Don’t Let The Door Hit You, Penn State

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 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?


  1. I can’t even begin to describe the level of butt-hurt PSU fans are feeling these days. It starts with there quarterback. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…their is a culture there that is simply blind to reality. Check out this video:,AAAAQBxUw0E~,DELAM66vw4yOrqHiP3Xjm16pYSWVuMF5

    Their fans live in a cave…

    Any time something goes against them, they feel the need to piss and moan and make up ridiculous conspiracy theories….and why….all because a call went against them?

    It’s been a great rivalry over the years but their fans make me absolutely hate Penn State. I literally laughed for a better part of the night when OSU beat them a few weeks back.

  2. Also? There’s this piece of brilliance…

    “And the Big Ten is certainly not where Illinois belongs. Every year the Big Ten forces us to take that $24 million check and cash it. “Take our money and spend it as you please!” demands the Big Ten, never letting you read the fine print that says “Your soul now belongs to the Big Ten.””

  3. I wonder if their eagerness to rush into the arms of the ACC is a perceived superiority to the talent there. Something along the lines of “we’re never going to be competitive in the Big Ten again, let’s go beat up some ACC cripples”. That’s pretty much the only thing that makes sense to me.

    Also, there are twelve teams in the Big Ten. 😀

  4. Would PSU “Athletics” be a gain for the ACC? Join the Big East and bring back the PITT game nobody outside of PA cares about.

  5. Jim Delaney wakes up every day regretting the previous leadership that courted PSU. From a business standpoint, it’s been nothing but a disaster. As soon as PSU started playing in a tough conference, their mediocrity became apparent and they’ve done nothing but drag the conference down from an academic, athletic, and PR standpoint since. It will go down as the worst executed expansion ever.

  6. Evidently, the latest thing when you feel wronged is be a secessionist. Nice job wuth the ‘look’ at officiating descrepancies. Good article, Jason.

  7. I did find one flaw in your statistical analysis: you didn’t calculate and compare butthurts per penalty. I’m pretty sure Penn State leads the Nation, if not the Universe, in BHPP.

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