I grew up in a WVU house — both my parents are from the mountain state, my Dad played Basketball there (yes, in those days Basketball started with a capital letter at WVU), he did his doctorate there, my Mom was Miss West Virginia, and did both her undergrad and Masters there — so Penn State was not very popular to us. Even though I grew up just 90 miles from Happy Valley in Bloomsburg, PA I disliked everything about the Lions and the University. I hated that they kicked my Moutaineers’ ass every year like it was their job (other than the glorious 84 run with the Hoss and Major Harris’ unreal 88 team). Since joining the University, I have come to realize that there is one man who actually made it the job of the team to do that — Joe Paterno.
The old coach is as young as he wants to be, deserves to do whatever the hell he wants to, and in my eyes has earned the right to walk the sidelines until HE decides it is time. Here’s a little insight … three years ago I was at a Universtiy funtion and walked up to Joe and said, “congratulations on your new contract.” Joe, who was surrounded by four or five big time donors, looked me square in the eye and responded, “thank you, but these guys want me gone b/c we haven’t won enough the last few years.” Their jaws dropped … as did mine. I gave him a line my Dad always gave me when I wanted to see someone go, “they better be careful what they wish for.” Joe then gave me a serious look and told me that within two years the Lions would compete for a ntional title. The people around him rolled their eyes .. I just looked into his. Last year the Lions were 1 second away from being undefeated and playing for a national title. Smart guy.
Since I’ve been a part of this place now for over eight years I actually find myself really rooting for the Lions in all ways — from the football field to State funding. I am always amazed and impressed with the depth of this University across the board. I know Joe’s influence has crossed over from the field … the library is named after the guy for crying out loud, not the football stadium. He graduates kids, he protects kids, he is an educator first. He never lets winning get in the way of doing things right. The guy is a role model and is immortal — a true legend in our time. Who else in sports can you point to and say they have done it right without question for so long. So even though I actually bleed Blue and Gold, I am rooting for the Lions to repeat as Big 10 champs and for JoePa to have another amazing year. A guy like Joe deserves to make a run every year.