BY STEVE DUNN
More than a year ago devastating revelations about Jerry Sandusky and the cover-up by Penn State’s highest leadership and legendary coach Joe Paterno rocked Happy Valley. Next to the victims of Sandusky’s sexual atrocities, there were other victims of a different order–the young men who had been recruited to play football for Penn State University and the rich heritage of the excellent athletes and model citizen leaders who graduated from “Linebacker U.”
The NCAA, before leveling its unprecedented punishment, gave the remaining young men and incoming recruits the chance to pit their football fortunes in another program. Some took the opportunity, but many young men of great character and loyalty to their school chose to remain. Penn State brought in a coach, Bill O’Brien, who proceeded to create a “new day” for Penn State football and to help shape a team again into a competitive squad that could hold its head up with dignity and be more than competitive on the gridiron.
Penn State succeeded beyond many people’s expectations. After a slow and sometimes agonizing start, the Nittany Lions grew into one of the class teams of the Big Ten. Their only two losses were close contests against eventual division leaders–Penn State and Nebraska/ Even with no bowl game or Big Ten title games to validate their efforts, these young Lions pressed and worked and performed at a great level. When they faced the Ohio State Buckeyes, they were very much in the hunt to capture or share the Leader Division title of the Big Ten.
Personally, I am a life-long fan of The Ohio State Buckeyes and rejoiced as Urban Meier and his charges went 12-0 in a season when like Penn State, they would have no further reward. But no football program in America had as much as adversity to overcome and as much to prove as the Penn State Nittany Lions.
So with great respect I must say, Way to go, Penn State!