With a proud blue background and a string of words that simply reads, “You can’t cover up 61 years of success with honor,” a new billboard was erected in State College that pays homage to the legacy of the late Joe Paterno.
The blazoning message was coordinated by the militantly anti-Board of Trustees interest group, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, and an anonymous alumni who — though funding the project — chooses to remain anonymous.
In an attempt to fight back against the alleged de-Paternozation of Penn State, the initiative hopes to publicize the positive accomplishments and contributions that Paterno has willed to the university. However, from many reactions from those inside and out of the Penn State community, the sign sends mixed signals.
Those who refuse to let the findings of the Freeh Report taint the image of the once most winningest coach in the history of college football find the publicity stunt as a relief in the scrubbing of Paterno’s name from the university. With portraits removed, a statue torn down, and a name drug through the mud, a billboard gives solace, as well as a fighting spirit, to those in the Penn State community who can never view Joe Paterno as less than a saintly figure.
But for those who have fully embraced the call to “move on” — which has been echoed from everyone from Bill O’Brien to Rodney Erickson — the billboard is a cheap way to once again insert the Paterno sentiment into a more serious argument about the shortcomings of a university obviously in the wrong. Instead of spending money on RAINN donations or endowments to the alma mater in which they are trying to defend, PS4RS and this “concerned alum” have further illustrated the national opinion that blue and white is synonymous with flawed critical thinking skills and the inability to learn from mistakes.
Besides the original advertisement that is located in the parking lot by the CVS on Beaver Ave. and Pugh St. (map), there are reports that up to 10 more billboards will appear on routes 322 and 26 to catch the eye of those traveling into State College. With typical advertising costs for central Pennsylvania billboards coming in at roughly $850 a month according to outdoorbillboard.com, this pro-Paterno publicity stunt might be carrying a price tag that is equatable to an in-state student’s semester tuition costs.
Do you think the “You can’t cover up 61 years of success with honor” billboard is off base? Or is it about time someone stood up for the good name of Joe Paterno? Let us hear what you think in the comments or at @OnwardState.