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Nitt Picks Hates Empty Seats

The Daily Collegian's Opinion page is hot with athletic topics again today, with plenty of attention focused on those empty seats in the student section on Saturdays and the behavior of some of the students.

First, Robert Biscontini of the Class of 1974 is worried about how Alabama fans will be treated when they come to Happy Valley next year.

I learned a lot about hospitality, life — and football — a few weeks ago in Tuscaloosa. Adults and students invariably welcomed us, conversed, invited us to join them, bought drinks and complimented our coach and program. That won’t happen when they visit next year. One student will scream at some family with kids. Another will spill Nacho cheese on one of their fans, like I saw a drunken kid do to an Iowa fan last year.

Hopefully, stories of the hospitality shown to Penn State fans in Tuscaloosa will continue to circulate so that situations like the ones Biscontini is concerned about can be avoided.

Student Mike Kaiserian is upset with the student ticketing policies.

Since the implementation of paperless ticketing for football games, there have been noticeably fewer people in the student section. On Friday afternoon, just a few hours before the 5 p.m. sale deadline, there were more than 150 tickets on sale for $69 and hundreds more for cheaper. And that’s before the $1.95 processing fee, and the $29 more it would cost to validate a guest ticket (that’s $99.95 for a guest).

The athletic department took a good step forward this year by moving the sale/exchange deadline back, but judging by attendance at the first few games this season, the system could probably still use tweaks so more students are able to make it inside. For what it's worth, yours truly bought a regular ticket this past week because the seats on the student exchange cost too much money.

Finally, Collegian columnist Jessica Uzar:

But looking up from the field last game, I noticed that our student section was not filling up. In fact, I’m not sure it ever entirely filled up.

At first, I was a little disappointed. But after thinking about it, I realized that half of those students were probably too drunk to attend the game and the other half were faithful friends making sure those drunks got to bed okay.

Is that an excuse for not attending the game? I don’t mind really. It was still an early season game (granted, not an easy game like we would’ve liked).

Aren’t we a school known for our football culture, including the sometimes heavy tailgating that is taking place outside?

Just my piece, but I think regardless of Penn State's tailgating reputation, the "best student section in college football" should be in the building at kick off.

Big East=TCU?

The New York Post is reporting that the Big East is looking into the possibility of adding Texas Christian to the struggling conference.

Two sources said the TCU discussion developed recently. The school’s tradition, academics and recent success have lifted the university’s profile. TCU (4-0) is ranked fifth in the polls and many believe it is currently the best team in Texas.

One source stressed that there have been no meetings among Big East presidents or ADs to discuss membership. But that source also said expansion has altered the way conferences think. The fact that TCU hardly matches the Big East footprint is a tertiary concern.

Regardless of whether it'd be a smart move to go so far outside the Big East's traditional stomping grounds to pick up a solid football program, the league has to do something. Only West Virginia is even receiving votes this week. League favorites Pittsburgh and Connecticut have had fits of trouble with BCS level, and even sub-BCS level teams this season, and consensus is growing that even non-BCS leagues like the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference have passed the Big East in football prestige. If the conference could pry TCU away from the Mountain West, it'd hardly make it a heavy weight, but it would go a long way toward respectability.

Flip A Coin

As BHGP points out, Saturday's game could all come down to the coin toss.

Under Kirk Ferentz when Iowa has won the coin toss they have elected to receive on nearly every occasion. Ferentz is unlike the vast majority of college coaches who instead choose to defer. Why? Well, there's the theory that Ferentz operates like an NFL coach, a league that until 2008 had no defer option and is filled with dudes who act still as if one does not exist. But there is also the theory that beginning on offense gives you a potential extra possession and allows you to dictate field position right away. A closer look though explains exactly why Ferentz elects to receive. Under Ferentz, Iowa is 63-17 when scoring first; 67-10 when leading at halftime; and 4-1 when tied at half. So when the coin is tossed high in the air on Saturday night know this: the statistical odds that Iowa will win the toss, elect to receive, and subsequently go on to score given the way this series has been going recently, have to be against them...just based on probablility and chance. Bottom line, when it comes to the coin toss the winner stands to win....everything.

I've always subscribed to the belief that you put your best unit out there first, but you can't really argue with Ferentz's record with an early lead. That said, if Joe Paterno wins the toss and is more confident in his defense, I sure hope we sit it first and get the ball later rather than watching a young offense in a hostile environment sputter and waste a possession early on.

In Scores Of Other Games

  • Pittsburgh Tribune Review has more on the demise of ESPN 1250, Penn State's flagship in Pittsburgh. The writer uses "through the end of the season" to describe Penn State's relationship with the frequency, so Penn State might be in the market for a new home on the dial. [TRIB]
  • How Penn State can learn from Arizona's win against Iowa [PennLive]
  • Future Michigan Coach Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh is tough to beat [Dan Wetzel]
  • Add out Facebook and Twitter pages today and spread the word.