Many Penn Staters are feeling pretty okay right now. The sanctions came down last week, and they were harsher than we hoped; but, despite that, the six most important verbal commits in the 2013 class have reaffirmed their commitment, and 62 scholarship players have announced that they're staying with the program, with none (as of this writing) announcing that they are leaving Penn State.
But we can't rest on our laurels.
As Keith Conlin and Tim Sweeney of the Goon Show referenced on their program Thursday night, and football assistant coaches Craig Fitzgerald and John Butler reiterated, this isn't the end. These players, these recruits, will continue to be harrassed by opposing teams looking to get them to transfer. They'll have other fans, media, friends in their ears, sometimes even family members, telling them why they made a poor decision in choosing to stick with the Nittany Lion program. It's the coaches' job to be equally as persuasive that they made the right one.
It's also our job. And it will be our job until the NCAA decides that it's had enough, and the open season on PSU players ends. Right now, that looks to be 2013--but make no mistake, this open season can be extended if the NCAA chooses. As they've shown, with regards to Penn State, the NCAA can pretty much do WHATEVER it chooses.We've been called the best fans in the nation by some, both within and outside the Penn State football program. This is our chance to prove this. We need to support these student athletes in every way we possibly can, and not just on September 1 when they run out of the tunnel for the first time this season.
Our support needs to start this week. The Goon Show decided last week that one of the best, earliest, and easiest ways for fans, alumni, and lettermen to show their support is to be outside Holuba Hall before Tuesday's practice, which begins at seven. If you're in the Centre County area, or even if you're not, be there to support these young men who deserve so much better than the hand they've been dealt.
The Goon Show will be broadcasting live. There will be a pep band from the Blue Band. Coffee and donuts are being provided by Dunkin Donuts, Old State Clothing Co. and Nittany Bank. NITTANYSTRONG will also be giving away shirts, koozies, visors, etc. There will be give aways and a chance to win some extremely rare PSU memorabilia. But it’s not about that, it’s about the players in the end.
But we can't end there. Every week, every chance we get, we need to reinforce to these men our committment to them and to this program. We need to show up on September 1, and on September 15, September 22, every week through the end of their season, Thanksgiving weekend versus Wisconsin. We need to be their rocks when they have none, and cheer them on regardless of the outcomes of each of these games.
I'm imploring all of you to read this to support this team and these men; and I'm not just talking to alumni, or to self-professed fans of Penn State football. As Jay Paterno wrote in February, being a Penn Stater
is an earned privilege and not a right. Having a Penn State degree doesn’t automatically make you a Penn Stater, and not having a Penn State degree doesn’t mean you can’t be a Penn Stater.
As we've learned from the many fans of other programs who've ventured onto BSD these past few months, being a fan of another team (even if that team resides in Columbus or Ann Arbor) doesn't mean you can't have the heart of a Penn Stater. And because you've cheered for the blue and white in the past doesn't automatically give you that same heart.
Now is a call to arms. All Penn Staters, even wearing other colors, need to rally around this team. This group of young men has shown far more class, honor, and integrity than most of us could dream of showing at their age. These are the values that we profess to hold dear. Now is the time for us to prove that our words, past and present and future, are not hollow.
With regards to the supporting of this team, I don't care how, or what, you feel about the scandal. Not that it's old news--it's ongoing news. Not that we don't feel for the victims--I know all of us are sending good thoughts, and prayers for those who pray, their way. This isn't about that. This is about the men who suit up for their school, for each other, and for us for twelve weeks each fall. And they deserve better than an apathetic crowd, running away from the hardships facing this program.
We've been told that Penn State football is dead or dying. As of now, it's not. But it might be. It's up to us to help make sure that doesn't happen.
Support these men. Support Penn State football. Today, tomorrow, all season, and for the years to come.