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Penn State's Biggest Moneymakers All Kicking Into High Gear With Master Plan On Horizon

by on October 24, 2016 6:40 PM

Penn State hockey, fresh off of a 3-2 overtime victory against No. 3 ranked Notre Dame sat on a bus in South Bend waiting for their plane. At 3-1-1 on the year the Nittany Lions have navigated an early stretch of games against two different Top 15 foes and have come out of those four contests with just a single loss.

The result is a No.6 ranking in the PairWise, college hockey's version of the BCS, and as of Monday afternoon a No. 19 ranking in the USCHO.com Poll.

With the upset still fresh on their minds the Nittany Lions could have been celebrating. They could have been enjoying a successful weekend against a highly ranked opponent. If Penn State is going to make the NCAA tournament it will be those kinds of wins that create a strong enough resume to punch a ticket. It was a potentially big moment in what could be an even bigger season.

They weren't though -- they were watching Penn State football.

And when they got off the bus and on to the plane, Penn State had just surrendered a safety, falling behind 21-7 before the Nittany Lions responded to bring the game within seven points.

But that was the last Penn State hockey saw before taking off. Little did they know what they were about to miss.

"As we were landing the word got around the plane," Coach Guy Gadowsky said on Monday. "We didn't know what happened until the pilot got a message from the control tower that we won and that spread like wildfire through the plane. People were either sitting or napping and then their heads started to pop up, it was really cool."

"It's just great for our school, to have two big upsets in the same weekend. I don't know the guy who blocked the kick or the guy who ran it all the way in" forward Andrew Sturtz said with a grin. "But good job on those two for getting it done and good job on the defense for holding out at the end of the game."

All told it was just about a perfect weekend for Penn State athletics. Hockey played a primetime game, nationally televised on NBCSN while football did the same on ABC. If anything generates good advertising for your athletic program it's winning, and winning against elite teams in front of the nation. Penn State football was the second most Google'd phrase on the internet on Saturday, and at its peak just over 5 million people were watching the game. The duo of upsets earned a SportsCenter mention. It was effectively Penn State's night.

Big picture, it's an interesting moment for the future of Penn State athletics. Football figures to be favored in the remaining five games of the regular season with a reasonable chance of winning all five. Hockey is also slated to play their next 10 games at Pegula Ice Area which will mean Penn State won't hit the road again until January. And between those two, building Penn State men's basketball is only weeks from debuting the best recruiting class in program history on the court at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State's only three profit-creating programs all potentially on the an upward climb, all at the same time.

In the background, of course, is Penn State's master plan which will feature widespread fundraising and renovation efforts that will be unlike anything on campus since Beaver Stadium was expanded or the Bryce Jordan Center was built. Those plans were originally scheduled to be released in October, and are rumored to still be on pace for that release in the coming 7-10 days.

Regardless of the actual timetable, it's shaping up to be quite the show in State College as things get kicked into high gear. So for as unforgettable as Penn State's win against Ohio State may have been, it might be the next few weeks and months that change the course of Penn State athletics as a whole.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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