Penn State fans' difficult balancing act

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Inside the stadium, they were hoping for magic. They were hoping that somehow, some way, the football gods would help carry their team down the field for a game-tying field goal or, better yet, a game-winning touchdown.

"Come on State," one fan in the student section said. "We deserve this."

Outside the stadium, at the same time, the primary focus was somewhere altogether different. Some 20 mounted police lined the walkway behind the media entrance on the stadium's southwest side. A girl held up a sign that read, "Free Hugs." And two Penn State seniors sold blue bracelets for $2 to raise money for the anti-sexual assault organization RAINN.

"We want to put the focus back on the kids," said Sarah LaMack, one of the students selling bracelets. "For the kids."

It was a day unlike any other in college football history. Sure, many of the sounds were the same -- the voices of screaming fans, the boom of the marching band's base drum. But this was anything but normal. How many college football games feature protestors? How many postgame press conferences begin with the school president talking for 15 minutes? And how many fans have ever filled a football stadium wondering what role -- if any -- the program they so dearly loved just a week ago played in the alleged sexual assault of at least eight children?

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