The Dawn of a New Era at Penn State

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The start to the college football season can never come soon enough.  Those at Penn State must have felt as if this offseason would never end.

November 12 vs. Nebraska -Saturday September 1st is the time frame between home games for Penn State.

A new era at Penn State begins Saturday vs. an Ohio team that will be thinking upset.

Nine months and 20 days.  41 weeks and six days.  293 days between home games for the program that resides in Happy Valley.

In this time most everything we had believed about Paterno and Penn State was wrong.

A university was fooled by Paterno.  He hid behind his Coke bottle glasses and played a nation.

He was a con man who many gave did not want to believe he could be responsible for the heinous things he was accused of  because he was good at coaching college football.

The loss to Nebraska that November 12th pales in comparison to how bad things would get for Penn State in the 293 days that the Nittany Lions have run out onto the field.

Paterno would be diagnosed with lung cancer and die before he could cop to the truth.

Gone is the Paterno statue  that was removed after a brief period to determine if it should remain on campus.

The Nittany Lions lost nine players who transferred to other schools once the NCAA handed down their punishment for the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal.

The most notable players who took advantage of their “free agency” included leading rusher, Silas Redd to USC, leading receiver Justin Brown to Oklahoma, and backup quarterback Rob Bolden to LSU, respectively.

Gone are the old-fashioned uniforms that have no helmet decal or names on the backs of jerseys.

Jerseys will have names on the back and helmets will have a blue ribbon affixed to the helmet in tribute to the children of sexual abuse.

Bill O’Brien is the man responsible for coaching the Nittany Lions into the new era and is the right man for the job.

Expectations will not be high for the team this year.  In fact, many will view them as an automatic win on the schedule.

Those outside Happy Valley will not expect a conference championship or even a decent bowl berth.

O’Brien, however will expect his players to compete every day and on every play with the expectation of winning as every coach should.

I will also expect the stadium to be packed to capacity for every home game this season.

Penn State and college football has not even begun to forget in the 293 days after their last home game, the scandal that transcended sports and angered and saddened millions.

However, the program takes another small step in their rehabilitation Saturday and tries to write the first page in the new chapter of Penn State football.

The outcome of the game will just be a footnote.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10.  View his show’s website here.

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