The Rose Brothers Lead the Line

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It’s Alumni Reunion Weekend here in Happy Valley, an annual chance for those of us at the Alumni Association to meet and hear stories from some of our most dedicated alums. Among this year’s returnees is Don Rose ’70, who’s in town from Lancaster with his wife, Sandra ’66.

We talked a bit of football with Don, who then pulled out this photo recently sent to him by his little brother, Steve ’74, ’82g, who would eventually follow Don to State College. That’s the sibling duo back in the fall of 1967, in their stances in front of the south end zone of Beaver Stadium. Don couldn’t remember who took the picture, or how exactly they got on the field, but the scoreboard gives a hint at the date: Sometime in mid-November, not long after the Nittany Lions upset third-ranked North Carolina State.

The stadium looks a bit different now, but for the record, Don’s still got a full head of hair.

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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.

For more on the The Football Letter, including online archives (requires Alumni Association member log-in), click here.

Not yet an Alumni Association member? Click here.

 

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

Tamba Hali Heads Home

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Tamba Hali left war-torn Liberia when he was 10 years old. The time since has been pretty good for Hali, who went from an All-American during his time at Penn State to an NFL Pro Bowler with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he was never able to return home. He told The Guardian in 2013 that while he wanted to visit, unrest in the country had made it difficult.

Over the weekend, Hali finally got his chance. Continue reading

A Moment in Time: Hugo Bezdek

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The New York Public Library earlier this year made nearly 200,000 public-domain items available online, including thousands of classic photos. Included in that trove was this nearly century-old gem of one Hugo Francis Bezdek, who spent the majority of his Hall of Fame career at Penn State. Arguably the Nittany Lions’ first great football coach, Bezdek led Penn State to a 65-30-11 record from 1918 to 1929; he also managed in Major League Baseball and the early days of the NFL. If this image is any indication, intensity was his hallmark.

For more on the The Football Letter, including online archives (requires Alumni Association member log-in), click here.

Not yet an Alumni Association member? Click here.

Once Again, Lou Prato Writes the Book on Penn State Football

 

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For Nittany Lion fans still finishing their holiday shopping, Lou Prato ’59 has the perfect gift. The eminent historian of all things blue and white recently published his latest book, 100 Things Penn State Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. As the title implies, it’s loaded with both information and advice that’ll make any even the most dedicated Penn Stater a smarter fan.

Featuring a forward from Adam Taliaferro ’05, Lou’s book covers an incredibly wide array of Penn State sports territory. There’s plenty of history, going back to the roots of the program with chapters on legends like Joe Bedenk and Levi Lamb, up through dozens of entries on teams, players, and unforgettable moments fom Joe Paterno’s tenure. And then there’s the to-do list, ranging from the the obscure the obvious. It’s a perfect mix of nostalgia and knowledge, from a guy who has probably forgotten more about the Nittany Lions than the rest of us will ever know.

And the best part? There’s still time to order for delivery before Christmas.

For more on the The Football Letter, including online archives (requires Alumni Association member log-in), click here.

Not yet an Alumni Association member? Click here.

 

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