Although the end result of Saturday's game was not what the Nittany Lions had hoped for - suffering a 24-14 upset to Ohio - they should at the very least take comfort in the fact that an overwhelming number of people have showed their continuing support not only to the university, but to its long time coach, the late Joe Paterno.
The university has been through a lot since allegations surfaced against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Over the last 10 months, Sandusky has been tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison stemming from the molestation charges. As for Penn State, they were hit with a $60 million sanction, banned four years from competing in bowl games and a "vacation" of all their wins dating back to 1998, according to an ESPN.com article.
Despite the scandal and the enormous hit to the program, more than 90 percent of the players returned. Only nine left the program.
Furthermore, a vast majority of the fan base not only stuck by the university, but remained supportive of the legendary coach affectionately known as "JoePa" despite his legacy being besmirched by the Sandusky scandal.
When the allegations surfaced, it soon came out that Paterno not only knew about - at the very least - some of incidents of sexual abuse,
As a result, Paterno was fired in November, just days after Sandusky was arrested on child molestation charges. His son, Jay Paterno, who served as the quarterback coach also left the university.
This July, Paterno's statue was removed from Penn State University. But before game day came around on Saturday, the fans had not forgotten Paterno, who died of cancer earlier this year. A Paterno bobblehead was placed in between the trees where his statue once stood and a vast majority of fans, students, and alumni felt that the long time coach - who amassed 409 wins in his 52 years as coach of Penn State - received a "raw deal," based on an ESPN article.
Beaver Stadium - the home of the Nittany Lions - has a maximum capacity of 106,572. On Saturday, the crowd in attendance was listed as 97,186. It's a far cry from the max capacity to be sure and no where near the 105,231 spectators that the stadium averaged at games last season, but in light of recent events Penn State should consider themselves fortunate that so many people have given their continued support of the university and some of the people that were implicated in the scandal.
Though some fans feel as though the current president, Rodney Erickson, and the trustees should be removed - as evidence by a banner trailing behind a plane that flew over Beaver Stadium about 90 minutes before kickoff. Erickson took over for former Penn State president Graham Spanier who was fired in November when the scandal broke.
Though many fans may feel that Paterno got a "raw deal," it was no longer acceptable for Paterno - or any of the other members of the administration who were as much a part of covering of what occurred - to remain at Penn State.
All that said, with a new season under way, Penn State now has an opportunity to move forward. In the end, hopefully the university - and others as well - will put doing the right thing in front of protecting the university or its sports programs.
Brandon Canevari is the new sports reporter for the Manchester Journal.