STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State returned to the football field, as the Nittany Lion family searches for some semblance of normality.
It was a week like none other in Happy Valley after reports of child sexual abuse sent shockwaves through State College, tearing at the seams of the Penn State community.
Emotions ran high as the team took the field on Saturday—for the first time since iconic head coach Joe Paterno was fired.
Hoping to hear from the coach, dozens of students made pilgrimages to Paterno’s home after the game. They caught a glimpse of their coach as he was driven home in the evening but they did not get to say thanks in person. His wife, however, addressed the crowd and explained this has been a difficult week for the family.
Sue Paterno said, “I just had a very good sermon at church. It’s all about healing. We’ll be back. We’re not going anywhere. Thank you.”
The devoted students sat outside Paterno’s home for hours, showing their love and loyalty with chants, cards, and mementos.
They were there to greet Jay Paterno with a standing ovation when he walked home from Beaver stadium. Although, they did not get to show their gratitude to Paterno himself, many still found comfort in being able to pay their respects.
Matt DeSoto, Class of ’98 said, “As part of the Penn State community and that’s what ‘We Are Penn State’ means, is that we all are Penn State and he’s part of it, a big part of it.”
“Penn State football is Joe Paterno. It’s just a legacy that’s been here forever. It’s just really hard to deal with,” Tom Bryerton of Lamar, Pennsylvania said.
For the first time since 1965, Penn State football wasn’t coached by Paterno and the tribute for Joe, in the eyes of those who revered him for so long, was well deserved.
Bob Barnes, Kennett Square explained, “I believe so. To show the support for Joe, everything he’s done up here. It’s always been for the kids and the university.”
Despite Penn State losing the game, the students made their team and coach proud with everyone behaving during and after the game. Police said as of late Saturday, there were no major incidents to report.
Reported by Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3