The Views expressed within do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone else at The Bernville Veterinary Clinic.
This is my first blog in what I hope will be a series on Penn State happenings. I know there are many of you out there. Well, it’s time to move forward after saying goodbye to JoePa. He was the major factor in turning a good university into a great one. His unique style that set Penn State apart will probably never be duplicated in this day and age. I have vague memories of a Navy game at Beaver Stadium when my sister attended in 1964. I’m told the great Roger Staubach beat PSU that day but I only remember a cheapo souvenir lion that held my interest. Joe was assistant at that time. I have clearer memories of listening to games on Saturdays with my transistor AM radio dreaming of one day being a hero on the field. As your laughter dies down on that thought, I at least will say in my defense that I was a rather large kid up until eighth grade. For some reason that was my peak adult height. Now I am shrinking, but that’s another story. For me it was always Joe Paterno & the Nittany Lions. I have been a season ticket holder since I was a freshman in 1978. It is hard to explain why a game is so important to me or why I was so deeply affected by a man that I only met briefly one day as a student but his death hit me hard. Anyone outside the Penn State bubble may not understand the immense pride that comes with being a Penn Stater but it is always there. I know it has been a rough year for the old blue & white. The press was very busy vilifying the whole university & football program. Many outsiders were kind of glad we were getting a bit of a comeuppance because we always had that holier than thou attitude. I must admit I did sort of feel we were a bit different and superior myself. But that attitude is built on years of high academic results combined with pretty consistent winning ways. The only two bowl games I have ever been to illustrate some other differences to me also. The first one I went to was the 2005 Orange Bowl against Florida State. Even though it was in their home state, it was like a home game for Penn State. The stadium was a great majority of Nittany Lions. Anytime they started with their signature chant we could easily drown them out with “We are, Penn State!” Then I hit the Rose Bowl a few years ago. Our seats were behind the USC bench for some reason. We got to see the USC players standing on their bench dancing and taunting the crowd as they beat us. You could never see that from a Nittany Lion team. My son is up there now and it’s been kind of a surreal year to be in Happy Valley but he says there is no place else he’d rather be right now. We both said to each other on my visit to honor Joe a couple weeks ago that we are really excited about next football season and we can’t wait for it to arrive. We can’t change anything so we might as well keep a positive attitude. The 2012 class of 19 is signed and hopefully our coaches can turn them into outstanding college players. They are already working on 2013’s class. Even though it’s different, I think Coach O’Brien can keep up Joe’s “Grand Experiment” and continue to do things the right way and keep winning. So far he’s said the right thing immediately to the recruits and their parents that a Penn State degree is why they are there first and foremost. I liked everything I’ve heard about the new coaching staff from on field tactics, education, to future recruiting. He may not have won the Super Bowl but now he can focus on Penn State. Our first chance to see the new team will be the Blue & White game this spring. I can’t wait. – Dr. Steve Stephan