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Penn State's Winning Ways Continue to Alter Perceptions

Funny how winning changes things. It might even be changing the way the media spins post-scandal Penn State.

The bye week has brought numerous national commentators out of the woodwork, many speaking positively of Penn State football and hinting at unfairness about the way Penn State has been treated. Coach Bill O’Brien (suddenly a “Coach of the Year” candidate according to all the talking heads) has been heavy in the interview circuit during Penn State’s week off.

Dan Wetzel, a lead writer and acclaimed investigative journalist for Yahoo! Sports, devoted a whole podcast this week to Penn State. Blue White Illustrated’s Nate Bauer was his guest, but Wetzel himself—someone far removed from the PSU community—had some of the most positive and revealing comments to say about Penn State football.

While journalists’ opinions aren’t supposed to matter, we live in an age—especially in sports journalism—where the line between opinion and fact are always blurred. As a Penn State fan, who has been especially vilified by the snap judgments of the media over the past year, it’s a refreshing welcome to let some journalists’ bias be in our favor for a change.

You can listen to the whole podcast here. I’ve taken a few of Wetzel’s quotes (as much within the context of which he said them as possible) and included them below.

Wetzel said: “[Penn State football] hasn’t been destroyed. I was on campus yesterday. It’s still a fantastic campus, a beautiful place, modern buildings. You see all the kids walking around going to class. Sandusky can’t take that from Penn State...They’ve got a great coach. They have good, tough kids playing football, going to class, doing their thing… Penn State is too big to get toppled...

It’s a gorgeous place. It’s cosmopolitan for a small town. Driving out to the airport this morning, it’s a great place. I don’t want to leave it...

There was failure at leadership positions, I believe, but the actual school itself and the people [themselves] and the people in the community, I don’t have any blame for and I never thought they should have felt blame...

It’s a huge institution and as big as football is, I don’t think the rank and file are any different than the rank and file anywhere else. And I don’t think they have to apologize for being Penn State or loving Penn State or being a Penn State fan or anything else...

I thought some of [the Freeh Report] was gratuitous. The Freeh Report was pretty thorough. They did as good of a job as they could do…. I don’t necessarily agree with the overall assessment of what they found...

That’s my point, being there and seeing it all. [Coach O'Brien] doesn’t have to be a great salesman because he has a great product to sell. It’s still Penn State…The school, and the program, and the community, and the gorgeous hills, and the big stadium, and the nice little downtown, it’s  all still there. Nobody can take this whole thing away...So you don’t get to go to the Outback Bowl. Who cares?... There’s great momentum. And they do have a great coach and great kids, there’s so much going on there…I wanted people to see that...If you’re choosing a school based on the ability to go to some average bowl game, that’s not a kid who should be going to Penn State anyway. Go there because this is a phenomenal opportunity.”

Read Ring The Bell: The Twenty-two Greatest Penn State Football Victories of Our Lives by Ryan J. Murphy.

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