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‘Saving The Roar’ Perfectly Captures Story Of 2012 Penn State Football Team

After a win over Auburn on Saturday, Penn State football improved to 3-0 on the season and moved up to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 Poll. With arguably,the most complete team that we have seen in a long time, the Nittany Lions are riding high and everything seems to be going right for this team.

But none of this would have been possible without the courage of a group of men from 2012, and “Saving the Roar” reminded me of that.

I was in high school when HBO released “Paterno.” After reading the reactions to the movie, I, like many other Penn State fans, wanted to see the other side of the story. A few months later, I saw the first trailer for what was then called “Iron Lions”, a documentary about the 2012 Penn State football team. I couldn’t wait to see it. After a lot of anticipation, the movie finally premiered this weekend and perfectly captured that story.

The documentary began with Penn State football hiring Bill O’Brien in January 2012. It progressed in chronological order until the last week of the 2012 season when the Nittany Lions faced Wisconsin on senior day at Beaver Stadium.

O’Brien and author of “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football” John Bacon were featured the most in the film along with team captains Michael Mauti, Michael Zordich, Matt McGloin, and Jordan Hill. In addition, Penn State football alumni such as Franco Harris, Saquon Barkley, and even Silas Redd made appearances too.

There was a sense of hope that the documentary showed immediately following Bill O’Brien’s arrival to the program. While still shaken up from the firing of Joe Paterno, players, fans, and alumni were somewhat excited for this new era of Penn State football. There was anticipation building up throughout the spring game and into the summer until the NCAA was rumored to impose sanctions on the team in July 2012.

In my opinion, the most fascinating aspect of the film was to hear the perspective of the players when the sanctions came out over that summer. Mauti, Zordich, and O’Brien described what it was like to be leaders of a team where any player can transfer without penalty to another school. They opened up about tensions behind closed doors to see their teammates and best friends go off to visit other schools during that summer. Silas Redd even opened up about his experience from that summer and what ultimately led him to transfer to USC in July 2012.

The movie then shifted from getting through the summer to preparing to play football in the 2012 season. O’Brien spoke about what prompted him to finally put names on the back of the jerseys and what he did to recognize his players’ commitment to the program.

The Nittany Lions started that season 0-2, and then O’Brien and Mauti spoke about the fear they had that many players would choose to transfer even after the season had begun. Once the team got its first win over Navy, the season changed course. One of the cooler moments of the film was after the team’s first win when Navy joined the Nittany Lions in singing the Penn State Alma Mater with fans after the game. That was the first time fans and players had sung the Alma Mater after a game.

As the documentary progressed, it touched on notable moments from the season, including the controversial call that led to a Penn State turnover on downs against Nebraska at Memorial Stadium. The movie then finally began to wrap up with its most emotional part: Michael Mauti’s season-ending knee injury.

It was almost impossible to not shed a tear as O’Brien, Mauti, and Zordich described the sequence of events that followed Mauti’s injury. Jordan Hill then detailed how the idea came about to put the number 42 on the team’s helmets for the final game of the season against Wisconsin.

The last few minutes of the movie highlighted Penn State’s win over Wisconsin at Beaver Stadium in the final game of the 2012 season. While emotions were high, Franco Harris ended the film by echoing the fact that Penn State wouldn’t be where it is today without that team.

Overall, I thought the documentary was outstanding. I believe that it’s great for all college football fans to watch, not just fans of Penn State. As a Penn State football fan who was only 11 years old at the time, hearing about that entire experience told by former players and coaches was eye-opening. The film went into detail about what went on in the Nittany Lions’ locker room and shows what many fans didn’t get to see or realize during that year. If you’re a Penn State football fan, this is likely a must-watch documentary.

For those who would like to watch the film, there are six scheduled screenings every day until Sunday, October 17. More information on showtimes and streaming the film is available here.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a junior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the Rangers, Mets, Jets, and every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Penn State and Rangers content or email him at [email protected]

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