The last nine months have been full of so many emotions, so many news stories and so many opinions that it is an understatement to say they were a struggle for the Penn State community. From finding out innocent children were abused by a former coach to having our beloved role model and coach, Joe Paterno, pass away, to finally being punished, yet again, for the acts of a few individuals. On July 23rd at 9 a.m. the NCAA decided to punish the entire Penn State community of students, alumni, faculty, athletes, even the residents of State College. Penn State Football was given a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on bowl games, the loss of 20 scholarships per year over four years, five years of probation, and the loss of all Joe Paterno’s wins from 1998-2011. Many are saying this is the end of Penn State Football; that no school can come back from such severe sanctions as these. Sports Illustrated came out with a cover reading, “We Were Penn State.” The world is rooting against us, again.
Well, the Penn State community has some something else in mind. WE STILL ARE Penn State, and we aren’t going to let these punishments bring us down. This is evident just from the overwhelming number of players that have decided to stay committed to Penn State, the recruits that have reaffirmed their commitments and are sticking with the Nittany Lions, and the fans of Penn State Football. A week after the sanctions were announced, when most of the country was sleeping or just waking up, Penn State fans were gathered outside the Lasch Football Building on campus at 6 a.m. No, it was not to riot; it was to rally. 3,000 plus Nittany Lion fans crammed into the parking lot to cheer on the players as they took to the field for their first day of practice. After almost two hours of cheering and chanting and singing with the Blue Band, the players knew their fans were behind them. We support them and have the utmost respect for them for sticking it out when times are tough and for having the courage to face adversity.
Throughout all this, we have found a leader in our new coach, Bill O’Brien. There hasn’t been a moment when he has backed down, or when he hasn’t supported the program. He has been there for his players, his coaching staff, Penn State students, and alumni. He has had our backs and now we will have his. This Saturday, September 1st, when our guys take the field in Beaver Stadium, it will be like no game ever before at Penn State. We are ready to go out and fight back. The student section will be packed and in an absolute frenzy to show our support and our love of our school and our team. The alma mater will be sung with Penn State Pride that has never and will never falter. This Saturday, the new era of Penn State football begins.
WE ARE angry. WE ARE tired of being judged by the public and harassed by the national media. WE ARE not going to let the NCAA punish all of us for the acts of a few men. WE ARE going to support our team. WE ARE going to show the world they aren’t going to keep Penn State down. WE ARE much more than just a football program. WE ARE a community. WE ARE a family. WE ARE PENN STATE, always and forever.