The Penn State community is a community in mourning. And rightly so. A legend has passed from their midst. But the school, the program, and the fans must go on. But how do you face a season without a man who has become the face and identity of Penn State?
Simple. You cheer. You support. You watch. Regardless of what happened this past fall, a scandal that would rock any institution, Penn State kept playing. We held our heads high, and played games that Joe would have been proud of. And Penn State won some and lost some. And what could you expect of a group of players who had their leader ripped from their ranks?
But now it will be tougher. Joe isn't just gone from the sidelines. He's gone. For the first time in over 60 years, Paterno will not be on the sidelines. It will be a new face, Bill O'Brien of the New England Patriots, at the helm. A new era at Penn State. A new era at a place that seemed stuck in time. Some people think that this is exactly what Penn State needs right now.
And I can't argue with that. After the scandal this fall, PSU needs a new face, and they need new life in the program. But make no mistake, tough years face PSU fans. Penn State will suffer in recruiting because of the scandal. People will ridicule fans because of the scandal. But Penn State fans need to take the lesson Joe taught us so well, and take it to heart.
Loyalty. Paterno stuck to Penn State though thick and thin. He turned down NFL offers to stay in the place he loved. And even though the next couple of years will be tough, Penn State fans need to stay loyal. O'Brien is the right man for the job. Or he isn't. It doesn't matter. What matters now is that he is part of the Penn State family. And we need to be loyal to him. Comparisons to Paterno will be inevitable, but flawed. How can anyone be compared to someone who had the impact on the game and life at Penn State Paterno had? In the end we all need to remember O'Brien is now a part of Penn State.
And WE ARE! PENN STATE!