— Sundays are usually quiet at Penn State.
Students sleep in late. The campers and tailgaters are packed up and have driven home. For a few still moments, University Park is what the brochures promise: Stately, eternal and flush with the orange of fall, a lone student purposefully crossing the quad, a blue-and-white scarf tucked around her neck.
What a difference a week makes. Last week began with satellite vans and news media hordes arriving in earnest and the campus realized that this wouldn't be over soon. The Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal might as well have been a black hole, greedily grabbing attention, knocking orbits off-kilter and stretching hours into days.
First Sandusky, then President Graham Spanier, then Coach Joe Paterno and now assistant coach Mike McQueary. Like its astronomic cousin, the scandal only grew larger the more it was fed. On television, in papers and across the Internet, everyone asked: Will the university ever recover from last week?
Well, Sunday came again, and Penn State was still here.
Students still ride bikes too fast on sidewalks. They're not supposed to, but they do it anyway, buzzing past moms clutching plastic bags clinking with commemorative mugs.
Neighbors still rake the leaves in the quiet neighborhood where Joe Paterno lives. They don't pay mind to the passing cars and the gawkers; they never have. Even the media scrum still camped outside Paterno's house seems more at peace, stoically filming the growing memorial of flowers, balloons and letters.
Parents still beg their toddlers to sit still alongside the Nittany Lion statue while Daddy tries to snap a shot, pausing to wrap the scarf tighter, hoping — perhaps secretly, perhaps not — that the little boy or girl will grow into a Nittany Lion.
Students still study in the student union, poring over supply chain engineering and geology. Many professors canceled class last week or handed their time over to group discussions of the controversy, and they have ground to recover.
The line for Penn State's famous Creamery ice cream is still unforgivably long — though shorter than the wait for a seat at the waffle shop downtown.
Graying alumni still linger in the Nittany Lion Inn after breakfast, arguing with friends about Saturday's football loss as porters wheel bags over the flagstones. (Ironically, that crowd includes the same university trustees, anonymous among the crowd knit Penn State sweaters, who fired Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno last week.)
Younger graduates still pack into the Corner Room, one of State College's oldest restaurants, for one last lunch before leaving town. The topic is the scandal — particularly Gov. Tom Corbett's accusations on national TV Sunday that assistant coach Mike McQueary didn't meet his moral obligation to report child abuse when he reportedly saw it happening — but the brunch buffet is the same as it's always been.
The spruces, larches and willows lining the path to the Paterno Library still shed their leaves, necessitating, at some point soon, a fleet of leaf-blowers.
The Paterno Library is still the Paterno Library, bearing the name of the man who donated millions toward it.
Freshmen still play football between high-rise dorms, running the passes and plays they saw Saturday. When they log onto Facebook, their profile pictures are likely the poster that's become a rallying cry for the beleaguered student body: "Keep Calm and Fight On."
Visitors still snap shots of Old Main, the seat of administrative power that became the focal point of several student rallies last week. They lean over the mass of candles clustered before the building's front steps, a grab-bag of votives and tea lights and Yankee candles, many still lit, and remember Friday night's vigil.
You can still get 50 percent off another Jansport item at the Penn State bookstore if you'd just buy one to begin with.
The aquarium in the student union is still a source of endless fascination for 5-year-olds.
The Old Main bell still rings every 15 minutes.
People still say they love Penn State.
And the sun still sets, and another week begins.
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