Best Penn State Thing Bracket: Final Four
The Final Four is here.
We took a few extra days off for April Fools’ Day and the weekend, but we’re back with the penultimate round of the Best Penn State Thing Bracket.
After thousands of votes, we have our regional champs. Joe Paterno will take on the “House Joe Built” in Beaver Stadium, and THON will take on the Symbol of our Best, the Nittany Lion. Instead of providing my usual silly commentary, we had four staff writers argue for their favorite thing and present a case as to why each should win.
What defines “best”? That’s up to you. You can vote for your favorite, for whichever you think defines “Penn State” best, for a sentimental memory, for whatever you think is most #State, or for whichever one you randomly picked out of a hat. It’s all subjective. It doesn’t matter to us how you decide…just vote.
Now, let’s break it down.
Joe Paterno (81.9% over Mike the Mailman)
There are 409 reasons why Joe Paterno was the best person/thing at Penn State, but honestly it’s pretty simple. JoePa is the winningest head coach in major college football history, and he created a culture at a major university that was unlike any other in the country. Arguably the greatest college football coach ever was a part of the Penn State football program for 61 years. He led Penn State’s most popular program to its first only two National Championships, 24 bowl victories, 409 wins, and he also displayed values that the Penn State community still cherish to this day. Paterno is the most influential and inspirational figure in Penn State history, and his legacy is one that still makes Penn Staters proud of their school to this day. — Steve Connelly
vs. Beaver Stadium (78.9% over Berkey Creamery)
I don’t just think Beaver Stadium should win this match up, it deserves to win this matchup. Joe Paterno is a Penn State legend, yes. This much is indisputable. But Beaver Stadium stands for something that Joe never could. This vote essentially comes down to which better represents Penn State football, Joe or Beaver Stadium. When one left, leaving arguably the biggest question mark in this university’s history, the other remained a rock, a symbol that showed, no matter what changes with the team, Penn State football will never die. When Joe passed, fans still came and filled up the second-largest stadium in the western hemisphere, and they showed that we, as a football program, and a university, are greater than one man, no matter who he is. The stadium stands for all that Joe does and more, and therefore, deserves your vote. — Mike Reisman
THON (58% over the Whiteout)
THON is the best Penn State thing because it’s the largest student run philanthropy, and it has paved the way for other colleges and high schools to have their own dance marathons to fight cancer and other terminal diseases. To date, THON has raised over $136 million for outstanding financial and emotional support and funding for research. It captures the heart of more than 15,000 students — seeing them come together for one common cause is truly incredible. Volunteers are connected with Four Diamonds families, donors, alumni, and other students. It’s something that can’t be described and can only be understood by experiencing it. There’s a certain magic you feel when you walk into the BJC during THON weekend. The amount of memories, friendships, relationships, and experiences that it provides to Penn State students truly makes it the best Penn State thing. — Jess Frezza
vs. The Nittany Lion (50.4% over the “We Are” chant)
The Nittany Lion has taken down everything in its path to get here, even our favorite dads. But after edging past the chant as synonymous with the school as anything else, the mascot might be at the end of the road. Or is it? Would we rather spend 46 hours at THON or hanging with the creature that symbolizes Happy Valley? JoePa’s statue might be gone, but the Nittany Lion shrine still stands tall. And really, would Beaver Stadium be the same without the Lion hyping the crowd? Penn State, at the end of the day, wants the lion. — Jake Abrams