(disclaimer – the following post may contain thoughts that originated in a mind under the influence of intoxicants. KT)
There is nothing quite like opening day of football season at Penn State. The now fifty year old Beaver Stadium packed with 110,000 fans making it the second largest stadium in the nation. But on opening day the fun begins much sooner. Dawn finds my brother’s ‘tailgate chili’ beginning to simmer in the pot and the first of the beer chilling on ice.
But this day had all the makings of something special. My tenth in a row it dawned in stunning fashion with simply gorgeous weather. I have been to opening days when it was hot, days when it rained, and days you wished it would rain but never a day quite like this one. Calendar be damned it was a picture perfect early fall day in the mountains.
Tailgating starts not long after the sun rises over Nittany Mountain with the first of an endless line of cars and rvs pulling into the lots augmented by throngs of cooler toting students who have no tickets, and probably want no tickets, who will disappear to the bars and their apartments just before kickoff. Forget any diet you might be on because every kind of meat you can think of is grilling somewhere on the parking lot. And anything, I mean anything, you would want to drink is here too.
Adding to all this on opening day is the fact that all of these fans have spent the last 247 days thinking, dreaming, and planning for this day. Yes we are Penn State and yes we are that sick. The opening day opponent is normally a cake team (Penn State beat Youngstown State 44-14) so the morning takes on the feel of celebration of the beginning of a new season with JoePa. But now, in the back of your mind, you are always wondering if it will be his last.
In a new tradition I managed to stay relatively sober until kickoff. I felt just a little weird, almost as an outsider looking in for the first time. On the other hand Ash, at her first opening day since she graduated, almost repeated her last time here where she passed out before kickoff. Seems once you are a vq you find it hard to get up at dawn and party instead of doing the opposite. I found that just too funny.
Since the day I moved to the Village I have often pondered what or where I consider my home. I have moved around so much in the last few years that I sometimes feel lost. Banished from the student section of the stadium for the first time the beginning of the game found me looking down into the screaming mass of humanity. Just before kickoff my brother muttered two words. “Welcome home.” I never asked who he was talking to or what he meant by it ….
I just smiled knowingly =)
Useless info ….
The Nittany Lion mascot, well actually the student who wears the costume, was suspended for the first four games of the season after being cited for public drunkenness and underage drinking. The cheerleader, who shall remain nameless, was selected after the previous was kept from attending the Rose Bowl game as the mascot after being charged with DUI.
In a related note Penn State is ranked #3 in the 2011 Princeton Review party school rankings. Sadly that is a two place drop from their 2010 ranking. I think it is just a coincidence that I moved away during this time.
Finally, from a PSU - OSU game in 2008, the best game opening ever
a little update from the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer
Final stand for Penn State's Paterno?