Cream of the Crop

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Brooklyn-born and raised, Joe Paterno probably hadn’t seen many cows before he arrived in Happy Valley in 1950. He almost certainly hadn’t had many chances to milk one.

We’re not entirely sure of the origins of this shot*, which our colleague, Marc Kauffman, art director at The Penn Stater magazine, found a few months back during one of his occasional deep digs into the University Library photo archives. From the image itself, we can guess it was taken around the time Joe succeeded Rip Engle as head coach in 1966—yes, 50 years ago this fall. Neither his wardrobe nor (we’re guessing) his technique are those of a natural dairyman, but that’s alright. Mostly, he seems to be enjoying the moment. A city boy at heart, it wouldn’t be long before he made this rural Pennsylvania college town his home.

  • After we published, our friend and preeminent Penn State football historian Lou Prato ’59 pointed out that this shot might not have been taken on campus, but in Dallas, where the Nittany Lions faced Texas in the 1972 Cotton Bowl. Lou notes that the man standing behind Paterno might well be Darrell Royal, the Longhorns’ longtime coach. As always, when it comes to blue and white history, we assume Lou is most likely correct.

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Michael Robinson, Leading With the Future In Mind

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More than a decade after graduating, Michael Robinson’s impact at Penn State is still being felt. Given his words and actions, it probably always will be.

The latest example can be seen this Friday night, when Robinson ’04, ’06 returns to campus to host the inaugural Blue-White Benefit at Pegula Ice Arena, which he hopes turns into an annual event. All proceeds will benefit Robinson’s foundation, Excel to Excellence, which focuses on education, character development, and fitness for young people.

The event starts at 5:00 p.m. with a VIP dinner, followed by a cocktail social at 6:30 p.m. You can go online for ticket and sponsorship information, or to make a general donation to the foundation.

As with much of Robinson’s life, Penn State plays a pivotal role in his foundation, Continue reading

Sneaking into Legend

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Twenty years after one of the craziest days in Beaver Stadium history, we catch up with the unlikely hero of the “Snow Bowl.”

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The snow was the story. A mid-November nor’easter brought nearly a foot and a half of snow to central Pennsylvania just days before Penn State’s 1995 game against Michigan. If you were there, you’ll never forget it: So much snow that most of the stadium parking was closed, so much snow that hundreds of volunteers, and eventually inmates at local penitentiaries, were called on to try to clear the Beaver Stadium bleachers. So much snow, in fact, that by the time the Nittany Lions and Wolverines took the field on Nov. 18, 1995, the best that could be done was to pack much of that snow under the bleachers.

At kickoff, it was an open-air igloo for 80,000 shivering fans.

The fans who toughed it out that day witnessed one of the most memorable afternoons in Beaver Stadium history. Continue reading

One Step Away

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For the 1985 Nittany Lions, an unbeaten regular season was tarnished by an Orange Bowl loss, and overshadowed by a perfect season in 1986. Thirty years on, we look back at one of the great—but largely forgotten—teams in Penn State history.

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As Massimo Manca remembers it, the pivotal moment in Penn State’s 1985 season came rather early.

On opening day, to be exact.

“I think the turning point was that very first game against Maryland,” Manca ’87 says now. “Nobody had us picked to win that game. That’s when we realized: We could beat anybody.”

The Nittany Lions’ long-awaited return to Maryland this week brings to mind Continue reading

Legends of ’94: The Oral History

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Unbeaten, Unstoppable, Uncrowned
An Oral History of the 1994 Penn State Football Team

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Twenty years ago this fall, in just their second season of conference play, the Nittany Lions put together one of the greatest seasons in Big Ten history. They did so with one of the most dynamic offenses ever seen, a star-laden group full of play-makers and future pros. They did it with style, running off a string of blowouts and, on those rare occasions it was necessary, pulling off memorable late-game heroics. They did it with a gritty, overlooked defense and a veteran coaching staff that adapted perfectly to the talent on hand.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s last undefeated team, we’re proud to present the definitive oral history of the 1994 Penn State football team. Based on interviews with nearly 30 former Lions—players, coaches, and staff—it’s their story, in their words… Continue reading