Four months ago, I was thrilled to go to Dublin for the Croke Park Classic. It was a fun trip for those of us who got to cover the game; for a young Penn State team still saddled with scholarship limitations, it was both a great experience, and a chance to prove themselves.
You know how that turned out.
Four months later, I found myself in New York City, and the trip felt the same in so many ways. Great city, great stadium, great experience, and a young team overcoming its limitations, and with something to prove. In both cases, it felt like the outcome really didn’t matter as much as the experience, and the opportunity.
But outcomes do matter. The right outcome is a reward, for hard work, and for the obstacles a team has faced and overcome. Both in Dublin, and in the Bronx, and so many times the past three years, the outcome wasn’t the most important thing. But it still felt great to see all the hard work pay off.
On Saturday night, a gorgeous night in New York City, Sam Ficken secured an outcome he deserved more than just about anyone. It would’ve been impossible to imagine in September 2012 that Ficken would become one of the most clutch and beloved players in Penn State history—a game winner many times over, and symbol of the resilience that has personified Penn State football these past three years. After he clinched Saturday night’s 31-30 victory over Boston College with a game-winning extra point, James Franklin called Ficken “our best offensive weapon all year long.”
I took the shot at the top of this post a little after 8 p.m. Saturday night — almost exactly four months after I took the shot below.
Not quite mirror images, of course, but pretty great bookends to an often difficult, occasionally disappointing, but ultimately incredibly rewarding season. Thanks, Sam. Thanks to all of you guys, for sticking around, and for battling. The outcome wasn’t what mattered most, but we’re glad you had the chance to enjoy it.
And we’re very glad we had a chance to celebrate with you.
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