Tour Guy Road Notes

PSU Shot

Hey, so this week’s episode is from State College, PA, as I took in the tailgate before an uninspired Notre Dame-Penn State game. The crowd was great and in full “white-out” mode, everybody was excited, but wow, Big-10/Independent football is tedious to watch. Maybe I’m just used to “offenses moving the ball downfield” in the Pac-10, who knows. By the way, speaking of the Pac-10 (and here's some shameless self-promotion), you can see my episodes from last season (strictly Pac-10) here while waiting with bated breath for next week's installment. Anyway, here are some bullet points about my time in the Keystone State.

• I’ll try to make this brief, but before we get into football, a few words about the drive from Pittsburgh to State College, PA. Actually just one word – terrible. The city of Pittsburgh seemed interesting enough, but wow the drive through phantom construction, detours, and just general rundown towns doubles as a tourism billboard for Anywhere But Here, USA.  It didn’t take long before the first “Munsoned out in the middle of nowhere” references was made. On top of the longest three hour drive I’ve ever made, we didn’t even have the honor of getting stuck behind a horse and buggy. Weak.

• Once we got there, things took a 180, as State College is fairly attractive, and more importantly, not all that depressing. It also helped that as soon as we parked, we were immediately offered food and drink from a nearby tailgate. I still get nervous around people who are generous and giving for no reason, but I figure that the more time I spend away from LA, the easier it will be to get used to basic human decency. If you’re keeping score, my camera guy, Casey, and I had above-average BBQ sandwiches and some funny cake, which is some sort of Pennsylvania/Dutch specialty. Good times.

• You can see it in the video, but you can’t really see the entire roast pig in all of it’s glorious/mildly disturbing detail. I know the sight of an entire roast pig is second nature to some, but give me some time people, I’m new. Anyway, after some trepidation, I tried a slice of the pork, and honestly, it was unbelievably tasty. I didn’t make eye contact while I had my slice, but after dipping it in some BBQ sauce, it was fantastic. I imagine this won’t be the last entire roasted pig I see this fall.

• Casey and I took “communion” with about a hundred of our new closest friends. Of course, by “communion,” I mean we yelled and pretended to know the PSU song the giant group of tailgaters were singing for about five minutes. After that, we finished off communion with a nice shot of something non-alcoholic. Yep, nothing as smooth going down as a quick group shot of something non-alcoholic.

• Usually, I find crowd color coordination to be haphazard and cheesy (see: Miami Heat), but I did, for some reason, enjoy the white-out at Penn State. There are obviously too many people going to these games to throw together a promotion and hand out the shirts at the entrance, so you get the point that Nittany Lion fans actually care about having a cohesive look to create an intimidating wave of white. Just one of those little cool things I’m sure I’ll see more of along the way.

• My only truly negative thing to say about the gameday experience itself is pretty insignificant given the overall attitude and enthusiasm of the Penn State fans. The one thing, though, is that with Penn State being the only historically significant football program in the northeast, a lot of people in the general Philly/Jersey/New York area gravitate towards State College, populating it with both the best and worst that this area has to offer. We’ll leave it at that.

I don’t have grades or ratings or anything, but Penn State was a good time, my time behind the wheel in PA was not. My only advice would be to do yourself a favor and try the funny cake.


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