The True Penn State Football Culture

Story posted November 9, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Devon D' Andrea

The Penn State football culture: it’s an image that has been distorted or questioned since the Sandusky case, but that culture and pride continues to holds true. When one thinks of the football culture at Penn State, today, a few things may come to mind: the tailgates, the white-out games, the “We Are Penn State” chant, the famous players and all the rest of the Penn State traditions, but Penn State is more than just that.

The culture at Penn State arguably began with the overcoming of the racial prejudice of Wallace Triplett and Dennie Hoggard, the first African Americans to take the field in a varsity football game for Penn State. In 1946, Penn State unanimously decided to cancel their game against the University of Miami when Triplett and Hoggard were told they could not play in Miami because it was a segregated school.

Again, in 1947, after the team’s undefeated regular season and fourth-ranked finish, head coach Bob Higgins made it clear his team would travel as one. Penn State was scheduled to play against Southern Methodist University in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Despite city segregation laws, Southern Methodist officials had agreed to allow Penn State to bring its black players. Because no hotel in Dallas would allow blacks to stay in their rooms, the team was forced to board a naval air station 14 miles from the city with terrible food, uncomfortable beds, guarded fences that lined the base and a place to practice.

Now, nearly 70 years later, the same unity, pride and just plain “classiness” is being spread by head coach James Franklin. Following Penn State’s shocking second loss of the season to Michigan State 27-24, a few Penn State players began to leave the field to try avoiding shaking hands with players. Franklin, from the side of the field, sprinted after his players to stop them.

Franklin said in the post-game press conference, “I want to make sure everybody is clear, and don’t misinterpret us at the end of the game - I was running off the field. I would never do that, I saw a few of our players running off the field, not going to shake hands and we are going to win with class and we are going to lose with class and we are going to shake people’s hands and give them credit because, they deserved it.”

After the game, Koa Farmer, Penn State linebacker and one of the players running off the field after the game, took responsibility for his actions and explained that is not how things are handled at Penn State. Farmer went on to talk about Coach Franklin and his efforts to instill character and class into his players.

Beyond Franklin and a week before Penn State’s loss against Michigan State, after losing to Ohio State, Penn State captains took it upon themselves to call a players-only meeting to insure the team was upholding the same focus and drive behind the ball.

At Penn State, it is and will always be more than a game of football. Win or lose, it’s about playing with pride, integrity and class.


Devon D’Andrea is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email