud father of Cory Leman, who played linebacker for Eastern Illinois. Gave us a reason to want to watch that game.
4. After the Michigan game, crossing the border into Windsor Canada for a night at Caesar’s Windsor. When we tried to return to the United States the next day, being pulled aside and interrogated by customs officials because there’s a Carolyn Todd listed in the NCIS database as wanted by the U.S. government for a serious crime. Being told this would happen to me whenever I left the country until the “other” Carolyn Todd is caught.
5. An $80 somewhat wild cab ride from Disney World to the Ballroom at Church Street Station to attend a free Presidents’ Reception for the Capital One Bowl. Less expensive than renting a car, though, at holiday prices in Orlando. An outstanding performance by Penn State's Musical Theater majors made it worthwhile.
6. Meeting Gershon and his wife Ronnie at the Capital One bowl. My #1 blog commenter and supporter has now become a friend!
7. Sitting in the van before the Capital One Bowl taking pictures of the torrential rain on our windshield.
8. Interacting with all of you who have commented on my posts! It’s been fun – thank you! Penn State fans are the best!

Overall, it was a very satisfying season. Congratulations to the Penn State football team and especially to our seniors for making this a good season. Thanks for all the great memories and to all my readers for giving me a reason to continue writing about our experiences!

We will miss all of our seniors who brought us so many memorable games and bowl trips over the past 4-5 years…and Navarro Bowman, who just announced that he is entering the NFL draft. That was expected, and I can’t blame him for forgoing his senior year and pursuing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while he’s healthy enough to capitalize on it.

I will continue to post, although perhaps not as frequently, during the off-season. There’s always plenty to write about! Stay tuned…

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy Valley Victorious Over Death Valley in Mud Valley

In a season characterized by weird weather, it was only fitting that the Capital One Bowl would be a torrential rainy mess. It was a game that was defined by the condition of the field. A field that was in terrible shape BEFORE the rain, as judged by the complaints about the field at the Champs Sports Bowl a few days before, only got worse with the rain.

If I’m Capital One, sponsoring this bowl, I’m pretty mad at Florida Citrus Sports for the embarrassingly pathetic field conditions. But as a fan, I’m pretty mad at Capital One for over-playing all those TV commercials at the game rather than using breaks to allow the LSU or PSU bands to entertain us. There's only so many times you can watch that old miner in the well wait for someone to rescue him. It's already been over-played on TV, and it was certainly over-played at the game as well.

Speaking of field conditions, I’m sure that Joe Paterno was none too happy about the pre-game and half-time activities, where both bands marched and hundreds of high school cheerleaders from some sort of USA cheerleading squad jumped up and down on the muddy field before the game making the field even more of a muddy mess. Although I must confess that it was nice to see the Penn State band do its marching routine on the field during the rain – something that never happens at Beaver Stadium because JoePa is super-protective of his home turf. If JoePa had his way, none of the bands or cheerleaders would have performed at the Capital One Bowl. But he wasn’t in control.

The LSU crowd, a cheerful, friendly, and boisterous bunch, was present in force, and I would say were the majority. Penn State was well represented though. We were also loud and boisterous. As it was pointed out at a Penn State luncheon we attended, Florida has 15,000 year round residents who are Penn State alumni, and in the winter, another 30,000 Penn Staters descend upon Florida as “snow-birds”. But the rain kept some of the fans from both teams away. There were plenty of empty seats on both sides of the field, and tickets were for sale everywhere outside of the stadium. It wasn’t a good day for scalpers.

We were glad that we had purchased a parking pass on-line. We parked in a muddy soggy field in our rental van, about 4 blocks from the stadium. There were a few tents including one nearby with a neat Penn State trailer – owned by a PSU fan who drove it down from Connecticut. But mostly people stayed in their cars and vans waiting for the few respites from the rain when they could go out and throw a few footballs. Very few folks were grilling. Although there was a group of students or perhaps young alums playing a few beer games not too far away.

We were also delighted by a visit by Gershon and his wife Ronnie. Gershon is a great fan of this blog, a regular contributor to comments, and he wanted to meet me. So we hooked up via cell phone and they found our van and stopped by and visited for a while before the game. Thanks, Gershon! I’m flattered by your effort to find us in the pouring rain and also by your loyal following of this blog. I hope we can spend some more time together in better conditions at a future game!

There were a number of people who for some reason weren’t prepared for the weather. I don’t know why. This is Florida on January 1. It can be cold and wet. And it was. Also the weather forecast for days had been predicting rainy weather. Terry and I had brought our raingear and wore several layers – we needed them all because the rain brought a cold front with it, it was also quite windy in the stands. But other fans were soaking wet in their T-shirts. Brrrrrrr.

As far as the game itself, in a game where the field conditions defined what each team could accomplish, touchdowns were hard to come by. Our defense did a great job of holding LSU to just a field goal in the first half. PSU kicker Collin Wagner was perfect on his four field goal attempts, contributing 12 of the 19 points that Penn State scored. Punter extraordinaire Jeremy Boone, known for pinning the opposing team deep in their own end zone, was probably a bit frustrated as his punts kept bouncing into the end zone rather than plopping into the mud as he had hoped. He received no help from his special teammates who couldn’t run fast enough in the mud to contain the punted balls on the one-yard line.

After a 13-3 half-time lead, it seemed that the defense fell asleep, or perhaps LSU just figured something out. Or maybe the fact that there was no more rain helped them. In any case, Penn State was able to score only 3 points in the 3rd quarter, whereas LSU managed a touchdown. Of course, it didn’t help that PSU gave LSU possession on the PSU 47-yard line because we chose to squib kick the ball after our field goal rather than kick it deep. So their first touchdown was the result of a short field. We were very dismayed by that kick choice. After a Penn State 3-and-out, LSU came right back and scored another touchdown. Now it was 17-16 in the 4th quarter, and it was quite a tense atmosphere.

Credit Darryl Clark for sustaining a long game-winning drive and taking a lot of time off the clock. It was enough to allow Collin Wagner to hit his fourth field goal and put us up 19-17. But at that point in the game there was still 57 seconds left on the clock. “Too much time,” I said to Terry. He agreed that we were in a precarious situation, thought we would probably lose. And when LSU was able to move the ball to within 20 yards of field goal range, we knew we were in trouble.

I never like to see officiating determine the outcome of the game. And I’m really not sure what happened. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against LSU put them out of field goal range with just a few ticks on the clock. So Penn State won the game on a controversial call. The officiating was questionable in other aspects. We were incredulous that the officials couldn’t keep track of what down it was, on two different plays. We’ll have to watch the tape to figure out what happened. In the stands we were mostly confused.

In any case, a win is a win, and this one was a big one on a sloppy day when neither team could play their best because of the weather and the field. We won against a ranked team and it was fun to hear the students chant “Dar-ryl Cla-rk” as we were exiting the stadium. He was named the Most Valuable Player and that was well deserved. He leaves Penn State with a 22-4 record as quarterback. We will miss him and all the other seniors. We’re glad they went out with a victory against a very solid Top 25 SEC football team.

Now we’re back at Disney World. Staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The only lions and tigers we’ve seen were at the game yesterday. When we step out onto our balcony, though, we never know what we will encounter. Giraffes, zebras, roan antelope, and ankole cattle roam freely through the savannah in front of us. It’s a serene environment amidst the chaos of Disney during the holidays. We’re hoping all the kids leave today and tomorrow to go back to school so we will have a chance to really enjoy the parks for two days before we head home. Right now it’s about 40 degrees, cold and sunny.

Florida? That’s right. But still fun, especially when we win.