Crowd Attendance

Watching the first three games this year, I can not help but be disappointed with the attendance at our home games.  Three games into the season and we do not have a sellout.  Yesterday’s game against Temple might be the smallest crowd since the 2001 stadium expansion.  That is not only disappointing, but unacceptable.

These young men are pouring their heart and soul into the program in our time of need.  The least we can do for them is show up and cheer our hearts out in support of them.  I am not sure if it is the teams we are playing, but I more than expected at least one game of 105,000 so far.  Fortunately for Penn State, this year’s student body has embraced the challenge, showing up early and staying late.  These kids who are there are nothing short of amazing.  

Homecoming is two weeks away and we need to get a strong crowd.  Having over 105,000 people for Homecoming will show the nation the pride we have for our great university.  There are plenty of tickets for sale on the internet, so start spreading the word and get your friends to show up early and stay late.  If we are lucky, we will all be one as we sing the Alma Mater after the game.  For the Glory!

Photo Source: CNN.com

Thank You To The Students

Being at my first Penn State game this season felt different.  For once, the game day experience felt more like a collegiate one than that of a pro game.  Maybe that is because my family tailgate is in the “adult” lot near the stadium, but my takeaway is that the experience was so much more enjoyable.  During our tailgate, a fraternity brother who works for the university stopped by.  My mom was curious about what the vibe in town was.  He replied that things had improved especially with the students back on campus.  He stated the students have been making a huge difference in helping the school and community move forward.  

After being at the game, I could not agree more.  The student section had a much more positive and enjoyable feeling to it.  I started to notice when the students were cheering for Sam Ficken when he made his warmup field goals.  The fact that so many students were there that early is a departure from past student sections.  I also noticed that the students know the words to the Alma Mater and take pride in singing as one.  This is dramatically different from signing “We don’t know the God Damn Words.”  

I was even prouder when the students shouted the line from the Alma Mater, “May No Act of Ours Bring Shame.”  The student section also did an amazing job of showing their appreciation for our veterans and active military members.  Maybe the most special part was seeing the students embrace Bill O’Brien’s new victory tradition of singing the Alma Mater.

To all the current students, we thank you for helping the Penn State community heal and come together.  Without your love and support, Penn State would be a different place.  Thank you for adding that extra Penn State pride into my heart!

Photo Source: USA Today

Appreciation Like Never Before

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of being up in State College for the Navy game.  It was the first time back up there since the Blue White game this past spring.  What a wonderful weekend it was.  A lot of firsts…

First win for the Bill O’Brien era.  I had to stop and think for a second about that.  The last win PSU had was Joe Paterno’s record breaking 409th win last fall.  It is hard to grasp at the huge cavern that spans those two wins.  So much happened… so much changed.

But winning this weekend, in spite of all of the pain endured over the last 10 months, felt different.  A good kind of different.  I don’t believe I have ever seen fans more happy and proud of the team at 1-2.   Singing the alma mater after the win gave me goose bumps.  

I started thinking about records and how long/how many wins we might see from O’Brien. 100…200…It is hard to know.  There will never be another coach like JVP.  But somehow things felt good this weekend, better, different.  It wasn’t just the offensive plays and defensive set ups.  It wasn’t just the the missing rolled up pants on the sideline.  It was a whole aura in the stadium.  It was a different place in a different time and I felt so refreshed by it all.

Military Appreciation Day was a huge success - what a phenomenal idea.  I hope that PSU does it every year.  I thought the fans were very welcoming of Navy - we should try to play one of the academies every year, if possible.  It just felt so good to be thankful for everything these people gave for our country.  Winning is nice, but in the end, it was like football was the second contest happening that day.  

I am very thankful I am a Penn State grad and also to be an American.  This weekend helped remind me that.   Saturday was the most beautiful day and I wouldnt have wanted to be anywhere but State College.

Can’t wait for homecoming…

PSU - A Family Event

While I certainly enjoy sports and am a fan who can understand most plays, call out most penalties before they are announced and list most positions, for me attending Penn State football games has always been about the people I am with and less about the game.

See, I married a fanatical fan of the team.  When we attended PSU together, he could name every player and pretty much every play before it was about to run.  I enjoyed the team and, to this day, want to see them win, partly because it brings him so much joy.

But for me, the game is really about the entire experience.  Win or lose, which I have no control over, I get to spend the day in a wonderful city, surrounded by intimate strangers who all share a common passion and with my closest family and friends.  

As you already know, PSU football games is a cultural in and of itself.  Maybe one that at times isn’t quite as classy as we all might hope, but at its core defines itself on one major thing: bringing people together.

The game might be, for some, just the excuse to be together.  To drive up from various parts of the state, or the country, to sit in some cow fields and tailgate together.  Without the game, we all probably wouldn’t do that.  Or if State College wasn’t such a wonderful place to visit, year after year, we might just stay home, watch on TV and call our friends or family when a very good (or very bad) play occurs.

But instead, every home game 100,000 plus strong pack the stadiums (and thousands more stay behind outside or retreat to the downtown bars) because it’s an experience.  It reminds of our past time as students, it reminds us of that feeling we get when we all share a common passion.  It reminds us how much we love our family and friends.

So for me, attending my first game in person this year, I want to remember how much the experience continues to shape my life.  That being at the game is not about beating Navy, but about the blessing of sharing the day or the weekend with my family.  

While my husband may be able to remember sports stats for many years, I know down the line I won’t recall the score from this weekend but I will remember the feeling I get standing in the shadow of that stadium with the people I love most around me.

9/11 and Military Appreciation Day

As we all know, eleven years ago our lives and our nation changed forever.  I am now able to sit back and watch the stories and news highlights from this tragedy, and more than ever it makes me so proud of our military.  After that day, many of these men and women voluntarily join the armed forces knowing they were going to war.  If that does not define a hero, I am not sure what does.

As we blogged about previously, we are thrilled that Saturday’s game against Navy is Military Appreciation Day.  I am super proud that the Penn State community will be honoring those who have and are serving our country.  Watching Navy play will remind me that there is much more to this Saturday than football.  I will be severely disappointed if any fan decides to boo when Navy takes the field; rather I hope they get a standing ovation and that a U-S-A chants break out.  

On Friday, Penn State will dedicate the Lt. Michael Murphy Penn State Veteran’s Plaza.  Be sure to be there to honor some great Penn Staters.  I am hoping that we get treated to a fly over or some paratroopers.  Either way, the weekend promises to be a special one and, win or lose, make us further proud to be a part of Penn State.  

Photo Courtesy of: How Stuff Works

Losing Brings Out the Losers

Today, the football team sits 0-2 and, boy, has it been tough.  Was I upset we lost yesterday?  Absolutely! Losing stinks, especially after Penn State dominated the whole game.  I won’t go into specifics about the loss, but unfortunately numerous Penn State fans took to social media to trash a certain player.  We had previously written about the need for all Penn Staters to be better fans this year and that the world was watching.  

Unfortunately, not everyone got that message.  We are disgusted that fans would take to Twitter to contact certain players and leave them spiteful messages.  This is disgusting and cowardly and probably qualifies as bullying.  For a grown adult to sit and hide behind a computer is disturbing and I hope that the players in question understand these people are very sick individuals.

Most importantly, what kind of message do these actions send to the current players and potential recruits?  What kid will want to come play knowing that people will tear them apart if they make a mistake?  For those who follow Adam Brenneman, he had to post a message reminding fans to leave the kids alone.  This is the #1 TE recruit in the country, a 18 year old, who has proudly stood by Penn State and he has to see disgusting acts like this.  Remember, these kids had every right to leave Penn State, but they stuck with us and are pouring their heart and soul into our football program.  These men have elected to help restore something bigger than themselves.  

Don’t forget we are lucky to have football right now.  Win or lose, it is just a football game and there are a lot more important things in life than these games.  We as Penn Staters have a lot more to be proud of than just a football team.  Let’s start acting like it.  

"May no act of ours bring shame…."

Photo Source: South Park Studios

My Thoughts on the Media the Same as JoePa

As I neared the end of “Paterno”, a quote about JoePa and the modern day media really stuck out.  Those around Joe said, “He had long thought that sportswriters had moved out of the business of writing about sports and into the business of controversy.”  As the book details, early in his career Joe had an outstanding relationship with the press, until someone violated that trust.  With the birth of the Internet, the relationship quickly soured.  

When I was younger, I was enamored with the ESPN-era sports reporting and constant access.  However, I have come to the realization the media cares less about facts and more about making a name for themselves or being the first with a scoop.  So when the Sandusky scandal hit, I finally gave up ESPN, something I had been thinking about for a while.  Unfortunately, that has not shielded me from terrible sports reporting.  Take for instance this doozy from David Jones calling the football team fragile.  How does he know the team is fragile?  If you read all the players quotes, they don’t think the team is fragile and, in fact, they believe the complete opposite is true.  But that doesn’t matter to Mr. Jones - like many others I would guess he is more concerned with putting his personal spin on the story instead of reporting on the facts.  

Unfortunately, the souring relationship with the media helped lead to JoePa’s image being tarnished.  They had attacked him numerous times in the past 12 years and saw him as an easy target given his often curt responses to them.  Once the scandal hit, the headline-makers lined up and held nothing back.  

We can make a change.  We do not have to support those who report on assumptions and headlines instead of facts.  When you see shady reporting, just give up on that source and by doing so will send a message.  This is just a small step in “Restoring The Roar”.  

Photo Source: CDN-B

Lack of UNC Sanctions

I had to take a few days to digest the news about UNC.  My first reaction was to laugh out loud at this story, then I almost threw my phone is disgust.  

It is hard to call Dr. Mark Emmert anything but a hypocrite after his latest findings at UNC. As most of us know, UNC was already on probation for academic fraud and then more reports surfaced with proof of additional academic lies.  However, as Emmert claims, investigators could not find any wrongdoing.

Reactions were swift and critical. A NC State fan posted Julius Pepper’s UNC transcript and, it appears to me, that he probably had trouble could reading, let alone graduating.  But universities, like UNC, continue to recruit and play with “stars” like Julius, because it is a very lucrative business.

After hearing the news about UNC, I felt the seething anger all over again about how the NCAA can use the Freeh report to hand down severe sanctions to Penn State for nothing that is academic or athletic related!  This is the same report that did not interview the main characters wrapped up in the scandal.  But the UNC transcript seems to be some pretty solid proof to me.  Maybe the NCAA should hire the Freeh team solidify the decision to enact sanctions on UNC too.

I feel like taking a cue from the ’70s film “Network" and going to the window and screaming, "I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take it!"  I am proud every time I hear of groups of Penn Staters standing up for us.  Some members of the BOT have awaken from their "coma" and are trying to fight back.  We have the Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship keeping the pressure on the BOT and we have the Faculty Senate standing up for the fight as well.  I am holding out hope that as WE ALL stand up for Penn State, our proud faculty and alumni, change will come.

As I have said before, I am glad those responsible for the scandal will be punished in the court of law and hope the victims receive justice.  But I continue to be baffled by the “blind justice” Dr. Emmert doled out.  I just keep holding on to the old adage that “actions speak louder than words”.  If we can emerge stronger, better, more together, we will show him, them, everyone.

We can not stand down.  We are….

Photo Source: Memegenerator

Paterno

After finishing reading Joe Posnanski’s “Paterno”, I have a greater appreciation for what Joe stood for and accomplished.  A quote from Sue Paterno hits the nail on the head.  Sue said, “I don’t see why people can’t just realize that Joe is who he says he is.  He isn’t perfect.  But he tried to teach young men how to live.”

This book was very eye opening for me.  I was among those who thought Joe should have retired after 2003/2004’s “Dark Years” and then again should have gone out on top following the 2005 Orange Bowl win.  I am guilty, like many others, of just measuring success in wins and losses.  When I read Sue’s quote, my whole perspective changed.  Enduring over the last nine months has helped shape a new perspective on success - one that isn’t so focused on winning.

Reading this book helped me realize that while Joe Paterno won the most football games by a Divison 1 coach, regardless of what the NCAA books state, he was an even better man.  Sure Paterno made a mistake with the Sandusky situation, but he is human and humans make mistakes.  Joe changed the lives of myriad of men and most did not realize it while they were being coached by him.  Life took over and that’s when Paterno’s lessons settled in.  Paterno knew this would be the case and he did not change his approach.

Unfortunately, the modern day media does not remember Joe Paterno this way.  In the age of Twitter and the Internet, the media only cares about getting the story first and putting their own spin on it.  This approach led to Paterno being abruptly fired, the tarnishing of his name, and the NCAA delivering penalties without due justice.  I hope I am not the only reader to see Paterno in a new light and to appreciate Paterno for more than wins and losses.  

George Bush alluded in his book “Decision Points”, that he was not concerned about his legacy now and that in only due time would history show his true legacy.  I believe this to be the case with Joe Paterno.  The scandal sticks out now, but in the long run his legacy will be remembered for all the lives he changed.  We as Penn Staters need to ensure his legacy is remembered in this fashion.  

Image courtesy of: joeposnanski.com

Freshman Picnics - PSU Welcome Crew

When I was approaching freshman year at Penn State, I attended a local picnic thrown by the Alumni Association near my home in Northern NJ.  As a “cool” 18 year old, I thought for sure this would be just an awkward meet and greet with other incoming students (and their overbearing parental units).  

But all these years later, I still remember attending that picnic and that it actually was a good introduction to the university, fellow students and the great alumni ahead of actually stepping foot on campus.  See, if I remember correctly, move in day and the days following are very stimulating to say the least.  There is SO much going on at Penn State and it can be easy to be overwhelmed.  I was lucky enough to have a few kids from my HS also attending PSU as incoming freshman so we stuck together.  But that picnic also helped introduce me to other local NJ kids as well as some great alumni contacts.

A few years later, when I was searching for a job as a much wiser, probably less cool senior, I happened upon the father of someone I met at that picnic.  He was at PSU to represent his company at the career fair.  While I didn’t end up going to work for him and his company, that was a great example of how networking starts early.  

So I was really glad to see a recent write up in my Alumni Newsletter about the freshman picnics.  My greatest advice would be to start making contacts early and often.  In the professional world, they are like gold!

Photo Source: Flicker