Thursday, November 29, 2012

Penn State Football: Solid Performances in a Tumultuous Year

This has been an emotional couple of weeks for any Penn State football fan.  

The 2012 season ended in a fine way, with a superb win against Indiana, and then a tense, passion-filled finish in overtime against a tough Wisconsin team.  In the last two games we saw Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson tie or break offensive records.  At the Indiana game we saw linebacker Michael Mauti get injured.  And we all cried as he was driven off the field in a cart.

At the Wisconsin game we saw the 31 seniors who stayed despite the NCAA sanctions come out onto the field to be honored.

We watched the year 2012 be put up on the east suites wall in honor of them, something that is normally reserved for undefeated years or championship seasons.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Penn State Football: Will Renewing Old Rivalries Be Worth It for Penn State?

Especially if the old rivalries do not include Pittsburgh?

With yesterday's announcement that Maryland will be joining the B1G conference in 2014, and with today's announcement that Rutgers will also join, I have been amused by some of the comments on my Facebook home page deriding the additions.

I suppose, if you were looking at these additions from solely a football point of view, and if you weren't one to travel to watch games in person, you might ask, "What's the point?".   Penn State has played Maryland in football 37 times.  The record against Maryland is 35 wins, one loss, and one tie.

The last time Penn State lost to Maryland was in 1961.  One might look at this move and say that Penn State had found another team to beat up on every year.  In fact that's what numerous people are saying.  Ho hum.  So what?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Penn State Student-Athletes Host Silent Charity Auction for Penn State Dance Marathon

Head to to bid on several different offers related to Penn State sports.

Just a few of the offerings listed are a football autographed by Coach Bill O'Brien, a set of season tickets to women's soccer games, a Penn State golf outing package, behind the scenes with the Lady Lions basketball team, or a photo shoot with the Nittany Lion.

Whether your favorite sport is fencing, lacrosse, football, volleyball, or soccer, there is something for everyone on this list.

Bidding ends on November 19.  So support the Student Athlete Advisory Board's initiatives to raise money for a great cause and submit your bid soon!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Penn State at Nebraska: A Rivalry Mired in Controversy Intensifies

There is no turning back the clock.  Not to 1982, when #2 Nebraska played #8 Penn State and lost its chance to play for a national championship due to an errant call on the sidelines.

How do I know that call was errant?   A call that Penn State and Nebraska fans have been arguing about for thirty years?  What Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald called the "Crooked Sideline"? 

Mike McCloskey is the tight end who caught the ball out of bounds that led to Penn State's touchdown and win as time ran out.

At one point in my professional career, before I arrived at Penn State, I happened to talk with someone at work about Penn State football.  This man had been a college football official in 1982.  I don't even remember his name.  But I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Penn State Football at Purdue: A Damp Cold Day Didn't Dampen Penn State

Self, take note.  Next time the weather calls for 30% chance of rain and mid-40's temperatures, pay attention.  Assume it will feel like 25 degrees.  Because at Ross-Ade stadium it did.  In fact it rained quite hard that morning and on the way to the game.  I was prepared with rain gear and lots of layers plus a wool hat but needed better protection for my feet and hands. 

I hadn't packed my warm toasty waterproof boots nor my Goretex waterproof mittens.  Those would have helped immensely!   I should also know better.  No matter how many games I've been to over the years, that first really cold game of a season always seems like one that I'm not quite prepared for.  The Purdue-Penn State game was the first really cold game of the season.  And I was very fortunate that it didn't rain during the game.  It could have been worse.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Penn State Football vs Ohio State: Adversity Reigned in Loss to Buckeyes

Earlier this week I was invited on the student-run radio show Motown Mornings to make a prediction for the Penn State-Ohio State clash at Beaver Stadium.

I'm not one to usually predict scores, in fact yesterday morning I was feeling a bit like I might have jinxed the game by predicting that Penn State would pull off a 30-27 win.  The actual score was 35-23 for Ohio State.

I was in the right neighborhood on total points scored.  But not on the final outcome.

There were, however, a couple of key observations I made on that interview that turned out to be true.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Penn State Football: A MOST Satisfying Win at Iowa and a Call to Action

The gold "America Needs Farmers" campaign rally towels were on every seat, including the seats where the Penn State fans were congregated.  Mixed in with Penn State fans were numerous Iowa fans.  Evidently Penn State had returned some of its seat allotments, and we were unlucky enough to have four Iowa fans - two couples - in front of us swinging their towels with gusto, so our view from the stands for this game looked something like this:

It's not that we minded too much.  Once the score became 24-0 at halftime, and then 31-0 and 38-0 the towels were swung with somewhat less enthusiasm and less often.  One couple stopped swinging their towels when a towel hit my face and I asked them to please stop, which we very much appreciated.   The other couple kept up their non-stop enthusiasm well into the fourth quarter, as Iowa scored two late touchdowns and I ducked a lot to avoid being swatted.   But they also left before the end of the game, well before Iowa's last touchdown made the score 38-14 in favor of Penn State.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Penn State Football at Iowa: It's Time to Win at Kinnick Stadium

It's been a long dry spell at Kinnick Stadium, and I'm not talking about the weather.  In fact, as I write this, it is a misty morning in Iowa City.  The prediction for later today is for clouds giving way to sun and a high of 60, low of 40, winds of 5 mph with gusts up to 7 mph. Right now at 9 a.m. it feels just a bit raw and damp outside.

Yesterday it was windy enough that I started to worry about what I had brought to wear to the game.  So I went to the mall across from the hotel to buy yet another layer of fleece and some light gloves to complement my hooded sweatshirt and light jacket.

With the game starting at 7 p.m. we could be wearing cotton shirts at 3 p.m. and wishing for down jackets at 11 p.m. So layering seems the best approach.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Twenty-Five Years of Marriage...and Penn State Football!

On October 10 my husband Terry and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  It was a somewhat subdued celebration.  We exchanged sweet anniversary cards in the morning, went out to dinner that evening.  That was about it.  No big fanfare.  As it has been since we were married in 1987 on a perfect fall foliage weekend in New England.

That's just the way we are.  We don't really exchange gifts or do anything really big on these types of occasions. Our attitude is that if there is a particular pleasure that either of us seeks we don't need to wait for a special occasion.  We talk about it and then just do it if we can.

Also, on our anniversary, I had a full schedule of classes and a meeting.  It was the middle of the week.

Still, 25 years is a milestone in so many ways, especially when your marriage is also the start of a very long relationship with Penn State and its football team that has impacted so much of your life, including your career.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Penn State Football: First Ever Homecoming Game - Guest Blog by Kelly Burns

 I am pleased to introduce you to Kelly Burns, a former student who is a passionate football fan.  Here is her perspective on her first Homecoming game after graduating in May with an MBA from Smeal College of Business.  She is also a good photographer, and shares her new perspective from the Club Seats at Beaver Stadium. Enjoy!  Carolyn Todd

This past weekend marked my first Penn State Homecoming Weekend as a ‘full-time’ alumnus. After completing my undergraduate degree at PSU in May 2010, I jumped right into the MBA Program that August and spent an additional two years as a graduate student in Happy Valley.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Penn State Football: The 2012 Mascots at Mid-Season

There is a tradition in my home each football season.  On our fireplace mantel in our family room, the mascots of all the teams that Penn State plays are lined up in the order that we play them.

At the beginning of a season, the mascots are all standing or sitting.  But as we play each game, the only mascots that remain standing are the teams that win.  The rest of the mascots are turned face up and on their backs.

So here, at the halfway point in Penn State's season, is how the mascots appear on our mantel.  I will update this every once in a while throughout the season, and this will appear as one of the pages in the header.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Penn State Football: On The People You Meet at Away Games

The Penn State-Illinois game was the first B1G away game of the season for Penn State. Away games are a different animal from home games.  At Beaver Stadium, there's a normal routine.  You tailgate in the same spot with the same folks, you sit (usually) with the same season ticket holders, unless someone has decided to sell their tickets, which is rare.

Away games are somewhat of a dice throw in terms of where you will be located in the stadium and whom you will meet.  To make it easier for Penn Staters to get together, the Penn State Alumni Association holds a tailgate in a huge tent not too far from the stadium.  That helps.  There are always a few familiar faces to greet you.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Penn State vs. Illinois: Bursting Champaign's Bubble

This week’s Citizens Bank button declared “Burst Champaign’s Bubble”.  It was a very clear message when often the buttons issued at Penn State are ambiguous and can be read either way.  

In front of us a man had made his own button that said:  “Crucify and Deny the Cowardly Illini.”  That more aptly described our mood.  We didn’t want the Penn State team to just burst Illinois’ bubble.  We wanted them to crucify the Illini! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Penn State vs. Temple: Did the Rainbows Send A Message?

It was appropriate that my 300th Penn State football game would be against Temple.  Temple has been Penn State’s most consistent competitor, year in and year out, through the twenty-five years I have been regularly following Penn State.  And every one of those Temple games that I have witnessed has been a win. 

The NCAA would differ, but in these awkward days of describing past games that were wins but not really losses either, something called “vacated”, I know what I saw each year.  And since 2005, I have the scoreboard photos to prove it.

In fact, we haven’t lost to Temple since 1941, other than those vacated wins. Yes, Temple is an in-state rival, of sorts.  Yes, there have been some close games, including last year at Lincoln Financial Field, when Penn State barely got away with a 14-10 win.  Temple made all Penn State fans nervous when they led most of the game.  But Penn State prevailed at the end.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Penn State vs. Navy: A Perfect Day for an Historic Win

Yesterday’s Penn State vs. Navy game was sorely needed.  On a perfect fall day at Beaver Stadium, the Navy Midshipmen were soundly defeated 34-7 in front of a crowd of 98,792.   The Penn State team earned their first win under Bill O’Brien’s tenure.  I’m being very deliberate in my choice of words, because I believe that wins belong to the team, not so much to the coaches.

So congratulations to the Penn State team.  It was a well-played and well-deserved win.

Bob Evans, a Penn State alumnus who sits behind us, travels to Penn State with his wife Mary to every home game from North Carolina.  He told me yesterday that the Penn State-Navy atmosphere was one of the best he has seen in years.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Penn State vs. Navy: "Fumbles" Donchez and a Shaky Chris Bahr

Let me first say I wasn’t a Penn State fan in 1974.  I was clueless about college football, and didn’t know anything about the Penn State Nittany Lions. 

But my husband Terry was a fan. In 1970 he moved from Missouri to Pennsylvania to work at Air Products and Chemicals headquarters in Allentown, PA.  His first Penn State football game was actually at the Orange Bowl in Miami, and he was very upset when Penn State won that game.  He was rooting for Missouri.  Before that, he was an Ohio State fan.

But then he moved to Pennsylvania.  Always college football fans, he and his former wife were convinced by the realtor who sold them their house that they should buy Penn State season tickets.  And so they did. 

Terry has held those tickets ever since, and has attended a total of 435 Penn State games since 1970.  The last 272 games he has seen are in a row, and include all home, away, and bowl games played since September 1990.  Terry was at the last Navy vs. Penn State game played in 1974.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Penn State at Virginia: NCAA 1, Penn State 0

There is no way you could have predicted that Penn State would lose Saturday’s game against Virginia, not the way the defense played for most of the game. The defense forced four turnovers and held the Cavaliers to 32 yards net rushing. In addition, Virginia had ten penalties for a net loss of 70 yards.  Penn State had only three for a net loss of 24 yards.

But despite those stats, Penn State was vulnerable. Our kicker missed four field goals, the longest a 42-yarder, and suffered a blocked extra point.  The missed points on the kicking game cost Penn State 13 valuable points. Plus, the defense, despite forcing turnovers, gave up first downs at crucial moments on third and long, on the last winning drive for Virginia.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Penn State vs. Ohio: A Tough Challenge for the First Game

Today’s football game was a first in so many ways.  It was the first game of the 2012 season.  It was the first game played after Joe Paterno passed away.  It was the first game of a new era under Coach Bill O’Brien and the first game ever in Penn State athletic history where a Penn State team is subject to onerous NCAA sanctions.  It was also the first football game since Jerry Sandusky was put behind bars.

I was apprehensive about this first game, as I imagine many fans were.  I just wasn’t sure how it would feel to be in Beaver Stadium again after the horrible events of these last nine months.   Tears welled up in me as the team entered the field at the Pep Rally on Friday night. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

An Open Letter to Penn State Football Players and Fans

Today, we are all astonished by what the NCAA determined as sanctions starting in 2012 for alleged cover-ups by senior leaders in the Sandusky child sexual abuse crimes. 

It is not our purpose here to comment on the appropriateness of those sanctions or formulate an opinion on whether or not the Freeh Report is the right basis for making those judgments.   Others are making those sorts of statements elsewhere.

What we do know, and perhaps it’s ALL that we know, is that none of this had to do with you, the Penn State football players.  And we wish to personally thank you for your great conduct over the past several months.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rally Behind This Football Team for Lift for Life

It's time to show our support for the current Penn State football team,which has conducted itself with honor through this transition period. What better way to show our support than to donate to Lift for Life, the football team's adopted charity, supporting research that will tackle kidney cancer? Join me in making a donation now!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Students' Favorite Joe Paterno Memory - THON 2009

After yesterday's funeral procession I wandered back to my classroom to see if any students showed up for class.  I had no intention of cancelling class yesterday but the funeral procession, scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m., didn't really start until about 4:00 p.m.  Class was at 4:15 p.m.

So I called someone in the building around 4:10 p.m. when it was clear I would be missing at the start of class and asked them to put a note on the door stating that if I wasn't there I was at the procession and class was cancelled.

I figured that all my students would have the same attitude that I did.  After waiting since about 2:30 p.m. on Curtin Road for this procession to come by, I wasn't about to miss it.  Judging by the many emails I received from students stating that they missed class because they were at the procession, I think I made the right call.

Walking back to the Business Building from Curtin Road, I broke down into tears.  It was one of those moments where it hits you what kind of loss this really is.

It's hard to describe.   Joe Paterno was such a patriarch for Penn State.  So very much loved.  And so as the hearse drove by and I shot photos while fighting back tears, it reminded me of losing my father, and I couldn't help but think of my mother as well.   For the students, losing Joe is like losing a grandfather.  We felt like we knew him that well, even if our interactions with him were few and far between.  He had that much impact on each of us.

As I got closer to the Business Building, I ran into one of my students.  He, too, was fighting tears, and was headed to my classroom.  I told him we weren't having class, but I was headed there to see if anyone wanted to just sit and talk about Joe.  I asked him if he wanted to do that and he said yes.

Three other students also arrived at the classroom, and also wanted to just stay and talk.  It was about 4:30 by this time. 

So we sat and reminisced and I asked them what was their favorite moment with Joe Paterno.  They mentioned the speech he gave at Thon 2009.  It was the first time in a long time that Joe and Sue Paterno had attended Thon, and it was a surprise visit at the height of Thon weekend.

So we found the video and played it, along with a clip of JoePa's 324th win.  I had already shown the 400th win tribute in class the other day.

And so here is my students' favorite memory, and a reminder, if you haven't done so already, that Sue Paterno and her family had asked that donations in Joe Paterno's memory be made to either THON or to Pennsylvania Special Olympics.

Video:  Joe Paterno's speech at THON 2009.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Penn State Football: Remembering Joe Paterno

I hung up the phone stunned. I had just asked the Reverend Charles MacEachern (Charlie) to officiate at our wedding. He was the retired pastor of my family church in Massachusetts, a family friend. The year was 1987.

Charlie asked about Terry.  I started with, “Terry is an avid Penn State football fan.” 

His response was “Carolyn, that’s all I need to know.  Anybody who’s a fan of Joe Paterno will make a great husband.” He immediately agreed to marry us.

Charlie explained, “Joe Paterno is my hero.  He doesn’t compromise academics to win.  He does college football the right way.” 

And so my marriage to Terry Todd started on that note nearly 25 years ago.  After that phone call, I figured I had better learn more about Joe. 

And what I learned as I observed and came to love Penn State football was how precious an individual he really was.
I remember the first time I met Joe Paterno.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Penn State Football: Welcome, Bill O'Brien, from a Fellow Bostonian

I am a born and bred Bostonian.  In fact, I was born about five miles from where Bill O'Brien, Penn State's new head football coach, was born.  Dorchester, Massachusetts was his birthplace.  Quincy was mine, the town just south of Dorchester.  For those who don't know, Dorchester is part of the City of Boston.  And so I was anxiously awaiting yesterday's press conference not only to hear what he had to say about his new job, but also to hear something I just don't hear very much around here:  the most distinctive Boston accent in Boston, that "broad A" Dorchester- or should I say Dahchestah? - accent.

I was especially attuned to Boston accents after visiting the Sixth Street Museum in Dallas, Texas last week, where a history of the Kennedy administration, including many audio tapes of his speeches, was a part of the tour.  He had one of the strongest Boston accents ever, and it made me smile realizing how much I miss hearing that.

And so I have to express a bit of disappointment.