Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Penn State - Ohio State: A Belated Story

Definitely make sure to read Pat's recap below, I tried to shy away from anything he already covered. His Morrelli = Kordell analysis was spot on.

Rodney Kinlaw going in for the score. Friend from home Ryan being tossed in the air 7 times, a tradition often reserved for girls, but I didn't tell him that. The thought crept into my head that the perfect weekend might actually be perfect, that maybe, just maybe, it could be 2005 all over again. Slowly and methodically, with each Chris Wells stiff arm and Todd Boeckman laser, the thought was erased.

That's not to say it was a bad weekend. 7 of my friends came up to visit, so there was no way the weekend could have been ruined. The only two noticeable absences were PiSoNC and Wannstache, who were sorely missed not only for their alcohol drinking abilities but the overall fun they would have added. I had gone to the past two OSU-PSU matches at both the horseshoe and the Beav' with PiSoNC, and it was weird without him there. You've read the reports of the game, so I won't even get into that. The colors of the site, as I'm sure you know by now, were due to a promise about a guaranteed PSU victory that never happened. Don't worry, the eye sore will be gone by tomorrow, although I have to admit a different logo may be in the works to replace the 3 second paint job that I thought would only be temporary when we started the site.

I don't often write full length articles about Penn State, actually only one really
comes to mind. The reason? Penn State is a rather polarizing figure in the Pittsburgh landscape. Often, either you love them or hate them, and the Pitt vs PSU rivalry inevitably comes up. Seems like good material for a blog, right? True, but when the rivalry game has not been played since 2000, it gets old debating the merits of both programs and really no definitive answer is given.

But it's my senior year at Penn State, and this past weekend was the last time I would sit as a student in the student section during a night game at the biggest game of the year at Beaver Stadium. Plus theres the beer throwing attack, which is about half of what this article is based on. So here is the full story of the weekend. This may turn into a small book, just to warn you.


My friends, including Pat, started showing up around 2 o'clock. One of the first words out of Pat's mouth after the drive through the strip malls and strip clubs of Route 22: "Get me a beer". A good indication of the weekend. While everyone else went to go hear JoePa mumble at Rally In the Valley, Pat and I went to pick up some cases. Pat was also there when we had to pick up the last two tickets, and almost convinced a scalper to give us some extra cash on a deal. Pat, like Larry Murphy, is there when it counts.

We went out that night to a Tony's Big Easy to enjoy the $1 well drinks, fully aware of the mandatory 8 AM wakeup time. At least I was.


Woke up at 6 AM, had to finish a few things, then loaded up my car with 98% of the pieces for my ladder golf set (oops), 4 cases of beer, the cooler, and steely determination to fully enjoy the 10 hour tailgate. I made the mistake of taking with me a giant 1-liter beerfest-esq mug to the Wisconsin tailgate two weeks prior. While the tailgate was shorter, I still ended up taking a halftime-third quarter nap back at my apartment. The mug was left behind this time.

Ryan, who goes to a much more pompous school then Penn State, graciously helped me out. We met up with the other 5 cars in our tailgate and headed off to the cow fields. When we pulled out to go on our way, a red GMC truck with Buckeye flags cut in front of me. Never once did I think that "Hey, maybe they are part of our tailgate". Instead, I floored it down Beaver Avenue and cut the guy off in order to make sure all the cars were parked together, only to find out that, yes, they were part of our tailgate. A nice awkward way to start off the morning.

At the tailgate I began to assemble the ladder golf set and realized 1/3 of one ladder leg was missing. Luckily, I got my roommate to give it to the lazy ones who didn't wake up until 9:30 or so and it all worked out, until on a magnificent ball-buster, one of the bolas broke. This was a result of not having a drill to make them correctly, instead relying on gorilla glue. I had been preaching the merits of gorilla glue from the past two weeks of ladder golf playing, only to see it fail at the most inopportune time. An omen for the game? Perhaps.

Pat arrived before the others around 8:30, and when the others did get there the cloudy roof must have opened, and the gods smiled down, as the sun emerged on a day supposedly to be overrun by rain. Normal tailgating ensued, beer was drunk, songs were sang and I got to know the Ohio state fans pretty well. Then something akin to this happened:

If you have not seen it already or do not have youtube at work, its a video of a tailgate on the lawn of a frat house, where two Ohio State fans have full cans of beer chucked at them by a mob of young PSU fans. It was disturbing, especially the commentary, the pleased reactions, and, most damning, the fact they were so proud of it that they put it on youtube. It made me sick. The sad part was that we saw a similar scene at the tailgate.

The cow fields we were in are $10-$20 for parking, easily the cheapest you can find. This results in an influx of young people and opposing fans, who often find more available parking in this area. For that reason, this tailgating area is easily the most rowdy. The fields stretch along Park Avenue, providing a nice view of anyone walking or driving around the stadium. All of a sudden we heard shouting, a general ruckus, that was a bit louder than the normal chants and cheers. Walking down Park Avenue were 4 Ohio State fans, late 20s to mid 30s, with the lead guy bearing a 4'x 3' Buckeye flag.

When I turned my head to look at the source of the noise, there were about 3-4 beer cans in the air, and that number only increased as they walked squarely in front of an out of control tailgate. It was only one tailgate that threw cans, and the OSU fans were out of their range within ten seconds. One tailgate too many, though. We were too far way to see if any other tailgates tried to stop the insanity or if there were any repercussions. But I was embarrassed to be a PSU fan more in that moment than any other until I saw that video. The tailgate assault was bad, but it wasn't the firing line that the video showed. Both acts are reprehensible, and hopefully they'll find the kids in the video and do something about it.

As Penn State fans we take pride in our fandom, claiming we have the best fans in the nation. No doubt we may be the loudest, and we may sustain that noise longer than anybody during a defensive series, but we're not the best fans. I'm sure 97% of the Penn State faithful are as classy as JoePa, ranging from offering opposing fans beer and a burger at a tailgate to simply not saying anything at all. But there are those 3%, those who have begun to change the image of the fans at Penn State. It's an immense amount of passion for football gone horribly wrong.

Penn State needed this though. There is a problem with the younger generation, mostly students, acting like asses on gamedays. I wish I could say these were entirely isolated incidents this past weekend, but every year it seems like we treat opposing fans worse. The general reaction of blogs and the media will be an assault on Penn State, assumptions will be made that everyone acts like this, and who is really to blame anyone that says so? What have we done to prove them wrong? We say we are classy, the best tailgaters, and the best fans in the nation. It's time to hold ourselves to that standard.

If I was President Spanier, I would allocate the same amount of police presence they have downtown during arts fest and nights after games to the area around the stadium, complete with the 20 cops on horses inevitably make all the roads smell like shit, and the helicopter. That's what they did after the riots in '01, and thats the same reaction they should have now. It will inevitably come down to a fans starting a movement to stop the idiocy. If THON and the VT symbol during the spring game are any indication, we'll have a shot.

Up until 2000, the PSU football was a premier program in the nation. From 2000-2004, we had a combined record of 26-33. We were knocked down, and rightfully so. No one should have been subjected to the Zack Mills era, but we were. And in 2005 when everything came together, when we established a new identity and Tamba Hali made Troy Smith do a headstand, the sports euphoria was unmatched due to the down and out feel of the previous 5 years.

When I thought that last Saturday could be 2005 again, I was wrong. Even with a victory, the feeling of being that low to going that high could never be topped. Just like in football we've hit our low as fans with the two beer throwing incidents. But only by recognizing how low we've fallen can we get back to what we were once proud to be.

End of Post


Anonymous said...

Sam is my hero. And don't be hatin' on Gorilla Glue. RARARARARARGH!!!

LadderGolfFan said...

Hope you enjoyed playing the ladder golf game..ya this Ladder golf game can be played by holding a beer can in your hand and you can throw the bola with the other hand..This game is getting rapid reception all over..