Roll up the cuffs on your khaki pants. Put on your dark glasses. Tie on your black shoes. There’s going to be a “Joe-out.”
Wait, what’s a Joe-out?
Laurie Anne Stannell, a fourth-generation Penn State grad, wanted to see something happen to show support for late former head coach Joe Paterno. It had to be something peaceful and happy, and something that, first and foremost, said “Joe.”
Beaver Stadium has a long history of white-outs to rally the troops for big games. This year, it will be the Oct. 25 game against intense rival Ohio State. In 2011, in the heat of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the blue outs started, with fans showing support, and raising money, for victims of child sexual abuse. The 2014 blue-out will be Nov. 29 against Michigan State.
But on Saturday, as Penn State meets the University of Massachusetts for the second home game of the season, alumni and fans like Stannell and others want to see Paterno everywhere they turn.
“We want to make an impact, as Joe would say,” Stannell said.
How fans do it is up to them, she said. A cardboard figure of the longtime coach, a Joe mask, a JVP hat. For many on social media, there are plans for things with the number 409, the total wins for Paterno’s coaching career before 111 victories were taken away by the NCAA as part of Penn State’s post-Sandusky penalties.
For some, it’s the kind of opportunity they have been awaiting.
“He will forever stand as a great founder of our university, shoulder to shoulder with Atherton, Beaver, Pattee, Sparks and more. There will be other coaches, other presidents, other trustees and great men in Penn State’s future, but that does not mean we should forget this one man, who made Penn State great. My family and I eagerly await the future — but we will never forget to honor Joe,” said Susan Beck Wilson.
As a vocal segment of the alumni community now calls for restoration of the wins after the NCAA’s repeal of bowl and scholarship sanctions last week, there is a response from some that people are clinging to the past and not letting go. That isn’t what the Joe-out is about, enthusiasts say.
“Of course we are moving on,” said Stannell. “We love Coach Franklin, but we have a legacy here with Joe. He brought our school to a world class institution.”
The event isn’t sponsored or sanctioned by the university. Stannell said it is also not meant to be spiteful or negative in any way to anyone.
“It’s honoring our past,” she said. “We are Penn State. If that’s not JoePa then who?”