The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


July 3, 2010

PSU-’Bama matchup creating excitement

— Penn State and Alabama have combined to win 1,624 college football games and 15 national championships.

But two of the most successful and storied programs in the game haven’t met in two decades.

That will change on Sept. 11, when the Nittany Lions visit the defending BCS national champion Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPN will televise the game to a national audience.

“This will be the first year that our stadium will hold 101,000 and change,” said University of Alabama Executive Director of Athletics Dave Hart Jr., who will visit Johnstown on July 12 to accept the John P. Murtha Friend in Education Award on behalf of his late father, Dave Sr.

Alabama will travel to Happy Valley on Sept. 10, 2011, its first stop at Penn State since 1989.

“I can’t even describe the level of excitement in this state and beyond for (Alabama playing) Penn State,” Hart said. “It’s the second week of the season. It’s going to be quite an atmosphere in Tuscaloosa.”

Alabama went 14-0 last season, including a victory over second-ranked Texas in the Rose Bowl to clinch the national title.

Hart shared in the title during his first season as executive director of athletics for the Crimson Tide. He previously held athletic director positions with national power Florida State and East Carolina University.

“It will be two years in August,” Hart said of his tenure at Alabama. “This is a great time to be back. (Football coach) Nick (Saban’s) ability to lead is as good as I’ve been around. We really enjoy being back at a terrific institution.”

Hart played basketball under scholarship at Alabama, where both he and his wife, Pam, are graduates.

“I have an opportunity to make a difference at my alma mater,” Hart said. “I have a chance to give back.”

 He also has Johnstown roots, as his father was one of the most successful coaches in Trojans history. Hart Sr.’s teams went 63-12-3 in eight seasons, won the 1958 WPIAL championship and had a 27-game unbeaten streak.

“My dad went to Pitt (as head coach) at about the same time Joe Paterno was named head coach at Penn State,” Hart said.

“He had great respect for Joe.”

Paterno took the Nittany Lions head job in 1966, the same season Hart Sr. began his three-year tenure as the Panthers’ head coach.

Notes: The upcoming Penn State-Alabama games originally were scheduled to be played in 2004 and 2005 but were postponed at Alabama’s request in 2003. ... The Nittany Lions and Crimson Tide have played 13 times in a series Alabama leads 8-5. ... Penn State won the most recent meeting 9-0 in Tuscaloosa in 1990. ... Alabama (813) and Penn State (811) rank sixth and seventh nationally in all-time victories, respectively. ... The Lions won the first meeting with the Tide 7-0 in the 1959 Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia. ... Alabama won 13-6 on Dec. 31, 1975, in the first Sugar Bowl played in the Louisiana Superdome. ’Bama also won 14-7 in the 1979 Sugar Bowl for the national championship on New Year’s Day. ... Three other Penn State games are set to air on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC – Kent State (Sept. 18, noon, ESPN or ESPN2); Iowa (Oct. 2, 8 p.m., ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC); and Michigan (Oct. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC).


Text Only | Photo Reprints