So for the past couple days, the professional journalists at PennLive have been whining virtually non-stop about some supposed Big Ten conspiracy against them. This is centered mostly around officiating (no-calls, botched replays, etc.) and has culminated in this piece of brilliance suggesting the school leave the conference for the ACC.
I really hope they do.
But first, let’s talk about that “conspiracy.” If there was a plot to make Penn State lose games through purposefully shoddy officiating, it would actually be amazingly simple to detect. Penalty statistics are readily available (we here at MOTSAG prefer cfbstats.com but we’re not trying to tell you what to do) and all one would have to do is compare penalties and yardage for each team and those of their opponents to see if there is a noticeable imbalance.
So I did. I calculated the percentages of total penalties and penalty yardage each team received in all games. This sounds harder than it was; it literally took me four minutes. Apparently, no one at PennLive has four minutes to spare while pounding out yet another Completely-Missing-The-Point post about how sorry we should feel for them.
Now, conspiracies aren’t easy to pull off perfectly, but it would make sense that if Penn State was being treated unfairly that they would at least be in the bottom 3 of the Big Ten in Officiating Equality (me? oh, just inventing new stats. whatchu doin’?) and probably, say, the bottom 25 nationally, right?
But of course, they’re not.
Six Big Ten teams have been less fairly treated by the refs than Penn State this year. Six. Out of eleven. Nationally, the Nittany Lions come in at #66 (of 124). That’s right. They’re actually on the winning side of officiating imbalance both in the conference and in the nation! Granted, I can’t easily account for botched replays, but those are at least somewhat subjective and heavily reliant on the call on the field.
There is simply no officiating conspiracy against Penn State. There’s not even a subconscious bias, as others who want to whine but still want to sound like reasonable human beings have suggested. Penn State is getting a pretty average officiating treatment this year. I know that’s hard for Nittany Lion fans to hear. That’s no fun.
Making absurdly childish threats is fun.
So go ahead and move to the ACC (where six teams have been less fairly treated than Penn State so far this year too). That would allow the Big Ten to add Notre Dame or Oklahoma without splitting up the pie any further. Oh yeah, that pie? They don’t have that kind in the ACC. The financial hit would only further hurt your program on top of the NCAA sanctionbomb you haven’t even truly felt yet.
That is, of course, if the ACC even wants Penn State. And really, why would they?