State College, Pa., home of the Penn State campus, is a typical college town, full of the kind of people you'd find in Small Town, USA. Though apparently nice, pleasant folks, nobody seems to want them around.
There's an ugly dark cloud hanging over them. That chilling child sex-abuse scandal, which cost football coach Joe Paterno his job, has stained State College--permanently. Others have been fired and as the investigation continues and the probe deepens, more people will undoubtedly get the boot. In fact, a thorough house cleaning is inevitable. Clearly, just about everyone in that town is tainted.
What's worse, so many of these State College folks openly support Paterno, who's largely seen by the rest of the world as a cowardly enabler who could have put a stop to the abuse years ago but selfishly didn't want to rock the Penn State boat. So, the thinking goes, if these people back Paterno, something must be wrong with them. Though outsiders don't want them around, they might not have a choice.
Penn State has a solid, Top-20 team that just might wind up in a top-tier bowl, maybe even the Rose Bowl. Wherever the team winds up, a sizable State College crowd is sure to follow. Officials of several bowls have said they won't mind having Penn State but no one really believes them.
The fear, of course, is that a Penn State presence may keep some fans away, that it may also negatively effect TV ratings and sponsorship. Pre-bowl game hype is supposed to be positive. But with Penn State on the bill, how is that possible?
Many are miffed that Penn State is still playing. A huge faction called for the team to cancel its entire schedule, starting with the Nebraska game two weeks ago. Ignoring these pleas, Penn State instead forged ahead, losing to Nebraska but beating Ohio State last Saturday and is now just two wins away from representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. A Rose Bowl official insisted they'd welcome Penn State to Pasadena.
Sure they would.