Well, Penn State, it's back to the future for us. Here are a few thoughts following Friday night’s verdict.
- Friday night represented a major step both forward and backward for a fan and alumni base weary of being piled on. The anger, disappointment, and confusion suddenly feels like it never disappeared as spring came and went and we moved on day by day. The headlines that dominated local and national news in November and January swiftly returned, recycled opinions and criticism of Penn State again becoming the "big story" at every turn. Unfortunately, it seems this will continue through the summer as things will get worse for Dear Old State before they can get better.
- The reaction to the verdict brought feelings of justice and vengeance, yet the celebration of it made my stomach turn. While Sandusky's guilt always seemed inevitable to me, I had not truly grasped the finality of it until those two numbers, 45 of 48, exploded onto my Twitter timeline. At that time, all I could think of was the horrific acts, no longer alleged, of a troubled and twisted child trapped in a grown man's body.
- As I watched the television coverage in silence, I yearned to be with my friends and peers in State College. For the first time, most current students and recent grads like me had to experience a watershed moment of the Sandusky scandal away from Happy Valley. We could not head up to the JoePa statue at a moment's notice or heal together through the power of a candlelight vigil. For my fellow classmates of 2012, unfortunately this has become our reality as we move forward, and we will struggle through that transition as the next wave of controversy crashes ashore in a few weeks.
- Through this verdict and what comes next, we must move forward and not forget. This means helping to defend the Penn State name in the face of continuing, and deserved, scrutiny. It means continuing to speak out against sexual abuse of any kind and making sure that not just Penn State but the whole world learns from this tragedy.
Yes, we will hear the jokes and the criticisms. I urge you all to use them to fuel the growth of Penn State. I refuse to declare that we must rebuild, because to me Penn State never crumbled. The "leaders" in place may have, but we, the Penn State community, only became stronger in the face of overwhelming adversity. Look at the money raised by Penn Staters to help prevent child sexual abuse. Look at THON.
- The best defense, as the saying goes, is a good offense. For us, that means going after our success as individuals and as a community harder than ever before. Continue to not leave any doubt that Penn Staters “bring it,” and continue to show that the horrible actions of a few will not define Penn State University. For me personally, this means continuing to pursue a goal of someday serving on the Penn State Board of Trustees and working hard to establish myself in my budding professional career. And, for all of us who bleed blue and white, it means we must continue to "make an impact" For The Glory of Old State.
We still have a little over two months until we can begin to heal together with the dawning of a new era for Penn State and Penn State football. Until then, our only choice is to "keep calm and Fight On."