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Only Eric Cole Until Penn State Football

BSD counts down the days until kickoff in Ireland.

Crouching Lion, Flying Panther
Crouching Lion, Flying Panther

Eric Cole played short tackle (1995-96), short guard (97), center (98),  and (....deep breath....) long guard, short guard, long guard, short guard, and center (1999) for the Nittany Lions between 1995 - 1999, getting the starting nod in 35 games over his final 3 seasons in blue and white.

Those teams, by the way, totaled a 48-14 mark, and won a Fiesta Bowl.  They were ranked in the top 25 every single week, for all five years.  In fact, they spent just two weeks outside of the top 20 (both in the 1998 season, when they sat at #23 and #22).  All five of the squads spent time ranked in the national top 10, and only the 1998 team missed out on a top 5 ranking (peaking at #7).  In other words, this dude played on some pretty good teams.

The Big Ten didn't suck donkey balls back then like it does now, either, by the way.  Just the opposite - the late 90's PSU teams had murderous schedules.  After Penn State entered the league and completed an undefeated season in its second year, Michigan and Ohio State woke up from their comfortable slumber.  Those two had sleep-walked through the 1970's and 1980's, amassing a grand total of 0 national titles while playing in 0 national title games in the previous 20 years, seemingly content to fap each other at the end of the season for the Rose Bowl bid.

Threatened by PSU, they (and the rest of the league) responded.  Eddie George, Charles Woodson, and Ron Dayne won Heisman trophies.  Orlando Pace was the runaway Outland winner.  Michigan won a share of the national title - it's first since World War II.  Ohio State came within a John Cooper-Michigan jinx of playing for the title on two separate occasions.  Minnesota, under Glen Mason, went to 7 bowls in 8 seasons.  Wisconsin instituted team wide PED regimens similar to Ivan Drago in Rocky IV (unconfirmed).  Sparty was coached by Nick Saban.  Northwestern had a Butkus award winner.  Purdue had Drew freaking Brees at quarterback, instead of Robert Marve's corpse.  Even the Hoosiers didn't blow, with Antwaan Randle-El (well - alright - the Hoosiers still blew).  It was, in my opinion, the best the Big 10 had ever been, and it hasn't come close since.

It was a great time to be a student, too.  You picked up your copy of The Collegian and pretended to fill out the crossword as a way to meet the hot chick in your Forum class.  You had a top 10 team to cheer for every.single.year.  The Skellar still did case races.  The Brewery was still an awesome dump.  And, in fall 1997, you could party it up with Joe Jurevicius at Crow Bar or  Players during the week, since he took his last semester off.  At 6'5", he was easy to pick out of the crowd.  Plus he had an awesome drunk face.

Good times, good times.