Guido May Not Always Be Right, But He’s Not the Bad Guy
There might not be a more misunderstood and under-appreciated member of Penn State athletics than Guido D’Elia. The man-behind-the-curtain has made himself the enemy of every fan who feels that Beaver Stadium is becoming a forced atmosphere. Certainly the ongoing war between Lady Gaga and the Blue Band has come with plenty of legitimate arguments. In a lot of ways it is a microcosm of the issues Penn State faces everyday. Flashy against plain, new ideas pitted against tradition, education and athletics. Finding the balance between all of these things is nothing short of an impossible task, pleasing 110,000 people is an even more formidable job.
With all due respect to those who have voiced their concerns about an admittedly never ending river of Whiteouts and LMFAO marathons, it is worth remembering that Guido D’Elia saved the image of the Penn State football program.
Take a time machine with me back to 2004 and you’ll see a Penn State team that has won more than five games only once in the span of five seasons. You think a sloppy offense going 7-1 annoys you? Try winning 3 games and looking awful doing it. And then do it again for three more years. It’s unreal.
As you’d expect the knives and pitchforks came out pretty fast. Penn State fans can live with not being elite, but the “Dark Years” as they are affectionately called tried even the most loyal fan’s patients. By the time 2004 came around, Joe Paterno was pulling out all the stops to keep his job. “I think we’re going to be a pretty good football team,” Paterno said going into the 2005 season. He was right, but he was also lucky.
Behind the scenes Penn State was already preparing for a Post-Paterno era. In 2003, Guido’s consulting firm Mind Over Media was hired to revamp the public appearance of the program. Guido was able to do that in one simple, yet brilliant move. Sell Penn State football, not Joe Paterno.
Before Guido was hired Penn State and Paterno were one in the same. The Penn State Football Story, a 30 minute program we’ve all come to love was more of a showcase of Paterno’s weekly press conference than any real story. Paterno’s word was the only word. Guido shifted that focus to players, the team, and the program as a whole.
GoPSF.com was introduced, and real in-depth features were made covering all aspects of the program. Paterno was often an afterthought during the 30 minute special that once only focused on him. That simple shift made Penn State football its own product, no longer dependent on Joe Paterno’s image. He was vital cog to a machine, but no longer the heart of the engine.
This isn’t to say Guido has played his power without error. The 2005 Ohio State game was a perfect storm of events that he has tried desperately to recreate with song and dance, but ultimately it is outweighed by the amount of good he has done the program. Before 2005 Penn State was a rather sit-on-your-hands atmosphere and while winning has done a great deal to fix that, many of these improvements were related to things Guido implemented in to the game day experience. You yourself may not have come to Penn State if you hadn’t seen a Whitehouse, watched the student section bounce to zombie nation, or even got to listen to music before the game. An abused privilege or not, he modernized the Penn State football image.
In the end, I’m not here to tell you to worship the hand of Guido. He shouldn’t be given a free pass to spread his omnipotent spirit fingers across campus. I’m just saying that he isn’t the villainous figure that he’s made out to be, in a lot of ways he has done wonders for a program and has only asked for the new Pitbull album in return. So lets all have a real good time everybody.
One Response to “Guido May Not Always Be Right, But He’s Not the Bad Guy”
This is a great fire by O’Brien. I, as well as nearly everyone I talked to, was sick of the canned atmosphere at Beaver Stadium. No more idiotic theme days, no more piped-in music over the Blue Band, and no more of the “Greatest Show in College Football”. This is a HUGE plus for PSU football. We can’t forget the whole “Temple White House” ticket fiasco in 2010, either. I refuse to believe that was a misprint.
Oh, and this probably means that All the Guido-lackeys won’t be trolling the HUB anymore in their “Great Show” sweatshirts. Which is also a plus.
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