While it still may be a while before they are afforded the opportunity to see another one, the last great Penn State bowl victory was a 26-23, 3 OT victory over Florida State in the 2006 Orange Bowl. The win has since been vacated due to the sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but the memory is still fresh in the minds of Penn State fans and the players in the game alike.
The quarterback of that Penn State squad was Michael Robinson, who would actually go on to have a career in the NFL as a fullback.
Saturday, during Penn State’s upset over Michigan, was the first time that Robinson had been back to a game at Happy Valley since he played in 2005–and, what a game to return for. He even had a chance to speak to the team on Friday.
Robinson, in fact, was so grateful for his experience, that he penned a letter to the entire team:
What a win for my Nittany Lions!
They stared adversity in the eye and didn’t blink.
And for that reason – and much more — I cannot express how proud I was to be a Penn Stater Saturday night.
Thank you, 2013 Penn State football team. My first football game back at University Park since Wisconsin 2005 was an incredible experience. I could not have picked a better and more exciting game to watch our young Lions. Imagine if the game started at 8 p.m.!
They played with a tremendous belief in one another, as well as in the game plan put together by coach Bill O’Brien and his staff, and they did the necessary preparation. I finally understand how fans must have felt on Jan. 3, 2006 in Miami, when we beat Florida State, 26-23, in triple overtime to finish with a very rewarding 11-1 record.
I was extremely impressed with the poise of young Christian Hackenburg. As an 18-year-old quarterback, he has a very mature and calming vibe about him. He never seemed rattled even when adversity hit.
It’s not about whether you will face hard times – whether it’s football or in life, it is inevitable that you will. What matters is how you respond to those circumstances. That is why I am so impressed with this Penn State football team. Those guys in that locker room chose to stay in 2012 and for all the right reasons.
I am so thankful that Coach O’Brien gave me the opportunity to speak to the team Friday before their walk-through. My message was this: They make the hundreds of Penn State Football Lettermen – including me — so proud. I spoke of how special Penn State is, not only for the football excellence, but also for the network of people you are instantly connected with — our alumni. I also thought it was necessary to apologize for any alums who may have made comments that weren’t always supportive.
The rigors of football can tend to make you forget about the hundreds of thousands of alumni with whom you share that special place called Happy Valley. We cherish a tradition of pride that all Nittany Lion football players carry – and have carried for over a century — every time they take the field.
As I told the 2013 Penn State team: It is imperative that you understand how strong and united our Penn State community is. And that’s because of how resilient we have been and continue to be.
On Saturday night, tops on that list were the 100 or so of my newest Penn State football brothers. I couldn’t have been prouder