Penn State football alumnus Wally Triplett was elected to the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame on Thursday and will be immortalized along with the class of 2018 in May.
Letterman Wally Triplett, who is synonymous with the creation of the "We Are…Penn State" mantra, is among the 6 honorees elected to the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame Class of 2018!
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) January 11, 2018
Triplett will join Lydell Mitchell and become the second Penn Stater to enter the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. Other Class of 2018 inductees include former Texas running back Ricky Williams, ex-USC head coach John Robinson, and Roy Williams, an alumnus and former safety on Oklahoma, among others.
Triplett, who will turn 92 on April 18, will be honored for scoring the tying touchdown in Penn State’s 13-13 tie against SMU in the 1948 Cotton Bowl. He starred for the Nittany Lions during his collegiate career and became the first African-American to earn a varsity letter at Penn State.
While the history of the “We Are Penn State” chant is debated, it is widely believed Triplett was the inspiration for the chant leading up to the 1948 Cotton Bowl. Before that year’s Cotton Bowl, Penn State was rumored to be meeting with its slated opponent, Southern Methodist University, to discuss the removal of African Americans for the bowl game.
Obviously, the idea of those meetings didn’t bode well with Triplett, and he wasn’t the only one. Team captain Steve Suhey was against of the meetings with SMU. It was because of his opposition to the bowl game meetings that Suhey uttered the arguably four most recognizable words in all of Penn State: “We are Penn State. There will be no meetings.”
ESPN even created a 30-for-30 short last fall based on this history. However, evidence has been presented in recent years tho suggest this may not be the true origin of the chant.
While Triplett is widely known as the man behind Penn State’s iconic “We Are” slogan and chant and was the topic of an ESPN 30-for-30 short because of this, there has been evidence released recently that suggests otherwise. You can read the counter argument here in a guest column for Onward State by Dennis Shea.
Regardless, Triplett’s contributions to Penn State were spectacular and he will be rightfully honored in May at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.