Paterno Takes Center Stage at Football Eve

But the legendary coach urges fans to pay more attention to the Nittany Lions in 2010.

An ominous weather forecast proved to be nothing more than a false alarm at Friday night's Football Eve, much how Penn State hopes a menacing schedule proves to be nothing more than just hype.

“We have a very tough schedule,” said head coach Joe Paterno. “We're going to be in a fight every Saturday and it starts tomorrow!”

The seventh annual event brought a festive atmosphere to Beaver Stadium as students and families filled the seats in the south end zone in anticipation of the team's 50th season in the stadium.

Paterno's speech began with him recalling the events that led the university to move the team's home from the area adjacent to Rec Hall to its current location.

Paterno was not pleased with the idea.

“I made a very passionate speech, I said (coach) Rip (Engle), you can't let them do this,” remembered Paterno. “If they move the stadium, (I said), it'll ruin Penn State football!”

The head coach then paused and took a deep breath.

“Fifty years later, look at this baby!”

The crowd erupted in cheers as it did throughout the night. All members of the Penn State “football experience” were on display, as the Blue Band, dance team, and cheerleading squad were showcased to the fans in attendance.

The keynote alumnus speaker was Penn State quarterback Chuck Fuscina, who led the Nittany Lions to an undefeated regular season in 1978 while winning one of the school's record seven Maxwell trophies - an award given to the best college football player in the country.

Naturally, the highlight of the night came at the end of the hour-long celebration when the football team and Paterno emerged from the Beaver Stadium tunnel for the first time in 2010.

With his team seated behind him, the 83-year-old coach reminded the fans where their focus should be this season.

“Don't worry about me, worry about these guys,” implored Paterno. “I want you to know this group of kids are going to make you happy. We've got a ways to go yet, and we're going to need a lot of help, but we're counting on you folks to get right in there and cheer like mad men!”


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