We ARE ... Penn State!
Penn State University's slogan, chanted by the home crowd at athletic events, had a glorious beginning.
In 1948, the school's football team was invited to play in the Cotton Bowl Game in Dallas against the local college, segregated Southern Methodist University.
The star running back for the Nittany Lions was Wally Triplett, who would go on to be the first black player ever drafted by the National Football League. Triplett years later said he remembered rumors of SMU wanting to meet with Penn State to talk about it not bringing Triplett and its other black player, Dennie Hoggard, to the game.
One white Nittany Lion player in particular wasn't putting up with any rumored talks with SMU.
"We are Penn State," Triplett remembered guard Steve Suhey saying. "There will be no meetings."
Triplett scored the tying touchdown, and the game ended in a 13-13 tie.
Yes, it was indeed glorious, a team and a university standing up for what was morally right. Unfortunately, the words "We ARE Penn State" have an entirely different meaning in the wake of the scandal involving the university's administration and its football program.
A former assistant coach named Jerry Sandusky is charged with sexually assaulting at least eight children who were in a youth program he ran for 15 years in conjunction with the university.
Two administrators have been dismissed. So has the president of the university. But when the trustees fired legendary head coach Joe Paterno, hundreds of students rioted in protest.
They weren't putting the alleged unspeakable crimes against children ahead of their admiration for Paterno, and that is beyond sad.
No coach in the history of college football was more admired than Paterno until this scandal. He graduated his players, emphasized academics, mostly avoided recruiting and other violations that plagued other big-time programs, and donated money to non-athletic causes at the university.
Then, he was informed that Sandusky was having inappropriate contact with young boys, and he didn't do enough to stop it. Paterno informed his immediate supervisor and left it at that.
The alleged crimes against children continued for years.
Paterno, for all his good works, was a coach who won a lot of football games. Compare that with an alleged predator preying on young boys with the tacit complicity of Paterno and as many as 14 other Penn State officials.
Those students who kicked up such a fuss about Paterno being fired, instead of being outraged that he didn't do more to stop the alleged abomination, lost track of right and wrong.
They, we dearly hope and trust, are NOT Penn State.