I saw this announced yesterday - Penn State playing Coastal Carolina University for the PSU football home opener in '08:
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/sports ... 45391.html
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/sports ... 46219.html
Should be interesting, although it's obvious that Penn State would be heavily favored to win.
Coastal Carolina is a storybook football team. It's only been in existence for 4 years, but they've been impressive. A young coach that is just a super guy and terrific coach. A state-of-the-art stadium and facilities that were mostly possible from the generosity of Bob Brooks, the late Hooters Chairman.
CCU won the first college game they played, and finished with a winning record their very first year. They shared or won their conference every year since. In 2005, they easily knocked off the defending national champion - despite the fact that it had returned almost their entire championship team. CCU has a knack for outplaying and outmaneuvering the most difficult of teams. They graduated most of the original players - those who led the team to the great accomplishments of the first 4 years - this past year. But there are many new ones stepping up to take their place, many of whom have been impressed with CCU’s accomplishments so far, and many of them turned down opportunities and offers to go to larger and more traditional football teams just to play here.
Maybe it was also because they considered the lure of the beach, bikinis, etc at a smaller-school setting too - but I think Coach Bennett will keep all those “distractions” under control.
At the same time, CCU coach Bennett reminds me a lot of Coach Paterno in one way - the emphasis of student-player success and conduct both on and OFF the field. Coach Bennett and his students are extremely involved in the local community, and academic success is highly emphasized as well.
On a personal note, Coach Bennett is one of those guys who just fits in everywhere, and if you've met him he makes an impression that just stands out. Just after he was hired, and long before their first game had been played, he appeared on the local university TV station for an interview. At the time, I was the station's "Campus Curmudgeon" - the Andy Rooney-type commentator presenting my self-authored surly and sarcastic commentaries on vital CCU issues. I met and spoke with Coach Bennett for all of about 2 minutes. About THREE years later, long after Coach Bennett had met and got to know about 1 million other people here - and at a peak of success as they were preparing for their first college championship playoff appearance (against the defending national champion AGAIN) - I was driving on campus on my Harley. I had to stop at a crosswalk because Coach Bennett himself was crossing in front of me. He stopped, walked over and gave a hearty "Hey Mike, how 'you been?!" Now, how could he have remembered my name after all that time, all he'd been through, all he's achieved, all the other folks he'd met, and all he had on his mind at the time?
But that's just the type of guy he is. And the type of coach who will be presenting a small FCS (former I-AA) against an FBS (former I-A) team that is a traditional powerhouse, led by a legendary coach.
As one of the (probably) rare group of alumni of BOTH universities, I look forward to this game. Who knows - this may be the ultimate event that makes me come back home for a week or so for the first time in over 10 years.