|STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback Matt McGloin #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions throws a pass during a game against the Michigan State Spartans on November 27, 2010 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Spartans won 28-22. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)|
As someone who has and lived in Pennsylvania his entire life watching the crumble of the empire Joe built at Penn State has been horrifying and fascinating at the same time. Anyone who lived in the state knows that Joe was Penn State as they became one in the same. As you might say to someone I need a Kleenex instead of a tissue it wasn’t uncommon to hear fans discuss wonder how Joe’s team will be this year no need to say Penn State as it was Joe’s team. After all the skeletons have been disclosed (hopefully) it’s clear that the dynasty is over and after what happened Penn State fans should be glad an end as been put to those years. It’s not as if this was a case of some players getting a few extra bucks to go to Penn State this was innocent children being abused and the most powerful people at State College looking the other way for the good of the team. I for one had little issue with what the NCAA handed down and it is only now the program can be built the right way and become something alumni and fans can be proud of. With that in mind I came up with some ideas that if I were Coach O’Brien and the new power brokers at State College, I would certainly consider.
Here is my top ten ways to “Restore the Roar at Penn State”
Accept Your Punishment
Penn State will never been able to turn the page on the worst scandal in college history if they continue to cry to the media that the punishment isn’t fair and not everyone was asked if they would accept it. Accepting it will be the first step of moving forward and putting this behind you so just bite the bullet for the next few years and things will get better.
Freeze Ticket Prices
Effective immediately and until the probation period is finished freeze all prices on season tickets. If you expect your faithful fans to support you even when the product on the field suffers temporally then freeze ticket prices. I remember a scene in the movie Mr. Mom ironically where the company wants to keep its customers during a lean economy and decides to freeze its prices until things get better. Same idea here as you show the faithful you appreciate them and you acknowledge they are in it together with you.
Update the jerseys
If you want people to realize the school is more than just your coach then it’s time to tweak the jerseys by adding the name of each player on the back of it. I’m sure the guys at Nike would have a few more ideas but I think a jersey update is needed as you enter a new football era.
Go West or Go Warm
With no bowl games for four years Penn State needs something in replace the carrot of a bowl game to offer players. As it’s already been reported that they are looking into Hawaii as a last game but I say why stop there. Fill any open games over the next four years with trips to warm weather locations. I’m sure if schedules work schools like San Diego State, UNLV, South Florida, Fresno State and others would welcome the addition of a Big Ten school on the schedule.
With scholarship limitations Penn State should start accepting, and recruiting vigorously, the junior college ranks. Each scholarship is precious now for them, and they need to get players who can play sooner than later. There is some amazing talent at the JUCO level, and getting the chance to see the field immediately might be very enticing for these players.
Time to be counted
Talk to any Penn State fan and they are quick to tell you how great the alumni are with supporting the school. Well now is the time to be counted. Over the next few years, PSU football would be wise to spotlight those great players that have gone through the program to remind the country that this program was more than just a few men. Football weekends where they welcome back past greats like Curt Warner, Todd Blackledge, Kenny Jackson, Franco Harris, John Cappelletti, Matt Millen, Kerry Collins, Kyle Brady, Lavar Arrington and players like that would be great morale boost for the fans and team as they can be reminded of what their future and the future of the program will recover too again someday. They could have meet and greet autograph sessions, pep rallies, tailgate parties and other events to remind everyone one man alone didn’t build this program.
More than just football
Sadly the action of one sport has a ripple effect on the other sports. To help everyone recover, Penn State would be wise to spotlight and cross promote the other amazing sports programs at the school. Giving a little PR to the basketball, soccer, field hockey and others will only help change the culture of one-sport domination.
Promote Family Legacy
Inspired by watching current players like Michael Zordich and Michael Mauti, I suggest the school hire one of the top sports writers out there (Bruce Feldman would get my vote) to write a book on the long history of generations playing at Penn State. Such as the Zordich, Mauti, Wisniewski, Guman, Suhy, and countless others would show the public just how special Penn State football is to these numerous families. Again showing Penn State is more than one man.
Penn State needs to put in place a school President who will act as the new face of the University and who better than the former Secretary of State and current Stanford professor. Condoleezza has been rumored to be interested in succeeding Roger Goodell as NFL Commissioner someday and is known as a huge sports fan. I realize this might be a pipe dream but I think you get my point you need a strong person in place to steer this University for the next decade.
Make the move
Once the four year probation period is over give strong consideration to moving out of the Big Ten. It’s one of those marriages that got off to a rocky start and never seemed to really click. Plus has anyone noticed how nice the ACC is lining up with former Penn State rivals like Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, and that’s not to mention Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech sitting there too. It would be a wise move once this is all said and done to truly cut ties with the Big Ten and restore the rivalries that mean much more to Penn State faithful than Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State.
Distance from the Paterno Family
A wise move if it hasn’t already been decided would be to create some serious distance from the Paterno family, as everyone knows their interest is only to keep beating the drum that Joe didn’t do anything wrong. The school needs to eliminate the idea that the Paterno family speaks for the school or has any connection anymore with the school. Of course many would say look at the money Joe donated during the years but like the saying goes a guilty conscience needs no accuser.
As someone who stopped being a fan of Penn State football twenty eight years ago, I can only hope for those alumni, fans and friends of mine whose hearts were broken by what transpired at Penn State that the powers that be give these ideas some consideration. Imagine the pride everyone would feel when the program returns to glory but this time done the ethical, legal and right way. Your thoughts are welcome.