As you've probably heard by now, Penn State will not host a night game at Beaver Stadium this season. The Nittany Lions' only appearance in primetime will come Oct. 22 at Northwestern's Ryan Field against the Wildcats on the Big Ten Network.
Predictably, this has some in the fan base upset. Beaver Stadium at night is a cool place and having to wait a year for the chance to host another primetime kick is a disappointing feeling. That said, there's no reason to make a bigger deal of this than expressing those disappointed feelings.
Penn State was not "disrespected" by its lack of primetime kicks. As Mike Poorman points out, Wisconsin and Northwestern have the most night games in the conference with four and three respectively. Yes, Wisconsin won the league Rose Bowl berth in 2010 and Northwestern has become competitive under Pat Fitzgerald, but does anyone think those schools are more "respected" than Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa, schools that have all been players on the national scene in recent years, simply because they're participating in more primetime games?
A look back at Penn State's recent schedules really drives that point home, too.
In 2005, Penn State was coming off its fourth losing season in five years, but hosted Ohio State at home anyway. This game was put on the schedule before "Paternoville" was so celebrated, before the "White House" and before Penn State had even really made it "back" from the "Dark Years" (lots of quotation marks in that sentence...). To say the Lions were more "respected" heading into that season than this season based on number of night games is silly.
Further, Penn State was awarded three night games in 2008 after going 9-4 in 2007. That's more primetime games than either of the Big Ten's other two tri-champions, Ohio State and Michigan State, will get this season. Was Penn State more "respected" then than Ohio State and Michigan State are now? No. Further proof that number of night games is a poor measure of respect level on its own.
Let's not forget, either, that Penn State's record at home over the years in these primetime kicks is less than pristine. While, yes, there have been great triumphs in night games, like victories over Nebraska in 2002, Ohio State in 2005, Illinois in 2008 and Michigan in 2010, there have also been some embarrassing defeats. The Lions were flattened by Miami in 2001, spanked by Michigan in 2006, crushed by Ohio State in 2007 and upset by Iowa in 2009, all under the lights.
Oh, and then there's the issue of the "White House." Some believe it belongs under the lights, and while it looks cool at night, I ask you, does it look that much cooler than this? I actually like the way the sunlight reflects off all the white during the day more than the way it looks under Beaver Stadium's dingy lights.
With all that said, it's probably not the worst thing ever that Penn State will be getting its big opponents this year in the daylight rather than in the dark.
Sure, if Penn State had been better last season, it likely would have had another night game or two, possibly at Beaver Stadium, and yes, it probably would be good for recruiting to present kids with the "wow" factor of a night game at home, but really, it's not that big a deal. It's doubtful a kid going to be more impressed by the atmosphere at Wisconsin for a night game against UNLV than a day game at Penn State against Alabama, so there's no reason to get too worked up over that.
Ultimately, it would be nice to have a night game at Beaver Stadium in 2011, but it's not the end of the world now that we know there won't be one. I'm more worried about the offensive line and quarterbacks.