My last game in the Beaver Stadium student section represented much more to me, and to Penn State, than I’d ever imagined it would when I used to think about my Senior Day. Here’s what I noticed during my final time in the front row.
- The eyes of the country, and even outside of the country (I spoke with multiple Canadian news outlets this week), were focused on Penn State Saturday at noon to see how we would respond after this week. I would say over 100,000 blue-clad Penn State students, alumni, and fans screaming “We Are! Penn State!” did the job.
- Saturday’s game, to me, represented a return to normalcy, even if only for a few hours. In the fourth quarter, when Penn State began mounting a comeback, I mentioned to @mikehiggzpsu that it felt like the past week hadn’t even happened. At the very least, the game provided a much needed distraction.
- After the game, as they players ran towards the tunnel, the student section gave them a very loud round of applause, which turned into a “We Are Penn State” chant that echoed through the entire stadium. Penn State pride on display regardless of the results on the field.
- I loved the guys who painted themselves up to spell out “FOR THE KIDS” with a ribbon in place of the “O.” Creative way to represent two incredible causes at once, with THON being recognized at the game. I was also a big fan of a sign I saw in the student section that read “JoePa Is PSU’s Best Interest” with ESPN highlighted in red.
- There was not much unrest at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, which many nationally thought there might be. There were a few “Joe Pa-ter-no” chants and some people (like me) dressed in tribute of JoePa, but the day was more about coming together as a university and showing our support for the victims than speaking out against the past week’s events.
- Before he went back into the locker room during warmups, Tom Bradley ran up the Great Show Squad bleachers to high five students. Great moment.
- Rock ‘n Roll was not played before the team came out. This is why.
- The sidelines were as cramped as I can ever remember seeing due to the number of media members and former players. I saw ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi pass us a few times, and thanked him for providing fair coverage all week, which I thought he did. I also got to thank LaVar Arrington for his heartfelt address at Friday night’s vigil.
- The Blue Out was a major success. No, it didn’t “pop” like a Whiteout does, but the symbolism behind it made it extremely powerful. Kudos to all students, and the many non-students, who participated, and also to those who helped organize it. Also, props to those who organized the ribbon next to the S-Zone.
- Tom Bradley coached in a blue long-sleeved shirt yesterday. Every other coach, as they always do at home, wore white. I had to wonder if it had anything to do with the “Blue Out” movement, because otherwise it didn’t make any sense.
- The pregame prayer shared by both teams at midfield, and the accompanying moment(s) of silence from the crowd, was truly moving. A necessary reminder to us all that, no matter what the outcome, a football game is still just a game.
- The 700+ students who camped out at Paternoville this week yelled our “We Love Ya” chant twice during pregame warmups. I hope to see that catch on with the entire student section in 2012.
- This season may not have gone as planned for them, but running backs Stephfon Green and Brandon Beachum stepped up in the absence of Silas Redd and ran hard in their final game at Beaver Stadium. Beachum, who redshirted last season and was expected to be back next season, was recognized with the other seniors before the game.
- Please…PLEASE…kill the “Beeeeeat _______” chant. On the other hand, I liked the “Go State, Beat Cancer!” chant after THON was recognized at halftime.
- There was a guy on the field holding what appeared to be some sort of noise meter (or whatever it’s actually called) with an EA Sports sticker on it. When I asked what he was doing, he told me he was recording crowd noise for EA Sports’ NCAA Football video game. Pretty cool.
- I want to thank everyone who participated in Paternoville this week. You guys survived cold temperatures and a week-long media circus during the darkest days Penn State has ever seen, and you represented yourselves and your university in a mature and thoughtful manner.
- I would also like to thank a few special people for helping me get through this past week, one of the most stressful and emotional of my entire life. Thank you to my family and friends for supporting me and being proud of me. Thank you, Perri, for being there to make me smile no matter what. Thank you, Paternoville officers and Onward State staff, for stepping up big time when I was not able to accomplish everything I needed to.