PSU football, four friends and their (self-proclaimed) TV-Tailgating sensation
As summer winds down, we know it means that Penn State football season is ramping up. You’ve been waiting nine months for the season, and you’re ready to get back to Happy Valley to tailgate, hang-out in downtown bars and restaurants and pre-game the way you did for years when you were living in State College. But then it hits you: you have a family now and a very full agenda.
You're stuck, dozens or hundreds of miles away from Happy Valley and cut off from the excitement and spirit that makes Penn State tailgating the best collegiate tailgating coast to coast. Nothing you can do now, though, right?
The Obligatory PSU Pregame Show is HERE. FOR. YOU.
Three years ago, a few Nittany Lion super fans had a game-changing idea: just because some fans can’t make it to the tailgating fields at Beaver Stadium doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be part of the experience.
Mike "the Mailman" Herr, every Penn Stater's favorite and most beloved mailman; Brandon Noble, former defensive tackle for Penn State, the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins; Chris Buchignani, the founding president of The Nittany Valley Society; and Kevin Horne, proud holder of three Penn State degrees and former managing editor of Onward State, are giving you the next-best tailgating experience, no matter how far you are from Dear Old State.
“The story of Obligatory is probably better than the show itself, although that’s not exactly a high bar to clear, I suppose,” Chris said. “Then unlikely chemistry between the four of us—what we’ve described as ‘accidental magic’—is the heart of the show, and when you think about the long odds against throwing these four characters together and having it work instantly, it’s remarkable. If we had tried to plan it out or think it through it would have been a disaster. Fortunately, we’re all pretty dumb.”
What started as some guys sitting on a back porch and posting on YouTube has grown in popularity beyond what any of the hosts could have imagined.
"[I have] no clue how any of this happened," said Brandon. "After the first season on YouTube, I couldn't imagine we would do a second one. Next thing I know, we're on PCN and people are actually watching; even Chris is getting recognized around town!"
“It works because it is different, simple and true,” Chris explained. “Genuine love for Penn State and the relationships that form around the school, the place and the team are what drive fandom. When people watch the show, wherever they are, I want them to feel like they are here, tailgating before the game.”
Despite the show’s rising popularity, it has retained its backyard, familiar roots, definitely for the better.
"I think the most important thing, for me," Kevin explained, "is that my approach has not changed even though the size of the audience has. I am still just as ill-prepared for each episode as I was the first one. There are more lights and cameras, and Chris is a bit more cantankerous, but the same personalities from the backyard persist."
Personality is what makes Obligatory different from almost any other pregame show: each host brings his own unique voice to the show.
"It was a true stroke of Eric Porterfield magic that four totally different personalities—each of us at very different points in our life— were thrown together at the last minute to do a show that is somehow going into its third season," Kevin said.
"Who knew this bunch of misfits would mesh so well!" Mike added.
These unique misfits share one important trait: they are Penn State fans first, and that simple fact is why Obligatory is so perfect and relatable: they are just fans, drinking beer—or whiskey; pick your poison—and talking Penn State football.
“Penn State football season is my favorite time of year for countless reasons, but getting together with the cast to (nominally) discuss each week's game has become one of the best parts about it,” Chris shared. “We always have a great time making the show, and I’m excited to get out and do more live events with Alumni Association chapters.” (Join the guys next week in Pittsburgh)
Mike, Brandon, Chris and Kevin aren't major-network sports reporters on a sound stage, wearing suits and ties, talking at you like most pregame shows; they're having fun, joking around with each other and their special guests, like Penn State anthropology professor Kirk French, and making key observations about the game and Penn State’s opponents, just like you and your friends do on game day.
In fact, not being "buttoned-up" is something Brandon particularly likes. When asked what he was looking forward to most during the upcoming season, he replied, "In no particular order, being in Happy Valley once a week, hanging out with great friends, drinking some good beer and making a great show that is way more fun than the normal Saturday suit-and-tie programing." We agree wholeheartedly!
As much fun as the guys have, they are still knowledgeable football fans who want to share their passion and insights with the Nittany Nation. You're definitely not missing anything by choosing Obligatory over a "normal" pregame show; the guys have you covered, even now, before their first show.
"I think the team will be exciting to watch, and maybe a bit painful too," Brandon said, unafraid of the hard truth that many of our seasoned players have moved on to play in the NFL. "We have another legit Heisman candidate with plenty of weapons around him, a veteran offensive line with something to prove, but a defense that has a lot of questions heading into [Appalachian] State. I'm thinking 10–2 or 9–3 when it's all said and done, with a trip to a great bowl game some place warm!"
Kevin seems to agree. "I think it's equally likely that Penn State wins seven games as it does 11 or 12—both [are] not out of the question—but the likely outcome is somewhere in-between. The pessimist in me says [a] double-digit regular season [win] is probably not in the cards this year.”
Chris also shared his take on the coming season. “I will probably be the pessimist of the group this year,” he said. “Between experience lost to graduation and turnover among the assistant coaching staff, I think the Lions will struggle with a very challenging schedule. If the team can improve at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, they’ll prove me wrong. As I sit here today, though, I don’t expect State will live up to its top 10 ranking.”
Most importantly, win or lose, the guys at The Obligatory PSU Pregame Show remind us not to take football—or ourselves—too seriously.
"You know," Mike said, "believe it or not, football is a 'game.' I hope it's a fun year for all the young guys playing the 'game.' As for the fans out there, I hope it is a fun season for all of us to watch!"
"In true Penn State fashion," Kevin said, "I expect us to beat Ohio State early on and then drop some dumb game to, like, Indiana or something, partially due to end-of-the-game clock management, and ruin all of our hopes and dreams. As Brandon is often reminded when one of his Second Mile football cards arrives in the mail to be autographed, 'Instead of getting angry, I take a deep breath…and get on with winning the game. Develop a winning attitude; stay cool when others get hot.'
"Actually, to hell with it: We're going 15-0. Let's go!"
So, grab your pen and paper and join the most unlikely, but loveable, bunch of Penn State fans on the most unique pregame show in history.
Take a look at the following schedule to get your first dose of The Obligatory PSU Pregame Show and remember to check your local listings each week so can join the most unlikely, but loveable, bunch of dudes before each game.
For the Penn State vs. Appalachian State game Saturday, Sept. 1, check out:
Eleven Network—Friday, August 31 (5pmET and repeats at 11:59 p.m.); Saturday, September 1 (6 a.m.)
WBGT TV (Rochester, NY)—Saturday, September 1 (1p.m.)
WJKP TV (Elmira/Corning, NY)—Saturday, September 1 (11a.m.)
NESN National—Saturday, September 1 (2:30 p.m.)
WIFS TV 57, Madison, WI—Saturday, September 1 (10 a.m.)
Untamed Sports TV Network—Friday, August 31 (12:30 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.; Saturday, September 1 (9:30 a.m.)
Eleven Network is on DIRECTV (Channel 623); Verizon Fios (Channel 597); AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1665); RCN (Channel 571) and Atlantic Broadband (Channel 501)
NESN National is on AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1711); Bright House Networks; DIRECTV (Channel 628); Dish Network (Channel 434); Frontier Communications; Spectrum (Channel 342) and Verizon Fios (Channel 97)
*All photos courtesy The Obligatory PSU Pregame Show