ed.- The loveable malcontents over at BHGP were kind enough to provide us with some talking hating points for Penn State 'cause, well, we just can't hate on them ourselves, what with all the history and all.
A few weeks ago, the fine proprietors of Roll 'Bama Roll found themselves in a bit of a pickle: they had a huge non-conference game with the Penn State Something Somethings coming up but no hate to draw on to get pumped for this massive tilt. Which is understandable: Penn State and 'Bama haven't hooked up on the football field at all since a thrilling 9-0 encounter in 1990 and it's been even longer since those historic Sugar Bowl clashes. As any football fan knows, if you don't properly stoke a rivalry with regular doses of hatred, the fire goes out and you're left with nothing but a sad pile of ashes and some wistful memories. That is, unless you share a large geographic border with a dormant rival, which is why Iowa and Nebraska fans are so fired up to revive their rivalry next year despite only playing twice in the past thirty years.
Alas, unless my knowledge of geography has betrayed me yet again, there are a few states providing a buffer between those savage Pennsylvanians and you genteel, upstanding Alabamans. So there's no recent history, there's no shared geography... it's no surprise your hateometer is running on empty. But if there's one thing BHGP is good at, it's getting our hate on. Even though it's "Little Brother Week" in our neck of the woods (and I understand that you know a thing or three about annoying in-state land grant institutions with an agricultural bent), we're so full of hate that we're more than happy to share some with you.
So how to hate Penn State?
You could mock the fact that despite having one of the largest stadiums in college football and one of the most impressive home atmospheres north of the Mason-Dixon line, their stadium really looks like an erector set on steroids.
You could tease them for having a mascot that looks less like a proud member of the mighty and regal family of big cats and more like an emaciated smack addict desperately searching for its next fix (which probably explains why one of the current inhabitants of the suit was arrested for being a drunkard). Should you get an up close look at the Nittany Lion himself this weekend, check his arms for track marks, the tell-tale sign of a loathsome, fiending junkie.
You could criticize their over-the-top affection for a legendary and crotchety coach, an affection so immense that they plaster his name over nearly everything they can find around campus, including the students camping out for early access to the student seats. I mean, that sort of shameless idolatry would never play down south.
You could hate them because "We Are... Penn State" is a really stupid chant that displays little creativity and only the most basic knowledge of geography (or self-identity, depending on your interpretation). Congratulations on not being blackout drunk enough to know where you are or what school you attend -- you've passed two utterly basic cognitive tests and established that, indeed, you are not a vegetable. Kudos.
You could dislike them for being at the forefront of popularizing in-stadium trends like pogoing along to the the annoying and ubiquitous "Kernkraft 4000" song from Zombie Nation or single-color theme nights at sporting events. Hey, so you can pull off a "White House" and get over a hundred thousand fans to show up in all white -- nice job. You also look like the biggest Klan rally caught on film since Birth of a Nation. On the other hand, dressing in all-white makes it easier to see the other team's fans and it makes your tears of infinite sadness even sweeterwhen things go awry in the "White House." Study those pictures carefully, Bama fans -- there's a good chance you'll be in the thick of the next "White House" stunt they do next year.
You could be annoyed with them for having such a distorted view of themselves that a brief downturn in their fortunes in the early 2000s is regularly referred to as "the dark ages." Sure, having four losing seasons out of five is pretty miserable, but when you break up those lousy years with a 9-win campaign and a trip to a decent bowl (and a Heisman finalist in Larry Johnson) and bookend them with multiple 10+ win seasons... well, it's not the end of the world. Did they ever have to deal with the NCAA stepping in and stripping any of their wins? No. Did they ever have to deal with the NCAA putting them on double secret probation and crippling their ability to compete at the highest level for half a decade? No. Did they ever have to deal with a coach using them as a stepping stone job for Texas A&M of all places? No. Hell, did they have to live through the Mike DuBose (or Mike Shula) eras? Hell no. They've trundled along with the same lovably cantankerous midget-cum-folk legend head coach that they've had since long before the interwebs were even a glimmer in some nerd's eyes. So, no, they haven't had it that rough -- but they sure as hell think they have.
You could hate them for being a nouveau richeteam of poseurs when it comes to rivalries. Yeah, joining the Big Ten put them in a rough spot: they were far and away the easternmost team in the league, they didn't bring along any playmates from the other eastern states (nor were they allowed to, but hey), and they didn't have any particularly deep ties to any preexisting Big Ten schools. A protected rivalry with Ohio State was logical, considering the schools' similar pedigrees and historical profiles in the sport -- not to mention the geographical border they shared. A protected rivalry with Michigan State was slightly less logical; both schools were large land-grant institutions and they had played each other regularly in the past-- albeit in the 1960s (so gripping was their rivalry that it went almost thirty years without being played until the Nitts joined the Big Ten).
Then again, when your list of most frequent opponents (pre-Big Ten) is headlined by programs like Syracuse, Penn, Maryland, and Temple, maybe a forced rivalry with Michigan State (and a thoroughly hideous trophy) really is a step up. Of course, they refuse to even schedule their most logical rival -- the other big in-state institution in Pennsylvania and the only one of their historic rivals who's been even close to being competitive with them. So feel free to call them pantywaists for ducking Pitt -- Pitt, for god's sake! -- for the better part of the last two decades. Apparently they'd rather keep that crucial Temple rivalry humming right along.
And if you're still having trouble getting your hate to a proper level tomorrow, just remember this: they're a massive land-grant institution that's ruined your season in the past and they're going to hit the field clad in white from head to toe. Just imagine there's a big "A" on that helmet and you're set: you're pretty good at hating those guys.