UNIVERSITY PARK - Fans pack the place more than 100,000 strong on fall Saturdays, but what do you know about Beaver Stadium?
Here's a little quiz.
The stadium was named after:
This sign was on display at Beaver Stadium during last week's game against Syracuse.
A) Thomas Beaver
B) The animal that was Penn State's original mascot
C) James Beaver
D) "Leave it to Beaver" (ha ha)
Give yourself a pat on the back if you know the answer is C.
Now, part two. Who was James Beaver?
A) A large financial contributor to the stadium
B) The founder of Penn State University
C) The school's first head football coach
D) A former Pennsylvania governor
The answer is D, the state's governor from 1887-91. James A. Beaver also was a Civil War veteran who was injured and had to have his right leg amputated, then later served as president of PSU from 1906-08.
Don't feel bad if you didn't know the origin of the Beaver Stadium name.
It is peculiar, however, that the nation's largest stadium and one of the world's great football palaces is named after a man who had very little to do with Penn State becoming a national football powerhouse.
The man who did that is Joe Paterno, yet his name is in no way associated with the stadium.
At last week's game against Syracuse, a group of students hung up a banner that read: The Official Petition for 'Paterno Field' at Beaver Stadium.
Doesn't that makes perfect sense? Penn State can keep the tie to history and tradition by retaining the name Beaver Stadium, while also honoring the coaching icon who is prowling the sideline for an incredible 44th season.
Paterno was asked at his press conference Tuesday how he would feel if the university decided to name the field after him. The coach hates those kinds of questions because he prefers to stay focused on football and the upcoming opponent, but he somewhat begrudgingly gave the following response:
"I think that's up to some other people to decide. Obviously I'd be flattered, and I think it would be nice. But it really isn't something I think about."
It's also apparently not something the university has considered.
"No, there really has not been a discussion that I'm aware of about that," said Guido D'Elia, Penn State's director of communications and branding for football. "It's not something he or the family really has a desire to be involved with. It's just not his style.
"They're involved with the library, and that's their mark. I don't know if he'd really want anything. It takes away from the tradition of Beaver Stadium that people have."
Naming a facility or playing surface after a coach has occurred more frequently in college basketball than football, with examples including Kentucky's Rupp Arena, Coach K Court at Duke and Jim Boeheim Court at Syracuse.
Paterno may have passed Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant and Florida State's Bobby Bowden in coaching victories, but those two have the advantage when it comes to stadium recognition. Alabama's football facility is Bryant-Denny Stadium, while the playing surface at FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium is called Bobby Bowden Field.
It would be great to see Paterno honored similarly while he's still coaching. Regardless, at this point there doesn't seem to be any movement toward associating his name with Beaver Stadium.
"I really think what happens on that field and the atmosphere inside there is what" fans care about, D'Elia said.
He's right about that. But the reason people care about what goes on inside of Beaver Stadium is because of what Joe Paterno has built on the field.
It's only natural that his name belongs there.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org