As part of head-coach Joe Paterno's team-wide punishment for the involvement of several players in a ruckus in a State College apartment last April, the Lions were up bright and early Sunday to help clean the stadium.
They boarded four blue buses at Lasch Building at about 7:45 a.m., and 10 minutes later filed into the stadium. More than 100 players took part, including team captains Anthony Morelli, Dan Connor and Terrell Golden. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson and player development director Kermit Buggs also pitched in on the work detail.
Penn State did not allow the media into the stadium to see the cleanup effort. That's not what this is about, assistant athletic director Jeff Nelson said. Just to be safe, the gate leading into the stadium was closed and guarded by campus security.
Paterno showed up at 9:22 a.m., and politely asked reporters waiting outside of the stadium not to make a big deal of his being there and not to ask the players questions when they left the stadium.
Not that there was a crush of media types on hand, anyway. When the team arrived, two reporters and two photographers were outside the stadium. Another reporter stopped by later, while the team was at work inside.
The players cleaned eight sections in the south end of the stadium, sweeping debris from each row of seats into the aisles, where it was scooped up with shovels and placed into white garbage bags. The bags were tied and thrown in the back of a pair of dump trucks. The athletes wore oversized yellow rubber gloves while doing the work.
Players also helped clean up the perimeter of the very field where they trampled FIU less than a day earlier. Some players listened to iPods as they worked.
They are expected to engage in the cleanup after every home game this season, with the money raised going to the club sports teams that usually handle the chore.
Also working in the stadium to raise money Sunday morning were PSU's men's and women's varsity fencing squads, the power lifting and crew club teams, and the Lionettes dance team.
Paterno arrived and drove his car directly into the south end of the stadium, parking near the media room. After about 10 minutes, many players filed out of the stadium and began boarding the buses. But after a few minutes of confusion, Morelli, Connor and junior linebacker Sean Lee went back into the stadium.
Shortly after, Lee came out and shouted, Joe said we didn't do a good enough job. We have to go back.
They did. And 15 minutes later, they all filed out again.
Most players were dressed in casual workout gear and most seemed to be in good spirits. This is not unusual for them to be getting up early, Nelson said.
At one point during the false-start departure, redshirt freshman defensive end Aaron Maybin loudly joked to sophomore tight end Andrew Quarless that he better be careful, because you're already on probation. One more strike and you're out!
Quarless, who did not play in the FIU game due to a recent underage drinking incident, laughed.
Overall, there seemed to be a positive vibe among the players as they talked and joked among themselves outside of the stadium.
Of course, the fact that they cleaned up on Saturday, too, probably had a little something to do with that.