Tag Archives: Penn State

The Paterno Statue Site

This morning I walked across campus to see the site where the Joe Paterno statue had been. The statue was removed over the weekend, and early this week the groundwork and walls around the statue were destroyed. Two levels of barricades surround the site. A police officer stands guard.

I’m sure the bowl-themed banner will come down soon.

A pile of soil sits where the statue used to reside.

It’s a far different scene than the last time I was at this location.

What the area looked like the last time I saw it.


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Remembering Joe Paterno

This afternoon I walked across campus to Beaver Stadium. As I walked toward Beaver Stadium people were beginning to gather along Curtin Road in preparation for Coach Paterno’s final procession. I was surprised at how happy most people seemed; I expected to see more somberness and sadness.

A flag flies at half mast near the Creamery.

The sign in front of the Bryce Jordan Center had a special message this afternoon.

The BJC sign.

My destination was the Joe Paterno statue on the far side of Beaver Stadium. As I got close the crowd grew thicker. Beaver Stadium threw a shadow over the statue, making it dark and cold. The (unedited) picture below captures that. You can see the bright sunlight to the south, but in near the statue it is dark.

It was cold by the statue.

I had to wait for an opening in the crowd to get a picture from the front.

The Joe Paterno statue by Beaver Stadium.

I did not stay to watch the procession. When I left campus I had to bike across campus to a point west of the library to cross Curtin Road. The crowds of people along the procession route were too thick to navigate with a bike. (This included the street, the crowd went right across Shortlidge Road, there were cars wanting to drive through but the crowd did not move, forcing the drivers to backtrack and find a new route.)

Coach Paterno had a legendary career at Penn State. He gave much to the university. In his passing he reminds me of how much of an impact one person can have. I am also reminded that even those we think of as heroes are just human.

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Exploring the Pattee Library Stacks

This afternoon I spent several hours in the library. The main library at University Park is the Pattee and Paterno Library. Up until today I had only been in the Paterno Stacks (it contains books on many science topics). Most of my time today was spent at my usual location on the fourth floor of the Paterno Stacks, but I decided to take a quick break to explore the Pattee Stacks.

It was a case of curiosity squared. First, I’ve been wanting to read a particular poem. An old poem. A poem that I was not able to find on the internet anywhere. So I looked up the call number of a book that contained the poem; the book was in Pattee Stack 3. Second, I’ve never been in the Pattee Stacks but I’ve heard about them. I wanted to experience them for myself.

I was not disappointed.

When I entered the Pattee Stacks I initially feared I had accidentally walked into an area I was not supposed to be in. The lighting was poor, the ceiling was low, and there were no signs of life. The dim lighting, narrow aisles, low ceiling, and sharp corners made me feel like I was navigating a parking deck. When I reached the stairwell I was amazed at how narrow it was. How can this pass the fire code? I stopped at each floor to do a little exploring. Eventually I reached Stack 3 and located the book.

But the poem was not in the book. The poem I was looking for had been published in 1870 or 1871 (I have seen it attributed to both years), and it seems that most modern publications either exclude the poem or print just an excerpt. I scanned the titles in the area dedicated to the author’s work, looking for a promising lead.

**Begin Aside**

When I was starting at Temple U part of the orientation process was an introduction to the university library. The head librarian was a gregarious woman (she seemed entirely too jolly and loud to be working in a library); whenever she talked I couldn’t help but smile because she was so happy and so forceful about everything. While she was explaining how to locate books on specific topics, and how using the computerized database was essential, she said: “If I ever catch one of you just standing by a shelf and scanning books, not looking for a specific title, I will kick you.” And then she laughed. And I laughed.

I think about that librarian any time I begin to scan a shelf at a library without a specific title in mind.

**End Aside**

My scanning method worked. I noticed a multi-volume complete collection of the author’s work that had been published in the early 1900s. One of the books was titled Poems, and was published in 1909. Eureka!

The poem was good. I think it was made even better by the fact that it was in a book from 1909. The pages were heavy, you could see the indentations from the printing press. The page edges were rough and frayed. The inside cover contained a brief inscription in a flowing ink script far neater than most handwriting today. It was signed, “Father” and dated 1909. It was so much better than reading the poem online or in a modern reprint. Like eating a meal from a plate with real silverware versus a paper plate with plastic utensils.

If you spend time at University Park and have never been through the Pattee Stacks I recommend just walking through for the experience. It’s worth it.


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PSU Blue-White Game: 2010

Today I attended my third consecutive PSU Blue-White spring scrimmage (see entries from 2008 and 2009). This year ESPN2 was here in Happy Valley to broadcast the game. Last year approximately 76,500 people attended the scrimmage on a beautiful spring day. Today the weather was much cooler, with a few raindrops falling, so only 55,000 people were in attendance (based upon the past three years a solid indicator of the attendance is: A =  T * 1000 (where A = attendance and T = temperature in degrees Fahrenheit).

I biked to the Tyson Building at noon. I had to look at some Fraser fir seedlings that had just arrived and make sure they were hydrated and put in the cooler for the weekend. Once my work was done I followed the crowd trekking toward Beaver Stadium. Upon arriving I did some scouting, eventually choosing a seat on the three yard line, one section removed from the field (I envisioned excellent photos of goal line rushing plays).

Before the game the usual on-field autograph session took place.

2010 Blue-White Game pregame panorama.

Before the game I saw Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard walking around on the field talking to people. Numerous ESPN camera men were visible in addition to the PSU camera crew.

An ESPN camera guy.

There were also many Nittany Lion football alumni on the sidelines. One notable player was Jared Odrick, picked in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Jared Odrick (with pink name tag) stands on the sideline.

Jared Odrick (with pink name tag) stands on the sideline.

In this scrimmage there were no kickoffs, so the game began very abruptly. Early on Stephfon Green had a few carries and caught a screen pass. He is so quick in traffic, it is fun to watch him run the ball.

Stephfon Green picks up yardage.

The game was not particularly exciting. There were many dropped passes and missed opportunities.

Curtis Dukes runs the ball.

In the second half the Blue team attempted to convert a fourth and 1. A swing pass was thrown to back Andre Dupree, he happened to be double teamed. The defense was ready.

This is what happens when a swing pass meets a double team.

On a later drive, Kevin Kowalishen executed a perfect stiff arm while turning the corner. The defender was propelled right into the turf.

Kevin Kowalishen prepares to stiff arm a defender.

This game was an opportunity for either of PSU’s two top sophmore quarterback candidates (Kevin Newsome or Matthew McGloin) to emerge as a favorite. Neither of them performed particularly well. Instead it was freshman quarterback Paul Jones that stole the show. He went 5 for 8 with 67 yards and two TDs, the only two touchdowns of the day.

Paul Jones throws his second touchdown pass of the day.

The second one was a sweet precision throw over a defender that dropped in for freshman wide receiver Shawney Kersey (Kersey caught both of Jones’ touchdown throws, each one was 18 yards long). A flag was thrown, and the crowd waited to see if the penalty was on the cornerback or the receiver.


On ESPN2 Brent Musburger lobbied for Jones as the next PSU starting quarterback. I’m sure many fans will share this opinion. It must be noted that Jones faced second and third string defenders. But I don’t think there is any argument that he is the most talented of the quarterbacks on the roster, he’s just very young (he should still be in high school, he graduated early to join the PSU football team for spring practices). It was fun to see him do so well in his first appearance in Beaver Stadium. May there be many more.

The final score of the scrimmage was Blue 17, White 3. PSU lost many important players this year, so it will be interesting to see how the 2010 season unfolds. I’m not expecting them to contend for the Big Ten title, but who knows, maybe they will be better than I anticipate. I think the showdown with Temple in September should be interesting.

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A Snowstorm and a Basketball Game

Last night snow began to fall in State College. Thanks to insomnia I was awake to witness the accumulation until 5:30 this morning. At that time we had a bit more than a foot on the ground. Today I heard totals between 14″ and 16″ for the snowfall in State College. It is a tough snow to measure because it is light and tends to drift.

Soon after noon I grabbed my camera and walked to campus. It was brisk and bright. Only a  few brave souls had walked the bike trail before me along with several cross country skiers.

The bike trail under snow.

On campus snow removal was in full swing. From outside the Bryce Jordan Center I could see Tussey Mountain and Mount Nittany. I’m sure today was a great day at Tussey.

Tussey Mountain on a snowy February day.

The Penn State Nittany Lions played the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Lions came into the game with a ten game losing streak, still looking for their first conference win. Combine a struggling team with inclement weather and you have the recipe for an empty building. The official box score lists the attendance at 10,291. This is like Danny DeVito listing his height at six feet. This number must have come from tickets sold, for there were closer to 2,000 people there than 10,000.

The Bryce Jordan Center during the game.

When the game started I was sitting in the first row in the second level and I had eight sections to myself. I hoped to get some pictures through the backboard from that vantage point, or at least some shots with the shooter lining up with the basket. In the second half I moved down beside the Blue Band.

Talor Battle at the free throw line.

Three minutes and nine seconds into the game Penn State lost the small lead they had been flirting with. From that point on they would never lead again. The team struggled all game long to get clean looks at the basket. Battle went 3-7 from the free throw line and 7-19 from the field. The Gophers dominated the inside.

The Lions wore throwback uniforms. I thought they looked good, especially the blue keystone on the shorts that contained an S.

Battle attempts a three-point shot.

While I was sitting by the Blue Band in the second half the Nittany Lion kept running close by. I’m very impressed by the gymnastic feats the Lion is able to pull off. The moves are solid, not to mention the fact that the guy is wearing a bulky mascot suit.

Run, Lion, run!

Ralph Sampson III played for the Gophers. He played a solid game and finished with a double-double.

Ralph Sampson III on the court.

Instant replay was needed twice during the game. The first time was to determine how much time was left on the shot clock after a messy sequence in which Penn State lost control of the ball. As the referees crouched down to look at the tiny little monitor I couldn’t help but wonder why they do not have a better screen.

The referees review a shot clock decision (on a tiny screen).

This game featured a few firsts for me. In the second half Chris Babb hit a three-point shot while being fouled. I was very excited; I thought I was about to witness the first four point play I have ever seen in person. And Babb bricked the foul shot like Shaq. It wasn’t even close.

Another first was seeing Tubby Smith draw a technical foul. Technically the technical was called on the Minnesota bench, but it was Smith’s actions that were primarily responsible for the call. I’ve never in person seen a foul called on a player not on the court.

The final first was seeing a legitimate buzzer beater. Lawrence Westbrook had the ball in his hands with just a few seconds left and a tie game. He stepped to his left and shot a 19 foot jumper, his release occurring with less than one second left. The buzzer sounded as the ball floated home. The most dramatic of finishes. Replay was used to confirm the shot was released in time.

The Gophers celebrate the victory.

Westbrook (#20) is congratulated by teammates.

The picture above captures a lot. The Gophers celebrate. Ed DeChellis and Tubby Smith are both staring at the referees (located just off the frame) as they review the shot. A Penn State player squats dejectedly on the court in the upper right corner.

Now Penn State is 0-11 in the Big Ten. That is a bad year.

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