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Back To Work – Hometown View [VIDEO]

Coach O'Brien announced as Penn State's new football coach
Coach O'Brien announced as Penn State's new football coach (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

This is my first official segment of the New Year and it’s good to be back after a few days off. Actually I hated the sound of the alarm buzzing at 2:50 this morning as I had gotten accustomed to staying up late and sleeping late but as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.”

Bill O'Brien
Bill O'Brien (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

After more than three weeks at home I took my daughter back to Penn State University Saturday as spring semester classes begin today. Saturday was also the day that the school officially introduced Bill O’Brien as the new football coach, the first such announcement since Joe Paterno took over in 1966. Anyone who has ever been to Happy Valley knows that signs of Paterno’s presence on campus can be seen just about everywhere and that still remains.

However when you stop in the stores on College Avenue you will notice that most of the merchandise that featured Paterno is gone….from shirts to stickers to posters. All officially licensed products with Paterno’s likeness or name were pulled off the shelves shortly after he was fired back in November after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges. Believe me when I tell you that a lot of what’s been sold over the past decade or two was tied in to JoePa but retailers have re-grouped and there are new items which include shirts thanking Paterno for his tenure as head coach. However to me it’s not the same and it’s almost like the 85-year old coaching legend has died, which I guess he has in some way.

I did drive by the Paterno house Saturday night and all was quiet. There was a car in the driveway and lights were on but otherwise nothing noteworthy except a Happy Birthday sign on the front lawn as he turned 85 three weeks ago. This was my first trip to Penn State since Halloween weekend when I saw them beat Illinois in what turned out to be Paterno’s last game as head coach.

Jersey Mike's in Happy Valley, PA
Jersey Mike's in Happy Valley, PA (Kevin Williams, Towmsquare Media NJ)

My daughter and other Penn State students who hail from the shore area will soon feel a bit closer to home. That’s because a Jersey Mike’s Subs franchise is getting ready to open in downtown State College and I have to believe it will do quite well. We stopped by yesterday and the sign is up and before too long students will be heading there.

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