Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Rakes of Mallow: This One's On Me

For my lunch at work, I just usually hijack a desk in the office and cruise various websites (at the moment, it's college football) while shooting out e-mails. Rob is in the same situation at his job, only it's for the entire day. To tide him over, I sent him a link to one of many Penn State blogs that basically just complain about every and gleefully reminisce about their zombie coach and great season last year. The general sentiment among PSU fans is that they're getting underrated this season because no one is giving them a shot to win the Big Ten. Let's go over why dismissing this year's Nittany Lions team as not quite championship-ready isn't such a crazy idea:

1) They lost four of their five offensive linemen.

2) They lost their starting quarterback, who also happened to finish 5th-place in Heisman voting last year.

3) They lost eight of their top twelve tacklers, All-World defensive end Tamba Hali and both starting corners. (PSU returns only nine starters overall)

4) The last seven years, the Penn State win total looks like this: 9, 5, 6, 9, 3, 4, 10. Doesn't that sort of look like a team that wins with its veteran leaders, drops back into a hole as the young guys learn, then wins when they mature? Wouldn't this be the year after the successful season, where they averaged 4 wins the other two times through the cycle?

5) They're starting a first-year quarterback who will have to deal with games in Notre Dame Stadium and the Horseshoe within his first month on the job.

5) Their head coach is a flesh-eating zombie in sneakers.

Anyway, I sent Rob that link because every post somehow ends with "Gee, isn't Penn State great in how honest and good and without names on the back of our jerseys", and between that and the constant ranting about disrespect, it wears on a casual reader. Well, Rob got a kick out of one of the comments about Troy Smith being selected Big Ten Player of the Year (Why do these awards even exist?). He posted it on NDNation, and voila, you get this.

Yes, that is Rob being called out by one of the Penn State bloggers, making him the second Dillonite in the last week or so, as my comments about Nittany Lion fans being obsessed with two idiotic concepts drew the ire of another Penn State blogger in the form of this comment left on my humble site:

First, the two things ND fans love about being ND fans:
1. Most of them never went to ND and root for the school for no other reason than they "think its cool".
2. Football players that don't like to play football. (I'd rather box! Ooooh, i'd rather play baseball!)

Are you starting to follow my thoughts on the general train of thought most PSU fans gleefully hop on? I know the ND faithful are crazy - for that reason, and the people there know way more than me, I try to stay away from NDNation's boards - but the reasons presented are absolutely insane. The first one applies to every major college football program. Name me a former or present pigskin power that doesn't have a hearty number of subway alumni. Doesn't exist. And I don't think rooting for Notre Dame, the conservative Catholic institution located in the middle of nowhere, is "cool". Rooting for Miami (7th Floor Crew!) or USC (Song Girls) is probably cool.

Number two is even dumber, because I'm pretty sure if you read an interview with The Shark or Zibby or simply watch them play the game, you'll see that they at least appear to love the game of football. If they do find their gridiron pursuit joyless, then they cover it up with amazing ease. The fact they're amazingly talented athletes and can succeed at multiple sports, with the blessing of Coach Weis, shouldn't be held against them.

So while I don't wish to overlook Georgia Tech in any way, shape or form, looking forward to seeing Penn State either prove their might or prove the pundits right is simply too much fun. So I apologize for Rob and NDNation for getting him into that, but there's a part of me that hopes this continues for the last couple weeks of preseason to keep things interesting.


Two more quick ND-notes:

1) SportingNews ranks the ACC stadiums and puts GT's Bobby Dodd Stadium fifth, saying this about it:

One of the more underrated places in the nation. This is what makes Bobby Dodd Stadium special: it's sunk in the middle of downtown Atlanta, and the noise is trapped with nowhere to go but around and around and around. The place is good for at least one upset a year.

Like the one where they're opening the season at night against team with one returning linebacker? Yikes. Please don't let Reggie Ball finally get his head straight for the opener...

2), otherwise known in the Irish community as "Thee of little faith", tackle the "What are the greatest regular season games of all time?" for their Tuesday Question this week. All of the pundits present put October's traumatic, heartbreaking and memorable tilt between ND and USC in their top four, earning a fourth, two thirds and a second. ND is also present on the list with games against Florida State, Miami (FL), Boston College, Michigan State and Penn State. I'm glad Chad has the Tivo safely stashed at his house, because every once in a while I get an urge to watch the fourth quarter again, and it simply brings back the empty feeling inside.

For the love of everything holy in this world, I am ready for some real football.

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