Students march in support of Paterno

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – In numbers too large to ignore but too cavalier to be threatening, thousands of Penn State students marched on the school administration building in support of embattled legend Joe Paterno.

Students also gathered at Joe Paterno's home with messages of support for the coach.
(Matt Rourke/AP)

The movement was part revolution, part study break, part street party and all peaceful.

Students gathered on Beaver Avenue in this quaint downtown in enough force to necessitate police arriving in riot gear and closing the street to cars. Ambulances arrived just in case.

They were unnecessary. The movement was peaceful and messages supportive of Paterno, whose job is in jeopardy after charges of child sex abuse by former assistant Jerry Sandusky have rocked the proud Penn State program.

[Forde: Penn State’s facade comes crumbling down]

“Joe won’t go!” the students chanted in front of the Old Main administration building.

“We are pro-JoePa to the death,” said one student helping carrying a banner that read. “We are STILL Penn State.”

“We are not pro-Spanier. You can quote me.”

Graham Spanier is the school president whose handling of the Sandusky scandal has brought him under fire.

[Wetzel: If parting with Paterno, do it now]

Students said the Beaver Avenue gathering came together quickly via social media and word of mouth. It was similar to (but larger than) a celebratory gathering after the killing of Osama Bin Laden last spring.

“This is kind of our riot place ” student Josh Paul said. “It’s where we go.”

Said friend and fellow pseudo-rioter Andrew Lence, “We hate Graham Spanier, but we don’t want to see Joe Paterno go out like this.”

Pat Forde is Yahoo! Sports’ national college columnist. He is an award-winning writer, author and commentator with 25 years experience in newspapers and online. Follow him on Twitter. Send Pat a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011