Shining a ray of Sunshine into dark times. Shane McGregor, who is easily Happy Valley’s most recognizable and beloved scout team quarterback, thoughtfully reflects on his five-year (2008-12) journey as the “Forrest Gump” of Penn State football – on the sidelines, in the meeting rooms, and behind the scenes for perhaps the most eventful stretch of Penn State football history, spanning Joe Paterno’s last contender to Bill O’Brien’s Iron Lions. From the funny to the thought-provoking, these stories from a lifelong fan who chased his dream will brighten the day of any Penn State fan and remind you what makes the Nittany Valley a special place worth loving.

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

GUEST:Shane McGregor

College football author and journalist Matt Brown (not to be confused with State College’s own college football author and journalist Matt Brown) specializes in covering the deeper stories behind the usual headlines in college football. He joins the Obligatory crew to shed light on a number of issues set to impact the sport’s near and long-term future, including COVID-19 and impending decisions about the 2020 season at all levels of football, a potential fissure between the Power 5 conferences and the NCAA, and federal legislation granting student athletes the right to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. Formerly in charge of SB Nation’s college football properties, Matt is also the author of “What If?: A closer look at college football’s great questions” and publishes his own weekly college football newsletter, “Extra Points with Matt Brown.” 

Subscribe to Matt Brown’s “Extra Points” newsletter:

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

GUEST:Matt Brown

In this extended holiday weekend episode, the Obligatory crew welcomes back Chris “Buzzsaw” Adamski of to break down and analyze the carefully chosen words of Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour’s latest press conference. What hints, if any, were offered about the fate of college football in 2020 and fan attendance at Beaver Stadium? What media member has the most interesting Zoom background? Is Sandy better at dodging questions than Bill O’Brien? In addition to having fun with these and other topics, Brandon explains the distinctions among line positions to Mike the Mailman, the guys talk about BTN’s All-Decade team and whether Allen Robinson is State’s GOAT receiver, and Kevin speaks out in solidarity with the staff of Olive Garden in Cranberry. #WeAre

As noted in this episode, here is the GoFundMe set up to help the family of the late Juan Garcia, the Penn State student who has died from complications due to COVID-19:
HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

GUEST:Chris “Buzzsaw” Adamski

In 2020, the Penn State Alumni Association – the largest dues-paying college alumni association in the world – celebrates 150 years of connecting Penn Staters with their alma mater and each other. In this episode, good friend of the show Paul Clifford, now in his fourth year serving as Alumni Association CEO, joins Mailman, Kevin, and Chris to talk about the journey that brought him here to Happy Valley to serve in this critical role and some lessons learned along the way. The guys talk Penn State sports, Penn State spirit, and Penn State in the age of COVID-19. True to form, Kevin manages to land a few snarky jabs whenever the openings present. Paul’s roles in coordinating the efforts of the Alumni Association and serving as its most visible personality are critical in shaping and holding together the fabric of the Penn State community. We hope this will be the first of many visits to Obligatory to talk with him about the place and school we all love.

Join the Penn State Alumni Association:
HOSTED BY:Mike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

GUEST:Paul Clifford

In the best of times, a nostalgic walk back down State College’s version of memory lane is an enjoyable distraction. These days, after months of quarantine and social distancing and with the complexion of Penn State’s 2020 fan experience very much in flux, the diversion is all the more welcome. Brandon, Chris, Kevin, and Mailman each share recollections of some of their favorite Happy Valley restaurants, bars, and hangout spots from their college days or after that have since disappeared. While a few stalwarts like the Corner Room and The Phyrst have persisted for many decades, most staples of college life – even seemingly implacable ones like The Rathskeller or Ye Olde College Diner – have come and gone. We hope you manage to make the trip to Happy Valley this Fall, even if we’re all rooting on the home team from bars and pop-up viewing spots, but until you’re back home, here’s a fun reminder of what makes the place so special from four loyal Nittany Lions who love it.

Playland Arcade (State College, PA):

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

Who knows what the Beaver Stadium attendance policy will look like come this Fall? As the cast’s optimism levels about ticket availability continue to seesaw from week to week (hour to hour?), Brandon talks about the multiple risks – strategic and otherwise – of replacing absent crowd noise with live microphones at field level during game broadcasts. The gang also heaps some well-deserved praise on James Franklin for the remarkable job he has done at Penn State, but Chris and Kevin, confronted with a listener question, explain how their support for Coach Franklin doesn’t rule out persistent frustration with State’s seemingly-annual loss to a team with inferior coaching and less talent.

Big Ten coach rankings 2020: James Franklin stays at the top, but Ryan Day closes the gap:

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

Plans. Everybody has them, as Mike Tyson once said, until they start getting punched in the face. Well, “everybody” except maybe Noble, Chris, Kevin, and Mailman. And sometimes plans are overrated. For this installment, the guys just smashed “Record” and left the rest to fate, resulting in a fun and wide-ranging conversation that ended up covering a lot of ground. There’s some college football talk about early enrollments, graduate transfers, and the portal. Kevin explains the two top behaviors for identifying “old people” and his attempt to Jedi mind trick Penn State’s survey about Fall attendance at Beaver Stadium (Kev gives his “official” prediction on 2020 stadium capacity). Mailman shares some listener questions and PSU trivia. And there’s even a half-assed explanation of why Chris edits out the swear words from the podcast. It’s beautiful nonsense at its best. Hope you enjoy! #WeAre

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

There’s something to be said for 5 to 15 in the college football rankings as the most miserable, polarizing, and frustrating zone to inhabit in all of sports. Your team is recruiting well, developing talent, winning lots of games (into the double digits near-annually), and regularly playing in top tier bowl games. Your squad occupies a position that would be the envy of 90% of fans in the sport, and yet a large segment of yours are perpetually cranky, ready to fire the coach, and even consider their team to be a “failure.” This is the unforgiving reality of the playoff era, where every team with a legit shot at the final four ratchets up the pressure with each year it fails to get there. You can call it “a good problem to have” (and you’d probably be right), but Penn State is lucky enough to face this “problem.” The guys use the respite of the offseason to dig into implications of this paradox – for the Nittany Lions and all of college football.

Articles referenced in this episode:

10 CFB teams most ready to break through for a national title:–147742149/

Updated 4-year recruiting rankings for all 130 teams, where the SEC completely dominates:

College football teams with the most NFL draft picks since 2000:

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

Everything is confusing, uncertain, and, for the most part, terrible. In such volatile times, the Obligatory crew retrenches to the one thing for which they are (arguably) qualified, creating a few moments of levity and camaraderie that offer listeners some respite from what feels like an unending barrage of bad news and depressing images. Life in Happy Valley continues, so Kevin reports back on the surreal experience of The Phyrst’s post-quarantine midnight opening. Penn State defensive lineman Damion Barber became the latest Nittany Lion to enter the transfer portal, and the guys discuss the diminishing concerns over such departures. Chris explains his “hot take” that he maybe doesn’t care if Penn State ever wins another championship in football. Nothing seems good right now, but meaningful progress is rarely comfortable. We hope we can afford you a few opportunities to relax and smile along the way. Be safe, and take care of each other. #WeAre

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani

After many weeks of mostly pessimism over the fate of college football in 2020, the dark clouds seems to be quickly parting, and now at least a somewhat normal season seems to be the most likely outcome. With the credible prospect of football on the horizon, Brandon, Chris, Mailman, and Kevin relish the chance to engage in groundless speculation over what the Fall might bring to Happy Valley? Will Beaver Stadium have fans? If so, how many, and who gets in? Will there be tailgating? Will the highly-anticipated road game with Virginia Tech take place, and will there be enough people in the stadium to make “Enter Sandman” intimidating? In other news, Kevin joins the podcast from the road, as he drives from Pittsburgh to State College to make the 12:01 AM opening of The Phyrst on Centre County’s first official day “in the Green.” 

HOSTED BY:Brandon NobleMike HerrKevin HorneChris Buchignani