A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Still Penn State Proud!

After an unprecedented year of college football, the Pennsylvania State University football team won their last game at home in front of a crowd of over 90,000 people bringing their season record to 8-4, something no one thought they would pull off.  Playing amidst the media hype, the extreme NCAA sanctions meant to not hurt the innocent but which hurt this innocent team of guys beyond belief,  the defection of key team members (who we ended up not missing after all),  playing under an entirely different coach with a totally new coaching philosophy after saying good-bye (twice) to a legend beloved by them all, while keeping up with their academics (several of them are multiple year academic all Americans with 4.0 averages) speaks of the kind of young men that Penn State prides itself in building.  This team rose from the proverbial ashes like the mighty mountain lion that their mascot represents.  They played with heart.  They played with emotion.  They gave it their all to represent all that they knew to be good about Penn State, State College, and yes America-Joe Paterno.   Bill O'Brien has received many accolades, as well he should.  He was handed a royal mess and created a masterpiece.  However, he gives credit to the young men, especially the seniors, who chose to stay and finish their collegiate football careers at the university that they had come to love.  Their character, loyalty, and sacrifice moved Coach O'Brien to tears many times through the season.  Without this particular group of young men, Bill O'Brien's first year as head coach of a college team would not have been the success that it was.

And then there's Sam Ficken.  Sam Ficken, the sophomore kicker who was forced to step up after Penn State's kicker left the team and the backup kicker was also dropped from the roster.  After a start so shakey that Penn State choose to take a chance on 4th down rather than let him attempt a field goal, it is just poetic justice that it was him that scored the last points, a 37 yard field goal,  that Penn State would score this season to win their season finale at Beaver Stadium.  He, like the rest of his team, had his own personal resurrection  from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory embodying the Penn State football story of 2012.  He was a true inspiration!

As much as has been written of the goings on in our small town,  much of it subjective and even fictitious rhetoric that was sensationalized to advance the news media's agenda which ended up damaging and hurting an entire community and a world class university, there is still one thing that needs to be remembered but which will not be written by any member of the news media outside of our charming community.  We must take a look back beyond the scandal, the trial, the pending trials, the hiring of Bill O'Brien, and the NCAA sanctions that were pivotal in this whole story.

Those young men whose character, spirit, and fortitude so impressed their new coach were built by the direct influence of  none other than Joe Paterno.  So even though he was not here to witness the impressive season these young men managed to pull off, it is as much a tribute to him as it is to them.  The world can think what they want about this man who became the media's scapegoat but it was his investment in these young men that made them the men they proved themselves to be through all the adversity of this year.  To me, it just seems fitting that the last team of young men privileged to be coached by the greatest college football coach of all time would produce perhaps the most amazing accomplishment of any college football team in a very long time.

Congratulations PSU Nittany Lions!  You have shown the world what those of us who live and work in this area already understand-what "Penn State Proud" truly means!

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