Welcome to Penn State!!!
No doubt you, or more likely your family members, have started perusing the internet and fan blogs to get a sense of the fanbase at your new home. While some are surprised and others wanted the school to hire Coach Bradley, I would venture to guess that most are willing to give you a chance.
As you begin what we all hope is a successful tenure at Penn State, I'd like to offer a few thoughts.
Penn State is different than most institutions of higher learning in this country. I realize that a lot of people say that about their schools, but here its true. At Penn State, winning is important, yes. But, winning the right way is even more important. What does winning the right way mean? It means making sure that your kids graduate, maintain high academic standing and comport themselves as honorable young men. It means showing the young men you have been charged with teaching how to be leaders, not just on the field, but in their communities as well. That is the Penn State Way and it has been so since the 1960s.
We realize that you are stepping into what could best be described as a difficult situation. No one envies the guy who follows a legend, especially one who has meant so much to so many, most of whom have never met him. You, my friend, have gigantic shoes to fill and I want to wish you all of the luck in the world in filling them. In addition, you are being asked to stabilize a football program, institution and community rocked by a scandal that was the fault of one, and only one, depraved and evil person. Again, the task you are undertaking is daunting and we wish you luck in achieving it.
The above being said, you are joining a family with the largest alumni base in the world. Everywhere you go, anywhere on Earth, if you say "We Are..." Someone will respond "Penn State." Your family can feel more than welcome in joining with the fans every Saturday for a tailgate. Unlike most schools, the vast majority of tailgates are friendly and suitable for all ages. The first time you experience a White Out, I venture to guess that you will get goosebumps. Its ok, we all did our first time. I am confident that you will find Penn State and its community to be the most welcoming within the sport of football.
I leave you with this. You are inheriting a trust. Penn State football has never really been about football. Led by a great man, Penn State football was, and is, an example of succeeding in your wildest dreams while still maintaining your honor and dignity. Penn State football is about tradition. From the plain uniforms to the black shoes, Penn State has never needed the bells and whistles to attract interest. Penn State football is about family. Fathers could point to Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program to show his son that not all successful athletes were arrogant jerks. I trust that you have been made aware of the awesome responsibility you are now taking on.
Good Luck, God Bless and here's hoping that you are just as successful and just as honorable as the last two men (Paterno AND Bradley) that have led our Nittany Lions. Just remember, when someone says "We Are..." The proper response is "Penn State."