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10 Questions With Penn State Gameday Consultant Guido D’Elia

In October 2022, Penn State Athletics rehired Guido D’Elia to serve as a gameday consultant for Penn State football. With D’Elia’s heavy involvement in major campus events, such as Joe Paterno’s funeral, his reintroduction was noteworthy.

We sat down with D’Elia to learn more about his return to the university, as well as his thoughts on the outlook for Penn State football’s gameday atmosphere.

Though the Beaver Stadium guru has been credited with introducing the original Penn State White Out in 2004 and the recurring presence of Zombie Nation, D’Elia humbly asked that we focus on the present and future “versus some old dude who came up with the White Out.”

Onward State: What drove you to return to Penn State?

Guido D’Elia: The folks at Penn State thought the gameday needed a refresh, and if I did refreshes at Alabama, Florida, and Texas et cetera, why wouldn’t I come back to refresh the gameday we originally built here years ago?

OS: Considering the other programs you’ve worked with over your career, how does Penn State’s atmosphere compare?

D’Elia: Penn State fans are workers when the team needs it, and they also know how to have fun as well. Many programs have signature moments. Wisconsin “jumps around” for a couple minutes, the yell leaders at [Texas] A&M will impress, but the Penn State crowd knows football and what their team needs.

While many top programs have what I call “bully crowds,” who get after it when their team is up and pout when its not, Penn State[‘s] crowd will pick up their team when they’re down and stand right by them in a big moment — regardless of the score.

They seem to have an identify and are intent to live up to it. They know what to do and when. They start yelling, chanting, and singing from the moment the band marches into the stadium. They create a communal experience, and we help them.

OS: What is the biggest thing that’s changed about Penn State football since you were last here?

D’Elia: Seems to be much more commercial content and activity on the field in-game, and I’m not sure that serves anyone.

OS: In three words, how would you describe your approach to a typical gameday and why?

D’Elia: Since we do a conditional game call versus scripted, that’s tough to get into three words. I encouraged our folks to be prepared, constantly crowd-vigilant, and bring a bunch of courage to change on the dime.

OS: How do you and your team decide what songs to play over the sound system and when?

D’Elia: We have a “must” sheet, which is a sheet listed by game situations (kickoff, new series, [between] plays, etc.) that gets color-coded based upon prior crowd participation. Then, in-season we listen to what the crowd reacts to live and make sheet notations in-game; and the following week use our video review tape to further evaluate our choices — what songs worked, was our placement and timing right — and we grade each cut, changing its color coding accordingly.

Band songs are also on the call sheets, and they have a bunch that gets the crowd moving, and other songs that we lean on them between plays and to make the third downs bigger. We are constantly searching for new songs and try them to test for crowd reaction in-game.

My belief is if you really listen to the crowd, they’ll tell you what to play.

OS: When you analyze the overall game experience for fans, how do you determine what went well and what didn’t?

D’Elia: Our criteria is: Did we make it tough on our opponent? Did we give our team the best opportunity to win? Did the crowd have fun? Did they sing? Did they have that communal experience they came for? Did they feel a part of the result?

OS: Obviously, when crowd volume forces a pre-snap penalty, it’s easy to point out the audience’s impact. But what are some other ways you find Penn State fans impact the game?

D’Elia: Here’s where the knowledgeable Penn State fans win the day…they are so relentless that it’s difficult for the opponent’s sideline and huddle to communicate. They will force confusion that over the course of a game get cumulative and will help with third [and] fourth-down stops, [and] cause hesitation and wasted timeouts.

When they’re on, they’re a menace for opponents.

OS: Which of this season’s games that you worked on did you feel had the strongest energy?

D’Elia: Thought the White Out crowd might have set some record on forced penalties and the [Ohio State] crowd was just nonstop to the very end. Both had fun and helped their team.

OS: When it comes to your personal rankings, where does Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba” rank among Penn State’s go-to songs?

D’Elia: “Mo Bamba” has worked for a long time and is super effective. The danger with something that works that well is overuse, but that’s our job — to measure that and continually introduce new elements.

OS: Finally, per Onward State tradition, if you were a dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

D’Elia: Not sure of dinosaur names, but I am sure I would be the fastest flying dinosaur; able to stay out of the fray, move about freely, experience new things, and see new places at will.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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