In Victory, Penn State Moves Forward

Plenty of fanfare surrounded Penn State’s match-up against Temple, and no, it had nothing to do with football.

Let me start by saying this: I am a proud student at the Pennsylvania State University.

I don’t want to overshadow what was a much-needed victory for a program reeling from a decimating loss to a bitter in-state rival, but we can’t pretend today’s events simply didn’t occur. For better, or for worse, Penn State honored Joe Paterno’s legacy at various points throughout the game. The focus remained on his undeniable commitment to academics and the men who played on that historic 1966 team — Paterno’s first as Penn State’s head coach.

The commemoration garnered national media attention — much of which remained negative, painting Penn State as a blind, ignorant institution reluctant to move forward. Writers spared nothing in assailing the school for its ostensibly distasteful decision; Temple fans did much of the same, even staging a silent protest of sorts during the game.

It almost seemed as though more time was spent this week focusing on the celebration — of which details were extremely vague — than on the actual on-field opponent. But I’m not here to pick one side or the other. What’s done is done, and like it or not, Penn State is moving on.

The tributes wound up occurring a few times throughout the game, mostly during elongated television timeouts on the video boards. Was it well-executed? I’d say so, in terms of honoring the former players from that ’66 team who made the trip up to Happy Valley. Did it feel, I don’t know, a bit awkward at points? Again, yes; believing the commemoration would be comprised of a single video taking up a predetermined chunk of time, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel out of place when the various clips — which amounted to mere minutes in total runtime — seemingly came on randomly throughout the contest.

James Franklin refrained from chiming in during the week, and rightly so. You want to talk about someone who wants to move forward, try being the guy coaching the program Paterno built up. Of course I have my own opinions on the commemoration — like anybody else tied to the school, why wouldn’t I? Joe Paterno gave a tremendous amount to this school in terms of philanthropic contributions. He gave the football program an identity. But part of me gets sick of discussing the subject because Penn State — and everybody associated with it — gets dragged into the dirt once more.

This game didn’t feel like the Temple game for this exact reason. The game itself was drowned out by a blown up controversy surrounding three short video clips. Paterno’s legacy can never be forgotten, and it won’t.

But, Paterno was honored. It’s done. Now, the focus can remain on the program in its current state. The school directly celebrated the philanthropist he was during a Penn State football game — something that hasn’t occurred since he was fired in 2011. Ask any student who has to put up with the incessant barrage of negativity that arises anytime this subject is discussed. The tribute did the man justice, but let’s discuss something else.

I’m excited about Penn State football. I’m excited about Saquon Barkley. Hell, I’m even excited about the team’s direction given the depth it can finally say it boasts.

I respect the history, but I’m ready for the move past this discussion. Some of you will vehemently disagree with me, and that’s ok.

On to Michigan.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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