With all that has taken place at Penn State over the last year, the 2012 Nittany Lions need to be remembered with the best teams from the school's history.
Before last Saturday's finale against Wisconsin, the 2012 Penn State Nittany Lions were given a spot on the wall of champions inside of Beaver Stadium. 2012 was placed beside the dates of the greatest teams in Penn State history. Although this team did not win any titles, its spot on the wall is well-deserved.
The facade of the luxury suites inside of Beaver Stadium displays the years of Penn State teams that went undefeated or won championships.
While the current team did neither of those two things, it needs to be celebrated. After dropping the first two games of the season, the Nittany Lions went on a run and finished with an overall record of 8-4, including an impressive 6-2 record in the Big Ten.
Due to the fact that Penn State was not eligible to go to a bowl game this season, this season could have been looked at as meaningless. In reality, it was quite the opposite. The season was important to show fans and future recruits that Penn State Football is alive and well.
In light of all that happened over the last year at Penn State, this season was one of the most difficult that any team at any school had ever had to face.
The team was led by a core group of seniors who decided that their commitment to the school was more important than anything else. Instead of bailing for an easier situation, the seniors stuck around and played their hears out for the entire Penn State community.
Quarterback Matt McGloin, defensive linemen Jordan Hill and Sean Stanley and linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti were all seniors who played huge roles for the Lions during the season.
McGloin, who struggled while splitting time last season, finished as the top passer in the Big Ten, throwing for 3,271 yards and 24 touchdowns on the year. Mauti and Hodges were two of the best linebackers in the country, and Hill and Stanley anchored a solid defensive line.
Aside from the seniors, there is a group of starters who all plan on sticking around at Penn State for years to come. The group, dubbed the "Supa Six," includes running back Bill Belton, wide receiver Allen Robinson, tight end Kyle Carter, cornerback Adrian Amos, tackle Donovan Smith and defensive end Deion Barnes.
Robinson led the conference in receiving, catching 77 passes for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns. Barnes led the team with six sacks (good for sixth in the conference) and tight end Kyle Carter led all Big Ten tight ends with 453 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
At no point this season did head coach Bill O'Brien or any current players publicly complain about the sanctions being unfair or make excuses for anything that happened. The team fought hard each Saturday and made fans of the school proud.
Nobody on the current team had any involvement in the terrible things that happened in the past, yet they were all forced to pay the price for what happened. The players took that in stride and turned a huge negative into a positive.
2012 won't be remembered for a championship, but that doesn't mean it was not successful.
Future fans in Beaver Stadium will now have a visual reminder of the team that fought through adversity and showed true Penn State pride.