STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — In the middle of Curtin Road, John Matko held one handwritten sign in his right hand and rested another against his jeans. Two inches of black tape obscured Penn State’s logo on the 34-year-old father’s hat, as he tried to ignore the jeers, slaps and beer hurled at him.As I watched (about half of) the Nebraska at Penn State game on TV this afternoon, much of the commentary I heard about the facilitating-the-predator-coach scandal amounted to gushing over how the healing has already started. How the riot Wednesday night was an aberration, not at all indicative of how Penn State people truly feel … now, upon reflection.
“Put abused kids first,” one of Matko’s signs read. “Don’t be fooled, they all knew. Tom Bradley, everyone must go.”
Penn State's Beaver Stadium loomed 30 yards away, rumbling with the first roars of Saturday’s game with Nebraska. The sea of blue-clad supporters wearing gray fedoras and camouflage hunting jackets and “This is JoePa’s house” T-shirts parted around Matko.
“That is such [expletive]!” one young woman screamed at him after glancing at the signs. “Who the [expletive] do you think you are?”
Eyes hidden by blue aviator sunglasses, Matko didn’t respond.
Listening to the damage control -- the ESPN spin and the Penn State slant -- I had to wonder if a college town community that for decades has been bound together by its idolatry of Paterno could actually wake up, snap out of its denial and start to change so fast.
Change in the football-worshiping culture at Penn State?
Maybe ... some day.
Nebraska 17, Penn State 14.