COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Four hours before getting on a plane heading to a game at Ohio State on Friday, Penn State offensive lineman Quinn Barham was in the HUB on campus doing charity work with a group of kids.
Given everything he and his teammates have been through in the past two weeks with the ongoing scandal, and that he was mentally preparing for a big road trip, the fact that Barham found time to be there with those kids is a sign of great character.
Barham -- a well-spoken, respected member of the team and a fine representative of Penn State University -- is a good young man, and he's one of many on this year's squad.
Until two weeks ago, most of the players on the team would have been judged by history based upon whether they finish 10-2 or 9-3 and which bowl game they go to.
(By the way, the team absolutely should go to a bowl game because denying the players that opportunity would be an injustice after everything they've already endured.)
Regardless of what happens on the field this week at Wisconsin or in the bowl game, history will view this Penn State team much differently than any that has come before it.
The team members, based on their actions the past two weeks and presuming they keep them up, should and probably will go down as some of the most respected players ever to put on a Penn State uniform.
As safety Drew Astorino, another fine representative of the team and the university, said after Saturday's win at Ohio State, "The world's watching" the football team to see how it responds to all this adversity.
The world cannot help but be impressed, too.
Not just because Penn State beat Ohio State, 20-14, or that it roared back from down 17-0 against Nebraska last week and nearly pulled out that game before falling, 17-14.
If we were judging this team based only on sports -- which is generally the case -- the outcomes of the two games would lead the discussion.
But there's so much more to it than that.
As interim head coach Tom Bradley said, "I don't think any team in the history of major college football has been through so much in such a short time period."
It's been just 16 days since the Jerry Sandusky news broke, and in that time the players have seen: legendary coach Joe Paterno get fired and diagnosed with lung cancer, university president Graham Spanier get fired, athletic director Tim Curley placed on administrative leave, a media firestorm on campus and their university's great reputation tarnished.
Without exception, every player who has been interviewed since the scandal began has handled that challenge with poise and dignity, expressing sincere emotions running the gamut from shock and sadness to bewilderment.
Defensive tackle Devon Still came up with a memorable way for the players to express their unity by locking arms and holding hands as they marched onto the field against Nebraska a week ago.
A few minutes later, the pregame prayer at midfield that involved both teams and hundreds of former PSU players allowed the healing process to begin. From a football standpoint, that probably will forever be the lasting image of this season.
If the scandal wasn't enough, the players were hit with the emotions of learning Paterno has cancer shortly after getting off the plane Friday in Columbus.
"It's been an emotional week for us, and it's kind of like when it rains it pours kind of thing for us," linebacker Glenn Carson said of the news about JoePa.
Less than 24 hours after learning that terrible news, the players had to take the field in a stadium where Penn State had won just twice since 1978. Ohio State is down this year, obviously, as it's dealing with its own scandal, but for the Lions to go to the Horseshoe and win, after everything they've been through, borders on the remarkable.
One byproduct of this scandal is that seemingly the entire country has expressed sympathy for the PSU players, understanding they are all innocent bystanders in this whole mess. It also seems like just about everyone is now pulling for the Lions to succeed, even those who barely follow sports or have never given Penn State a second thought before the scandal.
At a time when Penn State University is the subject of nationwide scorn, the way the players on the team have conducted themselves has earned them a lifetime of respect.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. Reach him at 949-7031 or @CoryGiger on Twitter.