If the 2012 Penn State football season were a Rocky movie, today marks the training montage. You know, the one that sparks a little fire in your belly and stokes the coals of anticipation towards the big fight. Yo, Adrian (Amos, and teammates).
The excitement and enthusiasm preceding this football season trumps that surrounding any team I can recall. The Penn State community has rallied, both literally and figuratively, behind this group of players in a way that makes the result of the season somewhat inconsequential. The 2012 Nittany Lion football team has already solidified a place in Penn State history before playing a single snap.
They could have left. Mark "Bane" Emmert's version of free agency triggered a feeding frenzy that had coaches from all over the country stalking our STUDENT-athletes. And yes, a few individuals (I use that word with venom the way my high school football coach would) chose to finish their collegiate careers elsewhere for reasons other than the usual.
Those who stayed, however, did so out of their love for Penn State and their ability to persevere and Billieve in the future of the program. In that way, they join every other student, faculty member, alumnus, and fan in wanting to uphold the proud tradition and spirit that is Penn State University. In that way, if in none other, we all truly are one team.
Make no mistake, this season will not play out like some Disney movie. Penn State will lose games. We will watch those who departed, those who we once proudly supported, suit up for other programs. The haters will pop up at every turn, eagerly piling on after every loss. The media will continue to stretch the lucrative Penn State narrative in any and every way possible.
The program will be crippled for a decade, they will continue to say. Top recruits won't want to wear blue and white. Their fans just don't get it. They don't understand the severity of what occurred. Students camping out for football games? Didn't you read the Freeh Report? Penn State obviously has a "culture" problem.
For nine months, we have taken punch after punch, and with little to show for it. The punches will keep coming.
Today, however, this collection of men will begin the next step in fighting back for all of us.
See you ringside when the gloves come off on September 1st.