Posts filed under ‘Beaver Stadium’
It’s gotten hard to keep track of all the emotionally loaded moments at Penn State football games over the past 12 months. Saturday’s season finale against Wisconsin will be another one.
This year, the annual Senior Day game carries more than the usual significance. This senior class has found itself playing out its final season under unimaginable circumstances. All could have left before the season began; nearly all stayed. Simply by not going anywhere, they achieved something like legend status among Penn State fans. The response when those guys come out of the tunnel Saturday afternoon for the final time will be memorable.
Michael Mauti most likely will make that journey on crutches. Injured in last week’s win over Indiana, Mauti may yet apply for a sixth year of eligibility and the chance to return next season. Regardless, his name is indelibly linked to this year’s senior class.
There’s concern among Penn State fans about Bill O’Brien’s future, as well, due to rumors of NFL interest and the coach’s refusal this week to speak about anything beyond the final game. The smart media take is that it’s too soon to assume anything about his intentions, but that O’Brien will have legitimate pros and cons to weigh if a chance to be an NFL head coach presents itself in the coming weeks. In the meantime, it’s something else for Penn State fans to get emotional about this week.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
It’s been interesting to see what’s happened to the site outside Beaver Stadium where Joe Paterno’s statue once stood. It’s just a grassy hillside now, but some people are treating the spot almost as if the statue is still there: They leave little mementos in the grass, especially on home football weekends.
The weekend of the Ohio game, someone put a tiny Bobblehead Joe in the grass. I think someone stuck a miniature cardboard Stand-Up Joe there at one point. And this past weekend there suddenly were flowers with notes, a ballcap, game tickets, and other items—along with a sign that said “KARMA HAS NO DEADLINE.” (See photo, below.)
Penn State art historian Brian Curran wouldn’t be surprised to see that, I don’t think. I interviewed Curran at the end of July, nine days after the statue came down, for a piece in our Sept-Oct issue. We ran it as a short Q&A in the magazine, and posted a longer version of it here on the blog. I sought him out for some academic, historical perspective on statues of heroes—from ancient Egypt, to ancient Rome, through the Renaissance and on up to present times.
I was especially interested in how various societies have dealt with statues of heroes who fall out of favor: In ancient Egypt, for example, (more…)
“We should be eager, especially, to support a team that—if NCAA sanctions achieve their goal—may not be very good for the foreseeable future.”
That sentence is part of an essay that appears in our Sept./Oct. issue (you can find a PDF version of it here). Like nearly everything in the issue, it was inspired by a tumultuous summer that left Penn Staters angry, sad, and unsettled. In writing it, I focused on our collective support for the football team, something most of us take for granted—why would we not?—but an idea that the much of the outside world views as questionable, if not unconscionable. Confronting those competing perceptions, I felt it was worth making the case for why we still care about football.
Well, our team is 0-2. I was in the stadium for every second of the opening loss to Ohio, and I watched every second of that heartbreaker last week in Charlottesville. On Saturday, I’ll be back in Beaver Stadium for the visit of Navy, and it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which I won’t stay from start to finish. For me, those first two losses will make the first win under Bill O’Brien that much more rewarding. I don’t want to miss seeing it in person.
And if we lose Saturday? I’ll say the same for Temple’s visit next week.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
I’ve been driving by the former site of the Joe Paterno statue next to Beaver Stadium for the past week or so, watching the transformation from “statue/plaza” to “construction zone” to “grassy slope with trees, where you’d never know a statue once stood.” The project is pretty much finished now, and the fencing came down the other day; the photo at right is how things looked this morning.
Below is a short slide show of seven photos I took, starting Saturday, July 21 (the last day the statue was standing) and ending this morning. Click on any photo to pause the slide show.
Yesterday I spent some time talking with Brian Curran, a faculty member in art history who is fascinated by statues, monuments, and memorials, and who sees the controversy over the Paterno statue from multiple perspectives: as a member of the Penn State community as well as a scholar and historian. We’re hoping to include some of his thoughts in our next print edition, due out at the end of this month, and I’ll probably post a longer version of the interview on the blog as well.
Tina Hay, editor
I stopped by the Paterno statue twice yesterday and again this afternoon, just to shoot some photos before and after the statue’s removal. I’ve put about about a dozen images into the slide show below.
I don’t know what to tell you about all of this. Emotions are running so high right now, and I don’t think too much useful dialogue goes on when that’s the case. On the one side, there’s been some pretty hateful stuff being said about Penn State and Penn Staters, especially since the Freeh report was released. As Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Rosenberg said in an excellent piece on Thursday: “The scandal at Penn State is so outrageous that any level of outrage seems appropriate. And as a result, any level of punishment seems appropriate. Fines. Firings. Scholarship reductions. Frogs. Hail. Boils. Locusts.” (Rosenberg goes on, by the way, to argue that the NCAA death penalty is not called for here.)
On the other side, there are many Penn Staters who loved and still love Joe Paterno, are unconvinced of his culpability in the Sandusky scandal, point out that the Freeh report is not necessarily gospel, and think the University is throwing Paterno under the bus. For them, today’s removal of the statue was painful, a punch in the gut.
For what it’s worth, I continue to think that the statue had become a safety concern, an accident waiting to happen. Why? Because, as I said above, emotions are running so high right now. All it would take is one really angry person who happens to also be unstable mentally and … well, I don’t want to think about what could have happened. There may well have been other reasons to remove the statue, especially with the NCAA news conference looming tomorrow, but it’s hard to argue with the safety one.
Among the more than two dozen comments so far on my previous post about the statue, there is this one that stood out for me. It’s from Barbara Morgan-Cicippio ’74, who writes:
The statue is just a thing. I seem to remember that Coach did not like it and did not want it displayed anyway. We need to move past caring about things. I do not need a statue or a football team for that matter to remind me (more…)
At 5:30 a.m. or so, I took my first real, close-up look at the Joe Paterno statue. I’d passed it too many times to count; I’d stopped by when Paterno was dying and it was surrounded by mourners. I’d written about it, and its sculptor. But I’d never really seen it.
There was no crowd. Mostly media, including me, hanging around on a pleasant Sunday morning to see if anything would happen. Six “regular” people—students, and a guy from Bellefonte with his son and his son’s friend. After after days of speculation and news coverage, a pile of tributes left by other Penn Staters at the statue’s feet, including white roses, a football, and a sign that said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. We are and always will be Penn State.”
Less than three hours later, the statue was gone.
President Rodney Erickson explained why in a statement released around 7 a.m., while Office of Physical Plant workers were hanging blue tarp on fences they’d just erected around the statue. Erickson’s statement read in part:
“I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, if it were to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond have been the victims of child abuse.”
The scene was surreal.
My watch read 6:08 a.m. when (more…)
Just when we thought this whole sad mess couldn’t get any more bizarre, today an airplane flew repeatedly over campus and town, trailing a banner saying: TAKE THE STATUE DOWN OR WE WILL.
The Centre Daily Times reported that the plane is registered to an Ohio company, whose owner declined to say who hired him to trail the banner. He did, however, say, “I believe in freedom of speech.”
Is it free speech if you’re threatening criminal acts? I don’t have the legal chops to say. But I have a feeling that today’s incident doesn’t bode well for the statue.
There’s been a steady police presence at the statue ever since former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by the Penn State Board of Trustees to investigate the Sandusky scandal, issued his report last Thursday. And today’s incident with the plane surely has Penn State police and others thinking about all of the possible things that could go wrong at that statue.
Picture the university having to have security at the statue 24/7 indefinitely. Picture the fights that could break out at the statue during home games. Worse yet, picture a bunch of fans posing at the statue before a game and some angry jerk deciding to drive a truck into the crowd. From a safety perspective, sadly, the statue is an incident—if not a tragedy—waiting to happen.
President Erickson told the Centre Daily Times today that a decision about the statue will be made in seven to 10 days. Here’s hoping someone comes up with a creative solution that, somehow, brings healing.
Tina Hay, editor
As the Penn State community continues to reel from the release of the Freeh Report, the national media has been busy weighing in on the findings and the fallout. Following the coverage can be overwhelming, but here are some articles from the past four days that are worth a read:
Guides to the Freeh Report
“A Guide to the Penn State Investigation”: From The Chronicle of Higher Education, an annotated summary of the report’s most significant findings.
“Analysis: Freeh report sheds new light on Jerry Sandusky scandal, but needs context”: Sara Ganim ’08 breaks down the important revelations, and identifies some of the report’s shortcomings. “It’s not the whole picture,” she writes.
The Paterno Statue
“After Report, Calls to Remove Paterno Statue at Penn State”: From The New York Times’ “The Lede” blog, a collection of Facebook and Twitter comments calling for the removal of the Joe Paterno statue immediately after the report’s release.
“Penn State denies decision made on Joe Paterno statue”: An update on the future of the statue and other landmarks bearing Paterno’s name and image.
“Joe Paterno, at the end, showed more interest in his legacy than Jerry Sandusky’s victims”: “Everything else about Paterno must now be questioned,” writes Sally Jenkins, the Washington Post reporter who interviewed Paterno before his death, in one of the harshest pieces out there.
“Paterno Won Sweeter Deal Even as Scandal Played Out“: A New York Times report on Paterno’s retirement contract, which it says was worked out long before Paterno announced his retirement last Nov. 9.
“A Failed Experiment”: At Grantland.com, Michael Weinreb ’94 reflects on Penn State’s moral culture, concluding, “The Grand Experiment is a failure, and the entire laboratory is contaminated.”
NCAA and the Death Penalty
Amidst handfuls of articles weighing the pros and cons of the NCAA-imposed “death penalty” at Penn State, here is a take from each side:
“Should Penn State Football Get the Death Penalty?”: Slate’s Josh Levin advocates for a temporary shutdown of Penn State football.
“In calls for justice at Penn State, NCAA death penalty would be injustice”: Columnist David Whitley takes the opposite stance: “When it comes to punishment, Penn State will have an unprecedented amount without the NCAA getting involved.”
Penn State Pride
“‘We Are Penn State’ and What That Means Today”: John Milewski ’79 on accountability as an alum.”For me, the burden of being Penn State includes taking responsibility for being part of the myth machine that brought us to where we are today.”
“I Went to Penn State—But Don’t Pity Me”: Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g on finding comfort—and pride—among fellow Penn Staters.
“Ashamed for Joe Paterno and Penn State’s leaders, but still proud of my school”: A strong alumni voice since November, LaVar Arrington ’00 believes supporting Penn State is the way to rebuild. “A big mistake would be making this all about loving or hating Paterno.”
What articles/links do you recommend? Share them in the comments below.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
It was, in many ways, like any other Blue-White Saturday. Tailgaters crowded into the lots around Beaver Stadium, and the fans who made it into the building came hoping the rain would hold off, and wondering if an obvious starting quarterback would emerge. But there were plenty of signs, both inside the stadium and out, of just how different this year’s spring football game was.
Walking up through the paved lots across Curtain Road, I saw a banner towering over a tailgate bearing the message “Joe Deserved Better.” Not far from there, a table was set up with stickers and flyers promoting a few of the 86 candidates for this year’s Board of Trustees race. Inside, the rules for the scrimmage promised a new and novel scoring system — two points for an “explosive” play of 15 yards or more, and defensive scoring opportunities (six points for a turnover, four for a sack) — meant to increase the game’s competitiveness. And of course, there was the big guy in the ball cap and sweats pacing the sideline, Penn State’s new man in charge.
It is, as we knew it would be, a new day for the Nittany Lions.
Ultimately, we didn’t learn much in the defense’s 77-65 “win” that’ll mean much this fall. The quarterbacks remain a work in progress (though backups Shane McGregor and especially Paul Jones both showed signs that they’ll make the race interesting), and there’s no telling just how tight a grasp these players have of the potentially potent pro-style offense that Bill O’Brien brought with him from the New England Patriots. Those answers won’t come until the fall. What was clear is that Penn Staters’ passion for their program shows no signs of having waned. That’s not surprising, really, but it was still something we hadn’t had a chance to actually see.
What we saw Saturday: An estimated 60,000 people made their way into Beaver Stadium for a scrimmage, on an afternoon when the forecast called for day-long rain. The clouds lingered, but not until well after the game ended and the stadium was empty did the rain start to fall.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
There’s no shortage of things to do in Happy Valley this weekend. The annual Blue-White Game on Saturday is the big draw, of course, and on Friday, the university will officially break ground on the site of the Pegula Ice Arena. But there’s also an anniversary to celebrate.
The Penn State All-Sports Museum opened its doors in 2002, and the museum — located at the southwest corner of Beaver Stadium — is celebrating its 10-year milestone this weekend. From 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, the museum will host tours, and feature kid-friendly activities, games, films and refreshments. Click here for more information.
Ryan Jones, senior editor