Penn State v. Michigan

Watching Penn State beat Michigan last night was just downright fun, from Saquon Barkley’s opening touchdown 42 seconds into the game, to the seconds that the clock ticked to zero with #2 Penn State over #19 Michigan 42-13.

These sorts of seasons come so infrequently, you just have to relax and enjoy the magic of the season. Penn State hasn’t been this highly ranked since 1999. Penn State hasn’t seen attendance in Beaver Stadium like last night in its history: 110,823 set the all-time record for turnout. And Coach James Franklin hasn’t had a 7-0 start before in his career.

To top it all, ESPN’s College Game Day visited State College, and broadcast from Old Main’s lawn. I took a few photos while watching Coach Franklin’s interview on TV earlier in the day.

Enjoying this for as long as it lasts.

Penn State v. Iowa

An entire game unfolded in four seconds at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City last night, as Penn State somehow defeated Iowa 21-19 as time expired with an incredible just-above-the-defender’s-fingertips reception.

I was on the phone as the fourth quarter wound down, and had lost hope that Penn State had any chance of winning the game after watching our unsure and listless offense struggle to put real points on the board. I was already mentally preparing for a steep drop from the four spot in the rankings.

Then Trace McSorely and Juwan Johnson somehow connected in those last four seconds. I snapped the photos above of those final seconds; just incredible. I’ve never seen a game like that. Onward State’s got a good recap.

Visiting WDFM

After Kevin and I sat in on HIST 197- History of Penn State the other day, we stopped by Pattee/Paterno Library to see the new “Student Broadcasting” historical marker in person. It was my first time seeing it in person, and I shot this short video to give a sense of perspective as students walked along Pattee Mall in between classes:

Afterwards Kevin and I visited 304 Sparks nearby and I took the photos below as we visited the site of WDFM’s old headquarters from the 1950s through the 1980s. WDFM was the second major incarnation of student broadcasting and the one most alums remember, though that will change in the next decade as many of those alums pass from the scene and younger generations from The LION 90.7fm become engaged in supporting students. At 304 Sparks we met two women who now call those offices home: Dr. Deryn Verity and Dr. Sharon Childs. They were both delightful to talk with and to introduce to the history of their spaces.

Finally we stopped by The LION 90.7fm’s home in the HUB-Robeson Center, and visited with Ross Michael, the station’s vice president of operations. Unfortunately, we learned that the students had lost half of their Penn State home football game broadcasting credentials, because they haven’t been active in utilizing them for the past two years, particularly in participating in press conferences or media availabilities.

Showing up and living up to the mission of public service is important.

Penn State v. Akron

Despite the wet weather, today turned out to be a beautiful one for Penn State’s 52-0 drubbing of Akron. Started off by visiting Paul Clifford at the Penn State Alumni Association’s “Huddle with the faculty” series at 9AM at Nittany Lion Inn. Andy Bessler presented on, empathy, and inter generational relationships.

Afterwards Paul and I hailed an Uber and got as near to Beaver Stadium as possible, then walked the rest of the way. It was raining  steadily and more or less heavily by this point, so I hustled over to the Penn State Ag Arena RV tailgating lots to meet up with Chris Buchignani and friends. At noon kickoff, Ben Novak and I Ubered downtown, ordered Wings Over Happy Valley, and dried off while watching the first half from the Glennland Building. Then Ben went off to a meeting, and I Ubered back to the tailgating lots with fresh Yuengling for post-game.

A few hours after the game was over, I walked down from Beaver Stadium to downtown, and met friends for dinner at Champ’s, where we spent the rest of the night.

I might make it up for Homecoming in November, but otherwise this will be a busy autumn and that will mean cheering Penn State on from a distance.

Sitting in on HIST 197 for a day

I had the chance yesterday to sit in on the fourth meeting of the first semester of Penn State’s “History 197—History of Penn State” course. I had emailed Prof. Michael Milligan a week or so ago to let him know I’d be in town, and he let me sit in for the class, which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:35-2:50pm in 62 Willard.

After being a part of the years-long collaborative effort that brought this course to fruition, it was super gratifying to sit in on one of the first meetings of its first semester. A glance at the syllabus suggests this should really immerse students in Penn State’s history, and that they should be coming away from this class well equipped to share it. Here’s what yesterday’s session focused on:

(Thurs. Aug. 31) More on the Politics, Principles, Practice of the “Land Grant College” Approach.

  • Erwin Runkle, “George Atherton’s 1884 Battle with Governor Pattison” in The Pennsylvania State College 1853-1932 Interpretation and Record (1933) (including 1884 Trustee Board’s “Minority” & “Majority” Reports), pp. 218-233.
  • Fred Lewis Pattee, chapter 6, “To the Centre of the Keystone” in Penn State Yankee (1953).

I snapped this photo from the very back of the room as class was adjourning. Kevin Horne and I sat together in the back row. It was a great class, and I learned (and re-learned) some great moments from Penn State during President George Atherton’s era, particularly surrounding the Elmira, NY debate over how Morrill Land Grant federal funds were to be administered (give those funds to the established/trusted institutions like Harvard, or throw them at unproven and risky Agricultural ventures?) and also some of the history surrounding Penn State’s academic growth under President Atherton despite the retrenchment efforts of Gov. Pattison in the late 19th century. Also interesting was that there was never official policy favoring male enrollment, and as a result the first women students arrived in the 1870s, and the first black student in the 1890s.

Toward the end we looked at Fred Lewis Pattee’s arrival at Penn State and some of his reflections from “Penn State Yankee,” his autobiography. (President Atherton offered him his job partly because he was the only candidate who showed up in person to apply, and later let him teach literature and the humanities to engineering students who generally were more interested in making money than receiving a well-balanced education.) Pattee, along with Atherton, ended up becoming one of our most transformative figures.

Better college football playoffs

Penn State kicks off its season against Akron in State College next Saturday; I’m debating whether to head to the game. In the meantime, I wanted to highlight Urban Meyer’s recent off-the-cuff comment to ESPN’s Chris Low:

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We started down the path toward a better college championship model when the bowl championship series was replaced with the College Football Playoff, but as I wrote last December after Penn State beat Wisconsin its still subjective in the same way that made the old bowl system frustrating:

Penn State’s 38-31 win second half over Wisconsin last night has put them in the Rose Bowl on January 2nd against USC. Penn State’s #5, USC’s #9.

This means Penn State won’t be competing in the College Football Playoff, despite its Big Ten Championship win last night and despite beating Ohio State, which will be in the playoffs. There are lots of layers to this conversation, and I don’t mean to disrespect the value of different schools of thought entirely out of hand. I understand, for instance, the idea that Ohio State’s overall season record (one fewer loss than Penn State) should hypothetically count for something. At the same time, I discount that. …

The value of division champions is what, exactly, in a world where selectors pick the final semifinalists for playoffs anyway? I saw Paul Clifford, Penn State Alumni Association CEO, share Urban Meyer’s 2006 comment: “If you don’t win your conference, you shouldn’t be playing for a national championship.” I think that’s right—and not just because it would mean Penn State would compete for the national championship this year, but because the current system devalues the division championships.

We’re moving toward a playoff model. In a playoff model, overall wins matter less than performance at key points in the season. The playoff model should allow for the rise of magical and unexpected teams like Penn State has proven to be this year, and who knows who’ll be next year.

I think we should probably move toward a system where the national champion is the result of division-victor playoffs.

Penn State News on ‘Student Broadcasting’ historical marker

I shared the news last week that Penn State had placed an historical marker on campus for “Student Broadcasting.” Penn State News has an official feature up on the marker’s placement, along with a short video overview of student broadcasting’s 1912-present history:

Historical Marker-Student Broadcasting_2

New historical marker celebrates ‘Student Broadcasting’
John Patishnock
August 14, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK — For more than a century, Penn State has pioneered broadcasting college radio, and now there’s a new historical marker to share that story with the many visitors, students, faculty and staff on the University Park campus.

Located outside of Sparks Building along Pattee Mall, the newly installed “Student Broadcasting” historical marker touts that “Penn State has been a leader in broadcasting college radio since the Class Gift of 1912 enabled early national experiments.”

Originally called WPSC, the University’s on-campus student radio station has changed names several times, with generations of students making an impact. Currently, The LION 90.7 FM (WKPS) is headquartered inside the HUB-Robeson Center and boasts new studio space that was part of the building’s expansion a few years ago.

The Penn State Media Alumni Interest Group — one of more than 300 Alumni Association affiliate groups — spearheaded having the marker installed and plans to follow up with a ceremony during Homecoming on Nov. 11.

“It’s an honor that fresh generations of Penn Staters will be able to encounter the spirit of past times through this historical marker,” said Tom Shakely, president of the Penn State Media Alumni Interest Group. “Penn Staters were broadcasting experimentally before the world wars that defined the 20th century, and they were covering Nittany Lion football games as early as the Hugo Bezdek years.

“Later, Penn Staters broadcast Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1965 speech in Rec Hall. On Sept. 11, 2001, Penn Staters broadcast live from Ground Zero. These are just a few vignettes from an incredible history. While it’s a fact that student broadcasting has always been made possible by technology, its true power has always been in empowering the human voice.”