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BSD Mailbag 11.16.18

We’ve got answers to your questions on this lovely winter fall day!

NCAA Football: Kent State at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Can you walk us through your emotional state during CJ Thorpe’s kickoff return? I’m not sure I’ve experienced an emotional swing like that before, from “Holy shit Thorpe has the ball…he might kill someone if he gets up to full speed…” to “oh nooooo, CJ what happened”—vern05

The previous kickoff return, I had to figure out who number 69 was - just because he was not a small man, and I’m not used to large football players playing a kickoff return so deep (I’m sure we’ll remember his number better in years to come). But since I had just done that, I was standing up and cheering when he started running it out - and quieted down pretty quick upon the fumble.

Imagine my surprise when Penn State actually recovered the fumble! And one of Wisconsin’s, to boot!

Question Would you rather have us make a NY6 bowl and beat UCF Or Play in the Outback or Citrus against a team like Florida or Texas and win against them? NY6 would mean more, but beating a brand name like Florida or Texas would be pretty nice.—Talon122

I would absolutely prefer to beat returning National Champion Central Florida in a bowl game than almost anyone else outside those who are going to actually be in the playoff. We wouldn’t have much to lose in that game, either - because if they are undefeated for the second year in a row, even though they’re not a Power 5 program, they’d be expected to win. Plus that matchup was pretty entertaining in Ireland.

Why do my peanuts come from Virginia, my pecans from Texas, my hazelnuts from Oregon, my cashews from Thailand, and my macadamias from Australia? Shouldn’t nut-growing be a consistent agricultural product – if you grow one nut you grow them all?

How many Penn State vs. Penn State finals do we have in Philly this Sunday?—Smee

Much like different fruits and vegetables can’t grow in all climates, the same goes for nuts. almonds and your aforementioned macadamias (which I prefer from the good old USA, Hawai’i) generally prefer more tropical climates to grow - but you can get (or grow!) walnuts, hazlenuts, and pecans (as well as Christmas favorite chestnuts) in cooler climates.

Odds everyone can park on grass in two weeks? Missing the Maryland tailgate would mean like a bajillion more days to tailgate again.—bearwithscarf

Will the grass lots be open for the Maryland game? or does tomorrow’s projected snowfall pretty much seal the deal on that one too?—PSU Mudder

This is being written after the snowfall, and as much as I’d like to tell both bearwithscarf and Mudder that I’m hopeful that the lots will be open...I’m not, not really. But at least I’m staying in State College itself for this game and it won’t take me 3.25 hours to get to State College from Altoona for the Maryland game!

For a 3:30 start time, is it possible/smart to try and get back to DC after the MD game? Thinking about getting a ticket for myself since my wife is out of town. I’ve never been to Beaver Stadium and obviously have to at some point. I would have to go up the morning of and drive back immediately after the game if I do this. Should I do it? Is it worth the estimated 7 hr round trip from the DC area (w/o considering the horrendous traffic that I’ve seen you all talk about on this site)? Is this a game that is worth the effort? How many subquestions can I squeeze into one question before the mailbag police arrest me?—apathetec

It absolutely is possible! I’ve even done it for night games, though that’s not well-advised.

You’re not asking the right person if you want someone to talk sense and possibly discourage you...I’ve only missed a handful of home games since I got a non-weekend job in 2009 (I can only think of two, and one’s a doozy - Joe Paterno’s last game. The weather wasn’t great in Maryland, and we were going to go up and back for the day, and I’ve been kicking myself for it for the last 7 years).

The best game I went up and back in a day for was Minnesota 2016. I had to come back to DC for a bachelorette party, and I had to go to the game. I missed the first hour or so of the party, but it was worth it - and my friend really appreciated me coming back because I have great friends who know how important PSU football is to me.

Do people still go to Rutgers football games?—PhillyLion

It depends on your definition of “people”.

There will definitely be players there, and referees, and coaches and those employed by the program. There may even be ones of Rutgera fans!

There will be more Penn Staters, at least by halftime.

Is there anyone left from Rutger’s once loaded backfield?—bva-psu

They actually still do have a few guys who were there when Saquon Barkley flipped to Penn State, or who were part of his recruiting class. There are the names: Jonathan Hilliman, Charles Snorweah, and Max Anthony. Hilliman’s the only one who appears on the depth chart for the Scarlet Knights - and he’s a backup to a now-sophomore.

serious question:the B1G added our next 2 football opponents to the most elite conference in the US after the Ivy League. what, besides the TV market, does Rutgers and Maryland add to the conference? Do they have University Hospitals that are world renown, or top notch research programs? Seriously, what are they known for academically?—kingkub

Eyeballs. I know you said what besides the TV market they bring, but it’s primarily for the tv markets - I for one don’t hate it even if I don’t like Maryland, because I can now go see a lot of our sports teams nearby during the week much easier! And DC and New York have a toooon of Big Ten alumni, so I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

The University of Maryland system is academically very good - in the US News & World Report rankings, they’re #63. Rutgers also is not bad at #56 (tied with Ohio State); Penn State, for comparison’s sake, is #59 (so higher than MD and lower than RU). Nebraska, which very few people lament us adding, is #129 (Iowa and Indiana are tied for #89, for what I think is the lowest ranking of “classic” Big Ten schools). MD also has the #2 Master of Finance program in the nation, and a top ten executive and online MBA program; Rutgers also has a really good biobehavioral health program, I think.

We all hate 5b. But, are you cheering for them to win their division so it helps PSU get into a NY6 (gives us a stronger win) Or just hoping the lose every game? I kind of want them to make the ACC championship and then get destroyed by Clemson.—Talon122

I am absolutely rooting for them. The fact that Pitt won its division, aside from showing everyone how much the ACC sucks this year, also makes this so much sweeter. I don’t care enough about them to want them to fail all the time; that’s some OSU/Michigan BS.

Does Brent Pry use a little too much product in his hair? I mean nobody is gonna beat Bo Nickel hair so, why try?—mxp864

While I definitely agree that you are spot on about Bo, I don’t recall that at all about Pry - I met (and high-fived!) him outside Lucas Oil Stadium after the game in 2016, and in person it seemed like a normal amount of product. Is it just that I don’t pay attention to these things? Let me know in the comments.

How much longer will we have Pry and Spencer? Pry doesn’t get enough credit for what the defense has done this year.—Dbridi

I really think that if Sean Spencer wanted to become something other than a defensive line coach, he would have left to be a coordinator at another school rather than staying at PSU with Franklin. As for Pry, let’s not forget that two short years ago everyone hated that hire; it wasn’t a home run like Moorhead was, so while he may move on in a few years, I doubt it will be this year. He interviewed with Georgia State, but didn’t bite; I think he’s more likely to be gone after next season.

Poor Judgement

Before the game, Jump Around was played and the visiting fans seemed to enjoy themselves which as a host, is not a terrible thing IMO. However, when Penn State took over on downs from Wisconsin (before the bad snap fumble, I know), they played Jump Around again to sort of rub it in the face of the Wisconsin fans. My first thought was “This was something that Michigan or Rutgr would do and is low class.” Am I being overly sensitive to the guests at Beaver Stadium?—LarzLion

I do not understand why there are so many people who are so bent out of shape about this. It’s a song; it’s minor trolling. I actually thought it was pretty hilarious, and am glad we’re starting to do this kind of thing.

I don’t blame other schools for doing stuff like this to us, so why would I care if we do it? If you don’t like this - win. It’s as simple as that. This isn’t about success with honor or class; it’s about the times we’re in, and college football. Our actions off the field are about class, not what we play in Beaver Stadium - or else we’d never play half the songs that we play nowadays.

Why are Penn State fans always enamored with the second string quarterback?—Dbridi

I’ve been a Penn State fan since before birth, and grew up bleeding blue and white. I love Penn State, and most of our fans.

Know that’s where I’m coming from when I tell you that PSU has some of the most entitled fans in college football. So many fans act like we automatically deserve to be in the playoffs every year just because We Are Penn State; they act like an incomplete pass is the end of the world and literally means that we suck, and a missed tackle means that our coaches shouldn’t be hired at a DIII school.

And don’t even get me started on when the football team has the audacity to lose a game that fans think we should win going away—those entitled fans are the ones that makes it painful to be a Penn Stater.

It’s the same mentality that eternally calls for a backup. Because imperfection cannot be tolerated, and if you’re a starting player on Penn State’s team, you’re going to be imperfect - because literally no one is perfect. Even Tom Brady can’t catch a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.

It’s the quintessential illogical idea that the fan who watches 14 games a year, especially if they read the premium boards and subscribes to everything, knows more than the coaches. I actually think it’s a symptom of our society that is manifested in fandom, where so many are unable to admit that others could know more than them or be better than them at anything.

I actually could go on for probably another 2k words but no one wants to read my sanctimony, so we’ll just end it here.

How superstitious/paranoid do you get during football games?

I was busy with other stuff and didn’t get to the game until later on, but as soon as I turn it on, Miles Sanders fumbles on a promising drive. I immediately turn the game off and the fumble gets overturned. Now I can’t watch the rest of the game. In 2011, I went to the bathroom toward the end of the Illinois game. While I was in there, things started breaking Penn State’s way. I and everyone else I was with decided that I should spend the rest of the game in the bathroom. We won.

Its all superstitious nonsense, but in the moment I can’t help but fall into it.—skarocksoi

It absolutely is superstitious nonsense, but I find myself falling into that trap too — with actions and clothing choices and even words said to me before plays. Last season, our tailgate did shots of fireball before every game, and we did them at Exiles for away games too (“It’s only weird if it doesn’t work!”).

The funniest instance of this was during the 2016 Maryland game. This is the only other home game in the past ten or so seasons I remember missing; I was in Portland, OR, for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was on a Sunday, so we opened up the bar that the Oregon Alumni Association chapter was meeting at to have mimosas and watch the end of gameday.

If you recall, that game started slow for the Nittany Lions. It was pre-Ohio State but post-Minnesota, and none of us knew how good that team was going to turn out to be. That game ended up portending the rest of the season and turning into a rout, but there was a point in the second quarter where we still didn’t know.

Because I was drinking, I had to run to the restroom. The bar didn’t have the game audio on in the bathroom, so I didn’t know what was going on and the commercial ended earlier than I expected; right before I exited the bathroom, we got an interception. I walked out and the entire section of Penn State fans yelled at me to go back in. Without hesitation, I turned right back around and went back in (but only for another minute or so).

When a bar of PSUers on the other side of the country who don’t know each other can be that jointly ridiculously superstitious, you know you’re part of a special group.

Do you have any Halloween Candy left? If so—which varietals? I still have Almond Joy. Not a fan but in desperation, I will cut the almond off and eat the rest.—LarzLion

I would never allow almond joy to infect my home.

I actually finished all my leftover Halloween candy yesterday. The last bit were Reese’s peanut butter cups with Reese’s pieces inside. And they were good, but no Reese’s pumpkins.

If you walk into a bar and see a cover band playing, what are three songs you want to hear?—PSU1979dude

This is such an excellent question, and I’m not even sure where to start!

It probably depends on where I am. If I’m in a bar in State College or a bar in the location of a Penn State win (like Temple Bar in Dublin, circa 2014), I love hearing the songs you hear at games - Zombie Nation, Livin’ On A Prayer, Song 2, Seven Nation Army. That’s probably the only time I’ll be happy to hear Sweet Caroline, too.

For a regular bar, I’m not sure I have go-to songs I love! I love a lot of very different music, so I’ll be happy with almost anything. All the covers I end up loving, though, end up being significantly different than the originals - like changing up the tempo or swapping the gender of the singer or merging or switching the genres of the song. This is one of my favorite covers I’ve ever heard:

(I also saw him cover a Whitney Houston medley once, he prefaced it by saying he was about to perform a song he wrote about his drug addiction and abusive relationship)

What’s your approach to gift giving and do you have any go-to sites for ideas/recommendations?—Succss With Honor Always

I am very ashamed to admit, I normally go through Amazon for quite a bit. I’m glad I’ll be in State College Thanksgiving weekend, though, so that I can do some shopping of Penn State stuff up there.

I’m one of those people that has to have my shopping done a few weeks before Christmas; if I don’t, I’ll freak out.

So...last week I looked at the extended weather forecast for Happy Valley and several days next week were to have highs in the 50’s. Today I’m looking and every day has highs in the 30’s. That’s a 15-20 degree swing! I’m not ready for that! What the heck is the deal?!?—Smee

This year, winter came super early; as I’m typing this, it’s still sleeting outside, and all of the schools around me closed for the day because of the sleet-turned-snow-turned-rain-turned-sleet that happened today.

As of now, next week looks pretty ok, with a high of 44 on Saturday (the highest home temperature we’ll have seen since Homecoming, at least), though the week leading up to it seems pretty chilly.

Does anyone actually “descale” their Keurig?—bearwithscarf

I descaled my old Keurig a few times! It can be necessary if you’re getting grounds in your coffee or the coffee coming out isn’t as voluminous as it was previously. It was actually kind of fun. Also I’m very strange.

Best J for a PB and J that’s not grape or strawberry?—Dbridi

Either my mom’s homemade peach jam or Wegmans triple berry.

Do you keep the butter in the refrigerator or leave it out? We keep it out. Always have. That way it stays soft and spreads more easily (doesn’t tear the toast, muffin, bagel,…whatever).—J Breezy

I keep it in the fridge unless I’m going to be baking later that day - then I’ll take it out in the morning.

what’s your favorite Queen song?—mook1525

(I also really love Bohemian Rhapsody, but Another One Bites the Dust is the one I find myself singing more often). For Queen covers, I like this one:

Though I knew my answer to this question, I decided to just listen to all Queen songs during the writing of this mailbag, and for that I thank you.