The past two months have been one hell of an adventure. Well, that’s one way to put it.
Between everything that happened here at Penn State, my women’s volleyball season ending and then the holidays, I really have neglected this blog. Honestly, I just didn’t know what to write and didn’t want to just write about what was necessarily easiest. However, in the last six days or so things have changed here and for me. I finally feel the comforting and familiar urge to write again.
As you all know, Penn State has a new football coach. A coach many people seem determined to not give a fair chance. And you know, I really wasn’t too sure when I first heard myself. But I have to say I am excited. Excited the process is over, excited we can move on in at least one area and excited for this new chapter in the Penn State and Nittany Lion football story.
Last Saturday, history was made as we introduced Bill O’Brien as the 15th head coach in PSU football history. Maybe he wasn’t who you expected. He’s not a big name and he obviously has no Penn State ties. He is, however, young, energetic and while he wants to start a new era with some changes, he also wants to continue the traditions and build upon the foundation laid by our beloved Joe Paterno. Uniforms will remain the same and academics will remain a priority. The formidable defense Penn State has been known for will continue under the leadership of longtime Nittany Lion coaches Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden. But definitely look out for a dramatic change in the offensive strategy. A change our players are very excited about.
Saturday morning was amazing. While I didn’t get to meet O’Brien, my first impression of him from his press conference and watching him interact with his family, our staff and the media was a good one. His family was wonderful and I know they’re thrilled to be coming to Happy Valley. I can’t wait to see where he leads the Nittany Lions in the Fall. Things may not be all sunshine and rainbows as he works to make this his team, but I truly have a good feeling. Maybe he wasn’t a Penn Stater Friday morning, but by Friday night when pen met paper we welcomed a new Nittany Lion to the Penn State family.
Many of you guys went to Penn State and love this university in a way that’s inexplainable to those who didn’t spend arguably the most formative four years in a young person’s life here. While the past two months have tested your love and loyalty in ways you probably never expected, I think most of you acknowledge Penn State is so much greater than a single person and their actions. Afterall, I think that’s why most of us came here.
“It’s about being a part of a place that becomes a part of you.”
This place is inextricably linked with my identity. When we yell, “We Are! Penn State!” we truly believe in those four simple words.
Today a story someone posted on Facebook caught my attention. It was Jay Paterno’s column on StateCollege.com. I enjoy reading Jay’s column’s now and again. The most recent is definitely included in that group. I really enjoy the ending. In his column he includes links to four previous columns he wrote in the weeks leading up to the scandal. This one was my favorite of the four. Penn State IS all those things he lists and more, and I think we all need reminded of that now more than ever.
Again, I love how he ends the column.
“Penn State is a society unto itself. The isolation forces students to bond with one another through a shared set of experiences, places and events.
“Penn State is those ties that bind Penn Staters to each other in ways that don’t fade with time, nor lessen with distance. Across the miles and across the generations, we all share some common experiences that lead to a unifying love of our alma mater…
“Penn State builds from standing at childhood’s gate. And although Penn State will certainly mold you through college, its effect on your life will never end.
“You will always be Penn State.”
Those four paragraphs are true in a way I’ll never be able to better explain than Jay.
I love Penn State. I’m proud to be an alum and am proud to have the privilege of working here as well. As in real life, the people and things we love can sometimes let us down. Maybe some of you feel Penn State let you down during these last two months. There were a lot of wrongs. But like Coach Rose said recently, “Penn State will be ok. Those of us who love Penn State love Penn State for what’s right about it.”
And there are a lot of things right about Penn State.