The Penn State Football Blue-White Game causes excitement every spring and it has nothing to do with the game itself.
The weather begins to warm up and flowers start to bloom, and most people are itching for a reason to spend a day outside. The tailgating scene is a little bit milder outside Beaver Stadium than a normal Nittany Lions fall Saturday, after all people aren’t parking in their traditional parking spots.
Despite that, this game is an opportunity to get together before the long summer ahead.
However, in recent years spring game attendances across the country have been declining and the overall excitement about the game itself is diminishing.
There have been many ideas that have been floated out over the past few weeks and here are a few of them that could build some more excitement for the game itself.
How Penn State Football Can Improve its Spring Game
Scrimmage against a different program
This is an idea that Auburn coach Hugh Freeze brought up in the past week.
Freeze thought why not have Auburn play a smaller in-state team like Troy or UAB so that the fans can actually have some type of excitement and rooting interest.
There is also the added benefit of getting to see your offense and defense against a team that doesn’t already know your system.
We see this all the time in the NFL during camp where teams will do joint practices and scrimmage each other. Even if the game wasn’t an official game and still run more like a practice, it would be more entertaining for the fans and the university could probably make more of a profit by charging $10 or so for fans to attend.
Smaller universities within Pennsylvania would make the most sense where Penn State could pay the teams $200k-$300k to make the trip.
This would help smaller athletic departments like the buy games that happen early in the fall season.
Most FBS teams wouldn’t want to do this in my estimation, but some candidates could be teams such as Temple, Buffalo, and Akron. The group of five do buy games already, but the cost would be much higher so turning to the FCS could be more feasible for a spring game.
Here is a list of FCS teams that could be possible:
Pro Bowl style event with 4 teams
Another option is to have a joint practice with 4 total teams and make an event out of it.
Teams could have different times when they scrimmage each other and maybe even do different drills and competitions like what we saw at this season’s NFL Pro Bowl. Have events such as deep throws, throwing accuracy, field goal accuracy/distance, punting accuracy/distance, and maybe even do things like a 40-yard dash where each program can put out a few of their fastest players.
Penn State Football could host 3 other teams and the event could be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network giving entertainment to fans and exposure to some of the smaller schools that otherwise wouldn’t have any.
The competition could be scored like you would see in a track and field meet where 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for each event are all given point values. The actual scrimmaging between the four teams would be at the end of the event and the deciding factor between who wins it all.
This would be an event that could be charged for and the teams traveling to Penn State could either be given a lump sum similar to a typical buy game or a percentage of the total profit from the event.
Likewise, this would be a fun way to end the spring practice season and give fans more to get excited about than just watching vanilla play calls of the 1st team offense against the 3rd team defense.
Instead, fans could come watch Penn State, Temple, Villanova, and Lehigh all compete in a number of events and give some entertainment for what is actually happening in the stadium.
Will any of this happen?
The short answer is probably not.
Currently, the NCAA has rules in place that prevent teams from playing scrimmages against other schools in the spring. That rule could possibly be changed and maybe we will see a few of these in the future.
Coaches will probably worry about injuries, but many have argued that going 75% in a spring game actually gives a higher chance of injury than 100% in a real game.
Even so, the Pro Bowl style event could be the way to go because it gives a fun experience for the players and fans to finish up the spring season.
The spring game isn’t meant to help the coaches and players, it is for the fans. So why not give the fans something that is actually entertaining to watch?