You probably wouldn't recognize Guido D'Elia if you sat next to him at Beaver Stadium. Penn State's football communications and branding director prefers to be pointing the cameras rather than standing in front of them. He's always quietly in the shadows, but there may not be a single person that has had a bigger influence on Penn State football in the past few years.
Just a few short years ago Penn State was stuck in a rut. The football program was viewed as a dinosaur. It was stale. And the stagnation was hurting recruiting. So in came D'Elia.
Guido and his consulting firm, Mind Over Media, have assisted sports teams in marketing their image and creating fan excitement. This will be his third season with the Nittany Lions, but the changes he has instituted have been huge.
How does one person come into a program like Penn State where nothing, including the head coach, have changed in 40 years? It isn't easy, and D'Elia has been met with a lot of critism. It was D'Elia who instituted the pregame music that can be heard in the stadium as the players warm up. After the first weekend the Athletic Director was swamped with email from angry season ticket holders who did not like the rap and hip-hop selection. So D'Elia toned it down and mixed up the selection some. It's all part of his job as the director of change.
But there's more D'Elia has done. The inspirational video's before the game? That's D'Elia. Zombie Nation? D'Elia. GoPSF.com? D'Elia's fingerprints all over it.
We Told You So
D'Elia's philosophy is to point out the things unique to Penn State and emphasize them. Hard work. Loyalty. Winning with honor. Sacrifice. Doing things the right way. Doing things the Penn State way. Because of D'Elia, old school is suddenly cool. Penn State has become the hip place to play. It's no coincidence the Nittany Lions have experienced two of the greatest recruiting classes back to back the past two years.
With all the recent changes and the fantastic success D'Elia has had in rejuvenating a program that was on life support two years ago you would think he would be tempted to sit back and not tinker with something going so well. You would be wrong. D'Elia has suggested putting up numbers and signs throughout the stadium to honor great Penn State players from the past. He's dreaming up new ways to appeal to high school kids that may be thinking of going to Penn State. He is even working on plans to change the most sacred of Penn State traditions, the uniforms.
"We can't outstripe the rest and we're not about to," D'Elia said.
But don't worry. Guido doesn't have complete control to do whatever he wants. There's still the 80 year old stubborn head coach calling the shots.
Paterno also smiled when discussing his relationship with D'Elia. "Once in a while, Guido gets carried away," he said, "and I've got to slow him down a little bit."
So the uniforms are safe...for now.