I’m so ready for college football after a summer of Penn State misery. But before we move on, I want to take this opportunity to pile on Penn State.
First off, let the record show that OU and Penn State have had a strange history with each other.
In 1972, they played in the Sugar Bowl. OU won 14-0. Not long after, OU ran afoul of the NCAA and was put on probation and forfeited the game.
In 1986, they played in the Orange Bowl. OU won 25-10. Not long after, OU ran afoul of the NCAA and endured sanctions.
In between those two games, kindly little JoePa was quoted that he wouldn’t retire or join the NFL and leave college football to the Barry Switzers and Jackie Sherrills of the world. JoePa later apologized to Barry, but from an OU perspective, it was hard to argue, considering the NCAA troubles.
I could say something about OU getting the last laugh and really pile on at this point, but I’m going to resist.
I covered a lot of college football as a sports writer, but my only exposure to Penn State was the 1986 game. I’d always regarded the Nittany Lions as the plain-vanilla East Coast football team that got fat off the likes the Temple, Hofstra and Julliard.
I still remember practices leading up to that game. JoePa, who would squint through his Coke-bottle glasses, fretted about OU’s talent in his Brooklyn accent. The Penn State players were accommodating but somewhat condescending to the sports writers, especially those who approached them with a question in a Southern-fried accent.
For good reason, this particular game was a JoePa Good Guys in White vs. Bootlegger Bad Guys matchup.
The Bad Guys won. Or were they really Bad Guys?
For some validation on this, I turned to Dante Jones, an OU linebacker from Dallas who played in the 1986 game:
On Penn State in general: “It was like it was some type of cult-like atmosphere at Penn State — they were not normal. I don’t think I have met or hung out with a Penn State player when I was [with the Chicago Bears] in the NFL.”
On Jerry Sandusky: “Sandusky told Brian [Bosworth] he couldn’t play linebacker for Penn State. He wasn’t his type of player. We almost got into a fight with them during an Orange Bowl function. We were on a cruise ship. And that was when Sandusky said that to Brian. And it was Sandusky who was the instigator. I guess he was trying to get his guys fired up. Or intimdate us.”
On playing dirty: Former OU teammate Darrell Reed recently texted Jones and asked which team was the dirtiest they’d played. “He had a bet with someone … and I said Penn State. He won the bet. They were dirtier than even Miami.”
So, there you have it. Further proof that the Nittany Lions weren’t the angels we believed them to be.