This week, the Penn State sex abuse scandal tore apart what had previously been held up as one of the cleanest programs in Division I athletics. Now, some have even suggested that the only way to fix the now tainted football program is to shut it down entirely, at least temporarily.
Cliff White, who has been covering the scandal for the Center Daily Times, joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the mood among students and residents of State College, PA.
For the first time in 61 years, Joe Paterno will not be standing on the sidelines of Saturday’s football game as the Nittany Lions host Nebraska at Beaver Stadium. According to White, the game will test the resiliency of a Nittany Lions team that is vying for the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth. It will also bring to the surface a mixed-bag of emotions from a campus that is just starting to heal from the shock of the past week.
“There’s a lot of different emotions going into the game,” says White. “Certainly a lot of anger that may come out, [but also] a lot of support for the Alma Mater among alumni, and for the university among students. It’s definitely going to have a different feel than an average Saturday in Happy Valley.”
The case against former Penn State defensive coach Jerry Sandusky has made students and alumnae question, among other things, whether they should sing their alma mater at Saturday’s game or sit in silence. But, according to White, the football program will remain an object of pride for Penn State.
“I think, in the long term, this is a football town and folks are not abandoning their team here,” says White. ”I think there’s going to be a sort of catharsis when the Nittany Lions take the field. It’s going to be a really powerful day here for the fans, one that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”