The Focus Finally Shifts to Football, But Uncertainty Remains

It’s been an unprecedented off-season for the Penn State football program, but trials, memorial services and NCAA sanctions give way to actual football this Saturday as the Nittany Lions open their 2012 season against Ohio University.

While the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal will still be on everyone’s minds, and reminders of child sex abuse victims will be evident everywhere at Beaver Stadium including on the players’ uniforms, for three hours this weekend Penn State fans can once again focus on the game they love. Many things have, of course, changed since the last time Penn State took the field. Legendary Head Coach Joe Paterno passed away in January and the team is operating under harsh sanctions imposed by the NCAA.

New Head Coach Bill O’Brien is the man being asked to pick up the pieces of a broken football program. He has drawn rave reviews for his handling of a difficult situation at Penn State so far. Fans, school officials, and even the governor of Pennsylvania, have remarked at how well O’Brien has taken the reins, but no one knows yet if the New England Patriots’ former Offensive Coordinator can win on the field as a Head Coach.

Fans get their first taste of the new era of Penn State football at noon on Saturday.