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Penn State Football: 10 Things You Must Watch and Know About a Beaver Stadium Whiteout

by on October 25, 2012 11:00 PM

This is all you need to know about a Whiteout at Beaver Stadium:

1. What the Penn State quart-erback thinks about a Whiteout:

“It’s an exciting feeling. Knowing that 108,000 fans have your back against one of the best teams in the Big Ten makes you relax a little bit,” Matt McGloin said on Wednesday.

That's not at all, says McGloin:

“It makes us even more emotional and hyped up for the game, knowing that the fans are just as ready to go as we are.”

And they are -- especially the students.

2. What the president of Nittanyville thinks about a Whiteout:

“This is the game we’ve had our sights on for a long time,” Troy Weller said on Thursday. “This is a chance for the student body to prove that we can make a difference in the outcome of a game. We got a job to do – get that place rocking – and the Nittanyville kids are locked in and ready to do just that.”

3. The coolest Whiteout video ever made was by a former Paternoville president (Alex Cohen):

See it here.

4. What high school prospects think about a Whiteout:

“There’s no doubt that Penn State’s Whiteout games are the biggest recruiting draw for the Penn State staff,” said Ryan Snyder, recruiting analyst for Blue White Illustrated. “Over the years, games against Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama last year, those atmospheres have attracted more than 50 prospects consistently and you'll see something similar this weekend.”

5. A Whiteout can seal the deal:

“This atmosphere has played a big part in Penn State landing some of its current players,” Snyder says. “Some of the younger guys -- Donovan Smith, Deion Barnes, Brent Wilkerson, Eugene Lewis, Nyeem Wartman -- they all cleared their schedules for the Whiteout game in years past. Those guys raved about the crowd support in follow-up interviews. I have no doubts that it played a major part in getting them to eventually sign come signing day.”

6. The first Beaver Stadium Whiteout was Oct. 9, 2004, against Purdue:

Penn State was in the midst of a 24-29 streak that had bottomed out to 4-12, entering the fifth game of the ’04 season at home against ninth-ranked Purdue.

The week of the game, Penn State football marketing whiz Guido D’Elia was looking for some sort of unifying message of team support, if only from the student section. Talk about dirty jobs.

That’s when he turned to his assistant, Loren Crispell, and asked, “What would it look like if everyone dressed alike?” Hmm, not a bad idea, said LC. They discussed blue, then black, then finally settled on white. Everyone had something white in their closet or drawers, D’Elia figured, and it was still warm enough that the students wouldn’t mind wearing just T-shirts.

Thus, the Whiteout was born. The first one was students only, and the Nittany Lions lost 20-13 in a shoot-out – Purdue’s Kyle Orton threw for 275 yards, PSU’s Zack Mills threw for 293 yards in (a McGloin-like, circa 2012) 49 attempts. But the students responded, the players responded, and the groundwork was laid.

7. That win at home over Ohio State in 2005? That wasn’t a total Whiteout.

Sixth-ranked Penn State’s 17-10 victory over the No. 16 Buckeyes on Oct. 8, 2005, was a classic. Night-time, hazy rain, 109,839 fans on their feet the entire game, Tambi Hali putting Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith on his head. One of the biggest home victories in Penn State history.

But not a Whiteout. It was “only” a student Whiteout. It was also Penn State’s most recent home win against the Buckeyes, who beat Penn State on its own home green turf in 2007 (37-17) and 2009 (24-7).

Watch it here.

8. Penn State’s first real, honest-to-greatness Whiteout came in 2007.

D’Elia knew he was onto something, but wasn’t sure the white wave of support would extend to the rest of Beaver Stadium. So he waited a year, then he targeted Sept. 8, 2007, as the date to find out.

It came on the second game of the season, against Notre Dame, which was playing its first contest in Beaver Stadium since 1991, when Joe Paterno beat Dr. Lou, 35-13. If the Whiteout didn’t take hold then, it never would, D’Elia thought. And it had to be an early-season game, so the blue hairs and the white hairs wouldn’t mind wearing their white T’s.

The week before, Penn State beat Florida International, 59-0, at home and the marketing effort was really for the next week against the Fighting Irish. D’Elia had his army of student interns hold placards at the gates, and he later peppered the airways with white-only pleas on Penn State’s weekly TV highlight and radio call-in shows.

And as the fans departed the roadways from Beaver Stadium after the thrashing of Florida International, they saw teams of students along Allen and Curtin and Fox Hollow, in groups of four, holding signs ala the old Burma Shave ads.

“Wear.” “White.” “Next.” “Week.”

They did. Boy, did they ever.

The whitened crowd of 110,078 for Notre Dame was the second-largest in Beaver Stadium history at the time. Penn State blanked Notre Dame, 31-10, as the Nittany Lion defense whitewashed the Irish running game, holding them to zero yards on 26 carries in a game broadcast prime time by ESPN.

It was called a White House. And a tradition was borne.

Watch it here.

9. D’Elia may have created it, but the students are what make it great:

The originator himself would agree.

He once said, “The kids adopted it, they made it theirs. If it works, it is because of them. They’re the Whiteout.”

10. Wouldn’t it be cool on Saturday if Penn State wore white uniforms?




Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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