Men, forty years from now, you’re going to be sitting with your grandchildren on your laps and telling them about this season. Nobody is going to remember anyone who was not a part of this football team, but they are going to remember you. Do you know why they’re going to remember you? Because you are a team set apart, a team of destiny. No, I’m not talking about championships and rings and bling. I’m talking about something greater, something higher, with deeper meaning and a heavier burden.
You are a group of young men who are going to show the college football world the meaning of courage, conviction, commitment and dedication. Right now the whole world believes Penn State football is dead, an afterthought, a horrible mess. And none of this is because of anything any of you or the coaching staff has done or deserved. Think about it. Is there any purpose under the sun that has placed us where we are today? Placed us smack in the middle of the darkest crisis any university or football team has ever had to endure? But endure we shall.
Someone once told me, the good Lord chastises the children He loves. I’ll go one further than that. I’d say He disciplines harshest and toughest those whom He loves the most. And harsh punishments have littered our scrolls and been our bread and butter as of late. I have no doubt that there is a higher purpose in all of this, and sometimes when you’re middle of it, it’s difficult to see. Believe me; we’re not here by chance.
For many decades Penn State football has symbolized all that is right and true in the world of college athletics, and been a beacon of integrity and excellence. My predecessor Coach Paterno built that from the ground up, dedicated his entire life to it. And many resented him, not for setting lofty goals, not for maintaining high standards, not even for his high ideals. They resented the gnawing reality that as the years grew into decades, he succeeded and did not falter. He seemed almost super human. So when the least inkling of suspicion reared its ugly head last November, they all came crashing in on him, on Penn State, and on you, on all of us.
But we’re not going to let them tear us down. This university, this bastion, this symbol of success with honor, the only institution in the known universe which dared to proclaim with these words, that yes, we are better, we are honorable, we are successful in all our endeavors, both on and off the field - we are Penn State. That is your mission. That is your purpose, to represent this university, this football program, at its darkest hour, and to prevail in the face of unfair disadvantage, and against staggering odds.
So that when you do sit with your grandchildren, they will have already read about you, and watched documentaries about you, and heard stories about how you resurrected that which everyone thought was dying. And in those days when we’re all old men, retired from our professional careers, some of you in the hall of fame, People for generations will look at Penn State and her football program, and to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, they will say, "This was her finest hour."
Now let’s go out that tunnel and kick some ass !