Penn State offers a good blueprint

by intheknow72

This week I have been suffering at one of the hot spot destinations where couples go to remember why they fell in love. My wife could read by the pool for 12 hours a day. I get bored in about 12 minutes. But we’ve had a great time. I love coming to tourist destinations like this one because it is a melting pot of people from all over the world. And whether you vacation in the U.S. or abroad, everyone always gives themselves away by wearing their colors.

I’ve had some unbelievable conversations around the resort with people from all over, but in particular, I’ve had some incredible luck meeting people who have direct ties to some notable college football coaches.

Yesterday at lunch by the pool, I had the pleasure of meeting a man decked out in Virginia Tech gear. Normally I have my Bama visor on, but for some reason I didn’t, so he didn’t know where I was from (until I told him later). As it turns out, he grew up with Frank Beamer and knew him before he was badly burned as a kid (which is the scar you see on his neck). He still gets together with Coach Beamer on occasion and doesn’t miss a game. He shared some neat insight on him as a man, how down-to-earth he was, and how unphased he was with the celebrity status that comes with his profession. Although I’ve had my opinions about Beamer through the years, particularly when he was uninterested in our coaching vacancy (how dare he…this is Alabama!), he sounded like an okay guy.

I couldn’t resist picking this gentleman’s brain about the upcoming season. He said he thought they could win the ACC, but the game that scared him the most was the first one; he was fearful the Hokies could get beaten badly. Defensively they would be okay, but he believed their offense couldn’t move the ball against Bama’s defense. At that point I revealed my affiliation and offered that our offensive line had to come together before that could happen. He voiced his respect for Nick Saban, and echoed again it scared him that Coach Saban had an entire off-season to prepare for Va. Tech, especially following two season ending losses. It sounded like Saban’s assertion that he wanted Bama to be the kind of team other teams dreaded to play was coming into effect.

Amazingly, at the same resort I met a friend of the Bowdens. They knew Tommy best, but were acquaintances of Bobby as well. I did have my visor on that day, and got a shock when she said the best thing that happened to Tommy in a long time was the Alabama game. There were some insinuations of his fatigue from coaching, and that game cracked the door for him to step away for a while. They expressed excitement in the prospect of Dabo Swinney’s reign, but I didn’t have the heart to explain the Shula/Dubose learn-on-the-job experiments usually don’t work. Dabo is a great person, however, and I’m praying he blazes a new trail.

But the coolest conversation I had was with a man from Pennsylvania. We talked in the pool for close to two hours, and the more we talked the more I learned. Incredibly, he is a friend of Joe Paterno. He played at Penn State just before Joe Pa, coached for him, and he and his wife go to the Paterno’s meager house a couple of times a year for dinner. Joe Pa has lived in the same house since arriving in State College close to 50 years ago, and his name is still listed in the phone book.

This person, we’ll call him “Glenn” (because that’s his name), wasn’t bragging, because it was me pulling the info out of him over that two hour conversation. Instead, what he revealed was a content fanbase, confident in their leader who was committed to doing things the right way, with class. We swapped stories, though his were much more interesting. But he talked about Coach Paterno helping him get his start in coaching, letting him coach at Penn State for two years before setting out to coach elsewhere. He said Paterno didn’t recruit players, he recruited families, and if he got a bad vibe about a family, that was it. Glenn isn’t in coaching anymore, but went into private business and apparently has done well…as evidenced by his ability to bring his entire family and grandkids to this resort…believe me, that’s a chunk. But the impressions Coach Paterno made on him have lasted a lifetime. And that’s what happens when you have a real leader in a position like Coach Paterno is in.

He also said something that made me sit up a little and take notice. He said Coach Paterno would never stop coaching because of his friendship with Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes. He noted that as soon as they stopped coaching, they died, and Joe Pa wasn’t ready to die. He said he doesn’t like to golf, fish or do yard work, and he’s doing now what he’d like to do if he was retired. So why quit? He also invited me to tailgate with them in 2011, and you better believe I’ll take him up on it. I assured him that in 2010, he’d find a hospitable crowd in Bryant-Denny that holds a special respect for Penn State and their tradition.

I have always found Penn State fans to be just like Glenn, and when we play Penn State the next two seasons, let me be the first to urge the Tide faithful to be generous hosts, and to possibly put Rammer Jammer on the shelf for one game. Glenn was astounded at the hatred SEC schools have for one another, as evidenced by a Florida fan who joined our conversation and immediately started talking trash. (This fan did offer that this was their last year with Meyer, thinking he was headed to Notre Dame after this season because “we’re losing everybody.”)

I met fans from other schools as well, but these three were pretty notable. But one interesting twist to all of this was the opinion they shared about our little sister across the state. Now, I have been accused in here of having to take a dig at Auburn in my articles, but this one is just too precious not to share. Every fan I engaged…every one of them…commented about their experience with Auburn. Specifically, using their words, how “classless, obnoxious, vile, confrontational and dirty” they are. Those were THEIR words, unprovoked and unsolicited by me. Rant and rave all you want, but word apparently has traveled from sea to shining sea about the school my Va. Tech friend said “has never done anything.” Too funny.

But in fairness, schools like Penn State don’t show up on game day when GameDay comes to their town with signs trashing their rival, even though that day’s game isn’t against their rival. I challenge all fans, but especially the Bama faithful, to start leading the way in showing the kind of class displayed in State College. According to Glenn, the Big Ten has their Auburns too, in Michigan and Ohio State. But for the most part it’s a gentleman’s game. Imagine what football season would be like if we could all follow that blueprint.

23 Comments

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  1. 1
    Auburn is a joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    Please…..I can assure you that there are ten times the fans that believe Bama is a bunch of classless cheating arrogant thugs…..Just look at EVERY poll on the national boards about the most arrogant fanbase and Bama is always top three if not #1…..You can stuff that one up your rear ITK. Nice try though.

  2. 3
    Perry

    Ballplay-
    You have a way – in only a few choice words – to prove everything Cap said in his article. Having been around for some time, I can remember when the rivalry with Auburn was one of the best played, most competitive games of the season, primarily because both of the coaches were classy gentlemen who led their teams on the field and off. Auburn hasn’t had a class act since Shug Jordan retired, and I don’t see them getting any closer with the current leadership and/or fanbase.

  3. 4
    jj spoa

    Bammers are classic trash and this helps to confirm it. You think Shug had class because Bammer beat him over and over, but as soon as Auburn started to own you losers then Auburn people have to class, right? Boy you do not know anything and your program will get the Death Penalty under Saban’s watch within 3 years.

    C Ya losers.

  4. 5
    Jim

    Joe Pa is an extraordinary human being as you have heard.He’s done so much for the school money wise and beyond.

  5. 7
    MattUA

    I always enjoy reading these articles. I also wonder why half the comments are from Auburn Fans (or more than half in some cases). And its the same lines over and over and over. “Bammers are classless….etc” “Alabama cheats” “Everybody hates Alabama” and my favorite …”We are not jealous of Alabama”. I like the last one because the Auburn fans that comment on this site and other similar BAMA sites, always make the point that they are not jealous. Maybe some Auburn fans on this site can answer these questions…. 1. Why are you on this site? 2. Why do you care what an Alabama fan thinks about you or anything else? 3. If Alabama fans are so obnoxious and classless, why are you here in middle of it? Are you a reporter for an underground Auburn website that basically relays news about what is going on at the University of Alabama and everything related?

    Oh, thats right you “could care less about Alabama”

  6. 9
    Freedo

    Appreciate your kind comments about PSU, we are looking forward to visiting with you all the next two seasons as well. I’m looking forward to making my way to Bryant-Denny next season and am hopeful that its a great day (or evening) game. When you guys are in Happy Valley your our guests so we hope to return the favor. Go State!

  7. 10
    Mike

    I’ve seen ‘Bama and Penn State play twice in State College while a student (’87 and ’89). I have yet to find an opposing team’s fan base as nice and gracious as Alabama’s. All those I’ve met have been outstanding fans and people. I’m looking forward to visiting Tuscaloosa (and Birmingham) in 2010. Best of luck to the Tide in 2009!

  8. 11
    Auburn is a joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    Perry………Cap didnt write it InTheKnow did. And as far as “CLASS” goes the worst coonass in Baton Rouge has more class in there pinky finger than the “CLASSIEST” of Bammers.

  9. 12
    Gerry

    Jo Pa is the last of a dying breed, see as much of him while you can, becaaause when he’s gone there are none left like him.

  10. 13
    Paterno

    I’m guessing that the PSU “Glenn” that the author was speaking with was Glenn Ressler. Glenn played from ’62-’64 which fits the author referenced time line of him playing right before Paterno took over.

    If it was Ressler, I wonder if the author knew he was talking to a PSU All American, Maxwell award winner, inductee into the college football hall of fame, and someone who played 10 years in the NFL?

  11. 14
    almightytmc1

    Thank you jj spoo for demonstrating why everyone who knows about Auburn football cant stand thier envious wannabe fans.

  12. 15
    E G White

    BP your comments show the worthlesness and jealousy of the Barner fan base. For a while you were posting halfway intelligent. But for over a week now your posts have been nothing but pure garbage. I’m telling you right now, and I don’t give a damn what you post after me; but ITK is absolutly correct. Alabama is respected by every other top 10 fan base in the country except the ones in the SEC. But we don’t care what the morons in the SEC think and you only have to read some of the posts from this conference to understand why! If necessary I’ll link posts from the top two teams of every one of the BCS conferences to show everybody just how full of shit you are. The only one that might agree with YOU would be Michigan, and I think everybody knows how those tards have acted every since the articles about oversigning were posted. They started that shit, not us. And before you make another retarded comment about us and oversigning, I’ll tell you right now that your stupid school has oversigned more athletes than Bama in total since we came off scholly limitations. And if you’re too stupid to know that, then I’ll be glad to furnish you with a link to Scout and Rivals for list of your fu-king signees. What a bunch of inbred tards you people are. You can’t just come on here and post about rival topics; you have get stupid and nasty about something as unrelated to the Barn as one of our intersectional opponents saying something nice about us! GFY and STFU. RTR!

  13. 16
    Auburn is a Joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    O.K. Give me some links. But dont cherry pick your sites . Go to the national boards. Post a poll and get back with me. You will be the one eating crow, not me.

    Egg, you need to lighten up. I know you get tired of me verbally abusing you and winning every debate we have, but in the grand scheme of things , does it really bother you that bad ?

  14. 17
    Auburn is a Joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    And egg. My venom was in response to ITKs jab at Auburn. That was all.

  15. 18
    PSU '94

    We’ll be nice to ‘Bama fans when they come to Happy Valley in 2011.

    Unless, of course, you remind us of that God awful ’79 Sugar Bowl…..

  16. 19
    intheknow72

    PSU, we won’t remind you of the ’79 Sugar Bowl if you don’t remind us of the absolute schooling you put on us in ’86 in our own stadium. 23-3, and it could’ve been muuuuch worse.

  17. 20
    Nittany Ned

    Since you didn’t mention in your article, you probably didn’t realize that your were talking to an all american and Maxwell Award winner. Glenn Ressler. He played in the NFL.

    You mentioned that Joe’s observations about Bear and Woody. Many people agree with that however, it is rather sad in that he doesn’t have any other interests in his life. It also points out a fear that many PSU faithfull have in that he will hang on to the bitter end regardless of the longterm consequences to the program that he built.

    To this end, PSU has no succession plan because Joe doesn’t think he owes that to anyone except…himself. PSU is bigger than one man. We Are Penn State.

    We luv him and we have our problems with him as well.

    There once was a man named Joe
    Who didn’t know which way to go
    So he went up the middle
    He went up the middle
    He went up the middle
    He went up the middle
    …And that’s Joe.

    (that is the limerick that came out after the 79 sugar bowl game)

  18. 21
    intheknow72

    Many of you have mentioned a gentleman named Glenn Ressler; that could be him, though I don’t remember him giving me that last name. Maybe he thought I’d know who he was and didn’t want to offer his correct last name, but it was something else. At any rate, who it was wasn’t as important as the class he displayed, personifying a classy program like State’s.

  19. 22
    E G White

    Nittany Ned, I was at the ’79 Sugar Bowl sitting right behind the “Goal Line Stand”. I also wrote Joe a letter after the regular season, imploring him to choose Bama to play because whichever bowl Penn State went too would be the national championship game. He wrote me back a very cordial letter indicating Penn States respect for Bama and Bear and his preference to play us in the Sugar Bowl. This was before any formal announcement was allowed to be made to the public. Since that time, I have always had respect for Joe “Pa”, and we had various great games with ya’ll for years after that. I have also had cordial experiences whenever I visit your Blogs. Just two weeks ago I was in Beaver Falls, the home of Joe “Willy” Namath and had a wonderful time at their Classic Car Festival. I’m looking forward our series with you. RTR!

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