Ranking the Greatest All-Time Traditions in Penn State Football History

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2011

Ranking the Greatest All-Time Traditions in Penn State Football History

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    Penn State's football program is steeped in tradition. The Nittany Lion program began in 1887 and has won over 800 games since their inception.

    Every school has their own quirks and nuances. Each team's fans are crazy in their own way and each stadium has its own unique qualities.

    Penn State is no different. Beaver Stadium remains one of the toughest places to play in across the country. The Nittany Lion squad always has a 12th man backing them at home.

    No tradition is bigger than winning in Happy Valley, but Penn State has plenty of rituals that set it apart from many other major programs.

    Here are the greatest traditions in Penn State football history:

10. The "S"

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    The locker room of the Lasch Football Building has normal blue and white carpet on the floor.

    One area of the carpet shows a white "S" drawn into the blue carpet. This "S" is off limits to anyone standing in the Penn State locker room.

    Any guest, player or coach must do 20 push-ups if they are seen, by a coach or staff member, stepping on the "S." Nothing may sit on, or even really be around the "S," just to be safe.

    This tradition isn't well-known to opposing teams but it is a great way to have fun. Penn State players and coaches use the "S" as a way to give their teammates a hard time and keep things loose while they prepare for their next matchup.

9. Paternoville

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    The term "Paternoville" was coined in 2005. Hype surrounding the arrival of No. 6 Ohio State to Beaver Stadium caused many students to camp out for prime seating.

    Before this fans had always camped out for the first-row seats but the gathering had never been given a concrete name.

    The 2005 matchup with the Buckeyes brought the first signs saying "Paternoville." A six-day campout deserves a name after all.

    Tents, beds, food and plenty of layers to keep warm. That's all a fan needs to enjoy a unique Penn State tradition.

8. Arriving to the Game

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    Penn State football players get dressed in their uniforms in the Lasch Football Building. Four plain blue buses take the players from there to Beaver Stadium.

    There is a specific order to their arrival. It's Joe Paterno, of course there is.

    First and second team offensive players arrive on the first bus. First and second team defensive players arrive on the second bus. The rest of the team follows on the final two buses.

    Two seats never change in this arrangement. Joe Paterno sits in front, right seat of the first bus. The starting quarterback sits in the front left seat.

    Routine and uniform. That is Joe Paterno's way and the buses are a perfect example of how systematic everything is on a gameday in Happy Valley.

7. Governor's Victory Bell

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    The Governor's Victory Bell was originally presented in 1993. The trophy was to commemorate Penn State's entry into the Big Ten conference.

    The trophy would wind up being a traveling trophy between Penn State and Minnesota. Penn State took the trophy the first four matchups and Minnesota won the next four.

    Penn State likes to see the Victory Bell remain with them. It shows their dominance over another Big Ten team, and serves as a reminder of joining the Big Ten.

    Traveling trophies provide great motivation for rivalry games. The Victory Bell is no different.

6. White Outs

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    Beaver Stadium seats 107,282 people.

    Now, imagine all, or most, of those people wearing white and screaming at you with utter contempt.

    That is what opposing teams have to deal with in Beaver Stadium. The few fans not wearing white will hear about their choice as well.

    Penn State fans get up for big games as well as anyone in the country. The Nittany Lions could have their worst season to date, and fans would still pack the house for a big game.

    White outs are intimidating and exciting. Nittany Lion fans take pride in their ability to impact the game.

    Penn State's next two home games against Illinois and Nebraska will provide great examples of a great tradition.

5. The Team Mentality

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    Penn State's uniforms are plain and simple. They simply wouldn't be Penn State if they trotted out a new uniform, like Oregon, every week.

    Blue jerseys at home. White jerseys on the road. No names on the back. Penn State is a team, not a bunch of individuals.

    Penn State's helmets are white with a single-blue stripe down the middle. No other stickers are worn on the helmet outside of the Penn State sticker near the forehead.

    Players must wear their pants a certain way and wear a certain style of cleat.

    OK, you get it. Penn State is simple, old school and very traditional.

    They wouldn't even wear bowl decals on their helmets until after 1997. Just to keep their uniforms as simple as possible.

4. Zombie Nation

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    If I could sing "Zombie Nation" right now, I would. Either way, everyone should know the familiar tune by now. Especially if you have ever set foot in Beaver Stadium during any big moment.

    Zombie Nation combined with a Penn State white out is a frequent and intimidating occurrence for the opposition. Beaver Stadium becomes deafening and time seems to stand still for those brief moments.

    When Ohio State entered Beaver Stadium in 2005, the bleachers actually broke from the crowd jumping during their esteemed song. The fans didn't mind. They picked the bleachers up, passed them back and kept on yelling for their boys in blue.

    Penn State fans know how to cheer. They know how to have fun.

    Zombie Nation helps make Beaver Stadium one of the best atmospheres in the entire nation.

3. Guarding the Lion Shrine

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    The Lion Shrine began as a tradition in 1966. Joe Paterno's wife, Sue, and a friend painted the statue orange before that season's homecoming matchup against Syracuse.

    Sue Paterno and her friend were just trying to fire up the student body for a big game. The paint washed off. However, Syracuse fans painted it again with oil-based paints.

    This didn't clean up as easy and protecting the Lion Shrine has been a Homecoming tradition ever since.

    Penn State fans take great pride in protecting their namesake.

    Sue Paterno sent a message in 1966 that is still heard in 2011. Now that is a tradition.

2. Linebacker U

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    Penn State's linebackers may not be a tradition in the traditional sense. But for Penn State followers, this is the end-all-be-all of Penn State traditions.

    Dennis Onkontz, Jack Ham, Shane Conlan, Greg Buttle, LaVar Arrington, Dan Connor, Paul Posluszny and many more make up the rich Penn State history at the position. The list could go on and on.

    If you didn't know any better you could argue Penn State is genetically producing tackling machines somewhere on their beautiful campus. In reality, Penn State is just very good at recruiting linebackers with instincts and tackling ability.

    Penn State has had varied success over the years. However, their linebacker success is second-to-none.

1. We Are!

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    Penn State fans chanting "We are" is familiar to anyone even remotely familiar with Beaver Stadium's atmosphere.

    The origin of the story may not be as familiar.

    In 1946, Penn State canceled a scheduled matchup against Miami. Miami was a segregated team and didn't believe Penn State should bring their two black players, Wally Triplett and Dennie Hoggard.

    Penn State canceled instead.

    In 1948, Penn State was set to face Doak Walker and SMU in the Cotton Bowl. SMU wanted to set a meeting to discuss Triplett and Hoggard staying home.

    During this time, Penn State guard Steve Suhey said, "We are Penn State, there will be no meetings."

    An inspirational and proud Penn State tradition was born. One that is imperative to Penn State lore.