Penn State Football: Guido’s Legacy And What Lies Ahead


For the latest era of Penn State football, it’s now official: “The lights are out, The Show is over.”

Labeled as the creator of “The Greatest Show In College Football,” Guido D’Elia’s time at Penn State came to an end on Monday in another housecleaning move by Penn State to transition into the O’Brien era.

Mixed reactions greeted the move, but given the constant criticism I’ve seen Guido take from fans, I wanted to share my own opinion on his time at Penn State as someone who had the opportunity to work with Guido on a number of occasions through my involvement with Paternoville. In my experience, he genuinely cared about student input, often asking for opinions from myself and other student leaders on issues related to the game atmosphere and/or student section. He let us help guide “the best student section in the country.”

As a marketing major, I examine Guido’s tenure at Penn State from another different perspective than many fans. I have not always agreed with decisions made by the marketing staff, but I understand the reasoning behind them. While the Penn State football game experience remains special for all, a stale experience will not keep fans, especially students, coming back with the same fervor. Look no further than Duke basketball’s recent struggles to fill their fabled student section, despite fielding yet another national title contender, for proof of that. Some promotions (yes, we know, you didn’t like the tie-dye shirt idea) certainly seemed silly, but new traditions like the Whiteout (and eventual White House) and the playing of Zombie Nation have become as much a part of Penn State football as plain uniforms and black shoes.

D’Elia’s influence extended past game days through his partial ownership of Mind Over Media, which has produced some of the classic Penn State football videos we’ve come to cherish. While Penn State has, and will find, plenty of talent to continue those videos, topping the Penn State Football Story appears impossible at the present time.

I am very interested see what direction the Penn State football game experience takes with Guido no longer in charge. Most current students, as well as many recent alums and younger fans, fail to realize that Beaver Stadium has not always placed among the most intimidating venues in college football. In fact, since yesterday’s news, some have expressed concern at the thought of the stadium atmosphere returning to the way it was before Guido, when many fans “sat on their hands” despite the team’s consistent success on the field. Personally, I’d rather have this.

Yes, I hear the complaints about too much piped-in music or playing music at the wrong times, and I agree with some of them. However, the fact remains that the overall experiential value of a Penn State football game exploded under Guido’s watch, and I ask the (many) critics to acknowledge Guido D’Elia’s numerous contributions to what has become one of the most spectacular gameday environments in all of college football. Where the game day experience at Beaver Stadium goes remains a question, but we can only hope to keep the level of intensity and excitement the past eight seasons contained.

What is your opinion of Guido D’Elia’s contributions to the Penn State football game day atmosphere? What would you like to see stay or go?

Photo By: John Tecce

About Author

John is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He currently serves as the President of the Paternoville Coordination Committee and as a THON Chair for Nittany Nation. He tweets a lot.


  1. I never liked this recent phenemon of White Outs. It’s a juvenile name and I never thought the stadium looked good with a bunch of people wearing dirty white shirts. It makes us look like a bunch of scrubs. I miss seeing the stadium with everyone all decked out in blue.

    I don’t mind the piped in music as much as the choice in music and the fact that it’s always the same music. Zombie Nation is great and everyone in the country does it now, but I never want to hear Don’t Stop Believing another time in my life. And the whole gameday experience has almost shifted into a New Jersey vibe where I no longer feel like I’m in Pennsylvania.

    I hope whatever the gameday experience turns into will be something homegrown. It would be great if students, the band, or the music and entertainment minded people at the school could come up with songs, music, sounds, or chants that were completely noncommercial and that every other stadium in the country didn’t use. Everyone uses Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll song, everyone uses Seven Nation Army, these songs aren’t Penn State songs, we need our own songs.

    We need a new fight song with some electric beats that can be used with our more traditional songs that the band plays. I wish I was talented enough to come up with that kind of thing, but I’m hoping a student or someone who knows how to produce music can make a good fight song we can pump through the speakers.

    Guido will me missed for the Penn State Football Story and We Told You So, which are both brilliant and will be hard to replace.

    But lets produce our own goddamn songs.

  2. Had a friend who interned for Guido a few years back. Don’t think anyone ever realized exactly how much Guido did and how much behind the scenes work went into making Beaver Stadium so special. Also my understanding that Guido was the one behind the university’s brand (not just football). TV commercials, etc.

    I would call this a HUGE loss for the football program and the university.

  3. Hmmmm, maybe our Drum Major, also a Music Ed Major, can have some input. He knows first hand what has been working, and what some of the problems have been. He usually can come up with some interesting ideas. How about it, Ian?

  4. You can’t be serious…White Outs under the lights are the SINGLE COOLEST thing I’ve ever seen/been a part of in sports, and I’m a sports Fanatic, it creates an atmosphere that is unmatched

  5. He was hired when Penn State football was at its lowest (now second lowest) point. Four losing season in five years. 3-9 in 03. 4-8 in 04. Very low attendances. Time to fix the “game day exeperience.” He was hired to make a bad, boring football game fun. Luckily for him, 2005 made for some exciting football. Good football will make any marketing campgain successful. 

    When the team started to struggle again, the cheesy theme days and awful music started aggravating fans again. But D. Clark and company turned it around, and all that stuff wasn’t so bad anymore. Following that, bad QB play, medicore defense, and uninspired play-calling happened. “Bah! The music sucks again!”

    I don’t think winning is everything, but it is when it comes to the “game day” experience. Winning is what puts people in the seats, gives them something to cheer for, and excites a fan base. “Tie dye” and “favorite jersey” day will never do that.

  6. One of the problems with White is that every team has some kind of white in their uniforms and the stadium ends up looking like it’s a home crowd for the other team, especially red and white teams when the fans for the other team show up wearing red.

    When we’re playing Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, or Ohio State, and when we played Alabama last year, and we show up wearing white and the visiting fans show up wearing red, the stadium looks like it’s all Red and White for the visiting team. There’s no blue to be found.

    Same thing with someone like Michigan State. We show up in white, all the MSU fans show up in green, and you’ve got a stadium decked out in Green and White making it look like an MSU crowd.

    White is too neutral and generic, and everybody looks like they’re wearing dirty white shirts like they don’t even know how to wash their own clothes.

    I say we stick to Blue unless we’re playing someone like Michigan that doesn’t have any white.

  7. It would be great to get students who were DJs or good with mixing beats or sampling on a computer to come up with something in the Zombie Nation spirit that was all our own. There’s no doubt that things like Zombie Nation are effective at creating an atmosphere and keeping the energy up throughout the game, but we need something that nobody else can start using on their own.

    People actually sat down and wrote our Alma Mater and our traditional fight songs, etc., and I feel like our generation is dropping the ball by pumping in commercial music when we could be making our own version of a fight song for the age of electronic/rave/hiphop music or whatever you want to call what we pump through the speakers to make everyone jump up and down.

  8. I went to my first Penn State game in Nov 2010 since graduating too many years ago and I thought the atmosphere was fabulous!

    Have you even been to a Pitt game at Heinz Field?  Went to the Pitt vs ND game this year and there was no comparison, even with all of the Irish fans in attendance.

    Game day excitement adds alot to the PSU football experience! 

  9. Mark, I understand where you’re coming from, but the visiting fans are usually for the most part secluded to one corner of the stadium. So there’s a sea of white with a corner that has a little ‘Bama crimson or MSU green. Whiteouts aren’t a PSU-specific tradition, they’re done all over the place and are known for creating an intimidating game enviroment for the opposition. Imagine what it would be like coming into Beaver Stadium on a snowy night with the lights shining down on you surround by 100,000 screaming Penn State fans that match the color of the snow on the field. It really doesn’t get any better than a night game whiteout. 

  10. In the world of Ebay and Stubhub, there’s no such thing as keeping the visiting fans in a corner of the stadium. If you looked around at that ‘Bama game, there was red and white all throughout the stadium. I felt like I was in Tuscaloosa.

    If you think White Outs in the snow work, then have your White Out in the snow. Don’t make it an every game thing. I think any time everyone is wearing the same color it has an effect. The way Michigan basketball fans pack the basketball arena all wearing Maize shirts has a great effect, and they have a reason to be wearing Maize because that’s the most unique, Michigan-specific color you can have. White doesn’t work that way and most of the time it looks like a scrubby and dirty white.

  11. Can you please explain how it’s “almost shifted into a New Jersey vibe”?  I think you’re just another ignorant idiot who dislikes New Jersey or the people from there for no reason.  Like what does that even have to do with the game, and who the hell even stands in Beaver Stadium and thinks “hey, i kinda don’t feel like i’m in PA, maybe i should go”….?  Gosh i’m sick of you people running your mouth.

  12. I agree that winning ultimately drives the gameday experience, but as I said above Penn State football won for decades yet Beaver Stadium only recently became such an intimidating and heralded venue. Guido played a big part in making it that way.