SBD/November 26, 2012/Colleges

Penn State Football Attendance Dips; School Still Draws Fifth-Most Fans In Country

Penn State experienced its lowest average attendance for football since '01
Penn State football games "averaged 96,730 fans per game this season at Beaver Stadium, the worst average crowd since" a $93M expansion completed in '01 "added some 13,000 seats and brought capacity to more than 107,000," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. The '12 season "marks the fifth straight year of attendance declines at Beaver Stadium after the team drew an average of 108,917 fans" in '07. Average attendance "dropped to" 108,254 in '08; 107,008 in '09; 104,234 in '10; and 101,427 last season. But even with fewer fans in the stands, Penn State will "finish fifth in the country in average attendance" behind Univ. of Michigan, Ohio State Univ., Univ. of Alabama and Univ. of Texas (ESPN.com, 11/25). In N.Y., Bill Pennington noted Penn State is "moving on without" former coach Joe Paterno. Not "un-remembering him, just not summoning him, or his contested meaning, very much." Paterno is still a "saint to many in a region known as Happy Valley, and he is a sinner to others in the same community." People "know which side of the debate they stand on, and minds are made up. What is the point of discussing it?" At Penn State, the Paterno T-shirts that were "once big sellers and prominently displayed in the windows of crowded apparel shops on College Avenue are now at the back of the store, and Paterno-themed souvenirs are far from the front-line attractions they once were" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/25).

HAPPIER VALLEY: In DC, John Feinstein wrote the "best story" in college football this season is Penn State. Many people "believed this past summer" that NCAA President Mark Emmert "made a mistake when he didn't shut the football program down for a year." Emmert "kept huffing and puffing and threatening to blow Penn State's house down but backed off in the end." Feinstein wrote, "Mostly by accident, he did the right thing." Not because he was "brilliant in any way but because [coach] Bill O'Brien and his coaching staff and his players produced one of the most memorable seasons in college football history." Penn State "lost its soul to the culture of football and paid a well-deserved heavy price for doing so." But those who "stayed to play at Penn State this fall began what will be a lengthy rescue project with their grit and their devotion to one another and to their school" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/25).
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