DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Gripped in suspense, Penn State alumni at Malarkey’s Tavern in Far North Dallas watched and cheered as their team closed in on their rival in the last few minutes of a game.
Dave West, though, says he almost skipped out on the last home game of the season.
“I honestly spent more than a day considering whether or not to even watch it,” he said.
For many of Penn State fans, it is almost inconceivable to watch their school play without longtime head coach Joe Paterno.
“This is the first day that there’s been a Penn State game in my lifetime, where Joe wasn’t coach,” said Scott Hevel, who’s rooted for the team since childhood. “Joe is who we grew up with. He’s our legend. He’s what Penn State football is all about. So, it’s surreal,” he said.
News of a sex abuse scandal on their former campus stunned these alumni, but the university’s decision to fire Paterno has them divided.
“I think they should have given him the chance to resign,” said Almeida.
“They should have done it right away. They shouldn’t have waited,” said West
“I’m one of the many people who feels he was the scapegoat,” said Hevel.
Still, when it comes to the team, they stand united behind their players and the need to play on.
“The kids out there playing their hearts out on the football field have nothing to do with what’s out there in the news. It’s unfortunate for them they’ve kind of been in the middle of it all,” said Chris Weilgosz.
Penn State lost their game against Nebraska, but fans applauded them for playing hard despite the scrutiny surrounding them.