Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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

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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

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About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 30 years, covering covering Penn State football, Villanova basketball and other college sports, along with golf and the Penn Relays. This is his seventh season on The Inquirer’s Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976-84.

Joining Joe this season will be Erin McCarthy, an intern for The Inquirer and a junior at Penn State majoring in print and digital journalism. This is Erin's first season on the Penn State football beat. She previously spent two summers as an Inquirer summer intern on the Pennsylvania and South Jersey desks. She is also an editor for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A Delaware County native, Erin graduated from Episcopal Academy.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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