What Might Have Been

March 10, 2009 at 9:18 am 3 comments

Penn State’s move to the Big Ten in the early 1990s had a huge impact on college athletics, helping end the era of major-college independents and predicting the conference consolidation that followed. But what if the Nittany Lions had made a different move a decade earlier? That’s one of the questions posed today in a New York Times Q&A with Mike Tranghese, long-time commissioner of the Big East Conference. If you follow college sports at all, the whole thing is worth a read, but one exchange is especially noteworthy:

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penn_state_logoQ: …do you ever look back and wonder what would have happened if Penn State had come aboard?

A: I look back on 30 years, and I think we made one major mistake. We had a chance to take Penn State in 1982 and we didn’t. You look back on it and the whole face of college athletics would be changed now … in 1982, I was just a young staffer at this meeting. Dave [Gavitt, then Big East commissioner] wanted to go to Penn State and extend the invitation. But he couldn’t if we didn’t have the votes. We had eight teams and needed six votes and it was a 5-3 vote … At the end of our meeting, Dave asked what I thought. I said, ‘We will rue the day over this decision.’ And it’s been pretty prophetic.

Compelling stuff.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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