Friday, December 26, 2014

Penn State fans a minority at Kinnick Stadium for Iowa game

There are less than 1,000 Penn State alumni living in Iowa and Iowa City is no easy place to travel to -- the closest airport is Cedar Rapids, about 30 minutes away.

Penn State fans a minority at Kinnick Stadium for Iowa game

IOWA CITY, IOWA -- In a sea of black and yellow, in a parking lot neighboring Kinnick Stadium, Chris Sherman wore a white Penn State jersey. He was smiling.

Sherman, a 2008 Penn State graduate who played tennis for the Nittany Lions, lives in Minneapolis and drove five hours to Iowa City for tonight's game. He tailgated with coworkers -- all Iowa fans -- and threw around a football.

For the most part, he said, Iowa fans have been very respectful. This is the first away game Sherman has attended since the Jerry Sandusky scandal and ensuing NCAA sanctions. Sherman did see one thing, though, that made him turn his head: Five Iowa students wearing black and white striped jumpsuits that read "Sandusky" on the back.

"That was a little distasteful," Sherman said. "And you know, I've heard a comment here and there, but for the most part it's been OK."

Sherman represents the minority at tonight's Big Ten clash at Kinnick Stadium. In a stadium that will be striped black and yellow, only a few fans wearing navy or white will sprinkle the seats.

There are less than 1,000 Penn State alumni living in Iowa. Iowa City itself is no easy place to travel to -- the closest airport is Cedar Rapids, about 30 minutes away. 

But for those who made the trip, the experience has been positive -- only a incidents here or there.

"Iowa people have been great," said George Werner, a 1986 Penn State alumn who lives in Ann Arbor. "This isn't my first time here and it's been mostly the same as it always is."

Werner said at the airport, he had an hour conversation with Iowa fans. Only two minutes of the conversation surrounded the Sandusky scandal or Penn State sanctions. 

"And it seemed everyone -- them and those I've talked to today tailgating -- felt the sanctions were too harsh or unfair," Werner said.  "I feel like Iowa fans feel a kinship with Penn State."

-Emily Kaplan

About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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