Tina and I are getting ready for a trip to Penn State to visit Jim and see a Penn State football game. Tina reviewed this post prior to publishing and was amused by my calling the trip a “pilgrimage”. It is not so far fetched when you consider Penn State grads. They will routinely travel back to their Alma Mater. Certainly more often than I ever did to UW. So this I will clasify as a pilgrimage with a nod to Penn Staters.
Since this is Jim’s senior year, this may be our last Penn State football game. Football at Penn State is quite an experience, indeed. I went to Pitt for my MBA therefore my enthusiasm for Penn State football is somewhat muted. However, the excitement is contagious or, should I say infectious.
Thinking about going to Penn State has brought to mind a distantly related thought. Coach Joe Paterno. Joe is a towering figure in Penn State lore; however, I believe he is not even a distant memory to much of the current student body. I am making a great assumption that anyone reading this remembers Penn State’s iconic coach. For my purposes here, it is enough to say that the individual who built the great Penn State football program fell hard. And, his memory lingers like the mist that often blankets the valleys in central Pennsylvania. You can get Peachy Paterno ice cream at the Berkey Creamery and buy a miniature Paterno statue downtown.
Side story – During the height of Joe Paterno’s fame, I was negotiating a contract with a Penn State grad in Detroit. The fellow I was negotiating with, named his newborn son Joe in honor of Joe Paterno. Needless to say he was hardcore Penn State. I had a colleague who was also a rabid Penn State booster. She would go to every Penn State football game and visit the campus on many other weekends. I asked her to get me a stand-up cardboard Joe Paterno. I came to the last negotiating session armed. I stood up my cardboard Joe on my side of the table. Great contact, great job done and left a happy client in possession of a cardboard Joe Paterno.
Joe’s statue was removed from Beaver Stadium years ago. I have mixed feeling about it’s removal. I agree that he should not be honored with a prominent statue at Beaver Stadium. However, a memorial in a less prominent place would recognize the contributions he made to both the University and to football. It could also be a place to teach the lesson that we are all vulnerable to letting unbecoming priorities rule.