The tailgating scene outside the stadium at Penn State University is more subdued than usual this hour, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, as Nittany Lions fans gather for a noon ET game against Nebraska that comes against the backdrop of a sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the university.
“There is a bit of a lull here,” 42-year-old Jeff Berger, a 1990 Penn State graduate, told the newspaper this morning.
Last night, instead of a pep rally there was a vigil on campus to remember the victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse of young boys (Sandusky, through his lawyer, has professed his innocence). Today, as we’ve said, many students and fans plan to wear blue — a symbolic message of support for victims of sexual abuse.
This is, of course, Penn State’s first game since before the 1966 season without Joe Paterno as the head coach. He was fired this week. A grand jury report said he had been told of a 2002 incident in the Penn State locker room involving Sandusky and a young boy. Paterno told the school’s athletic director about it, but took no further action (and no university official called police).
We’ll be updating this post as game time nears and during the contest. So check back if you’re interested. The game is being broadcast by ESPN.