Nearly 30 years ago, in the spring of 1989, a chain reaction began that would alter the course of Big Ten football. On that spring night, University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry hosted a delegation to discuss their interest in joining the Big Ten Conference. Heading that delegation was Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. Thanks, Illinois!
Ever since the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed, Big Ten football fans have had to endure endless conversations about essential victories, conspiracy theories, overrated ice cream, Great Value brand football uniforms, supposed domination of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and a burning desire to have The Ohio State University recognize them - The Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions - as the Buckeyes TRUE rival! Which is rich coming from a fan base who proudly proclaims their #Unrivaled status.
Under the leadership of a former Brown University quarterback, Penn State has won
7 6 5 4 3 2 National Championships. Congratulations, that’s one more consensus National Championship than Maryland! And anyone under the age of 35 doesn’t remember Vinny Testaverde tossing a metric crapton of interceptions in the Arizona desert during the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.
Now in all fairness, one has to admit that both Bill O’Brien and James Franklin have done a pretty good job cleaning up the mess out in Happy Valley. Which again, is ironic: Penn State had to call upon 2 former members of Ralph Friedgen’s staff at the University of Maryland to return Nittany Lion football to its past glory.
Speaking of past glory, Jim Delany felt kind of sorry for the Big Ten’s #Unrivaled team and gave Penn State two of its ‘rivals’ from the Nittany Lions days as a football independent: Maryland and Rutgers. If only the Big Ten could add any of Boston College, Syracuse, Army, Temple, or Pitt; then Penn State would truly be back in their 1970s wheel-house.
So on that note we can look forward to a 2018 season chock full of YOLOballs, multiple white-out games, internet meltdowns following unexpected losses (cough, at Michigan State last season, cough), yearning for Ohio State to give its eastern ‘rival’ some badly needed attention, and up to 14 games this season against the mighty Akron Zips. And that, is something we can all shake our hands on!