Ready to Get Down and Dirty

Penn State fans take over Beverly Hills as Joe Paterno stars in a jam-packed Nittany Lion pep rally. Get the lowdown and see the photo gallery.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- It is difficult to create a spectacle in this star-studded section of Los Angeles. But the Penn State football team pulled it off on New Year's Eve.

To get fans motivated for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl matchup with USC, the Nittany Lions held a pep rally at the Beverly Hills High football stadium. A crowd estimated at 30,000 packed the facility.

And at least several thousand more never made it into the stadium because traffic was so congested and parking spots were at a premium.

Speaking from a high stage, the usual cast of characters -- Nittany Lion Club folks, cheerleaders, school president Graham Spanier -- warmed up the crowd before PSU play-by-play man Steve Jones took the mic and introduced the star of the show.

With his team behind him and all outfitted in suits and ties, Lion head coach Joe Paterno gave another rousing speech. He thanked the crowd for showing up in such numbers, said this particular team deserved the support and then unleashed the line of the event.

“We're not underdogs,” he said, referring to the fact that the Trojans are heavily favored in the Rose Bowl. “We're dirty dogs.”

It mattered little than nobody appeared to get exactly what he meant. The crowd roared. And the players behind him laughed.

Paterno wrapped things up quickly and then he and the team stepped down from the stage and went through a back gate to their buses.

As the tens of thousands of Penn State fans began departing, Beverly Hills was, at last, turned back over to the usual suspects who call it home.



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