Commentary: Nittany Lions a total class act


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On a chilly, rainy night in Happy Valley, the warmest hearts were those of Iowa’s defeated hosts.

I was lucky enough to be one the soggy, gold-clad Iowa fans who witnessed the exodus of the “White House” on Sept. 26.

As the predominant chant in Beaver Stadium transitioned from “We Are … Penn State” to “We Own … Penn State,” I couldn’t help but direct my jeers at a man who was probably the poorest sport in Happy Valley.

In retrospect, I couldn’t be more ashamed.

My brother and I sat on the border of Iowa’s designated cheering section and, consequently, had the pleasure of meeting who I surmised was the saddest representation of an otherwise stellar fan base in State College, Pa.

This white-wearing Nittany Lion fan spent more time in the first half taunting the Iowa faithful around him than he did watching the game. But he was nowhere to be found as my man Adam Robinson scampered into the end zone with 8:32 to play, putting Iowa ahead by a touchdown.

That idiot’s exit was the last I saw of poor sportsmanship in Happy Valley.

Although the atmosphere was rain-soaked and somber, I was treated with more respect after the game than I have anywhere outside Iowa City as a visiting fan.

Whenever the Hawkeyes win in Ames, you can expect a certain four-letter word followed by a three-letter word. The same is true for fans in State College, but it’s a considerably less crude — “Good job.”

I couldn’t count how many times a Penn State fan walked up to my group of Iowa fans after the game and said, “Congrats” or “the best team won.” One guy even gave us an entire box of still-hot leftover pizza.

While I wasn’t sure what I did to deserve congratulations, one thing became abundantly clear — Penn State has the classiest fans in the Big Ten.

It was so refreshing to see the outpouring of respect the Penn State supporters bestowed following such a crippling loss, especially in this age of college football. These days, sportsmanship and respect for opponents are somewhat rare.

Look no further than Tennessee and Florida head coaches Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer.

Kiffin’s verbal jabs at Meyer’s Gators during the off-season were childish and unbecoming of a coach at any level. Last week, both coaches were reprimanded by the SEC for the unsportsmanlike comments they made following Florida’s 23-13 win over Tennessee on Sept. 19.

If someone told Kiffin or Meyer to say, “Good job,” after that game and mean it, they would still be scratching their heads.

Speaking of head-scratchers, what do you think suspended Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount would think of Penn State’s humility?

The Ducks’ tailback was the culprit behind “the punch heard ’round the world” in Week One.
For anyone who didn’t see the “SportsCenter” extreme over-coverage of the event, Blount dropped Boise State’s Byron Hout with a punch to the jaw following a 19-8 Boise State win on Sept. 3. Hout had verbally taunted Blount seconds before the sucker punch.

Blount capped his tirade off by attempting to fight Boise State fans, and he had to be subdued by coaches, teammates, and police officers.

Blount’s antics after the punch have left a black-eye on the Oregon program that will linger much longer than Hout’s sore jaw.

With these and a myriad of other instances in mind, I firmly believe the Big Ten is composed of the classiest fans, coaches, and players in the country. Who is the trendsetter of the group?

They are … Penn State.

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