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.
“We didn’t boo the opposing team when they ran on the field. We cheered for them”, he marveled.
Well, it was Military Appreciation Day, and how can any college football fans boo young men from the Naval Academy who are committed to serve the country? That is, unless those fans are supporters of West Point (Army)?
Why would Penn State fans be mean to Navy? Penn State was giving students something to cheer about, and so was Navy. It was a game where we saw more fourth down conversion attempts in one game than in the past we would witness in an entire season.
The half-time show was devoted to band performances highlighting the songs from all the military, and it was just a glorious day where Penn State’s win was never seriously threatened.
It was very entertaining watching Navy implement its triple option offense, and Navy’s execution of that offense was well done. They gained more yards than Penn State and executed many more offensive plays. Unfortunately for them our defense produced four turnovers that were keys to shutting them down.
More than the game, though, at the end of the day, the Penn State football team went over to the Navy band and sang with them the “Navy Blue & Gold” alma mater. And then, the Navy football team joined the Penn State football team and went over to the Penn State Blue band where together they sang the Penn State alma mater “For the Glory”.
Coach Bill O’Brien has asked the Penn State football team to start a new tradition – to sing the alma mater with the band each week, and while a lot of folks had left by the end of the contest, those of us who remained were touched by the sportsmanship display we saw.
Some of those players need to learn the words…but overall it was a pretty nice job for the first attempt.
When we returned to our car after the game, though, our tailgating neighbor Ed came up to us and said, “Isn’t it great to finally win a game after 15 years of losses?”
Hmmm…that thought had not occurred to me. But of course Ed was referring to the vacating of wins between 1998 and 2011 by the NCAA sanctions. Weird sense of humor, I guess.
According to the Beaver Stadium Pictorial for the Ohio game, though, it seems that Penn State didn’t exactly lose all those 112 games whose wins were vacated by the NCAA.
If you look at the 2011 Big Ten record in the program, for example, you will see that they show last year’s game record as 0-4.
So it appears that vacating a win is more like vacating the playing of a game. It doesn’t credit the Penn State team or the other team with a win. The record is now showing that we played only four games in 2011.
So I joked back to Ed that now I guess I can only imagine that we attended all those games even though my camera took photos of each final score.
Such is the danger of attempts to erase history. I have been taking final score photos at every game we played since about 2002 or 2003. Does that mean those photos can no longer exist?
So what was your favorite win since about 2003 that is now officially no longer a win? If I have a photo that shows the final score of that game, I will post that photo in a special section on my blog.
It's the least I can do to help preserve our memories.
Go Penn State! Beat Temple!
Update: Go to the page above entitled “Favorite Wins That Are No Longer Wins” to see the results.