Joe Paterno and Nick Saban
Sure it has been over a week since the Nittany Lions were embarrassed in Tuscaloosa, but I can't shake the feeling that Penn Staters will embarrass ourselves next season in Happy Valley. And I don't mean the football team, I mean the fans.
When I made the 15 hour trek to Alabama last weekend, I didn't know what to expect. I've seen opposing fans in Happy Valley before, but I haven't really interacted with them sans the occasional Ohio State fan who mistakenly wanders into the student section. So when I stepped out of my friend's Volkswagen into a heat that we don't experience up north, I was a little bit nervous.
Almost immediately however, Alabama fans eased my worry. Within a few moments of standing with two friends who were clad in blue and white like myself, a 20-something-year-old fan asked if we wanted to join in on a game of corn hole, which ultimately led to lots of heckling—just corn hole related.
After playing for awhile, it was evident to me (and apparently other people as well) that I was getting horribly sunburned. So someone offered me sunscreen. As for tailgate food, all I can say is that the barbecue rivals Penn State's finest tailgate spreads. And all of it was given to us from friendly 'Bama fans.
After the game, I was expecting a few jeers and "see y'all next seasons," but all I heard were kind condolences and "I see the southern sun wasn't kind to y'all!"
So, why am I writing this? To tell you how awful the sun is down there? No. I am sending out a challenge to all Penn Staters attending the game against the Crimson Tide next season: treat them just as well as they treated our fans this season.
I haven't heard a single bad thing from anyone who attended the game about the fans down in Tuscaloosa. I can only hope that we will be as courteous and friendly to anyone who comes to our beloved Beaver Stadium. Especially their students, because they will go back to Alabama and tell the same stories that I am now.
Tuscaloosa is a gorgeous college town, and I will definitely be talking about that trip for years to come. I'm especially glad that I will be able to talk positively about it. Let's leave the same legacy for our visiting friends from down south. I'm sure that's how Joe and Bear would want it.