50-Yard Lion Ousted by PennLive

Most of you Penn State fans who read the blogs are familiar with 50-Yard Lion. Alas, the blog no longer exists, the result of a dust-up between its author, Dr. Todd Sponsler, and its host, PennLive. Fortunately, Sponsler is carrying on with a new blog, The Lion’s Den.

Dr. Sponsler, an ophthalmologist by day and a dedicated PSU blogger by night, apparently committed the egregious sin of conducting a partisan email exchange with an Ohio State fan. This was done through private channels, but PennLive stuck its nose into the exchange for whatever reason. This Turkey does not have any details beyond what I have stated here, so I won’t speculate on why such an email exchange might have merited shutting down a six year-old blog with such a robust following.

Albeit biased and opinionated (which is precisely what a reader expects from a PSU-centric blogger), Sponsler has always been articulate, insightful, timely, and humorous, a rare collection of positive qualities in the blogospheric miasma.

The Nittany Turkey wishes Todd continued success in his new digs at The Lion’s Den!


  1. rich foust says

    Dear Sir;
    I am the Ohio State fan you refer to pertaining to Pennlive divorcing themselves fron Todd Sponsler. Thru the yrs I read his stuff in the paper via the internet. Several times I emailed him. I grew up in Lewisburg Pa. While in the USMC & a member of Marine Corps rifle team stationed in Ohio for Nat’l Rifle Matches I met & married an Ohio girl & located in Sandusky after discharge, SO–altho I’m a Buckeye Paterno & PSU is my # 2 team. So finally after reading one of Sponsler’s really nasty articles I emailed & in essance asked why do you have to be so downright mean & nasty & so personal reg OSU, We’re foes but it should be a friendly rivalry. I forwarded his garbage mouth expletive filled response to the head guy at the Patriot News along with a copy of my letter to Sponsler, no cussing, swearing filthy stuff & to get a filthy response like that from an educated man, a doctor no less, unbelievable as you will see if you can get a copy of the letter I forwarded to the editor of the paper. In turn I recieved a very nice apologetic response from the editor stating he would look into the matter. Was not my intent to get the guy dismissed from the paper but thought the editor should be made aware of this guys way of communicating with people whomever they are. You are aware of the rivalry between OSU & Michigan yet after the game we can deal with the outcome & have a beer. I hope I’ve clued you in a bit as far as why’s & wherefores. I speak the truth, you can check it out.
    In closing here’s hoping we both have a good year, the Nits & the Bucks.
    Rich Foust
    Troy, Ohio

    • says


      I appreciate your contacting me to articulate your side of the story.

      The circumstances of Todd’s departure from PennLive seemed a bit odd to me. After all, he was writing a partisan blog far removed from the hard news section of the paper. While I agree that dissing of rivals in partisan sports writing has progressed to an obnoxiously biased extreme at times, this foul old fowl reluctantly tends to accept it — as well as similar misbehavior by so-called fans — as a modern trend.

      That having been said, I neither read the Sponsler column in question nor reviewed the associated email exchange. Had I done so, I might have had more to say about it, but given the dearth of information, I merely wished him well in his new blogging venue.

      It is obvious to me that this is something about which you feel strongly, and it is also obvious that you are a stand-up guy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have taken the time to explain your position to me. I share your disdain for cheap shots. (My contemporaries and I used them back in the day, too, especially against Pitt. I left a lot of that behind, along with drinking binges, etc., when I left State College several decades ago.) Making fun of Tressel’s sweaters or Paterno’s Coke bottle glasses is innocuous stuff, in my opinion, and is just part of a rivalry. Talking about whose school hides the most DUI incidents from the public eye is nudge, nudge, wink, wink material. I can tolerate those kinds of pseudo-insults. However, I am not so accommodating about unfounded generalized character assassination just because one plays for or supports an opposing team. Slander is slander, and there is no need for it.

      Hey, with Michigan in a “rebuilding” cycle for who knows how long, the PSU/OSU rivalry will take center stage for a while. It would behoove us to keep it intense, but wholesome.

      Thanks again for getting in touch. I’m looking forward to November 7 at Beaver Stadium.


      • rich foust says

        Thanks for your intelligent reply to my reply. I totally
        agree with you reg the humourous remarks reg ‘the sweater
        Joe Pa’s glasses & nose mask, etc. etc. The magic word here is ‘lighten up’
        is ‘lighten up’ which Mr. Sponsler did not know how to do.
        Let me say no one bash’es the buckeye’s more than I do when they deserve it, coaches included. No veteran team underperformed
        as the buckeyes did last yr. Lazy, complacent, even admitted they were bored coming back for final yr. What started me contacting Mr
        Mr. S–why after every PSU loss it was never the players fault
        it was bad calls by ref’s, always some lame excuse, reg Michigan whom PSU
        whom the nits could never beat he came across as tho Mich
        should apologize ev yr for beating Penn State.
        The email I forwarded to the managing editor which prompted
        ed his action was not the first expletive laden, garbage mout
        h obcene reply I recieved from Sponsler which I overlooked
        but the last one was the ‘straw’. After becoming aware yest-
        terday of the action taken by your paper I wrote Mr. Sponsler
        expressing my regret how things turned out for him, and it
        was a sincere letter. As I told him, nothing beats college football
        ball especially involving two outstanding schools like PSU &
        OSU & to make it into such an ugly, demeaning thing towards opposing teams especially Ohio State,, all I did was ask him–‘WHY’
        Who knows, maybe he is a frustrated guy who never
        it up in football & is now trying to re-live his youth thru the Ni
        Nits. I’ve been to Beaver Stadium will never return again as
        so many other visiting fans have been writing in reg the
        abusive treatment they recieved. Even Joe has touched on th
        that subject to start showing some class, better hospitality
        towards visitors. Per the treatment recieved 3 yrs ago, the OSU band
        Ohio State band will never return to Beaver Stadium.
        In closing, both teams look strong this yr, should be another
        R. Foust

  2. says

    Our home fans do need to learn some manners and be more gracious hosts. Perhaps the inhospitable behavior is associated with being the #1 party school, but neither makes me happy. I would love it if opponents’ fans could leave State College feeling like honored guests — win or lose. Besides, with the odds at Beaver Stadium being something 50 to 1, it’s pretty cowardly to pick on the visitors.

    I’ve enjoyed many spirited conversations and put down a lot of beers with fans of opposing teams. I’d rather debate than fight.

    I agree with you about making excuses for losing. We always remember the blown calls by officials that go against us, but we seem to conveniently forget the ones that go our way. I feel that there is no shame in losing, as long as your guys played their asses off and left nothing in the locker room before the battle.

    Penn State fans sometimes have difficulty facing reality. Even if the Lions hadn’t lost to Iowa last year, they were not national championship material (as was evident in the Rose Bowl), yet people are still crying about that loss. Hell, people are still crying about the two seconds the refs gave Michigan in 2005 denying a shot at the still somewhat mythical national championship. While they won the Orange Bowl that year, they beat a FSU team that backed into the ACC championship in a sloppy game that took us three overtimes to beat Bowden’s boys by a field goal, a game that was essentially handed to us. Nope, not national championship material that year, either.

    The Big Ten has taken a lot of heat for being an inferior conference. Certainly, Michigan’s decline will add fuel to that fire. In spite of all that drivel, the Big Ten continues to produce some of the best rivalry games in the Division Formerly Known as I-A. PSU/OSU, although not officially a last game of the year kind of rivalry, will always be spirited. Without the Wolverines to look forward to, the PSU game becomes much more significant to Buckeye fans. Here’s hoping that both squads come to Beaver Stadium on November 7 undefeated.

    Go Lions!


  3. rich foust says

    You’re a smart, cool, savvy guy who can face the facts & say it like it is & I applaud you for it. If you are familiar with the ‘Buckeye Sports Bulletin’ which I subscribe to, reg ‘letters to the editor’ FACT they print about 75% of my letters, & most of them since we won Nat’l title in 02 I have done nothing but rip Tressel for milking that win & has done nothing but get totally embarressed in every top tier team we play. Much of the blame I put on theass’t coaches along with Tresse; With like top 5 recruiting classes every yr the buckeyes should be better. Even now with Terrel Pryor & # 3 09 rec class I don’t expect thingsd to change that much. These coaches in my opinion can’t handle the talent coming in every year. My point, I don’t play favorites or make excuses. The bottom line is what you see on the field & it has not been very good in Columbus. With Michigan’s program in shambles, the OSU-PSU game now is ‘THE’ game of the year. Can it get any better? I’m not saying OSU people are perfect reg visitors [we have some assholes too] who does’nt but last oct I had a group of friends from Pa. out for the game. Pre. & post game, during the game, afterwards they remarked they had never been treated better anywhere they’ve been to an away game. We lost, I moped for a minute then screw it lets go have a beer. along with the S. Cal game coming up the PSU game is shaping up to be as good as any game to be played this yr. I also think you have to be a bit more of a student to get in a big ten school than alot of the SEC, etc. schools so forget all that crap about how superior they are, Nothing beats big ten football.
    R Foust

  4. Tom says

    I too am glad to see Todd disappear. I have two degrees from PSU but I thought Todd was obnoxious. I hoped Todd was as passionate and innovative as a health practioner as he was a “hater”of those who don’t see things as he does.

  5. R. Foust says

    I see where Mr. Warmth todd sponsler still spewing his venom regarding Ohio State, Michiugan, otherwise known as “Them”. I”d bet my life that Mr. sponsler was a nerdy lil geek that could”nt play the game of any kind & this is how he plays out his frustrations. PSU loses to “Them” & the Buckeyes like 75% of the time [or more] therefore the venom. Toddy, after the scandallous sandusky thing, the cover-ups by school officials top to bottom down to poopy paterno I’d think you put your tail tween your legs & scadaddle & just hush it up. You got “some” b–s toddy. Of course you”re a good reflection of the mentality in state college/centre co. etc. Crawl back in your hole & be seen & not heard.

    • says

      Clearly, you’re a man with lots of time and vitriol on his hands. Feel free to disparage Todd and Penn State all you want. Other than telling you to fuck off right now, I’ll avoid further comments on your vindictive diatribe.


  6. R. Foust says

    TRue, after 25 yrs in USMC now I”ve got moocho time on my hands to log on to Pa. papers & read all the whining, bitchin, pissin & moanin about how every time perv state loses a game its the refs fault. Yopur respomnse to me is typical of apenna hillbilly who buys in to poopy paterno & his bosses who covered up the most scandalous happening in college sports. Out here in mid-west we all wish perv U would drop out of B10, you”re not worthy, an embarressment, plus psu football sucks as it has for 25 yrs. “ONE” title in 19 yrs B10, no BCS bowls, got clobbered by s. Cal in rose bowl couple yrs ago. Bottom line you stink, bi time. Please go away & go back to playing the east coast chumps where poopy got most his wins in 1st place.

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