When Bill O'Brien came and then James Franklin, I worried that they weren't alumni, that they wouldn't understand what it is to be a Penn Stater. What if they did't care about success with honor?
I worried that the loss of scholarships and the so-so seasons and the public commentary would lead to more changes with less concern for our tradition. What if someone comes in here and decides we need to worry a little less about class attendance and a little more about winning games? What if the Grand Experiment is just...over?
Every time our Board failed to publicly and financially defend us, I worried we'd lose a little more of our integrity, a little more of our energy and pride. What if we lose sight of who we are?
We just ended our regular season play with ten wins. We just won our division. We built a great team on way less than everybody else had.
We won't get much acknowledgment for the sheer amazingness of going from a decimated program to the Big Ten Championship in four seasons, but we know. We see you Coach Franklin and players and we know the brilliance of this accomplishment.
More than just joy at a storybook season, my feelings are of relief. We’ve still got it. We can have a stellar season and we can have our priorities in order.
We're doing it. All of us. Coach Franklin is succeeding with honor, upholding the ideals we cherish. Our football team--in fact, all of our teams--are succeeding with honor, continuing to reach the highest goals in achievement, graduation, and wins. We have taken the higher road and held our leadership accountable at every turn and we will succeed with honor, too.
When the NCAA overstepped their own rules to exclude us, we showed them game by game that we will not be held down. When the Board fails to defend us, we don our Penn State apparel, strike up the conversations, and tell the truth. We band together and use all available avenues to remove them from power. When our Alumni Association sells out, we start our own grassroots alumni movement to take its place. We network and award scholarships and organize.
We are doing it. And we're doing it the right way. Just like we always have, and just like we always will. What a testament to Joe Paterno and the last fifty years, that we have an unwavering belief in who we are and what Penn State stands for. We are the embodiment of honor, integrity, tenacity, and tradition. We still are Penn State.
This doesn't mean we are finished the fight. Oh no. This means we push it into the next gear and fight harder. This means we continue taking our university back brick by brick. This means there is no stopping us now. We're winning in all three phases: in the classroom, on the field, and in university governance. The season is not yet over. There remains work to be done.
We won't stop supporting this team and this coach. We won't stop defending our great university. We won't stop demanding the best from ourselves and from each other. We won’t stop being who WE ARE!