By: C.J. Doon
This past Saturday in Happy Valley marked the beginning of a new era at Penn State, an era that hopes to provide comfort and healing to victims and a community still seeking for answers.
It was a day of “firsts” for Penn State. For the first time in 45 years, the Nittany Lions ran out of the tunnel without the iconic Joe Paterno. For the first time in school history, player names appeared on the back of the legendary blue and white uniforms. For players, fans, students, and alumni, it seemed as if everything was happening for the first time.
In an emotional and hard fought game, Penn State fell to the Ohio Bobcats 24-14 in front of 97,186 fans at Beaver Stadium. After taking a 14-3 lead into halftime, the Nittany Lions surrendered 21 unanswered points in the second half, and could not find the strength to mount a late comeback. Ohio, led by quarterback Tyler Tettleton, amassed 499 yards of total offense and picked up their first win of the season.
Starting quarterback Matt McGloin looked impressive in first-year coach Bill O’Brien’s system, completing 27 of 48 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. McGloin, entering his final season at quarterback, is no stranger to adversity. As the youngest of three children, Matt was always picked on by his two older brothers. In a recent article published on ESPN.com, McGloin spoke about his journey to Penn State, and his ultimate success in earning a full-time scholarship. When the sanctions were handed down, and McGloin received offers to play college football elsewhere, he knew where he had to be. “I knew I didn’t want to leave this place,” McGloin said. “I had already put in so much time and had overcome this adversity. I didn’t want to leave when things got tough. We could help rebuild this university.”
Penn State has adopted the slogan “One Team” to represent this year’s band of players, and the university has embraced each and every one. A pep rally at Beaver Stadium was attended by more than 15,000 on Friday night, and before the game began on Saturday, thousands of Penn State fans greeted the players as they made their way into the stadium. Many were holding up signs with words of encouragement for their beloved Lions, including the phrase “You stayed with us…we’ll stay with you!” Jordan Hill, a defensive tackle and one of Penn State’s premier players, said, “We have the best fans in the nation. They came out and showed us how much they care.”
A new era has begun in Happy Valley. Let’s hope this era can learn from the mistakes of the past.