I'm not a Penn State fan. I'm not one of the many Penn State graduates who still live and die by the result of football games on Saturdays. To me, "we are" is just an incomplete sentence.
I am, however, rooting for Penn State football this season.
I graduated from Temple University, a school with a football team on the wrong side of a very one-sided rivalry with Penn State. I competed for Temple's gymnastics team, a sport that routinely saw Penn State as one of the best in the country. We set goals every season to make our mark and beat Penn State, but we never could. I hated that we couldn't.
None of that matters now.
I've grown to respect what the people surrounding the football program have done since the scandal fallout. I respect Bill O'Brien for accepting the challenge of starting a new chapter for Penn State football. I respect the players who wanted to stay with their teammates and not jump ship just because the NCAA allowed them to transfer penalty free.
I want to see this team succeed.
Think what you want about the people involved in the scandal—I haven't even fully formed my opinion yet—but don't take your frustration for their behavior out on this football team.
This wasn't a punishment because a player was getting money on the side. This wasn't a punishment for players getting free tattoos. This wasn't a punishment for a coach's recruiting violation.
Root against those schools because usually the people involved still have their jobs and have to face those punishments. That's not the case here.
You may think the NCAA didn't do enough. Maybe you think they did too much. That's a whole different debate. Either way, don't take your feelings out on these kids. They're just here to play football.
If this team can be successful, it could show how strong a group of people playing for one cause can be. To me, there couldn't be a better story this season.
Take down all the statues. Take away all the wins. One thing you can't take away is the heart this team is going to put into playing this season.
As little as a year ago, you couldn't have gotten me to say I ever wanted to see a successful Penn State season, but circumstances have changed. You can too.
We Are. Supporting you.