I’ve noticed where you guys have written some open letters to alumni before big games telling us what to wear and pleading for noise – the most recent being this year’s Ohio State game.
I have to admit I like the idea so I’m returning the favor as we head into the final two games of the season.
First of all, let me just say that I love you guys. I spent more years than I care to remember sneaking back into the student section so I can stand and yell the whole game without being told to sit down. I did it until it was just way too obvious that I didn’t belong there and retreated to my regular season ticket seats where I’ve had to deal with people four rows back telling me to sit down. Ugh.
The point is – I am one of you guys – just older.
So I must say that I’ve read with a mix of concern and despair that many of you have decided you won’t be at the Indiana and Wisconsin games because you’re going to go home and - gulp - stay home.
As I said earlier, I admire you. You’re the best student section in the country for a reason.
We – that is, the rest of the stadium – need you in there. We need your energy. We need your enthusiasm.
You are the heart and soul of a Penn State football game in Beaver Stadium.
More importantly, however, than us – this football team needs you. This group of players needs you.
We’ve watched all year the love affair that you have with this football team and it has with you.
They feed off you. You are their collective pulse on game days.
Obviously, you don’t owe anybody anything, but I’d like to make a plea.
I certainly don’t need to tell you what this university has been through over the last year. Hell, this week alone you’ve had to deal with idiotic statements like complaining about the blown call at Nebraska shows the football program should’ve been shut down. And then the holier-than-thou NCAA took all PSU merchandise off its website and called it a “glitch” – yeah okay.
You’ve suffered through it all first-hand. I admire how you’ve handled yourselves. You have been a beacon for all of us.
These players have also been as good as representatives as this university can put forth. Along with Bill O’Brien, nobody has done more to help generate good will for this university than this group of players.
And leading the way are the seniors. Remember back in July when the NCAA tried to kill the football program? Who stepped to the forefront?
Michael Mauti, Michael Zordich, Matt McGloin, Gerald Hodges, Jordan Hill to name a few.
Remember when Illinois sent its whole damn coaching staff and they were all camping out at Nittany Apartments? Who called them out?
These players could have gone anywhere in the country in July and August – and for some ungodly reason they still can up until next year – but they stayed here with you.
Remember when all the media said the football program was dead. And do you also remember the week before the Ohio State game? The atmosphere, the environment in town and on campus was electric. How much fun was that?
We’re so far from dead.
This group of players provided us with that and they will be playing their last two games of the year in the next two weeks.
Now I understand that coincides with Thanksgiving break. But hear me out – you still can have seven days and nights at home and see both games.
Saturday’s game against Indiana begins at noon. It will be over by 3. You can be home Saturday night – or you can have another night of partying in State College (never a bad thing).
Even more important is the Wisconsin game. It’s the final game of the season. It’s the final game these seniors will ever play in Beaver Stadium. It’s the final game they’ll ever play for Penn State.
There is no bowl game. That will be their bowl game.
There is no way that guys like Mauti and McGloin and Zordich and Hill and Hodges and so on and so on should come out of that tunnel to an empty student section. It simply wouldn’t be right.
The thing is – you know it wouldn’t be right either.
Let’s face it, by next Saturday you’ll be sick of being home. You’ll be sick of hanging with your former high school classmates from Kings College, or IUP, or Bloomsburg or Temple or Monmouth or Rutgers or some other place where they could care less about their football team or their university.
You’ll have seen them all at the local bar Wednesday night and gone to the Thanksgiving Day high school football game if you still have one.
Please come back Saturday. Call it Statesgiving or Thanksstate or whatever – you guys are better at coming up with cool nicknames for Penn State holidays than I am. Bring all your friends. Unlike State Patty’s Day, the bars will all be open.
It will be fun. I promise.
Look, if you ever took a picture at JoePa’s statue or the Lion shrine,
If you took flowers to McKee Street,
If you stood in line and went to the viewing,
If you lined the streets for the funeral procession,
If you showed up at 6 a.m. for the summer football practice,
If you ever slept out at Paternoville or Nittanyville,
If you have wept during the alma mater anytime during the last year,
If you know Bill O’Brien is the best person for the job,
If you were ever were apart of the greatest student section in the country.
If you can relate to any of these things, you know you should make an effort to get back to campus and honor these players.
They appreciate you and they need you – they’ve earned the right to go out in front of a full stadium.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter. See you at the games.