Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Emmert hasn't been able to shred Penn State yet

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: October 18, 2013 - 9:11 AM

The main campus of Pennsylvania State University is located in State College. It is 194 miles from Philadelphia and 136 miles from Pittsburgh. The nearest city of note is Harrisburg, which as every third-grader knows is the capital of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg has a population of 50,000 and is 99 miles from State College.

Bottom line: Penn State is in the middle of nowhere.

Good luck if you want to drive in from Harrisburg on the Saturday morning of a football game. You get stuck in the backup on the winding road into the valley and it can take hours to reach the parking lots at Beaver Stadium. Hours.

Also, good luck if you're taking a commuter flight into and out of University Park Airport and the fog decides to roll into the valley. When that happens, they might suggest you rent a car and drive to Altoona, and see if you can get out of there. Altoona.

Penn State has suffered a horrendous scandal, with the revelations that long-time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was a sexual predator with young boys. He's in prison, the university administration was disgraced, and so was the now-deceased, legendary coach, Joe Paterno.

Ridiculously, NCAA president Mark Emmert saw this as his chance to make a grandstand play and forced Penn State into accepting the most severe football sanctions since the SMU death penalty.

This was a matter for the legal system, not for the NCAA, but Emmert made it such for his self-aggrandizement. His goal seemed to be to leave Penn State football in tatters.

I was never a fan of Penn State ... maybe because it was such a pain in the patoot getting there on the three occasions that I've been to State College.

The first time was in November 1992, for Penn State's last game as a football independent before it would enter the Big Ten. The opponent was Pittsburgh, the long-time rival that would be leaving the Nittany Lions' schedule.

Penn State was 6-4, at the end of blah season, and there wasn't much media around for the weekend. I had a chance to spend time with Paterno, including walking around campus -- to the library that he had largely funded and other landmarks.

Joe Pa was used to dealing with reporters from the New York Times and the networks, but he paid reasonable attention to the questions a guy from Minneapolis was asking.

Overall, I found Paterno to be a sideways egomaniac, in the manner of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith. You know ... a coach who could make casual references to his great accomplishments while still working to sound humble.

Penn State crushed Pitt on that rainy Saturday, and then I got fogged in on Sunday morning and thought I would never get out of that danged valley, and came back the next September for the regular-season opener:

Sept. 4, 1993, the Gophers at Penn State, in the Lions' first-ever Big Ten game.

My close personal friend Jon Roe had been on the Gophers' beat through the '70s and well into the '80s, then was assigned to other tasks for a few years. That Saturday in the shadow of Mount Nittany was Jon's first game back on the Gophers' beat for the Star Tribune.

Minnesota received the opening kickoff and promptly turned it over deep in its territory. On Penn State's first play, Kerry Collins threw a receiver screen to Bobby Engram, and Engram went down the left sideline for a touchdown.

I couldn't find the scoring summary in a quick search, but the recollection is the Penn State touchdown came in the game's first minute. I do know for sure that I slapped Roe on the back and said, "Jon, my boy, it's like you never have been away.''

Penn State won that day, 38-20, wound up 6-2 in its first Big Ten season, and beat Tennesse in the Citrus Bowl to finish rated eighth in the country. It was the start of a nice revival for Paterno's program.

I found the whole "We ARE Penn State'' and Joe Pa worship off-putting on those few occasions when among the Penn State masses. I always rooted against the Nittany Lions, until Mark Emmert stuck his ego in where it didn't belong.

On Saturday night, when the baseball game was over, I did some clicking and ran across the late stages of Michigan at Penn State. It lasted through four overtimes before Penn State came away with a near-miraculous 43-40 victory.

The announced crowd was 107,884 in Beaver Stadium. Penn State had asked the fans for a whiteout, and it got one. It was a game that was endlessly amazing, in the midst of an amazing scene of fan involvement.

This time, when I heard "We ARE Penn State'' booming in the background of the telecast, I was thinking, "Man, it would be great to be there, covering a game that means so much to so many people.''

And, I also was thinking this: We will never again have this in the Twin Cities. We will never care as much, not en masse, about the result of a Gophers' football game as those 100,000 white-shirted folks in the middle of nowhere cared about Penn State on Saturday night.

And that's the way it is.


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 66 4th Qtr 5:53
Utah 69
New York 58 3rd Qtr
Sacramento 67
Minnesota 27 2nd Qtr 8:59
Golden State 36
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 4 3rd Prd 10:22
Colorado 2
Edmonton 0 2nd Prd 12:52
Calgary 3
San Jose 1 2nd Prd 16:39
Los Angeles 1
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 56 1st OT 0:37
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 29 2nd Half 16:32
SD Christian 27 2nd Half 14:50
San Diego St 49
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 34 4th Qtr
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65


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