PSU/Neb to take a back seat

Big Red Report Big Ten reporter Kyle Phillippi breaks down his thoughts on the mess in State College.

Words can't describe what just happened. The coach with the most wins in all of D-1 college football, Joe Paterno has been fired, and the school's president Graham Spanier, has too been fired.

And yet, the University is still in shambles and may not be able to recover for some time as the scandal is still unraveling and details are still yet to be released.

In the midst of his 46th season as Penn State's head coach, Paterno received the ax days before the school's Homecoming game against Nebraska.

This weekend's game between Penn State and Nebraska, which already had the making of being a tremendous game filled with story-lines, has taken a completely different turn.

In what was going to be the first Big Ten conference match-up between the two storied programs, this weekend's game will now be known as the first game "Post-Paterno."

There are plenty of big-named players who will step onto the field at Beaver Stadium this weekend: Nebraska' Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, Alfonzo Dennard, Penn State's Silas Redd and Derek Moye. Yet, none of these players and future NFL prospects will be in the spotlight.

Thousands upon thousands of fans will surround the field watching the game unfold; however, the biggest storyline will be Penn State's scandal and the empty void left on the sideline. No longer will there be the trademark black shoes and coke-bottle glasses walking around the sideline or as in recent seasons, camping out in the press box.

Because of this, Saturday's game has sort of taken a back seat in the eyes of the media and fans. Is it fair to the players and to the University of Nebraska? Probably not. But this is something that is unavoidable.

The scoreboard won't be as important as it should be. The plays on the field won't be enjoyed as they should be. And the blown calls by the officials won't be criticized as they should be. Simply put, this will be a game – a very important game, for that matter – but it won't be the focal point in discussions. Before the game even begins, there's bound to be some type of "Joe Paterno" chant or other pleas issued from the fan base.

And can you blame the Penn State fans? Since 1950, Paterno has held a position on the Penn State sideline. This will be a very different and difficult scene for the fans, one that is sure to leave people with mixed emotions.

It's an unfortunate turn of events, but the University did the right thing in firing Paterno and Spanier. However, with their decision, the Nebraska team is in for a game like no other.

Nobody knows what the scene will be like outside of the stadium or even inside the stadium. Will there be rioters? Possibly. Could there be hostile fans? Of course. And will there be roars of cheers, boos and an assortment of other screams from within the stadium? Definitely.

Guys like Martinez and Burkhead will have a lot to overcome this weekend as they attempt to defeat a "Paterno-less" Penn State team. Not to add to the dramatics, but with all the revolt and hostile feelings echoed by fans and everyday citizens around the country, there could be a lot of people rooting for Nebraska to upend the scandal-ridden Nittany Lions this weekend, as well.

*** The views and opinions of Kyle Phillippi are not that of Big Red Report,, or Fox Sports. ***

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