The reason I say this is because the Penn State Athletic Department, obviously bowing to pressure to play the Panthers from blogs such as this one, did just that. Their research department dug deep and scheduled the Eastern Illinois University Panthers to come to Beaver Stadium!
"Oh those clever Nittany Lions," I can hear Chris Berman saying. I can also imagine Joe Paterno and company deciding on signing the contract for this game, then laughing together while Paterno proclaims, "There, that outta hold those bloggers or whatever they are!"
ABOVE: To prevent hives, shingles, irritable bowel syndrome, even a possible stroke or heart attack, Joe Pa prefers scheduling games that won't give him excess stomach acid or gas.
First of all, let's put this classic matchup into its' proper perspective: This game was tantamount to Penn State playing Indiana University...of Pennsylvania! Eastern Illinois has an enrollment of 12,179 students. I.U.P. has 11,748...that's a difference of only 431 students. Penn State, on the other hand, has 44,112 students at University Park and another 33.393 at their "Commonwealth Campuses" bringing their total enrollment to 77,505. Penn State is therefore 6.36 times larger than Eastern Illinois University according to my calculator.
The only similarity between these two schools is that ironically they both have administration buildings named "Old Main" and that's about it.
LEFT: This quaint Gothic-styled building, built in 1891, is known as "Old Main" at Eastern Illinois University. It's very nice and all but BELOW: Penn State's behemoth "Old Main" building kind of says, "Here lies the seat of all power known to man (oh, and also President Graham Spanier's office).
Yes the Nittany Lions had a week off from their grueling "Big 10" schedule where last week they got whacked at home by a legitimate major college team, Iowa. The Lions needed a week to regroup, practice and work out some things. They got that, and a much-needed "W" by crushing the 1-AA Eastern Illinois Panthers 52-3 while rolling up 553 yards in this classic matchup of the "haves" versus the "have-nots".
ABOVE: This is O'Brien Field (capacity 10,000) that is home to the Eastern Illinois University Panthers. It's a nice field, but there are a lot of high schools in the Pittsburgh area that have stadiums close in size to this. BELOW: "Beaver Stadium". This amazing killing field is larger than every NFL stadium with the exception of Jones Memorial Stadium in Dallas.
ABOVE: Usually when you see 107,282 "fans" sardined into Beaver Stadium it's to witness the brutalization of some 1-AA or otherwise lousy team. This year's cupcake-loaded schedule includes: Akron, Temple, Eastern Illinois and Big East doormat, Syracuse. Pitt, incidentally, plays nine teams that played in bowl games last season. But not to be outdone by Penn State, they also scheduled pushovers Buffalo and Youngstown State. Look hard, you won't find a single major college that doesn't schedule at least one if not more easy games. Even Notre Dame, a school that traditionally plays one of the toughest schedules in the country, this year led off with a 35-0 victory over perennial powerhouse Nevada.
Since you will never get this kind of brutally fair and honest reporting from any of the Pittsburgh papers, I thought I would put this contest into its' proper perspective below. Here's how we cover this type of so-called "sporting event" at "Pittsburgh's Black & Gold", where we're not afraid to call a spade a spade.
ABOVE: You never know in a match like this. The big guy might suffer a horrible groin injury and have to forfeit. Then again, maybe not.
What sportsmanship is there in scheduling teams such as Eastern Illinois, Akron and Temple? Sure, there's always the chance that an Appalachia State could rear up and bite you such as happened to that other bastion of Big Ten integrity, Michigan. But really, what are the odds of that happening?
How in the world can Joe Paterno, a man who supposedly is among the most upstanding in an otherwise sleazy sport, allow his A.D. to schedule teams that are obviously as inferior as an Eastern Illinois? Is the mania to win so great that Penn State would repeatedly schedule such competition? The answer? Yes, double yes and triple yes!!!
Then, of course, there's also plenty of criticism deserved on the other side of the ball at Eastern Illinois University too. Their people are so unconcerned about the health and safety of their "student-athletes" that they would stoop to scheduling a game against a much larger and stronger opponent such as Penn State just to get a big game check. They don't care that their athletes took a horrible physical beating in this game. It's all about the cash. Period. Obviously, a smaller school like E.I.U. will gladly take a big payday regardless of how many of their people get ground up in the process. If you're an alumni, you should really be proud.
ABOVE: Then again, there are those situations where the little guy might lose. Yeah, it can happen!
This is what is so wrong with college football and what is so wrong with college football fans. This is a game based on perception and not so much on substance. People schedule cupcake games looking to fatten up their record artificially, not caring whether their paying fans see a game that is either exciting or meaningful. In State College, the people there have been conditioned into thinking that this is the way that football games should be scheduled. Where is their sense of pride?
It's much the same in Pittsburgh where Pirate fans have been conditioned to getting a bobblehead or some other stupid giveaway, seeing a losing game and then sitting back to enjoy some great fireworks. Hey, it's a great entertainment value! It's worked great now for 17 years!
ABOVE: Some may see this as a mismatch, but the reality is that both opponents have a head, two legs, two arms, two hands and two feet. If one's smaller than the other...hey, that's their problem!
Meanwhile, at Penn State they keep building additions on the stadium, even going so far as to reduce the "size" of the space your rear end can occupy on the bleacher so as to balloon their attendance numbers even further. This was not done for the comfort of the attending fans, believe me. It was done out of athletic department greed, pure and simple.
ABOVE: Ever since David got off a 'lucky" shot, people have always loved watching the little guy trying to not get massacred. 999 times out of a thousand, David loses this matchup by the way (unless God has money on him).
Then there's always that common sense reason for not playing Pitt. JoePa and company wanted Pitt to come there every year and not have a home and home series. Can you imagine that? What self-respecting university would ever accept terms as ridiculous as that? You guessed it, a school that is not self-respecting but rather looking for a big payday like an Eastern Illinois University. Anyone with half of a brain could see through Penn State's insincerity in making such a ridiculous demand.
While I detest the tactics on display over the last couple decades at Penn State, I detest just as equally, the athletic departments at small schools that sacrifice potential injury, school humiliation and demoralizing huge losses for a large payday. These schools will argue that their Penn State paycheck will help them fund their school's archery team for that year. They'll even claim that their players get to enjoy playing in a major college venue. While in some demented way this may be true, is this really what college athletics are supposed to be all about: Large institutions having sacrificial lambs served up for them on a silver platter? I feel that it's a disgrace, nothing but a sham of a sporting event. What's "sporting" about getting your head handed to you by a 52-3 score? If you're a Penn State player, did you honestly get the same satisfaction out of this game as you would have by beating Iowa? If you answered "no", then maybe there's hope for you after all. If you answered "yes" then you're as much of an idiot as everyone else who paid to watch this game.
I also have a real problem with the 100,00 plus Penn State "fans" who show up routinely for these massacres too. This is no more a sporting event than was the Romans feeding christians to the lions in their "Beaver Stadium", the Colisseum. Oh sure, the christians would run around, juke, scream in terror, maybe even break loose once in awhile. But what pure excitement! What an adrenaline rush! Really though, how long do you think you could last against a real Lion (not the Mt. Nittany variety)? I'm sure it wouldn't be long before a jaw was wrapped around your neck and you'd be dead, I'm sure. But hey, what a great sport! It's almost as good as jabbing a sword and spears into a bull! Beat Eastern Illinois? Now there's a rush! Who next, Northern South Dakota? Southwest Utah?
ABOVE: This poor s.o.b. waits for these two Lions to finish him off. Look at those forearms, they look lilke Mark McGwire's! Do you honestly think he has a chance against this lion? What's he doing out there anyway? For that matter, what was Eastern Illinois doing in Happy Valley? Much like E. I. U. on Saturday, I'd say the score at this point is about 52-0 but the clock only has about ten seconds left on it. Unlike Eastern Illinois University, this guy's widow gets no fat paycheck from the lions, unfortunately.
If this is the way that college contests are going to forever be scheduled, they can forget having me as a fan. I can waste my time raking leaves, cleaning out my gutters or even sweeping the garage. Obviously there are many simple-minded people out there who really are entertained by mismatches of this magnitude and glad to shell out their hard-earned money for it, but not me.
So it shouldn't surprise anyone that long ago people were feeding this strange craving for "entertainment" by watching human beings getting eaten by wild animals. Come to think of it, we've really come a long way as a race, haven't we?
EPILOGUE: If a meteor, an asteroid or even the moon hits the earth on December 21st, 2012 as is being widely speculated, I hope it hits Beaver Stadium during the first quarter of their future game against Northern South Carolina. That's a mismatch that I'd truly enjoy watching and one that their fans and Joe Paterno truly deserve.