Lights Will Guide You Home

By Ramzy Nasrallah on October 23, 2013 at 11:15a
115 Comments
He was. Then he wasn't.

A year ago this week ESPN's Wright Thompson gave me an advance screening of his 30 for 30 documentary Ghosts of Ole Miss.

Prior to seeing it I was only vaguely familiar with the story of James Meredith - Ole Miss' first black student - and the riots that accompanied his enrollment. President Kennedy sent the Army, Navy and National Guard into Oxford marking the first and only time since the Civil War that military action was ordered into the South.

That all went down in 1962, only about 600 miles from Ohio State - where its first black graduate Sherman Handlin had completed his degree 70 years earlier. Jessie Stevens, Ohio State's first black female grad finished her Bachelors in 1905, or 15 years before women in America were allowed to vote.

Call it historical ignorance, but it was fascinating to me that Ohio and Mississippi could be separated by so much more than just geography.

I wanted to learn more, so I boned up on Bill Willis, Ohio State's first black football player and member of the Buckeyes' first consensus national title team. He played 20 years before Meredith took on segregation at Ole Miss. Out of curiosity I also checked up on Penn State's black history since Ohio State was busy preparing for the Nittany Lions the same week I previewed Ghosts.

And that's when I first learned of Wally Triplett and the genesis of the ubiquitous We Are Penn State cheer.

That Penn State transition season of 2012 was marked by three conspicuous changes: The most conspicuous was Bill O'Brien replacing Joe Paterno after 46 years.

Paterno had absolved himself of any occupational coaching responsibilities for about a decade prior to his termination, so his literal absence had virtually no impact on the actual football being played. If anything, with O'Brien PSU gained a coach in headcount.

Nevertheless, the absence of Penn State's patriarch - who was routinely seen during his final seasons either asking assistants what was happening during games or dozing off while "coaching" from the box - was unnerving. Sixty-one years on one campus, however ignominious the exit, will do that.

The second change was the addition of names to football jerseys, ending the antiquated tradition of stripping individuality from the students generating billions of dollars for other people.

Highfalutin dead-enders stubbornly attached to the good ol' days were likely saddened by this recognition of the players who stuck with the university despite the NCAA's unprecedented and largely misguided punishment.

The third change, in part because of Paterno's refusal to retire gracefully, was the effort put into a visceral departure from one of the worst scandals in American history. There was no gentle or prepared transition period in State College. It was more of a wholesale reboot.

While Ole Miss had literally burned for days as the outside world watched in shock, Penn State secretly burned for years until the outside found out in horror. O'Brien and the vibrant community he chose to join worked diligently to quickly extinguish the shame and move on.

Those visceral reminders that Penn State's reputation wasn't constructed or destroyed in haste were visible from day one. The messages were pasted in Beaver Stadium, both before and after that week's game with the Buckeyes: We Still Are.

This is where Triplett's significance enters as a reminder that the real Penn State football culture was defined long before anyone had ever heard of Jerry Sandusky.

Thompson's Ghosts reminded me how much we still take for granted even 50 years after Meredith, as Ole Miss struggles to pry Colonel Reb from its heritage and Alabama's Greek system is still segregated. Washington's NFL team has retained its prominent ethnic slur nickname for 80 years. They're all defended as traditions.

RIP5DHTriplett caught the game-tying pass in the 1948 Cotton Bowl.

Triplett's family lived in a racially mixed neighborhood outside Philadelphia, which is to say he didn't live in either Harlem or Greenwich. Due to the confusion caused by his mailing address, he received a letter from the University of Miami offering him an athletic scholarship.

He answered the letter by politely informing them that he was black, since an offer from a Florida school that did not permit black and white athletes to play together indicated its administrators must have assumed he was white.

Miami responded with another letter apologizing for the mistake. There was no scholarship offer; not from Miami anyway. Triplett stayed in Pennsylvania to attend State College, and late in the 1945 season he became Penn State football's first black starter.

Ironically, the following season Penn State was scheduled to play Miami. The tradition at the time for the integrated team was to hold a meeting with the segregated team to decide what to do about the black players.

Most often, the school with black players would sit them against southern opponents, effectively supporting and endorsing segregation despite not permitting it at home.

Penn State was the first school to buck that trend in refusing to participate in a game with anything less than its entire roster. Triplett and Dennie Hoggard, the team's two black players, would not be left behind to satisfy Miami.

The game was canceled as a result of the team voting to play with all of its players or none at all. It was the final time Penn State would participate in one of those traditional meetings.

Two seasons later the Nittany Lions earned a Cotton Bowl invitation to play Southern Methodist, and word spread that SMU wanted to meet with PSU to discuss keeping its black players from traveling to Dallas.

Offensive guard Steve Suhey, the eventual MVP of that Cotton Bowl, then spoke his epitaph:

                                      "We are Penn State. There will be no meetings."

That Cotton Bowl ended in a 13-13 tie and Triplett, whom SMU didn't want to see in Dallas, caught the game-tying touchdown in the third quarter. That We Are cheer was still in its crib, having just been born.

Yes, there is a lot we still take for granted, from Ole Miss slowly divorcing itself from its tragic past to Penn State quickly moving on from its own. Neither is easy or pleasant, but both are important and necessary to remember.

It's essential that non-Penn Staters understand and appreciate where We Are originated because fresh history has a way of clouding the older stuff. One monster and a few terrible, complicit people shouldn't be permitted to wreck a transformational legacy like Penn State's. 

We Are is probably the most substantive cheer in college sports. More people should know its history, including fresh Penn Staters, because we take a lot for granted: Thompson embarked on his Ghosts project because even as a Mississippi native he never knew the full story. Remembering history like Penn State's is paramount to understanding that America has not fully emerged from darkness.

Their role in rejecting segregation - not just behind its own walls but daring to do so in the South - is too important to take for granted, especially as America continues to struggle in shedding some of its traditions. Think about that the next time you hear We Are Penn State; which will happen again this Saturday.

It isn't an empty cheer. It shouldn't be allowed to become one.

115 Comments

Comments

AJW_16's picture

Great stuff, Ramzy. I had no idea about this. I agree, this should be made known a lot more than it is.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

jeremytwoface's picture

Yeah I saw him tweet something about '62 Ole Miss and '11 Penn State.... I knew about '62 Ole Miss but couldn't think how that really related to '11 Penn State.
Didn't know where he was going with it, but it was very good. As always.

nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

Per usual sir you have an elegant way of painting with a pen (or keyboard.) It is truly a great story of tradition that should be highlighted, celebrated and passed on.

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

buckeyeEddie27's picture

still.  trying.  to.  hate.  that.   cheer.     
 
can't.  
 
 
 
 
They're still jerks though.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

BuckeyeVet's picture

My thoughts exactly. I dislike PSU intensely, but the cheer has class & should stay.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx 
 

andretolstoy's picture

Interesting. Although I would charge the writer to do a little more research on the Washington Redskins' "ethnic slur." It too has some honorable history.

AJW_16's picture

What would that be?

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

andretolstoy's picture

Well the owner could have called them the Washington "William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz's" when he moved them from Boston to DC, perhaps the Washington "Lone Stars"? But he decided to pay tribute to this great Native American Coach in a way that Native Americans do themselves utilizing the mascot name, "Redskins" ... Perhaps?
We white folks are so kooky sometimes.

Riggins's picture

Halloween is coming up.  Let's say you have some Native American children trick-or-treating in your neighborhood.  When you open the door, would you feel comfortable saying "Why look at all you cute little redskins..."  No?  Slur.

Jason Priestas's picture

^ This is John Riggins. Listen to him.

Oyster's picture

How I address them would depend on how they were dressed to begin with, right?

ogama843's picture

Nah, i would just comment on their cute costumes. I think the Washington Redskins are a tribute to Native Americans. "Redskins" was a term used by Native Americans with pride to differentiate themselves from "white" Europeans during treaty talks and land disputes.
 
i would feel weird referring to trick or treaters as "cute little caucasians" too and not because I think the term "caucasian" is derogatory.

Holy Buckeye!

buck-I.8's picture

Are you implying that little non-white children go door-to-door in white-face?

ogama843's picture

Huh? Don't know what you are referring to. No where in this discussion has anyone talked about face paint.

Holy Buckeye!

buck-I.8's picture

I was being facetious, but we were talking about what you would call kids that trick-or-treat as native Americans. My joke was that on the same playing field, you implied that there are kids that trick-or-treat as whites.

ogama843's picture

I implied no such thing. We were talking about Native American kids trick or treating and caucasian kids trick or treating, not kids dressed up as such. 

Holy Buckeye!

J.Mo's picture

I don't necessarily agree with you but Upvoted you since you're expressing your opinion without trolling - you shouldnt be downvoted because someone disagrees.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Native Americans almost universally declare it to be an ethnic slur.  That's good enough for me to consider it to be so.  Anything else other than acknowledging that fact is rationalization.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

AeroBuckeye2001's picture

How have the Indians gotten away with Chief Wahoo for so long? I love the Indians, but even I can't defend the Chief Wahoo caricature of a Native American. I'm not sure why that's not as offensive as other racial caricatures. 

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

AeroBuckeye2001's picture

What ass hat is down-voting all of the posts defending Native Americans?

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

posts defending Native Americans?

The oblivious racism inherent in this post is delicious.

Orlando Pancakes's picture

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/10/08/how-many-native-americans-think-redskins-is-a-slur/
According to this poll, 90% of Native Americans don't consider the term "Redskins" offensive.
While we are at it, we could say that the term "Native American" itself is offensive as "American" is originally European. Canada agrees with this by using the term "First Nation" (Not saying that I agree or disagree.....but as long as we are on the subject).
 

ogama843's picture

Do you have a source for that claim?

Holy Buckeye!

shortbus20's picture

Great story. I had no idea and I imagine most people didn't either.

 

  • shortbus20
     

 

braxonbraxonbrax's picture

as always. well done, Ramzy. Never knew the story behind "We Are", but now I do.

XUbuckeye's picture

Excellent piece as usual Ramzy. I didn't know the history behind that cheer, so thanks for sharing.

"So when you get knocked on your butt, get up, get over it, and then next time, kick their ass." - Woody Hayes 

bassplayer7770's picture

Wow, Ramzy, thank you for the history lesson.

Borrowed Time's picture

hm very confused how to feel. Really don't like Penn State, but really like the origin of their cheer.

Maffro's picture

I can't believe you just found a way to make me hate Penn State slightly less.

Poison nuts's picture

Me neither. Man I'm upset about this!

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

shaggybuckeye's picture

About half way through the article I thought to myself damn this is some powerful stuff it has to be another Ramzy article. Scroll back to the top and by God it was! Great stuff Ramzy as always.

I had no idea about the cheer's history and always made fun of it. I don't think I will be able to anymore knowing it's history. Thank you for the education.

J.Mo's picture

Never knew the story behind the We Are cheer either. I hope all the B1G blogs link to this story because everyone that is a fan of a B1G school should know this.

chimes3899's picture

I gained a bit more respect for Penn State after seeing the how that chant came about. This game has always been one of the biggest for me (My dad is a Penn State grad) due to the family rivalry but I guess I wont cringe as much when I hear the We Are chant from my dad and all the other Penn State fans I see on Saturday. That said I hope we beat them 70-0 

FROMTHE18's picture

Very great story and very, very well-written. Now lets go beat the crap out of Penn State.

RBuck's picture

That's one helluva story. I'm glad it's true.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

BuckeyeChief's picture

Great story, thanks for the insight.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

ogama843's picture

"Redskin" was a term used by the natives themselves to differentiate themselves from the "white" Americans. In fact, during treaty talks with the US government they used the term with pride.
Great story by the way. Thank you!

Holy Buckeye!

RedStorm45's picture

No one is upset with Minnesota's use of "Vikings," correct?  It's not apples to apples but they're still picking a specific group of people to be their mascot/team name.

WC Buckeye's picture

Neither Vikings nor their descendants are a protected class in America. One might argue, though, that they are a minority @ approx. 1.4% of the US population. Compare that with Native Americans @ 1.2% - maybe you're onto something. Norsemen, unite!

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

RedStorm45's picture

Very true.  They also don't have the same background/history.  I just think it's odd that sports team names are named after a group of people (Indians, Braves, Redskins, Blackhawks <- are all pretty clear nicknames/terms for Native Americans...and then there's just the Vikings, although I don't know if they are offended by that).

elitesmithie's picture

There are also Fighting Irish, Trojans, Cowboys and Celtics but that doesn't fit into the medias narrative as nicely.

cronimi's picture

(With the possible exception of your first example) none of those are derogatory references. Trojans are (rather, were) people from the ancient land of Troy. Cowboys is (more so now, was) an occupation. Celtics refers to the culture and people of certain territories in the British isles where people, namely Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man. If those non-derogatory -- and some might say celebratory -- references are offensive, then Patriots, Packers, Oilers, etc. would also be 'offensive' ... but they aren't.
On the other hand, Redskins is offensive to a great many (though not necessarily all of) Native Americans. (By the same token, not all African Americans are offended by the n-word, but I dare you to name your team that -- the negative reaction would be 1000x worse.)
"Fighting Irish" is mildly offensive because it perpetuates a stereotype of Irish people being belligerent. But it probably doesn't rise to the level of Redskins.

Oyster's picture

Unless you are Irish (I am), you really can't make that claim, can you?
My point is this, if you really want to be offended by something, you can be.  It seems to be an epidemic in this country.  Scores of high school football games, flying an American flag outside of your condo, the list goes on... 
Edit:  I forgot to add Helmet Stickers!  How could I forget that?

buckeyedude's picture

Everybody's a minority.
I'm feeling oppresseddepressed.

 
 

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Lame.  That was then, this is the present.  Again, as I posted earlier, Native Americans are unified in declaring it to be a slur.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Again, as I posted earlier, Native Americans are unified in declaring it to be a slur.

That is not even close to being accurate.

Orlando Pancakes's picture

And as I posted earlier, at least according to this poll, most Native Americans do not find it offensive.

I included a link referencing the claim but here is the actual poll:
http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/most-indians-say-name-of-washington-redskins-is-acceptable-while-9-percent-call-it-offensive/

 

The Butler's picture

Nice story. I wish stories like this were shared more frequently; rather than the drumming that still goes on about Sandusky.
I still can't stand Penn State, but I can appreciate their tradition and its importance.

WC Buckeye's picture

"...extinguish the shame". Masterful. Really nicely done, Ramzy.

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

pjtobin's picture

I agree completely with your comment. I too loved that line. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Breakawayspeed's picture

 
 
Great Informative Post.... BUT,  one bone to pick:
FTA:   "Remembering history like Penn State's is paramount to understanding that America has not fully emerged from darkness."
 
What?  Is America and college football still racist then?  

BuckeyeB9B82501's picture

Wow Ramzy , great article. Very powerful stuff. Always good to learn more about traditions in CFB. Always learn something new everyday. Knowledge is a powerful gift. I personally love CFB and always have. The traditions are why I love the sport so much. I never knew about where the WE ARE chant came from either. Really good article 

Buckeye Dynasty starts in 2014 baby !!!!!! GO BUCKS !!!!!!!! O - H - I - O

extemporary08's picture

Mandatory sterilization was enforced in many states into the 70's.

Hovenaut's picture

Great story, their chant holds tradition and history. Admittedly have found it annoying in the past, but it stands as a true example of what makes college ball so exciting.

Wish they hadn't ever heard of the White Stripes though.....can't forgive them for that atrocity.

"Success - it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Normal Buck's picture

Wow!  Thanks for educating me on this point.   Impressive.

GrayDay's picture

Well done Penn State. 
Ya know, PSU might do well to get that story some publicity.  I'm kind of amazed that's the first I've heard it.  They have caught a lot of hell for that cheer over the past few years, since it comes off as in bad taste when mixed with their too often defiant reactions to recent events.  But they have good reason for pride in that.

M Man's picture

With the greatest respect to Ramzy and our gracious hosts at Eleven Warriors...
 
The "We Are..." cheer:
I don't think its popularity has anything to do with race relations history.  I think it is just a cheer.  Notre Dame fans do it at every big game.  "We are [clap clap] ND [clap clap]; we are [clap clap] ND [clap clap]..." etc.  It's just a good rhythm for a big crowd, and for a team name with two syllables.  Sorry.  It's a nice story.  I just don't buy it.
Race relations; northern college football teams playing southern teams in the era of segregation:
The real grand daddy of of all of those stories occurred nine years earlier; it was the 1934 episode involving Gerald Ford's captaincy of the Michigan Wolverines, who were asked to sit their speedy* star, Willis Ward, for a game in which a segregated Georgia Tech team was coming to play in Ann Arbor.  It led to the production of the Emmy-nominated 2012 documentary film Black and Blue.
*Ward was probably Jesse Owens' greatest sprint rival in college.  
"Washington's NFL team has retained its prominent ethnic slur nickname for 80 years."
There's another side to the history of the name.  The franchise started in Boston; they shared Fenway Park with the Red Sox and, in the beginning, shared the team name ("Red Sox").  They later broke with the Sox and Fenway as their home stadium and later changed from "Red Sox" to "Redskins."  In the manner (absent, of course, the political correctness angle) of the Miami University Redskins changing their team name to the Redhawks.
Aaron Goldstein answers the politics angle in The American Spectator.
The funniest line in all of it was the part about President Obama lecturing the owner of the Redskins about team names, and then inviting the Chicago Blackhawks -- "his" Chicago Blackhawks -- to the White House to celebrate a Stanley Cup.


 
 

Poison nuts's picture

The "we are" cheer had to start somewhere right? Just because ND uses it doesn't mean the origins don't date back to what Ramzy wrote about right? I assume he did his research before writing the piece...the fact that another team adopted it has nothing to do with it's origins...

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

M Man's picture

If in fact Ramzy's history is exactly right, and Notre Dame's current use of the "We Are..." cheer is a pure ripoff of another school's inherently valued story/tradition, it won't bother me a bit.  Because in that case, shame on ND.  That could be a new cheer in fact.  "SHAME ON [clap clap] ND! [clap clap]."

Poison nuts's picture

They should have that cheer regardless...

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

AeroBuckeye2001's picture

The exact response I'd expect from a "Michigan Man."
No, i didn't down vote M Man. I respect his opinion, but somehow belittling Steve Suhey/Wally Triplett and pointing to Gerald Ford as the real hero of the story is about the most Michigan thing ever.

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

M Man's picture

No I didn't belittle anybody.  And on the basic facts (Michigan did capitulate in 1934, compared to Penn State's principled resistance in 1945) we have no basis to "belittle" anybody.  It is just an interesting corollary to the Triplett story, since the Michigan/Georgia Tech story involves a former President of the United States, as well as the greatest track rival to the greatest Buckeye athlete in history.
I wasn't offering much of an "opinion" about anything, apart from the unquantifiable thing about the "We are.." cheer.  And I honestly don't care much about how the Redskins resolve their name; it is the NFL, after all.  The last time that the NFL did anything positive for college football was... never. 

AeroBuckeye2001's picture

Fair enough, but...
I think you did belittle the subject matter by rather condescendingly not discussing the protagonists of this story and instead pointing out that Gerald Ford was the "grand daddy" of race relations and should be celebrated.

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

BuckeyeChief's picture

One point: The Blackhawks refer to a tribe, not a slur.
Thank you for posting the link for Black and Blue though.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

M Man's picture

No, and no.
The Chicago Blackhawks (formerly the Black Hawks) drew their name from the “Blackhawk Division” of the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division during World War I.  A former commander in the division became an original owner of the franchise in the 1920's.
Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/madhouse-enforcer/Redskins-Rep-Asks-Why-...
The old Blackhawk Division had taken its nickname not from a tribe (I know of no Blackhawk tribe, or even a "black hawk" in nature), but from the Sauk Chief and warrior, Black Hawk.
And yeah, they are worried about their hockey team's name in Chicago.

BuckeyeChief's picture

Ok, so they named it after Black Hawk himself...while I agree the picture isn't right, it still isn't a slur, or am I wrong?

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

Larryp713's picture

Thanks for sharing the story re: Redskins and Willis Ward, that was pretty cool. Whether or not fans today are aware of the origins of a particular chant, learning about a cool story such as that shared by Ramzy is awesome. I will definitely retell this to my kids and their friends to help them learn history that is probably not being taught to them.
Your point about the hypocrisy of the president, and frankly almost all national politicians, is awesome. I truly hope when it is all said and done, that our elected officials will finally be treated by us as civil servants selected to do a job, and not some revered oligarchy, akin to tribal elders, where they feel they need to offer opinions about things they know very little of. The people need to give them a reality check. Great post.

Respectfully,

Larryp713

M Man's picture

The personal story of Willis Ward is a wonderful one.  I'd like to point out that his fierce rivalry with Jesse Owens (along with his friendship with President Ford) blossomed into friendship as they grew older.  I do think (Owens scholars can correct me if I am mistaken) that Ward had some influence in moving Jesse to Detroit in the 1940's, where Jesse did some corporate/labor relations work for the Ford Motor Company at a time when Jesse needed the stable income.  The 1930's were a fascinating and often-overlooked period for both of our schools and the rest of the Western Conference.

cronimi's picture

Penn State certainly didn't "steal" it from Notre Dame. But they might have stolen it from Southern Cal after being inspired by Ohio State:

"We watched as this loud roar of 'O-H' rolled down the field to an 'I-O,' " recalled Don Mains, then a sophomore and the Penn State "mic man," the cheerleader who leads the crowd in cheers with a microphone.
"It was phenomenal," said Dennis, another sophomore at the time. "They started to do this 'O-H? I-O' back and forth. We were impressed."
That experience inspired the cheerleaders, but they weren't sure how to instill the Buckeyes' spirit and liveliness in the seemingly stoic Nittany Lion crowd. Part of the answer came a few weeks later while the cheerleaders watched a televised game from the Los Angeles Coliseum. None of the Penn State cheerleaders can remember the opponent, but when they saw the USC cheerleaders leading the home crowd in a rapid chant of "We are SC!" they knew they were on to something. The USC cheer was fast-paced, with only a slight pause between the "We are" and the "SC." It was repeated rapidly several times: "We are SC! We are SC! We are SC!"
So using the Ohio State and Southern Cal cheers as their framework, the Penn State cheerleaders developed a new cheer for 1976 and tested it in the student section, then located in the north end of Beaver Stadium.

http://www.statecollege.com/news/columns/lou-prato-we-are-cheer-was-years-in-the-making,970985/

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Great stuff, Ramzy. I've seen Ghosts a couple of times now, and while I admire the narrative and general scope of the production, I couldn't help but leave with a sense of "what are you gonna do?" from Thompson himself that left me a little unsatisfied. When I see the recent homophobic incidents around the theatre group, then, and see the "what are you gonna do?" reaction from Ole Miss officials, I'm not so convinced much has changed there aside from the athletic teams.

AeroBuckeye2001's picture

Thanks for enlightening us Ramzy. I have a new-found respect for the cheer. Now if they can stop throwing shit at our fans we might be able to get along.

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

Ben_Jones88's picture

Just hopped on here to add my two cents. 
I wrote a magazine feature this summer on Wally Triplett. Talked to him for just over an hour about all sorts of things like working for the mafia, drinking beers with Joe Lewis, playing cards with Jackie Robinson and plenty of Penn State related items.
Moral of the story. Go find old people and talk to them.

hspbuy1's picture

Great story Ramzy, thanks for the info.

hspbuy1

Wesleyburgess1's picture

Yea I don't like this article at all. Way to much politics for me. This is a sports website and I really, really don't want to hear your opinion on race relations and southern traditions. This is not the place for it. If you make a policy of "No Politics" then don't break it yourself. Thanks Btw I love all your other articles.

nfischer's picture

I'm going to substitute the word, "WOW" for the original diatribe I began hammering out on my keyboard.  I can't even comprehend this logic.

cronimi's picture

Seriously?!? Tell me you're just trolling (badly, I might add). Saying Ramzy's post is expressing political opinions is akin to saying one couldn't write about Jesse Owens' actions at the Berlin Olympics because of the political ramifications of those games. Writing about how the Penn State football team stood up for integration decades after integration had come to campuses in the Midwest is only considered 'political' if you're a KKK member or sympathizer.

RedStorm45's picture

To be fair to the troll (? lol) the Ghosts of Mississippi references have no sports context other than those events occurred at a university in this country, and ESPN made it into a 30 for 30 film (not having seen the full film, perhaps there are elements of sports or athleticism included).  That said, I think it was needed to provide the background to the rest of the article/story that Ramzy wrote.  I do not see, though, how any references to Bill Willis, Jesse Owens, Wally Triplett, etc. could be viewed or read as "political" given that the very nature of their historical significance is intertwined with sports, and collegiate athletics at that.  The field, track, arena, etc. provided the spring board for them to "break barriers."

cronimi's picture

Agreed. My point was that -- even with references to Ghosts -- Ramzy's post was about American history and its relationship with college football (and how the two are connected, and the relevance of that connection to this week's game), and was not an opinion piece or a political writing.

tennbuckeye19's picture

The film actually follows not only the story of the riots in Mississippi over integration but also the success of the Ole Miss football team in the early 60's.

RedStorm45's picture

Ah, that was one of the few 30 for 30's I missed...well, that's probably not true since they're now on 33 for 33 or Version 3 I think.

Wesleyburgess1's picture

Really? If it was political a hundred years ago, it's political now. Your calling me racist and I didn't even mention race. I simply said I come to 11 warriors for Buckeyes news and information and not to hear politics. I'm not taking sides, not even an argument just mentioning the policy.

mh277907's picture

At what point does Ramzy get political? You come here to read about OSU football. OSU happens to play Penn State on Saturday. Ramzy shared a story about Penn State football (in case you missed it- OSU plays them Saturday.. in football). The story is about a football team making a decision that ended up being historically significant- historically significant to Penn State (the team Ohio State plays in football Saturday).
Seriously, did you really have a problem with this story? Were you sitting at your computer kicking things because Ramzy gave us a history lesson about a chant of our upcoming opponent? Or are you pissed that the game isn't still segregated?

buckeyebobcat

cronimi's picture

Ramzy wrote what amounts to a history lesson in mid-20th century segregation in the United States. It was neither a political argument or an opinion piece. Your inability to see that is mind-boggling. You didn't mention race, no -- but the article you were denigrating is about racial segregation in the South. So you really didn't need to mention race, it was implicit. And while I cannot fathom how someone could read Ramzy's post as "politics" or "opinion", my comment regarding KKK members/sympathizers may have been over the line, and for that I apologize.

Wesleyburgess1's picture

Apologies accepted... Sorry for pissing everyone off. Seems like you guys took it the wrong way, but I didn't intend to come off racist or like an ass hole. Btw I really was talking about political correctness regarding the "redskins" name. Sorry again

Stinson's picture

Sports is arguably the biggest reflection of American Society over the past 100+ years that we could possibly look into. Ramzy's article wasn't an "opinion" on race relations, they are what we call "facts". If you want a "sports website" and not an educated discussion about the context of everything we do and see in the sports world today, this isn't your cup of tea. 
 
What an ignorant post.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Denny's picture

Yea I don't like this comment at all. Way to much metacommentary for me. This is a sports website and I really, really don't want to hear your opinion on other people's opinions on race relations and southern traditions. This is not the place for it. If you make a policy of "Talking About Sports" then don't break it yourself. Thanks Btw I love all your other comments.

Taquitos.

Alhan's picture

Did the forum post complaining about this article get deleted by the poster or a mod?

I had a rebuttal ready to go and everything!

Thanks for the great, informative read as always Ramzy.

You can kill a fly with your slipper or a cannon. Either way, the fly dies. -Ramzy

Alhan's picture

It was a separate forum post by a different account. More along the lines of "how dare you put content on here besides recruiting, gameplan, and insider info blah blah blah."

You can kill a fly with your slipper or a cannon. Either way, the fly dies. -Ramzy

mh277907's picture

Haha it was deleted. I had written a response and as I hit "save" an error message appeared. Unfortunately, people do not understand the difference between writing about or discussing a historically significant event manufactured by the football team that we play Saturday and saying that "liberals suck!" or "it's George Bush's fault!"

buckeyebobcat

RedStorm45's picture

Oh, sorry I skipped over the word "forum" and just saw "post."

buckeyepastor's picture

This article gives me respect for the school's history and traditions, and I have to appreciate the origins of the chant.   But it doesn't change the obnoxious and infuriating behavior and antics of those who say it now.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

IBleedSandG's picture

Wow, what a great story. Pretty powerful stuff.

We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, we're from O-HI-O!

AAStagg's picture

What fascinates me about the Redskins 'controversy' is the fact that this 'racist' name has been the name for 86 years with virtually no controversy at all.  Then in 2013, a bunch of politically correct sports-writers [95% of them white and 100% of them not native American] decide it's suddenly racist and they won't even mouth the word 'Redskins' when covering the team.  PC sanctimony, run amok!
 
Where have you been all your career, Bob Costas, that you're just now finding the name Redskins offensive?  Puh-leeeeeeze, give us all a break from your narcissistic piety, you little twerp.  You're a friggin' sportscaster, not some respected arbiter of public morality.
 
There are absolutely no reports anywhere -- in current-day America -- of native Americans being taunted or abused by whites calling them 'redskins'.  If the term was ever truly derogatory, it ain't anymore.  But if it were, I'd expect to have heard about it decades ago from real honest-to-God native Americans.  It wouldn't take smarmy little Bob Costas to alert us to it in PC-crazed 2013. 

Remain calm.  It's only a game.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

There were well publicized outcries regarding the name in the both the early 70's & late 80's/early 90's. It isn't a new story, just one that's making the rounds again.

rdubs's picture

Agreed Lutefisk.  Just because it is finally gaining steam and more attention doesn't mean there has never been controversy.  Heck I have found the name strange for as long as I can remember being aware of it.

AAStagg's picture

[deleted by 11W staff for trampling the line between history and politics]

Remain calm.  It's only a game.

RedStorm45's picture

[deleted by 11W staff]

Well, it was nice having you at 11W for a short time.  You will probably be downvoted into oblivion for two reasons - 1) Read the commenting policy (linked for you right before you click post/save above where you typed).  Politics/religion are off limits.  2) Your logic makes no sense.  "Derp, uh, slavery was allowed for hundreds of years, then some elites decided we'd been wrong fer all dem hundreds of years.  This is sum bull honkey."   You can return to 2000...B.C. that is since you are apparently so upset at every little change in society.

Denny's picture

Big gulps, eh?

Taquitos.

Poison nuts's picture

Welp...see you later.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

It's only been relatively recently that the Steve Suhey story has started being referred to as a fact. Traditionally it was always viewed as a legend among the PSU faithful.
I have a strong suspicion that if one were of a mind to start poking around that the first references to the alleged event didn't crop up until decades later and that tracking down solid evidence of it's veracity would prove difficult.

theOSUdug's picture

Good burbon and ramzy commentary......oh so smooth.  Solid write up!

SonOfBuckeye's picture

Remembering history like Penn State's is paramount to understanding that America has not fully emerged from darkness.

Remembering that Penn State desegregated the 1948 Cotton Bowl is paramount to understanding that America in 2013 has not fully emerged from darkness.

ATXbucknut's picture

The real problem with the Washington Redskins name is the 'Washington' part.  Our country's first president would certainly not appreciate being associated with the that suck arse team.
I bet he would have pushed for something along the lines of 'Madison Redskins.'

pjtobin's picture

Hahahahaha! Very funny. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

gravey's picture

POWERFUL!  
I want a piece of that pride.  
I'd love to join the PSU fans during the game and chant  "WE ARE BIG 10".
Our conference sometimes sucks - but not in the ways that are important.  
That's why winning the Big10/Rose Bowl remains more important to me (old skoool, yo) than winning a national championship against teams and traditions that are so very different than ours.
 

pjtobin's picture

I loved learning the stories I have read from Ramzys post, and from the comments. There are no pots for me to put a stirring to. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

TraptnMI's picture

Ramsey's writings and reporting style of content fascinate me and always seem to put a smile on my face in this RACIST world we try and live in.

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "

smokeybandit's picture

It's a wonderful story, but, this has nothing to do with how Penn State's We Are chant came about. 
 
Here's the real story of the cheer:
 
http://www.statecollege.com/news/columns/lou-prato-we-are-cheer-was-year...

Earle's picture

I tend to believe this article because:
1) The author seems to be a very credible source for PSU history.
2) I like the idea that the cheer was inspired by OH-IO.
3) I don't have to like the "We Are" cheer even a little bit if the article is accurate.
None of this is to diminish what Penn State has done in terms of promoting racial equality.

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

bbase22's picture

Regardless of where it originated, I still immediately think of JoePa outside of his house leading his supporters in the cheer...In front of the media right after everyone had read the grand jury report...And it still makes me sick.
I loved the writing, diction, and theme of this article but "We Are" has morphed into a call for a mob action when needed and more recently it's been to cover up sins rather than expose them.