DALLAS - It didn't take long for the tracer fire to come. Jody Dean, host of a popular Dallas morning radio talk show, got the ball rolling over the airwaves Monday morning.
"The wisdom of the invitation escapes me," said the KLUV host. "Why in the world would anyone invite this circus to their doorstep?"
He was referring to the TicketCity Bowl invitation extended to Penn State for the game against Houston on Jan. 2. The circus he was referring to was the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse scandal, something that has made the Nittany Lions the object of scorn nationally.
"I'd dearly like to know what local Einstein thought this was a good PR move?" Dean asked.
"I guess that would be me," joked Tom Starr, the director of the TicketCity Bowl.
Starr said he had no hesitations whatsoever about inviting Penn State. "When we saw that Penn State was available, there really was no decision. Penn State is still Penn State, one of the best universities in the country. And I'm honored to be able to say I have Penn State in my bowl."
Starr also claims he has not received so much as one negative phone call or e-mail over the decision to invite the Lions.
"When we made our announcement last night, we immediately sold several thousand tickets," he said. "Our ticket manager has told me tickets have been selling at an amazing rate all day long. I anticipated there could be some negativity. But so far there hasn't been. So far as any protests go, I don't anticipate any problem."
"There might be a few people out there with signs, some groups, but Dallas is not an activist city. I'd be shocked if it were anything even on a medium scale," said Dallas attorney Brian Cuban, a Penn State graduate whose brother Mark owns the Dallas Mavericks. "I think our kids got a short end of the stick because they had to drop down because of what has happened. But I know I am selfishly happy because I can buy a ticket to see Penn State play."
Dean equated the Penn State scandal to the SMU death-penalty situation in the late '80s and said the proper thing for Penn State to do would be to sit out this bowl season. Something Cuban vehemently disagrees with.
"For Jody to compare it to SMU is ridiculous. SMU involved a lot of players who took money. In Penn State's case, there is no evidence right now that any player or coach on this team did anything wrong."
"Penn State is bigger than any one person or group of people that made a bad decision," concluded Cuban. "We have been around for a long while and we are going to be around for a long while."