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Jeff Byers: Penn State Football a Bunch of Ficken-Mauti Fighters

by on November 28, 2012 6:00 AM

Well, another football season is in the books, and I will remember the 2012 edition of Nittany Lions as Bill O’Brien does — a bunch of fighters.

They had to fight long and hard, and no matter how others tried to fight them over, they just kept coming back for more. But these Nittany Lions were not just fighters. I’ll long remember how Michael Mauti stood defiantly with his teammates and led them through the darkness.

You see, this team was a bunch of Mauti fighters. And I’ll remember the way Sam Ficken fought through his early season adversity and in some ways represented the team’s steady improvement and determination. Some were in a snit over his early season struggles, but he kicked the snit out of the doubters as the season progressed. I think you could call this team a bunch of Ficken fighters. I guess at the end of the day, I would say this was a team full of Ficken-Mauti fighters.

The titular head of Nittany Nation - a group of students, alumni and fans that was willing to join all the Ficken-Mauti fighters on the team and become Ficken-Mauti fighters themselves - was unquestionably Bill O’Brien. This guy had some fine assets that helped the Ficken-Mauti fighters fight all the other fighters that were out there.

They were able to fight you, NCAA. While you were busy punishing and spanking all the classes on the Penn State football team for crimes they did not commit, this group of defiant Ficken-Mauti fighters did not let you tear them apart. In fact, you may never see a more resilient group of Ficken-Mauti fighters in your life.

They were able to fight you, Big Ten. While the conference decided to pile on the NCAA sanctions and take the fighting of Penn State to another level, this group of determined Ficken-Mauti fighters went out and won all but two games in conference play. But because of your unnecessary fighting of Penn State, you ended up fighting yourself over pretty good. Now, you have a Wisconsin team that went just 7-5 and 4-4 in the Big Ten, playing in your conference championship game while superior teams such as Ohio State and Penn State sit at home.

They were able to fight you, officials. It was hard to notice how time and time again, questionable calls went the way of the fighters on Penn State’s opponents. It almost seemed as though the officials were really fighting referees who wanted to fight Penn State over any way they could. But this group of Ficken-Mauti fighters just persevered, and no matter how many different ways you screwed up, it kept coming out on top in the end.

It was able to fight you, media. This group of Ficken-Mauti fighters was told it would be decimated. It was told after the first two losses that two or three wins were the most it could hope for this season. It was told it no longer was Penn State. But this group of Ficken-Mauti fighters knew better. And so, it calmly went about its business and proved you to be the asinine whole group of skeptics you are.

And even from the grave, Joe Paterno was able to bare his class and fight you, NCAA, Big Ten, Board of Trustees and media. A tough Ficken-Mauti fighter if ever there was one, Paterno was able to affirm the culture he established was a great one. Although many questioned that culture, the team believed in the Great Destiny of the culture here and that GD culture helped it fight through all kinds of adversity and have success. O’Brien has shown that the GD culture is here to last, and the Ficken-Mauti fighters wouldn’t have it any other way. That GD culture at Penn State has allowed these Ficken-Mauti fighters to defy the odds and show their collective class for the nation to see.

Some thought their assets were Redd after the scandal broke, but Zach Zwinak proved there were plenty of good Ficken-Mauti fighters waiting for a chance to grab the bull by the horns and show what they had. They showed that they were better led than Redd.

On defense, this was a team of block shuckers. The linebacking corps showed it had a Hull of a lot of depth.

Jordan Hill, a bad Ficken-Mauti fighter if ever there was one, was one of the best block shuckers in Penn State history, and he will likely be shucking blocks in the NFL for many years to come.

Really, both lines were built like Brick Hit Houses, and that seems appropriate because this program took a lot of hits — a big pile of hits, really — from all over the place over the course of the last year.

This team had Fitz and vinegar from the first offseason workout right through the final second of the overtime win against Wisconsin.

You are a group of Ficken-Mauti fighters that will never be forgotten.

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Jeff Byers has been the wrestling team’s traveling announcer since 1990.
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