STATE COLLEGE - After defeating Temple on Nov. 15, Penn State became bowl-eligible, and from that point forward, the question of where the Nittany Lions would go in their first postseason opportunity since 2011 was a waiting game.
First-year head coach James Franklin, athletic director Sandy Barbour and the rest of the Lions found out on Sunday that Penn State (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) is Big Apple-bound, slated to play Boston College (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium.
Franklin and Barbour got an early look at where the program will play its first post-NCAA sanctions bowl yesterday when the two, accompanied by BC representatives and other officials, held a news conference at the ballpark.
Franklin was excited about the Lions' return to the postseason, calling the upcoming bowl "part of us getting back to where we belong in college football."
Barbour agreed, and expressed her happiness that the Penn State players will be rewarded after a competent 2014 season.
"There are a number of reasons this is really special to us," Barbour said. "This is a special team and a special group of guys. It's a mix of young guys and those who have been around through Penn State's difficult times. I'm really proud of this group."
Franklin, who said his college roommate is a die-hard Yankees fan, is well-aware of the Bronx Bombers' history. In that tradition, he sees similarities between the Yanks and his Lions.
"Walking through today and seeing all of the history and all of the tradition and all of the championships and all of the great players and what this place means and what this place means to the city of New York, there is a lot of parallels with Penn State and what Beaver Stadium means to our people, all of the championships and all of the great players," Franklin said. "There's a lot of pride."
Penn State players will have an opportunity to do more than play a football game during their experience in New York City. Both teams will visit Little Italy, see a Christmas Eve show at Radio City Music Hall and take a trip to the 9/11 Memorial. In addition, coaches and captains from both sides will have the opportunity to ring the New York Stock Exchange's opening bell.
Among others present to address the postseason bowl were Boston College football coach Steve Addazio and athletic director Brad Bates, Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost and Yankees president Randy Levine.
Levine said that he looks forward to hosting Penn State and Boston College and that he doesn't think the bowl could get any better.
"Whether you're a New York Yankee, a college football player or a concert singer, it's memorable to say you've played in Yankee Stadium," Levine said. "[Penn State-Boston College is] a dream matchup for us."