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Penn State Football’s Victory Bell Has A Storied History

Penn State is known for football traditions. Whether it be the nameless uniforms, the march into Beaver Stadium, or songs sung during the game, Penn State football has a storied past.

There is one tradition, however, which does not gain as much attention as some others: the ringing of the victory bell at the end of the game after a win. It is a tradition which started decades ago, even before Joe Paterno, and one still carried on today.

In 1962, Head Football Coach Charles Engle wanted a way to tell State College that Penn State had just won on the road. This was a time where people were lucky to have professional games broadcast to them and collegiate athletics were not widely televised. Consequently, Engle needed to broadcast that the Nittany Lions had won in some way. He decided to purchase a bell for the campus which would be rung after every victory.

This bell did not become the actual victory bell in the stadium, however. The bell, the USS Pennsylvania, was placed in front of Wagner Building where it remains today.

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The bell acted as the victory bell for a few years. It created a sense of pride across the Penn State and State College communities. The first time it was rung was after Penn State defeated Army 6-2 in West Point. It was a great upset at the time, as Army was one of the better college football teams in the nation, and Penn State was off to a 0-3 start. Coach Engle came home and rang the bell, and everyone in Happy Valley was filled with honor.

The USS Pennsylvania was intended to be rung after victories, but it was never intended to be placed in Beaver Stadium. The bell we hear ring out today didn’t come until 1978 in the form of a class gift. The bell was to be placed inside Beaver Stadium and rung after every win.

The class gift bell never became widely popular though, mostly because so many people were unable to hear it ring due to the size of Beaver Stadium. After a few years, people began to notice it and it became synonymous with a Penn State win. People enjoyed hearing it, knowing Penn State had won. It was becoming another football tradition.

Starting with the 1990 season, Beaver Stadium and the victory bell were due to undergo renovations. The bell had become especially weathered over the years, and had to be placed in the Penn State All Sports Museum until Beaver Stadium and the bell itself were done being refurbished. It remained in the museum until 2008.

At the start of the 2009 season, the bell was freed. It took its rightful place back in the south end zone of Beaver Stadium, near the tunnel where the players enter and exit the field. It remains there today, and is rung proudly after every home win by players and coaches as they exit the field.

The victory bell remains as one of the many great traditions Penn State football has, one which will undoubtedly continue for the foreseeable future and one Penn State fans will always take pride in.

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About the Author

Matt Coleman

Matt Coleman is a writer for Onward State. His hometown is North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, a little under an hour from Pittsburgh. He is a sophomore majoring in Natural Resource Engineering in Biological Engineering. Please e-mail questions and comments to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @cole_man2.

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