In some ways the choice was easier for the 2011 seniors to stay. The freshman, though, they had to trust that the boat wasn’t going to leak too much. They had to have faith that there would still be a program left for them in four years.
I wish I could know the decision-making process of each of those players. Did they trust the advice of their fellow teammates? Did they remind themselves of their original reasons for committing to Penn State? Did they console themselves with the thought of a superior education? Did they shut out the media and instead believe all the Penn Staters who had gone before them who said, we will rise from these ashes? Did they see the opportunity to play a part in rebuilding Penn State’s future? I wonder what they were thinking then.
And I wonder what they are thinking now as they took Paterno Field for the last time.
(Oh, have we not officially renamed it yet? My mistake.)
A lot of “lasts” occurred this weekend. The last time nineteen seniors will suit up in their Beaver Stadium home. And among them, the last of Joe’s recruits. The last players to sit in a team meeting with our late coach. The very end of an era.
Will it also be the last home game for Christian Hackenberg? Lots of people are saying it, some crankily wishing it. But, I hope he too will remember the reasons he committed to Penn State. I hope that he can shut out the critics and instead believe in loyalty and education. I hope he wants to rise from the turf a few more times for us. And even though it seems crazier now that when I predicted it in 2013, I hope he leads us to our next national championship.
The last home game of this season sure didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. Despite the loss to Michigan, our seniors deserve to be saluted for all of the love, loyalty and hard work they’ve given to Penn State. In a recent letter to the Lettermen, Sue Paterno wrote, “What you do with your lives is the ultimate testament to the Penn State culture.” These seniors, who have already made us so proud, will continue to be a testament to our great university, just as we all are.
Here’s hoping this is the last loss of the season. Happy Thanksgiving Nittany Lions!