What We'll Miss About Penn State's Beaver Stadium This Fall
Maybe Penn State will play football sometime this fall, maybe even as soon as October or November. Despite its stern proclamation that the decision to postpone fall sports "will not be revisited," the Big Ten is capable of any change of direction these days. So we remain patiently hopeful, or hopefully patient.
At any rate, there won't be a Penn State opener at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, whether Kent State or Northwestern was the scheduled opponent. No "Nittanyville," no tailgates bursting with brats and Herlocher's, no griping about the long lines at Gate B, no communal frowning at the student section's empty rows 5 minutes before kickoff.
We hope Penn State football returns sooner than expected. Until then, here's what we'll miss about Beaver Stadium, if we don't get back there this fall, in no particular order.
Parking Space 1276
That's mine (or it was at my last employer). It sits just behind the temporary TV-truck compound, alongside the tailgate of the ever-friendly Ron and Mike, who always beat me to the stadium. Their pre-game crew often drew some Penn State celebrities (Jack Ham was a guest) and what looked like a tempting Bloody Mary mix. Hope to see them soon.
Jerry Kellar covered Penn State for the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice for 20 years and was a big, gentle figure in the Beaver Stadium press box.
Kellar died in 2007, and Penn State's athletic department planted a tree in his honor outside Beaver Stadium. Every year members of the beat gather at Jerry's tree before the home-opener to remember him. We'll do that again soon, too.
James Franklin's pre-game walk
After the blizzard of noise at team arrival - where he mingled with fans, parents of players and, importantly, recruits- the Penn State coach takes a solitary walk around the perimeter of Beaver Stadium's field. He chats with security guards, maybe does a pre-game interview, but mostly it's 3 minutes to breathe. An important 3 minutes for a coach of routine.
It's an organization now, with student officers and sign-in procedures and a tent-rental process, but it's also still a bunch of college kids camping outside a football stadium for the best gameday seats.
The Drum Major Flip
Band traditions are the fabric of college football. Ohio State has "Script Ohio," Penn State's Blue Band performs the Floating Lion. But Beaver Stadium's favorite probably is the pre-game flip, which the Blue Band's drum major has been performing since 1971.
Sights like this
Sounds like this
Moments like this
The Wild Dogs
Defensive line coach Sean Spencer left for the New York Giants, and maybe he would have taken the Wild Dogs with him. Surely some aspect would have remained, though. The pregame group ritual has become embedded in the linemen and even had its own bone.
The shaking press box
Beaver Stadium needs structural work, which the Athletics Master Plan was scheduled to address. For now, there's enough bend in the beams and rivets to give and sway when the stands thunder after a big play. The old box actually moves, seemingly a tiny bit more each year.
The victory bell
Franklin has rung the victory bell at the edge of the locker-room tunnel 35 times since becoming head coach in 2014. When will he ring it again?
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