Yesterday, Penn State sports historian and author Lou Prato stopped by our house to visit Terry. It was a great visit, and we spent time discussing our separate journeys to becoming devoted Penn State football fans. Lou, with his years of experience as a journalist and in broadcast news, has tons of stories not only about his work with Penn State sports, but his coverage of other teams like Ohio State and Michigan. Hilarious.
Lou learned that our story is different than a lot of Penn State fans. Our devotion to Penn State had nothing to do with attending school here, and so Terry told him about how he evolved from Ohio State to Missouri to Penn State. And I told him about my complete lack of devotion to football before I met Terry. Also as I will tell my students tomorrow when classes begin, the reason I'm here teaching at Penn State's Smeal College of Business is due to Penn State football. It's not the other way around.
One of Lou's tasks yesterday was to autograph his new book, entitled, "We Are Penn State: The Remarkable Journey of the 2012 Nittany Lions". You can purchase it here. It's a very good read. I finished it in a day. Its hard to put down once you get started.
While Lou certainly has a point of view about what happened to Penn State as a result of the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal, especially the damages done to the football team and the Penn State brand by the Freeh Report and the NCAA sanctions, he does not dwell too long on those issues in the book. He has written about those topics elsewhere, such as in his columns in Blue White Illustrated.
Rather, this book is almost entirely about the 2012 team who stayed when the NCAA sanctions said they could leave at any time without penalty. It's about this remarkable group of football players whose emotional leaders were seniors Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich, and their brand new coach, Bill O'Brien, and how they kept Penn State football alive and helped us all smile again.
It's written in diary format, with entries that start on November 5, 2011 when it was announced that Jerry Sandusky would be arrested. Lou does his homework and his research. He reports the facts as researched or reported then his personal reactions to the news. Where he was in a room at a press conference, or at a game personally, you can relive those moments from his perspective, and that is particularly satisfying.
In his autograph, Lou says the following words to me and Terry: "You are both part of this diary and we went through a lot of these entries together. Enjoy. We are Penn State. Lou Prato".
Yes, we went through all of it, and there were moments when a simple description of an event or a game brought me to tears. Or brought back smiles remembering what happened.
I've written my own descriptions of the games played during the 2012 season, as well as other reactions to the situation here at Penn State that you can read about in this blog.
Lou provides a perspective that I couldn't get whether it was actually being in the press rooms listening to Bill O'Brien or at other events that I wasn't able to attend.
Last year at the Wisconsin game, when they unveiled the 2012 to put on the wall of honor on the East Stands aside undefeated, Big Ten, and national championship teams, I had very mixed feelings.
While I thought I appreciated what the 2012 team did for Penn State, I was not at all sure I wanted to be reminded of the 2012 season every year and all the turmoil that we went through in 2012.
It was a very tough year for any Penn Stater to endure.
And so I'm very grateful for this book. It really helps me to understand why that 2012 is there on Beaver Stadium for eternity. And I no longer have mixed feelings about it.
What that 2012 team did to save Penn State football was remarkable.
As for the upcoming 2013 season, "Charlie Mike!" If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, buy the book.