Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Oranges: the secret to youth.

This morning I watched the end to the undisputed best college football game ever. It may not have been the prettiest or the cleanest, but as a fan, you couldn't ask for more.

It's not every year my alma mater gets to play in the 2nd best BCS game in the country. In fact, this year was unexpected and earned. And any true PSU fan has been there through the ups and downs. This was a year of redemption. For fans, for players, and for a man that has run one of the most honorable collegiate football programs in the country. For a man who has given back more to Penn State than any one else. For someone I once had a short conversation with but was left with a memory that will last my lifetime.

Joe Paterno lives in a medium size house in a normal residential neighborhood in State College, PA. Oh, sure, he could have a mansion. He could live the elite life. But that's not JoePa. He's a humble man. Across the street from JoePa's house is a nice park. It's never busy and there's rarely anyone there.

When I was in school I used to go for runs past that park and down the trails. I ran in to JoePa one day during a run. He was out going for a walk. I stopped and said hello. He said "hey there". I told him it was nice to meet him and thanked him for all he's done for the school. (At the time, they were adding on to the Paterno Library via his donations). He asked me my name and what my major was. I always hated answering that question because, at the time, I hadn't figured out what I wanted to do with my life yet, so I was undeclared.

In the most sincerest manner, and far better than any advisor or guidance counselor, JoePa said: "Well, if you can do it, keep looking at all your options and don't just settle. You'll learn a lot of things here, but the most important will be who you are. And from there you know exactly what you want to do."

The man is my Yoda.

I followed his advice and changed majors five times. I dabbled in many different disciplines, from marketing and computer science, to mircobiology and business administration, until I found one that fit me. And I wouldn't change a thing.

So my hat is off to JoePa. It's nice to see the good guy win once in a while. And it's nice to see a school that actually has football players that can read win a title.