Winning consistently, regular bowl appearances (2 out of 3 years at least), competing for MAC championships and finishing between 7-5 and 9-3 annually, given the resources we should have at our disposal. That's what generates interest from non-hardcore alumni and current students. 3/4 of the people I know that root for Penn State (I live in a hot bed of those types of people) didn't go there or have any real connection to them other than they like the school and their tradition. At the Maryland game, which I attended in person, it was a sad environment (in my opinion) for a home opener for a "Big Time Conference" Team. Students were gone after halftime, stands were maybe 1/4 full at kickoff. It did fill in but then went down after halftime.
By my count, there are 39 bowl games (not including the championship playoff semi-final and final), meaning 78 teams make it to a bowl out of 131 possible teams. Doesn't seem like a stretch to compete for that annually. I don't think that is a stretch or a pie in the sky dream. What Lance was building was a consistent winner with solid trench play and a reasonable roster turn that had graduates and some transfers, but the next group waiting in the wings. I don't think we have that now. Our secondary and WR core after this season will be right back to square one for the most part. I really want these guys to win and want the staff to succeed, but the regressions at the end of last season and so far this season have been hard to stomach.