Monday, July 31, 2006

Penn State's Inferiority Complex

Sometimes I think Penn State fans are the biggest bunch of whiners. No doubt we have that reputation throughout the blogosphere and message boards. Any time a writer dares to suggest Penn State is not good or lacking in an area, they are barraged with flames from Penn State fans. Often times it's nasty and doesn't make any sense. Rather than debate, some idiot ends up calling the writer names and making some crazy prediction about Penn State not losing another game through the end of the decade.

I wish I knew where this came from. Other fans from other programs that I run into on the internet don't seem to be this way. They can debate and back up their claims with theory and statistics. They don't immediately fall back on trash talking like Penn State fans do.

Today's post by Tom Dienhart is a great example (hat tip: The Nittany Line) Dienhart has the audacity to suggest Penn State will be "worse than advertised" this year and Penn State fans jump all over him. Here is some of the response:

Teams will not score more than 24 against us, and with Hunt, Dwill, Butler
and Morelli (a top ranked QB i might add), we will score that many by pure
luck.

Come on. There is nothing that can back up this claim. We're supposed to believe we're going to score 24 points on pure luck? It's just thrown out there by the Penn State fan as if it were fact. Here's another one:

I gotta admit, when I read your stuff, truly, I laugh out loud!
Why attack the writer? He thinks Penn State will drop off this year. So what? Make your point if you think he's wrong, but don't attack his integrity. I don't know why Penn State fans are like this. Every year the preseason polls come out and every year Penn State fans complain we don't get any respect.

I have a theory. I think it stems back to 1994, the year Penn State got snubbed by the pollsters in favor of Nebraska for the national title. Penn State fans really believe we had the better team that year. I think it all stems from that. And beyond that, many older fans can remember that Joe Paterno has gone undefeated five times and he only won the national championship one of those years (in 1982 they had one loss to Alabama). Incredibly, they went undefeated in '68 and '69 and didn't win the national championship either of those years.

I'm sure anyone can understand if your team went undefeated five times and only won the title once, you would feel slighted as well. I think this, combined with decades of success that have created (sometimes false) expectations has created an inferiority complex within the Nittany Nation. We expect our team to do well every year. When others express less than our expectations we get defensive. Combine that with the feeling we are always getting looked over by the college football pundits and you have created an inferiority complex that motivates Penn State fans to lash out at our detractors with delusional remarks created from our false expectations.

But fortunately, we're not all that way. Most Penn State fans are capable of watching the games and talking about football intelligently without stooping to personal attacks. It seems we just don't frequent the blogs and message boards enough. My theory is it's the younger generations of fans that create most of the problems. They are the ones with enough technical savy to know the difference between a blog and a message board. Your average baby boomer booster isn't surfing BWI to find the latest dirt on Maurice Clarrett. And again, I think it stems back to 1994, when kids born after 1980 were just coming of age and becoming true Penn State fans. I suspect they were told stories about the glory years of the 70's and 80's and felt like their team was going to be a dynasty forever. Then they got snubbed in '94 and they weren't mature enough to realize sometimes you just get screwed in the game of college football.

Then in 1999 they were told they were going all the way again. But Minnesota had other plans and knocked them off that year. That sent them into a tailspin that saw four losing seasons in the next five years. As a fan base we were hurt and angry. The older fans were mature enough to know we had a good run but everything must come to an end. I think the younger fans felt like they were robbed before they ever got to experience the good years. That immaturity is what we see acting out today in the form of an inferiority complex.

Anyway, that's my theory. Spout off in the comments and tell me if you think I'm right or wrong.
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