If you’re a Penn State fan, you don’t need to be reminded that the Blue-White game was supposed to be Saturday.
The annual intrasquad scrimmage won’t happen this year, so Penn State is planning a virtual replacement. It is one of the more creative, if distant, proxies for reality the coronavirus pandemic has inspired.
The Blue-White Virtual Tailgate initiative begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, not at Beaver Stadium of course, but wherever the fans are.
It’s an attempt at a remote reunion of the football program’s giant fan base. Chris Grosse, Penn State's Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing, said 45 groups had registered to hold virtual tailgates just a few hours after the event was announced Tuesday.
"When you invite Penn State fans to do something, you better be ready, because they're going to do it,'' Grosse said.
Fans will be able to register their home "tailgates" via Zoom, the video teleconferencing software. Some of the registered tailgates will be visited, also via Zoom, by a Penn State football coach, former player, or the Nittany Lion mascot.
Custom video conference backgrounds featuring the view from each Beaver Stadium parking lot can be downloaded.
From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., content will be posted across the Penn State Football social media channels, including 360-degree videos, the release of the 2020 virtual spring game schedule poster and a trivia contest.
At noon, a "team arrival video" will be posted on Facebook. Then the Blue Band will take the field, followed by the team taking the field, all by 360-degree Facebook video.
The band and team won't actually be taking the field. Penn State is using 360-degree video from past games to create the feeling of chanrging on the field before a packed house on a game day.
"It's going to kind of feel like you're running on the field with them,'' Grosse said.
A Facebook Live rebroadcast of Penn State’s paradigm-shifting 2016 upset of Ohio State will begin at 12:30, and include check-ins from former players and other special guests.
The virtual tailgate will conclude with a special episode of the Penn State Coaches Radio Show with head coach James Franklin and Steve Jones, Penn State’s radio play-by-man announcer. The show is available on LionVision, TuneIn, Sirius XM and on Penn State Sports Network radio affiliates.
For more information on Saturday's events, go to gopsusports.com.