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The Carthage Press
  • Michael Mauti and Penn State ready 'to start a new era'

  • Penn State senior linebacker Michael Mauti spent three hours answering emails Thursday night.And he didn't get through all of them, he said. As the Penn State football program rebuilds in the face of a child sex abuse scandal that led to a conviction of a former defensive coordinator, the firing of legend Joe Paterno ...
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  • Penn State senior linebacker Michael Mauti spent three hours answering emails Thursday night.
    And he didn't get through all of them, he said. As the Penn State football program rebuilds in the face of a child sex abuse scandal that led to a conviction of a former defensive coordinator, the firing of legend Joe Paterno and NCAA sanctions that could cripple the program for a decade, the Nittany Lions were hearing from the community.
    Students, alumni, fans, professors, department heads within Penn State and military servicemen emailed Mauti. After the team began pulling together, the Nittany Lions' fan base is also getting on board.
    "People (emailed) when all this happened, 'I said to my family, We're never going to miss another football game. When you guys stuck together and for our university, we're never going to miss another game now,' '' Mauti said Friday prior to the Big Ten Conference kickoff luncheon. "That's been a common theme from most of the people who reached out to me.''
    Mauti doesn't have a problem talking up the program, and Penn State's players and coaches are ready to come out fighting. So expect the 108,000 seats in Beaver Stadium to fill up this fall.
    Serving as a spokesman "is just what needs to be done right now,'' he said. "I have a platform to do it. I have a privilege to speak for my teammates.''
    Mauti and the Nittany Lions won't be confused with the Jerry Sandusky's victims, whose lives changed forever, but the Penn State players were collateral damage when the NCAA banned Penn State from bowl season for four years, reduced scholarships and fined the school $60 million.
    Penn State can't play in the Big Ten championship game. So do the Nittany Lions to feel cheated by circumstances out of their control?
    "I'm not going to answer that,'' Mauti said.
    Realistically, there's no answer for the Nittany Lions, except to stay or go.
    Silas Redd, a running back who gained 1,241 yards last season, is considering a transfer to USC. The guys who are staying already look toward the future.
    "We look at this as an opportunity to start a new era at Penn State, create a new legacy,'' Mauti said. "There are a lot of guys that believe in that. Most of our team believes in that.
    "There are guys who have to make tough decisions, but the message holds true. We're not going to let anybody tear us apart. No politician or sanctions will tear this team apart.''
    Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said coach Bill O'Brien approached the school about a contract extension in the face of the NCAA punishment. The school extended his contract by four years through the 2020 season, handing him time to get Penn State back on track.
    Page 2 of 2 - "That lets him do what he has to do in the next four years,'' Joyner said. "He's the right guy to do that.''
    Paterno's statue came down, and there's rumblings about Penn State making a change in the iconic old-school uniforms, although O'Brien said everyone just has to wait until the season opener against Ohio to learn anything more.
    "There are changes taking place over the last six months that are reflected already on a new era of Penn State football,'' O'Brien said. "Some of the changes, people will have to wait until Sept. 1.''
    Penn State football is getting back to business, and the fans are beginning to rally around the Nittany Lions.
    John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSupinie.

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