Posts tagged ‘Ki-Jana Carter’

Twenty Years On, Still Perfect

I think I’m finally over my jet lag from five terrific days in Dublin, and just in time: There’s a home opener to be ready for.

The Nittany Lions’ meeting with Akron is notable for a few reasons, not least that it’s James Franklin’s home debut. But as both a 1995 grad and the guy who spent untold hours on the phone this past spring and summer with members of the ’94 Lions, I can tell you I’m almost as excited about the reunion of Penn State’s last undefeated team as I am about the game itself.


Carter, Collins, and Brady, three of the stars of the unstoppable ’94 offense.

Alumni Association members by now should have their copies of our Sept./Oct. issue, which features that great shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 on the cover, and, inside, an oral history on that team’s epic comeback win at Illinois. While the magazine piece focuses on the Illinois game—well, really the whole trip to Champaign, a surreal experience that the players, coaches, and managers recount in the issue—it’s just an excerpt from our much larger oral history of the ’94 Lions, tracking that squad from raw recruits into arguably the greatest offensive team in college football history. I spoke to nearly 30 guys for that one, and it was very much a labor of love. If you haven’t already, you can find the entire piece over at The Football Letter Blog.

The reunion is well timed not only with the 20th anniversary of that team, but with the emergence of true sophomore Christian Hackenberg as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Hackenberg’s record performance against UCF in the season opener, following his terrific freshman season, has some people wondering (prematurely) how he ranks with the best QBs in program history. Well, the guy who tops that list, Kerry Collins ’94, is expected back this weekend, as are arguably—key word here—the best running back (Carter), receiver (Bobby Engram ’95), tight end (Kyle Brady ’95) and offensive line in school history. There are lots of worth guys in the argument at all those positions, but the fact that so many guys from that one team are in the discussion tells you just how phenomenal that team was.

For so many reasons, it’s impossible to compare this year’s team—still limited by sanctions, and with a brand new coaching staff—to Joe Paterno’s veteran, talent-laden ’94 squad. But based on some of the things I heard repeated time and time again by Carter, Collins, Engram, Brady and nearly everyone else I spoke to from the ’94 squad, there’s plenty that this year’s Lions would be well to mimic: Work hard, put aside egos, never doubt what you’re capable of, and never miss a chance to laugh. Solid advice for any football team—and, I suppose, for life in general.

Ryan Jones, senior editor


September 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm 3 comments

The Sept./Oct. Issue is Coming Your Way

SeptOctCoverOur Sept./Oct. issue is arriving in mailboxes this week, and that throwback shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 should grab your attention.

The photo is part of “What a Trip,” an eight-page oral history about the 1994 football team’s crazy, Murphy’s Law-inspired road trip to Champaign, Ill.—where the Lions went on to win the national championship. For the story, senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 interviewed 19 former players, managers, and coaches, who recalled the experience in vivid (and sometimes hilarious) detail.

Also in this issue: “For Hire,” an essay by Penn State prof Michael Bérubé, who talks about his son Jamie’s search for employment—and independence. Jamie, who is 22 and has Down syndrome, has faced some unexpected struggles since graduating from high school, and his father reflects on what it all means for Jamie’s future.

Other good stuff in the Sept./Oct. magazine: a collection of photos from an engineering class’s spring trip to China; a Q&A with investigative reporter David DeKok, who has some interesting insights into the 1969 murder of Betsy Aardsma; details on the proposed shake-ups to the Board of Trustees; an introduction to Penn State’s new AD, Sandy Barbour, and much more.

What do you think of the new issue? Let us know in the comments or email

Mary Murphy, associate editor

August 28, 2014 at 11:11 am 2 comments

How DO They Get Those Pants So Clean? (VIDEO)

The Parting Shot in our March/April issue – which Alumni Association members should have in their mailboxes any day now —  features a shot of the Penn State offensive huddle during the Nittany Lions’ 19-17 win over LSU in the Capital One Bowl, where overuse and bad weather had turned the Citrus Bowl field into a mud bog. The result: State’s iconic blue-and-white uniforms were turned blue and gray.

And you think your laundry is a chore...

The picture also left us with a question: How on earth do they get those clean? Luckily, we knew where to get the answer.

(scroll down for video)

A few weeks back, our editor, Tina Hay, called Kirk Diehl ’96, ’05, the Nittany Lions’ facilities coordinator and the guy who, along with equipment manager Brad “Spider” Caldwell ’86, is responsible for maintaining Penn State’s pristine game-day appearance. (A quick aside about Kirk: We were classmates when he was a student manager for the team in the mid ’90s. I saw him walking off the field at the end of the ’95 Rose Bowl and yelled hello from the stands. He waved and threw me a pair of Nike football gloves. It wasn’t until we were back from winter break that I found out the gloves belonged to Ki-Jana Carter ’95. Yes, I still have them.)

Anyway… Kirk gave Tina a sense of how he and Spider got all those pants white enough to be worn again – which they will be, at the annual Blue White Game in April. On Tuesday, associate editor Amy Guyer and I headed over to the Lasch Building to see for ourselves. Kirk and Spider, working through piles of laundry from that morning’s 6 a.m. workout, were nice enough to host us and show us the very pants — now gleaming-white — that had soaked up all that mud in Florida. Kirk explains the pants’ long, smelly journey to cleanliness:

Why do they put so much time and effort into keeping those pants clean? Kirk told us that each pair costs $80 — that’s wholesale. Most schools will go through multiple pairs per player in a season. But, barring fabric damage that can’t be repaired (Spider’s wife, Karen Kessler ’90 Edu, serves as the team’s unofficial seamstress), each of the more than 100 players on the Nittany Lion roster will wear a single pair of game pants from the first game of the season through the following year’s Blue White Game. That’s a lot of money saved.

Of course, it also means a lot of time spent manning washing machines, especially after a game like this year’s mud bowl. Just how bad was it, Kirk?

Five loads of wash, in the team’s computerized, industrial-sized, 85-pound washers, just to get those pants clean. For this game, the focus was pretty exclusively mud, but grass, blood, and paint stains are another challenge for the guys. Spider later showed us the product they use to get out paint stains, particularly the blue that’s applied to the Beaver Stadium turf. As the company’s site confirms, the name of the product, PS-Blout, is an abbreviation of sorts for “Penn State blue-out.” Yup, our Lions have a detergent named after them.

One more thing: And the end there, it almost sounds like Kirk was asked if the team would considering wearing “Peter Pans” next season. I’m pretty sure he said “pewter pants.” Just so that’s clear.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

February 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm 3 comments

Coming Back From Cali

I was one of many Penn Staters who made the trip to California over New Year’s, though maybe the only one who didn’t go primarily for the Rose Bowl. I did go to the game — I had third-row seats directly behind the end zone, which didn’t offer much of a view, but did allow me to smell the grass, which was cool. Mostly, though, I went to visit family (my roots, not to mention a whole lot of relatives, remain in Southern California), eat some great fast food, and enjoy the weather.

Check, check, and check. A few highlights:

-Stopping for dinner at Pie N Burger, the neighborhood greasy spoon recommended by occasional Penn Stater contributor Paul Levine ’69 in his pre-Rose Bowl primer on PSU Live. Both the pie (banana cream) and burger (cheese-) were terrific — although, if I’d known the place was owned by an SC grad, I might have passed…

-Getting up early to attend the Rose Parade, where my four-year-old sat on my lap with a $7.00 program, keeping track of which floats were coming next (his favorite: the giant hat-tipping robot named Asimo), and waiting for the delayed B-2 bomber fly-over (it also flew over the stadium that afternoon — scary stuff). The let down, and another bad omen for the game, came when the Blue Band marched past without playing a note. I guess they were in between songs, but that didn’t make it any easier to rebut the SC fans nearby who mocked us for having a band that didn’t actually play.

Thanks to Brad Youtz for the photo.

Thanks to Brad Youtz '96 for the photo.

-Walking to the parade Thursday morning and seeing a couple of the Paternoville regulars, who I got to know while working on the feature in the magazine’s Jan/Feb 2009 issue. They’d apparently gotten a hotel near Disneyland, stayed up all night Wednesday, then taken a $100 cab ride to Pasadena early Thursday to catch the parade and the game. Between the lack of sleep and the game’s outcome, I imagine their Thursday night was not fun. Sorry guys.

-Most of the SC fans we encountered during the week were polite enough, but there were a few exchanges that, shall we say, reflected poorly on the broader Trojan fan base. A selection:

“Good luck Thursday. I’m predicting 52-0.” From some guy who felt compelled to slap me on the back while I had lunch with my family on Tuesday afternoon.

“You guys came all the way out here for nothing.” From a guy we passed walking through the pregame tailgates. A wasted trip? He obviously wasn’t aware of the weather back east.

“C’mon baby, check me out — I’m in a higher tax bracket!” My favorite, offered by a not-entirely-sober young man to my sister, with whom I was walking through the tailgates. Locals (particularly UCLA fans) like to joke that USC actually stands for University of Spoiled Children, a line that is itself sort of childish, though not entirely unfunny (nor, in this particular case, inaccurate).

For the record, my sister declined to check him out.

Yes, we booed the tunnel.

Yes, we booed the tunnel.

-The game itself didn’t offer much worth remembering (although the crowds trying to squeeze through the antiquated tunnels were hard to forget), but it was cool seeing Ki-Jana Carter ’95 waving a towel on the sidelines to rouse the crowd just before kick-off. Like anyone who was a Penn State fan back then, I’ll never forget Carter busting a huge touchdown run to open the scoring in the ’95 Rose Bowl. That game left Penn Staters frustrated at the injustice done by the pollsters. This game just left us humbled.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 5, 2009 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

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