48 days until gameday with West Virginia


Penn State's student-athletes are instantly identified by their blue and white uniforms - but those weren't the original school colors. A three-member committee representing the sophomore, junior and senior classes was appointed in October of 1887 to develop color options from which the student body would select the school's official colors. Dark pink and black was the unanimous choice of the student body after considering the color combinations presented by the committee. Soon many students and the baseball team were sporting pink and black striped blazers and caps. However, problems arose when the pink faded to white after several weeks of exposure to the sun. The students then opted for blue, rather than black, and white. The official announcement of the new choice was made on March 18, 1890.

The band music played at every home game goes back almost 100 years. Two of the songs, "The Nittany Lion" and "Fight On State," are still featured as part of the pregame festivities when the Blue Band enters Beaver Stadium and marches down the field in the "Floating Lion" formation. A third song, "Victory," also is played during the game. Jimmy Leyden wrote both "Victory" and "The Nittany Lion." He was a sophomore in 1913 when he wrote "Victory" with the familiar chorus, "Fight, Fight, Fight for the Blue and White, Victory will our slogan be." Then, while working in New York in the summer of 1919, Leyden wrote "The Nittany Lion," now better known by its opening words, "Hail to the Lion, Loyal and True..." Leyden introduced both songs at football games, standing in the middle of the field and singing the song's lyrics through a large megaphone with a cornet accompanying him. "Fight on State" was written in 1935 by Joseph Saunders, a 1915 graduate then living in Atlantic City. The song originally was given to the freshman class to sing as their song and it was so catchy that it was soon adopted by the entire student body and the Blue Band.

The first thing to know is Wikipedia has it wrong. The term "Happy Valley" originated with Centre Daily Times columnist Katey Lehman. Ross and Katey Lehman, one of the town's regal couples, became good friends with Pat and Harriet O'Brien. Ross Lehman, a 1942 graduate, was the executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, among other things, and Katey wrote a column for the Centre Daily Times entitled "Open House." Pat O'Brien was a Liberal Arts professor. The O'Briens used to take Sunday drives with their kids and often remarked "What a happy valley," a phrase that then traveled to Katey. The initial appearance of the phrase in print was in Katey's column of June 22, 1961. She used it in lower case between quotes, "happy valley." In a June 25, 1962 column she headlined it, "Happy Valley And Jet Age." Katey continued to mention it a few more times in the early 1960s.

Penn State's athletic symbol, chosen by the student body in 1906, is the mountain lion, which once roamed central Pennsylvania. H.D. "Joe" Mason, a member of the Class of 1907, conducted a one-man campaign to choose a school mascot after seeing the Princeton tiger on a trip with the Penn State baseball team to that New Jersey campus. A student publication sponsored the campaign to select a mascot and Penn State is believed to be the first college to adopt the lion as a mascot. Since Penn State is located in the Nittany Valley at the foot of Mount Nittany, the lion was designated as a Nittany Lion. In regional folklore, Nittany (or Nita-Nee) was a valorous Indian princess in whose honor the Great Spirit caused Mount Nittany to be formed. A later namesake, daughter of chief O-Ko-Cho, who lived near the mouth of Penn's Creek, fell in love with Malachi Boyer, a trader. The tearful maiden and her lost lover became legend and her name was given to the stately mountain.

Although some Nittany Lion mascots had been doing pushups periodically through the years, Marty Seorta (1965-67) is generally credited with starting the ritual of pushups after every Penn State score, matching the number of pushups with Penn State's total points on the scoreboard. Twelve years later, Nittany Lion Norm Constantine decided to do one-handed pushups and that tradition carries on to this day. Tragically, Constantine became the iconic symbol of all Nittany Lion mascots after a 1981 car accident left him paralyzed - unable to walk or speak again - until his death in 1990. A fund-raising effort in Norm's honor continues to this day by the Back The Lions organization, providing a scholarship for the reigning mascot, cheerleaders, and others. The mascot statue located in the lobby of Penn State's All-Sports Museum was part of that fundraising endeavor and is dedicated in Constantine's memory.

Penn State's Nittany Lion shrine was dedicated on Oct. 24, 1942, during Homecoming Weekend. Animal sculptor Heinz Warneke and stonecutter Joseph Garatti molded a 13-ton block of Indiana limestone into the most recognizable symbol of Penn State. The shrine was chosen from six models submitted by Warneke. The shrine is a gift of the Class of 1940 and rests in a natural setting of trees near Recreation Building. The site was chosen because of its accessibility, the surrounding trees and the fact that the sculpture would not be dwarfed by nearby buildings.

Originally named "Paternoville," Nittanyville is a student camp out that occurs every week of a Penn State home football game. The students camp out to support the team and to acquire the best possible seats for the weekend's upcoming game, since seating is first-come, first serve for students. While the name "Paternoville" came about during Penn State's 2005 football season, students have long camped out for first row seats. Prior to 1993, the University distributed non-seat-specific tickets. Starting the same year Penn State football began competition in the Big Ten Conference, students were assigned seats on a first-come-first-serve basis, so that the first students to pass through "Gate A" at the south-east corner of the stadium would be assigned first row seats, and so on down the line. Since then, students have camped out in small to massive numbers in order to guarantee themselves a rail-side seat (though the students hardly ever sit) for the most amazing of sports spectacles; a Penn State home football game.

Many generations of campers have come and gone, but it wasn't until the 2005 season that the students had a name for their tent-city. In anticipation of the 2005 clash between #16 Penn State and #6 Ohio State, students began camping six days in advance of the game outside the gate so that they would get a first row seat for, arguably, the biggest game of the 2005 season for Penn State. On Tuesday of the week preceeding the game, "Paternoville" first appeared. Credited with the naming, freshman Dan Clark and the other students camping with him created a banner reading "Paternoville."

The name stuck. On Wednesday morning, October 5th, 2005, newspapers were already referring to the campsite as "Paternoville." State-wide, regional, and even national media outlets began paying attention to the show in front of Gate A. Local businesses printed t-shirts up for the students, brought truckloads of food, and distributed various things like magazines and small footballs to keep the students occupied. Throughout the week, players, coaches, and many alumni and media personalities paid visits to Paternoville.

On Friday, ESPN's "Cold Pizza" morning show was broadcast from in front of the Bryce Jordan Center, across from the stadium, with some of the cast walking through Paternoville interviewing students and taping their activities, despite the constant drizzle. The next day, ESPN's College Gameday also was broadcast in front of the Bryce Jordan Center, hours before the showdown between the cross-border rivals.

Before noon, the tents were packed away and hundreds of students began to line up for entry into the stadium. That night, in a historic match, the Nittany Lions upset the #6 ranked Buckeys 17-10 in front of a crowd of almost 110,000. The game being decided on a fumble by Ohio State quarterback and future Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, caused by Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali and recovered by defensive tackle Scott Paxson. After the final whistle, the jubilant students rushed the field.

The Paternoville name continued after the game. Since the original "Paternoville," two other games have garnered comparable camp-outs. They were the 2005 contest against the University of Wisconsin Badgers (Senior Day for the 2005 season), and the 2006 contest against University of Michigan Wolverines. However, students camp out for every game, not just the "big" games. On average, about 10-15 tents appear for every game, while the number of tents for the 2005 Ohio State and Wisconsin games and the 2006 Michigan game exceeded 100.

Prior to the 2006 season, the University placed several markers around Beaver Stadium commemorating various traditions related to Penn State football. To the left of Gate A there is a marker for the Penn State "student section" and to the right of the gate there is a marker for "Paternoville."

Since 2006, the practice of camping out has grown every year until 2009, when over 2,000 different students camped out for one or multiple games throughout the season. In 2011, the record was broken because of Penn State's high-powered home schedule, which included SEC powerhouse Alabama and new in-conference foe Nebraska, amongst other teams.

In the summer of 2012, "Paternoville" officially became "Nittanyville." As Coach Paterno was no longer the coach of Penn State's football team, the organization decided that since it was unlikely another coach would stay as long as Coach Paterno had, changing the name for each new coach would be impractical. However, aside from the name, nothing has changed and students will continue to support the team and camp out for the best seats long into the future.

In recent years, Penn State students have donned white clothes, paint - anything white - to show their solidarity and support for the Nittany Lions. Forming a mass of bouncing and infectious enthusiasm, the students have "Whited Out" Beaver Stadium, the Bryce Jordan Center and other sports venues, making them some of the noisiest and most intimidating stadiums in America.

Beano Cook of ESPN says, "If you aren't impressed with the White Out, you're probably one of those people who think the moon landing was faked."

The original Penn State cheer from the 1920s into the 1950s was N-I...Double-T...A-N-Y, which the cheerleaders guided different sections to chant in rhythm. In the 1970s, the cheerleaders were looking for more cheers. They checked around the country for ideas and learned of cheers at Kentucky, Ohio State and Southern California that they liked. They blended the three together to come up with "We Are... Penn State." The cheer didn't catch on right away, but after several years and growing pride in Penn State's gridiron success it caught hold in the early 1980s. The cheerleaders later added "Thank You... Your Welcome." The first utterance of the phrase "We are Penn State" is often attributed to All-American Steve Suhey. A captain on the 1947 Cotton Bowl team, Suhey used the phrase as the team, an early racially-integrated unit, was faced with several situations in which Penn State's African-American players were not welcome to participate. Team captain Suhey, pointing at all his teammates, said "We're Penn State and we play together or we don't play." Penn State forfeited a game against the University of Miami and stayed in Army barracks when hotels at the Cotton Bowl refused them lodging as a team.

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For the Glory of Old State
For her founders strong and great.
For the future that we wait,
Raise the song, raise the song.

Sing our love and loyalty,
Sing our hopes that bright and free
Rest, O Mother, dear with thee
All with thee, all with thee.

When we stood at childhood's gate,
Shapeless in the hands of fate,
Thou didst mold us dear old State
Dear Old State, dear old State.

May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State.

Written by: Fred Lewis Pattee

Joseph Sanders shared Fight On, State with the head of the Music Department, Dr. Richard Grant, in 1933. Grant along with other music staff soon introduced the song to the student body at a freshman meeting. Today the band performs Fight On, State to celebrate Penn State touchdowns.

Fight on State (GO!)
Fight on State (GO!)
Strike your gait and win, (LET'S GO STATE!)
Victory we predict for thee
We're ever true to you, dear old White and Blue.
Onward State, (GO!)
Onward State, (GO!)
Roar, Lions, roar: (LET'S GO STATE!)
We'll hit that line, roll up the score,
Fight on to victory ever more,
Fight on, on, on, on, on, Fight on, on, Penn State! (S-T-A-T-E GO! STATE!)

Written by: Joseph Sanders (Class of 1915)

Where the vale of old Mt. Nittany
Meets the eastern sky,
Proudly stands our Alma mater,
On her hilltop high.

- Chorus -

Flag we love, Blue and White
Float for aye, Old Penn State, o're thee!
May thy sons be leal and loyal
To thy memory.

When the evening twilight deepens
And the shadows fall;
Lingers long the golden sunbeam
On thy western wall.

When the shades of life shall gather
Dark the heart may be;
Still the rays of youth and love
Shall linger long o're thee.

Written by: Unknown

James Leyden composed The Nittany Lion between 1922 and 1924. The Blue Band sings The Nittany Lion before marching to Beaver Stadium and it is featured during pregame performances.

Every college has a legend, passed on from year to year,
To which they pledge allegiance, and always cherish dear.
But of all the honored idols, there's but one that stands the test,
It's the stately Nittany Lion, the symbol of our best.

HAIL! to the Lion, loyal and true.
HAIL! Alma Mater, with your white and blue.
PENN! STATE! forever, molder of men (and women),
FIGHT! for her honor - FIGHT! - and victory again.

Indiana has its Hoosiers,
Purdue its gold and black.
The Wildcats from Northwestern
and Spartans on attack.
Ohio State has its Buckeyes,
Up north, The Wolverines.
But the mighty Nittany Lions,
The best they've ever seen.

- Chorus -

There's Pittsburgh with its Panther,
and Penn her Red and Blue,
Dartmouth with its Indian,
and Yale her Bulldog, too.
There's Princeton with its Tiger,
and Cornell with its Bear.
But speaking now of victory,
We'll get the Lion's share.

- Chorus -

Written by: James A. Leyden (Class of 1914)

Victory was composed by Penn State Glee Club Member James Leyden in 1913. Leyden became a popular songwriter and father to Blue Band Drum Major James Leyden Jr. (1939-41). Today Victory can be heard as the band exits the field for halftime, during parades, and in the stands.

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! for the Blue and White,
Victory will our Slogan be.
Dear Alma Mater, Fairest of all
Thy loyal sons will obey thy call,
To FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! with all their might
ever the goal to gain;
Into the game for Penn State's fame, Fight on to vict'ry (WE! ARE! PENN! STATE!)
Fight on to victory.

Written by: James A. Leyden (Class of 1914)