With the NFL season upon us, the guys follow up on the last show about former Penn State players who survived cuts to make a professional roster by giving Brandon Noble a platform to share his own journey of Happy Valley to the pros. Like several current Nittany Lions, Brandon had to take the tougher path of an undrafted free agent. He explains the process of going from Big Ten champ and Fiesta Bowl MVP to a career in Dallas and Washington via Barcelona, Spain. Plus, Chris and Kevin purge their recruiting angst, and Mike the Mailman’s got guaranteed-to-not-be-guaranteed gambling trends for the weekend of 9/12.
When James Franklin arrived at Penn State, he listed preparing his players for a shot at the NFL among his top goals, and the program has had great success sending alumni to the next level. With the 2020 NFL season about to commence, numerous Nittany Lions survived cuts to make pro rosters and practice squads: against-the-odds warriors like Trace McSorley and Jason Cabinda, decorated vets such as Sean Lee and Robbie Gould, and young stars set to break out in the likes of Miles Sanders and Chris Godwin. Friend of the show Chris “Buzzsaw” Adamski of TribLive.com joins Chris, Kevin, and Mike the Mailman for a deep dive into who made the cut where and the stories around their football careers thus far. Buzzsaw gives insight on the four Nittany Lions in Pittsburgh Steelers camp: Marcus Allen, Stefen Wisniewski, Saeed Blacknall, and DeAndre Thompkins.
HOSTED BY:Mike Herr, Kevin Horne, Chris Buchignani
GUEST: Chris “Buzzsaw” Adamski
After plowing through the festering heap of college football “news” from this week – from unsolicited phone calls from the POTUS to unfounded Twitter rumor-mongering from oddly-named accounts – the guys move to swapping stories and fondly recalling their favorite traditions and rituals of a game week in Happy Valley. Brandon goes in depth about the experiences of his playing days and how the team prepared to play in Beaver Stadium. It’s a brief return to simpler times with lots of nostalgia and Kevin’s excellent edutainment on the unwritten etiquette of student section “popcorning.”
Thanks to pretrial action for a lawsuit that presumably stands little chance of actually succeeding in court, we can finally confirm that there was, in fact, a vote by university leaders to cancel the 2020 Big Ten season, that it was 11-3 in favor, and (probably) that Penn State’s Eric Barron joined with the majority. So why did it take the threat of litigation to squeeze this info out of the conference, and what was the point of hiding this information in the first place? The guys discuss the conferences unfathomably bad bumbling of the cancellation announcement and what might explain it. Elsewhere, Brandon is badly sunburned; Mike the Mailman’s #MaskUpOrPackUp video racks up clout, and Chris does his best to make enemies of the entire listening audience by saying nice things about Jim Delaney, while Kevin explains to Chris why he’s wrong.
What better time for a classic Obligatory digression than the pretend start of a non-existent football season? As the gang assembles (like The Avengers, but very different) to begin filming Season 5 of The Obligatory PSU Pregame Show (game optional in 2020), Chris, Mike the Mailman, and Kevin (actually joining from the car ride back to Happy Valley) link up to record the podcast. Predictably, the conversation quickly takes a few left turns and, before you know it, we’re all deep down the rabbit hole of bar lines, local regulations, college town pedestrian plazas, and “State College Elections for Dummies.” It’s silly, non sequitur, and full of the sorts of vaguely Penn State-relevant info you never knew you wanted… in other words, our format. Enjoy!
Place your bets. Mike the Mailman sets the official Obligatory over/under on weeks until Penn State becomes the latest to make the move to remote learning. With students returning to Happy Valley and bringing the bad press with them – East Halls twerking parties, suspended fraternities, and the student body president calling for online classes on CNN – Brandon, Chris, Kevin, and Mailman spend time talking about the complex lose-lose situation facing the University’s leadership and students. Of course, they also begin tackling the miserable truth of an Autumn without Nittany Lions football (not for the last time, rest assured) and the inexplicable, bumbling incompetence with which the unprecedented and controversial move to cancel the season was announced by the Big Ten.
Some technical issues held up release of this latest episode, recorded literally as the first news of the Big Ten season’s cancellation reached the public. The late-breaking news fit perfectly, however, with the knowledge and background of previously-scheduled guest Dr. Scott Kretchmar, a distinguished Penn State emeritus professor of Kinesiology. Dr. Kretchmar reacts to the prospect of a Fall without football in Happy Valley and beyond alongside Chris, Noble, and Mailman, offering perspective on what it may mean from numerous angles, including that of the fans. The conversation then shifts to the changing landscape of college athletics and the potential for a sea change on the heels of a crazy 2020. Specifically, the panel digs into the #WeAreUnited PAC-12 Players Tribune letter. Scott offers the benefit of his academic background and years representing Penn State’s faculty to the NCAA, while Brandon gets fired up defending the value of the college football experience.
Dr. R. Scott Kretchmar, a retired professor and former chair in Penn State’s Department of Kinesiology, is one of the leading sports philosophers in the country. He is a founding member and former president of the Philosophic Society for the Study of Sport and past president of the Philosophic Academy of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education. He has published several books and papers and been recognized with numerous awards throughout his career. He also served as Penn State’s faculty representative to the NCAA for many years.
GUEST: Dr. R. Scott Kretchmar
The first week of August brought more Penn State and college football news than we’ve had in like three months – from the release of the Nittany Lions’ 2020 schedule to the announcement that the Beaver Stadium bleachers will be empty for the games. Micah Parsons opted out; the Big Ten’s players united, and a PSU starter blocked Kevin on Twitter. The guys welcome in one of the hardest workers on the Penn State beat – Thomas Frank Carr – to break it all down. T-Frank, as he’s known on the radio, is the Program Director of ESPN Radio 103.7 and 1450 as well as the producer and co-host for Sports Talk with Steve Jones. He also is a feature writer for Blue White Illustrated, doing film analysis for Penn State Football games and recruiting. T-Frank also fills various roles within Pro Football Focus, including data collection, and is working towards becoming an analyst for the company.
GUEST:Thomas Frank Carr
Enough of these wide-ranging conversations with interesting guests; time to get back to the basics of Obligatory. With Brandon Noble off for the day, Mailman, Kevin, and Chris get the stage to themselves. A conversation that begins with technical glitches and discussion of frozen pizza commercials from 30 years ago strays into an explanation from Kevin about the fascinating backstory behind some of Penn State baseball’s alumni (or a “possible alumnus” in one case) and the curious history of a not-especially-successful program. Discussion often turns to the state of persistent flux surrounding college football in 2020, and the guys spend time considering what may (and should) happen with Penn State’s thousands of dispossessed season ticket holders (and their already-collected money).
The Nittany Nation Facebook post on Bill Beaver referenced by Kevin: https://www.facebook.com/groups/689428887757833/permalink/3496332003734160/
Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn Sate football since 1999, as the long-time Nittany Lions beat reporter for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and most recently for Sports Illustrated’s Penn State channel. Mark joins Brandon, Chris, and Mailman to sift through the shifting signals and steamed hams regarding the chances for college football in 2020. After the requisite (obligatory?) conclusion that no one knows anything for sure, the conversation shifts to Mark’s article on James Franklin’s time at Penn State and the remarkable program resurgence he has overseen. There’s perspective and insight from someone with over two decades spent reporting about Penn State football, some crackpot amateur psychoanalysis from Chris, and a little nostalgia for a simpler time not long past, when Joe Paterno might chew out a reporter during his press conference, but would also host the media for wine and SuePa’s best cheesecake on the back porch at McKee Street.