When I was in college way back in 2001, a classmate at The Daily Collegian, the best student newspaper in the country, got a bizarre email. Well, getting emails complaining about how he covered the Penn State Nittany Lions wasn’t all that out of the ordinary. What was strange was an accusation in it. It claimed he was a Notre Dame fan. He couldn’t figure out why someone would accuse him of that.
I knew why. In places like Scranton, where I grew up and where a large portion of the population was predominantly Catholic, people perceived a rivalry. And it was heated. There were two types of people there when I grew up. Notre Dame fans and Penn State fans.
“It’s probably someone I went to school with,” I said to my classmate.
Sure enough, it was. I had run cross country with her in high school.
I still group the people I grew up with on which side they fall on in the rivalry. Honestly, I don’t quite trust my cousins who rooted for the blue and gold as much as I do the ones who root for the blue and white.
Growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania meant you couldn’t really avoid the topic.
Back in 1989, the Penn State and Notre Dame rivalry was legit. Both were regular contenders for the National Championship. To make it even better, the teams played each other regularly.
My dad was really active in the church at that time. He helped teach confirmation classes. Still does stuff like that.
Anyway, in Minooka, our church was decidedly pro-Notre Dame, particularly our pastor.
So my dad slipped Joe Paterno’s name into the list of sponsors for that year’s confirmation program.
Dad, who taught at Penn State for three decades, sent Paterno a note.
response is pictured above.
Let the record state Penn State won the last time it played the fourth best college from Indiana.