Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Morning Service

Did you write the book of plays?

And do you have faith in Joe Pa's ways?

If the Lion tells you so.

---From The Day the Lion Cried
Bielema Kneels at the gates of Hog Heaven

Welcome to the Irreverent Church of the Gridiron, your humble source for Sunday Morning Quarterbacking and football-related sermons.

Yesterday, Georgia defeated LSU 44-41 in a thriller of a football game in front of a packed crowd of red-clad parishioners.  We can only assume the game was played at Georgia.  That and the Big G on the field were giveaways.

But a packed stadium is no longer the norm.  Not at Beaver Stadium.  Not in Georgia.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Declining student attendance is an illness that has been spreading for years nationwide. But now it has hit the Southeastern Conference, home to college football's best teams and supposedly its most fervent fans, giving athletics officials reason to fret about future ticket sales and fundraising.

As it turns out, Georgia students left empty 39% of their designated sections of Sanford Stadium over the last four seasons, according to school records of student-ticket scans. Despite their allocation of about 18,000 seats, the number of students at games between 2009 and 2012 never exceeded 15,000.   
Winning isn't even necessarily a solution. The average student crowd to see last year's Georgia team—which finished the season ranked No. 5—was almost 6,000 short of maximum capacity. Even at Alabama, 32% of student seats went unused by students between 2009 and 2012, when the Crimson Tide won three national championships. Alabama coach Nick Saban wrote a flattering letter last week in the student paper to recruit students back. 
At Penn State, the decline in attendance affects not just the student section, but season tickets and single game sales as well.  Even in the dark years of 2003-4, Penn State filled the stadium most weekends, or at least broke the 100K mark.  But that was before STEP and a different economy.  STEP and economic pressures, among other things, are keeping the fans at home in front of their HDTVs.

Even more concerning than declining attendance, is declining participation in high school athletics.  According to this article in the Altoona Mirror . . .

The small-school scourge devoured Rockwood High School's football program this season.

After entering a preseason scrimmage against Tussey Mountain with just 12 players on its roster, and losing one more during that game with a shoulder injury, Rockwood made the decision to cancel its 2013 season before it even began.

Whether Rockwood, a District 5 program that competed in the WestPAC conference, will revive its football program in the future remains to be seen.

But one thing is certain - Rockwood is not alone in its struggle to field adequate football numbers. 
Ferndale, a District 6-A school, had just 20 players out for football this year, and its program is hanging by a thread. Johnsonburg, a District 9 school, eliminated its football program for the 2013 season and decided on a co-op arrangement with Ridgway.

Do the math.  If this decline is spread across small schools across the entire country, that means fewer students that colleges have to recruit.

Has college football--and perhaps scholastic football in general--jumped the shark?

Only time will tell.  I don't think the empty seats at Beaver Stadium will change in the near future--although an opponent like THEM and Nebraska will likely fill the stadium.  When Purdue rolls in to take on the Lions, though, there will be plenty of room to spread out.  I'd recommend bringing a pillow, but that is not allowable thanks to the new stadium bag policy!  Funny thing . . . I can take my PSU seat cushion with pockets to a St. Francis game, but not to a Penn State game.  There is something very wrong here, but no one is willing to do anything about it. 

Keep the faith, Lion Faithful!  That is all I can say.

Sunday Verses:
The Buckeyes Win?  Isn't that Special?

From Buckeyes 31:24--

The REF is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green fields: he alloweth me to hold Badgers.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of self-righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of defeat, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy flag and thy whistle they comfort me.
Thou preparest a celebration before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my helmet with buckeyes; my Gatorade cup runneth over.
 Surely ESPN and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of Pope Urban for ever.

From Sooners 35:21--

Make a joyful noise unto ESPN, all ye teams.
Serve Bob Stoops with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Irish are evil.
For the Sooners are good; their defense everlasting; and this win endureth to all generations.

Spreading the Word:

Temple (0-4) fell to the Vandals of Idaho.  Talk about losing their religion.  Owl be darned.

Arizona State defeated Southern Cal 62-41.  As a result, Lane Kiffin was fired.  I'm not sure this is good news.  Lane Kiffin was the best thing that could happen to USC in my opinion.  They deserved each other.

UCF failed to upset South Carolina, falling 28-25.  Not a bad showing, though, against a ranked team. 

Purdue fell to Northern Illinois . . . by a score of 55-24!  No spoilermakers here.

Iowa beat Minnesota 23-7.  Our strength of schedule is getting killed here!

West-By-God-Virginia beat ranked Oklahoma State 30-21.   Apparently there is a Santa Claus, West Virginia, even if I can't find it on the map.

Former PSU QB Bench started for the USF Bulls.  He went 13 of 27 for 188 yds, one TD and one INT in a losing effort to Miami (FL).  The final score:  49-21.

Johnny Football (Texas A & M) defeated Bret Bielema (Arkansas) 45-33.  I don't think Bret managed to get his autograph.

And top-ranked Alabama shut-out Ole Miss 25-0.  They could have beaten Young Miss and Swiss Miss as well.

The Benediction:

Go now into the world.  Throw Long and Prosper.  And please, God, let Penn State beat Indiana.  Amen.

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