Linebacker U

Linebacker U

The first great linebacker in the history of Penn State was the 1906 captain, William “Mother” Dunn. Legend has it that he got his nickname when, as freshman class president, he led his class across campus and somebody shouted, “There goes Mother Dunn and his chickens.” True story. Well, probably. Perhaps the universe knew he was to be the father, er, mother of all the great Penn State linebackers to come.

Remember that Big Ten commercial from a few years ago? With all of the coaches sitting on a living room couch giving their best recruiting lines? And the last shot is this hilarious bit with Joe gritting his teeth saying “COME TO PENN STATE!!” Gosh I adored that commercial. For years I imitated it because it made me giggle so much. In the middle, Joe does a quick little shadow box and announces “We're Linebacker U!”

We’re Linebacker U. Remember when we actually were Linebacker U? From Mother Dunn to today, that has been our thing. Dennis Onkontz, Jack Ham, Greg Buttle, Shane Conlan, Brandon Short, Lavar Arrington, Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor, Gerald Hodges, NaVorro Bowman, Sean Lee, Michael Mauti and so many more.

We’re a little thin at linebacker these days. All three season starters are injured. Poor Brandon Smith got woefully ejected--I spent most of the game more upset about that than the score. That guy doesn’t have an intentional targeting bone in his body. I don’t often complain about the refs but man, that was just plain terrible. With Brandon out, we had to bring in our fourth string man, move a backup safety to linebacker and eventually put in a true freshman. I guess there’s always Big Toe if we get really desperate!

It could almost be comical if it weren’t for actual injuries, not to mention the game being shoved down our throats at the same time.


Michigan was the way better team on Saturday. Our team is young. Michigan has twenty-three seniors; we have nine. We haven't fully recovered from the loss of scholarships. We have a lot of injuries. These aren’t excuses. They’re facts. We’re not comparing apples to apples here. So, get used to hearing sanctions and injuries and youth for a while because those facts are going to be relevant to our play for a while.

I don’t know if Franklin is a good coach. None of us really do. And we can’t know for a little while yet. I’m not going to call for him to be fired because it’s not going well at the moment. There's still time for the benefit of the doubt. Patience, grasshopper.

I really can’t say it better than Lavar Arrington, arguably one of our greatest linebackers of all time, “I’m not a blind optimist. I’m airing on the side of logic. No one loves their school more than me… Penn State has to build its program from scratch. That will be a difficult task for anyone. Top recruits are true Sophs and true froshs. That means at least one more year before we will know where this is all heading.”

The awfulness of losing to Michigan is over. And look, we’ve finally found something we can all agree we need to move on from, because we can’t let that game beat us twice.

That leaves us with only one choice: make like a linebacker and back the line. I’m suiting up. Count me in as a linebacker. I will back these broken linebackers. I will back this entire Linebacker U team. Things might get worse and they will certainly get better.

As the song goes, Hail to the Lion, loyal and true… Speaking now of victory, we’ll get the Lion’s share.