Penn State coach Pat Chambers has apparently found a cure to the semester-break, start-of-Big-Ten-play blues.
Every year, the Nittany Lions find their first conference home game falls in very late December or very early January — or during the school’s semester break. And every year, the turnout for said games at the Bryce Jordan Center is, frankly, embarrassing.
Attendance for the Big Ten home opener vs. Minnesota last season was LISTED at 5,892 (and in truth was probably half that). The previous season, attendance for the league home opener (vs. Michigan) was listed at 5,342.
Well, if basketball fans are not going to trek to Happy Valley during semester break, the Nittany Lions are going to trek to where basketball fans are.
According to a report by MLive, Penn State’s 2016-17 Big Ten “home” opener will be Jan. 7 against Michigan State at the historic Palestra in Philadelphia.
PSU has declined comment on the matter, saying it is not able to confirm any details of the conference slate until the Big Ten officially releases it. But this brainstorm makes way too much sense to be wrong.
Chambers, a native of the Philadelphia area, has made a very strong recruiting push into the region. That includes landing three standouts from last year’s PIAA AAAA champion, Roman Catholic. Tony Carr, Nazeer Bostick and Lamar Stevens will all be true freshmen for the Lions next season.
In the meantime, Chambers has tried to schedule a game in Philadelphia every season. That has included contests at the Palestra vs. Drexel (last December), Penn (in December of 2013) and La Salle (2012).
Finally, as the MLive story notes, legendary Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has never coached a game in the Palestra.
Moving a Big Ten game off campus will be nothing new for PSU. Just last season, the Nittany Lions played Michigan at Madison Square Garden as part of a basketball-hockey double header.