A white out night game. The largest crowd in history screaming out WE ARE PENN STATE as one. The Blue Band pregame show literally rocking the house. Our 6-0 team versus the adversary that crushed us last year. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Well, unless the first six or seven plays of the game belong on a highlight reel and Saquon scores twice within the first five minutes of play. Unless Saquon’s now the only Penn State player ever with 3,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Unless Trace is the first Penn State quarterback to run for three touchdowns in over thirty years. Unless our defense has seven sacks. Unless Coach Franklin in his comments following a win against Michigan of all teams accidentally on purpose asks, “What time is it?”
Even after everything I mentioned, the 42-13 trouncing, and the many other indescribable details, it STILL gets better in the post-game interviews. Every single player interviewed, when asked about his personal success, pointed first to his teammates and second to hard work.
DaeSean Hamilton talked about practice and preparation, and focusing on the details. Mike Gesicki said he just wanted to make the most of his opportunity when it came up; he said he played his role and did what he could to help the team. Jason Cabinda pointed to the defense’s communication skills as being responsible for his thirteen tackles. And Ryan Buchholz credited the team’s trust of the coaches, who made the right play calls. Even Coach Franklin mentioned the team’s maturity several times and described the entire program, himself included, as developmental: getting better every day, playing your role and bringing value to the team.
Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves? The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital? When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality? It all sounds so familiar. You don’t have to say his name for us to recognize that the Grand Experiment continues. There’s that football culture problem we have again. In fact, I think we have to admit it’s a Penn State culture problem. We just can’t stop with the perseverance, integrity, honor, and teamwork stuff, can we?
Like everybody, I had mixed feelings about ESPN’s GameDay coming to visit our University Park. Some understandably thought we should shut them out for their transgressions against us; after all, this is the network that most widely perpetuated the false narrative of the Sandusky scandal, blaming Joe Paterno and the football program, never correcting their slanderous errors, and certainly never apologizing. Others felt the exposure was beneficial for the students and the university as a whole; and, it was amazing to see so many favorable features from the Creamery to the We Are sculpture. When all was said and done, you’re obviously not off our hook, ESPN, but I did appreciate the positive exposure. Whether you pick a side or feel them both, it’s our team that stole the spotlight Saturday night.
Well done, Nittany Lions. We’re proud of you for more than just drubbing one of our most prominent rivals on one of the most earthshaking nights of the season. Thank you for carrying forward true Penn State tradition and demonstrating from the biggest stage in college football that Success with Honor is more than a slogan.