It's 29 days since the Rose Bowl, 86 days until the Blue-White game and 217 days until the opener on Sept. 5. Does that mean it's too early to talk about next season's schedule? Nah.
Penn State released the 2009 schedule and while most hardcore Lions fans pretty much knew the slate by heart, yesterday marked the official announcement. Some had hoped that the opener -- rumored to be Akron -- would turn into a more attractive opponent. Say, one with a pulse. But it was not to be. Penn State's four non-conference foes all had losing records last season. Eastern Illinois managed a 5-7 mark at the Division I-AA level. Egad.
To put it bluntly, the schedule is pathetic. The Lions have eight home games against four on the road and only two Beaver Stadium tilts quicken the pulse. Ohio State visits on Nov. 7, Iowa on Sept. 26. The rest is dunk: Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Eastern Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana. I can't wait to hear Joe Paterno defend this schedule. Actually, I can hear him already. Here's a look at the first four games of the schedule (the final eight to come) along with an educated guess of what Paterno will say about the opposing team the Tuesday before:
Sept. 5 Akron: The Zips of the MAC have faced Penn State three times prior (all Lions' victories). They finished 5-7 last season and lost their final three to games to Buffalo, Ohio and Temple. Hey, at least it isn't Coastal Carolina. Joe's take: "People seem to forget Akron clobbered a decent Syracuse team last year and almost beat Cincinnati. Ahhhh, if we're not careful we can licked."