“It's been a while…” so says the early 2000s song that never seems to go away. At this very moment, those words are oh-so-true, even if for all the wrong reasons. Personally, it was mid-February 2020 when we all last gathered for a weekend doubleheader at the BJC. Basketball at noon, championship wrestling at night, and a whole lot of Champs Downtown in between and after. Just another magical trip to our home away from home. We all have the same story. Different reasons, different seasons maybe, but the exact same destination. Each trip becomes your best and this one was no exception. Little did we know at the time, how long it would be until we would meet again.
At last count, it’s been two Blue-White games and an entire season full of road trips, tailgates, fellowship, and crackling voices on a Sunday morning at the Waffle Shop since we last saw each other. After the debacle that consumed them a year ago, it’s safe to say our Nittany Lions missed us as much as we missed them. We’ll never know for sure, but I refuse to believe that Penn State would have hit that tailspin if we were there to have their backs when they needed us most.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the guy was right when he admonished us for being a so-called ‘football culture’ school. We live, breathe, and crave it but for all the right reasons. Family is the most important of them all. Even this week, as we reflect on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, I am reminded of that magical moment just a few days prior when Adam Taliaferro danced his way out of that tunnel on a most innocent fall night before our country changed forever.
Well, the wait is finally over, Penn State. The desire and need for a return to normal all comes down to this, even if we had to compromise a little on middle ground. Fall is here, and we’ve got a Happy Valley Homecoming front and center. As much as pop-up visits throughout the year may suffice, it’s just not the same without 107K releasing our collective roar!
It’s the first of four straight games at home and the reigning MAC champs, Ball State, are first up on schedule. We have a history of hard-fought battles with that conference over the years, even a couple that completely flipped our season upside down. The Cardinals just may be the best of the whole bunch and they want nothing more than to play the role of spoiler. They currently sit just outside the Top 25, return 21 starters, and are not a team to take lightly in any way. We’ll leave all that up to our coaches and players to figure out, and for the first time in far too long, we will be screaming and cheering from the stands as one big family! Penn State 38, Ball State 3.