Unless you have been in a coma for the past ten months you know things have changed dramatically at Penn State University. In the wake of a child sex-abuse scandal the school and its football program are dealing with the toughest sanctions ever imposed by the NCAA which will cost them tens of millions of dollars and prevent them from being a championship contender for years to come.

The Nittany Lion fan base is still divided over wanting to fight the over-the-top sanctions or just accept the fact that it could be a long time before they see their name in the national rankings.

However after spending this weekend at Penn State I can tell you there is still joy in Happy Valley even though some think that everyone associated with the school should hide their faces in shame. Students are back and classes have resumed and State College has come to life.

The community has rallied around the school and the football team with signs like “We Support Penn State Football” and “One Team” posted just about everywhere.

For the first time since 1965 someone other than Joe Paterno will roam the sidelines as Bill O’Brien begins his tenure as coach under circumstances never seen before. Not only is the statue of Paterno gone from outside Beaver Stadium but as I found out this weekend you have to search hard to even pinpoint the area where it was located.

Despite the scandal and his subsequent death from cancer Paterno remains an iconic figure to many…especially in the town and school he built more than any other individual.

Stores sell shirts saluting the good he did and his 409 “unofficial” wins…one of the most popular simply says “We Are Because You Were.”

But it is time to move on and most appear okay with that. While some players left after the NCAA made it easy for them to do so most remained and among them is junior linebacker Glenn Carson of Manahawkin. I caught up with the former Southern Regional standout on Saturday and he was nice enough to give me, my wife and daughter a tour of the football complex.

Carson admitted that he gave some thought to transferring this summer…maybe for a day, but the truth is he likes his school, his teammates and the new coaching staff. The owner of a 3.29GPA and an Academic All-Big Ten honoree who is majoring in advertising and public relations, Carson will be the starting middle linebacker Saturday when the Nittany Lions host Ohio. He’ll run onto the field and hear the sounds of 107,000 fans, among them his family and friends.

They will cheer for #40 and I will as well.