Penn State will open its football season with a home game against Ohio on Saturday and Paternos will do what Paternos have done for decades in State College: they’ll pack up and head for Beaver Stadium.
The family of the school’s late former coach, Joe Paterno, will make use of the private box and suite they were given for 25 years, family spokesman Dan McGinn told the Associated Press. They intend to have a low-key presence at the game.
“The family doesn’t want to do anything to distract from the game this weekend,” McGinn said.
Members of the family did not return calls or comment, but the front door of the home in which Paterno’s widow, Sue, lives displays a blue-and-white sign that reads: “Proud to Support Penn State Football.” It is not known which family members will attend the opener.
That support for the football program is one thing that has not changed since last fall, when Joe Paterno was fired in the wake of the burgeoning Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. Bill O’Brien now is tasked with rebuilding the program, which was punished by the NCAA; Joe Paterno was stripped of post-1998 victories. Among the changes fans will observe on gameday: Paterno’s statue is gone from campus, “Sweet Caroline” will not be played, players will wear jerseys that bear their names and Paternoville has been re-christened Nittanyville.
Nor will there be a Paterno on the coaching staff for the first time since 1949. Paterno’s son, Jay, no longer coaches the team’s quarterbacks.