Game Day Observations: Ohio
We’re bringing back our “Observations” feature from last year, where we’ll take you into the stands at every Penn State home and away football game this season, illuminating what you don’t see on the actual playing field.
It’s a new era for Penn State football, and the crowd atmosphere represented that sentiment — both in positive and negative ways. We lost to Ohio. There’s no way around that. I’m still bitter, so forgive my cynicism as I bring you the first “Observations” post of the 2012 season.
- The build-up to this game was similar to marquee games at Beaver Stadium, but this time it had nothing to do with football. It was unlike any season home opener I’ve ever been to as far as anticipation and general bustle downtown and outside the stadium, for obvious reasons.
- The new “One Team” marketing strategy is simply nauseating. I understand and sympathize with the whole concept of solidarity and a unified athletic department, but the Penn State marketing gurus are shoving this one down our throats more than Natty’s in the parking lot before the game. “One Team” is on every cup and program sold in Beaver Stadium. It’s on the sidelines. It’s on t-shirts. Dean DeVore kept saying it over the loudspeaker. Our sports SIDs incessantly tweet it. I can see this becoming increasingly annoying.
- The new Gary Glitter-less “We Will Rock You” version made it’s Beaver Stadium debut, and as expected, it sounded like shit. When the Blue Band stopped playing, the students continued humming the originial, more-harmonic version.
- Zombie Nation was never played. Not one time. Indeed, the Guido D’Elia era is noticeably over.
- The student section showed up on time. Although it never completely filled up, student seating was almost at capacity by the noon kickoff — something we have struggled to do in recent years. So kudos to us!
- The student section at Beaver Stadium is quite diverse and noticeably layered. Normally, I show up to the games relatively early, often finding myself in the first few rows after the Nittanyville campers. The people who show up this early are devout fans who came to watch football and support the team. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, I didn’t get to Beaver Stadium this Saturday until right before kickoff. This put me back in row 40-something, surrounded by fellow late-comers in a sea of pinnies and “Go Greek” shades, and conversation that focused more on the upcoming Sunday daylong than the football game. Most of this section cleared out in the third quarter, even though the game was still within a touchdown. I’ll never show up late again, that’s for sure.
- The Joe Paterno and anti-NCAA tributes were still prevalent, but much less than I expected. There was a small Paterno tribute outside where the statue used to be and of course Franco Harris did his thing, but the general mood was focused on the current players instead of the past, which was good to see.
- The bus arrival was absolutely chilling. No matter how the team performs this year, they deserve support like this every week.
- The new tradition of singing the Alma mater with the team after every game fell flat on its face. Most of the students had left, and the team just ran into the tunnel as Blue Band director Richard Bundy had a “WTF” look on his face. They still played the song, and I think it’s a great idea, but someone needed to remind the team to stick around for a few more minutes. Especially after such a disappointing outcome, Fred Lewis Pattee’s words can bring us all together, in victory and defeat.
- The new jerseys with the names on the back will take a little while to get used to. I think they looked good, but the Penn State PR boys should stop using “We want our fans to know and recognize these young men” as the reason for the change. Unless you were in the first few rows, the names were almost impossible to read from most seats. Just admit that the change was made because it looks cool, the players wanted it, and it breaks tradition so I don’t feel like my intelligence is being insulted by Penn State marketing every weekend.
- It was just good to be back, that’s for sure. Anyone who still says that the “death penalty” would have been more favorable for Penn State than the sanctions is wrong. After the crazy summer we’ve had in State College, it was therapeutic to watch football at Beaver Stadium again, even if the game didn’t go the way we would have liked.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll be back next week from Charlottesville, Virginia!