Penn State players take the field Saturday for their season opener against… (Patrick Smith / Getty Images )
Though things definitely aren't the same, many things looked the same in State College, Pa., on Saturday as Penn State opened its football season against Ohio.
For one, a Paterno was watching. Sue Paterno, the widow of the late Joe Paterno, reportedly arrived at Beaver Stadium with another family member about 15 minutes before kickoff, entering through an employee entrance.
This is the first game at Penn State without a Paterno on the coaching staff since 1949. Joe Paterno was fired in November after 46 seasons as head coach in the wake of the arrest of former assistant Jerry Sandusky on child molestation charges. In January, Paterno died of lung cancer.
Jay Paterno, Joe's son and a quarterbacks coach, has also left the staff.
The Paternos have said some family members will continue to attend games to show support for the team.
Bill O'Brien, former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, now coaches Penn State, and some fans wore “We Bill-ieve” shirts in support of the Nittany Lions' new leader.
Before kickoff, more than 80,000 fans chanted “We are ... Penn State!” There was also a moment of reflection for victims of sexual abuse.
Even hours before the game, fans waited for the team to arrive at the stadium. And when the Nittany Lions' buses pulled up, there was a "Joe Pa-ter-no" chant before the crowd turned its cheers toward O'Brien and the players.
Where a statue of Paterno used to stand outside the stadium, someone had placed a bobblehead likeness of the former coach. Some fans no doubt felt a void.
One tailgating group sported a large homemade sign reading "409 wins with honor," and some fans wore T-shirts with the slogan "We Are .. Still Proud."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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