LEWISTOWN - When someone refers to a high-level college football program or a professional team with the word "we," it is evident that person's dedication goes a lot deeper than taking in a game every Saturday in the fall.
That's exactly how Penn State's most official unofficial historian Lou Prato referred to the Nittany Lions Tuesday afternoon in front of approximately 50 Rotarians and guests at the Rec Park Community Center during the Lewistown Rotary Club's meeting.
Prato's Penn State resume started more than 50 years ago in State College, where he earned a journalism degree in 1959. Over the past half-century he's seen the good, the bad, and now the ugly. He is the poster child of Penn State history. "The Penn State football Encyclopedia" came off his fingertips.
As the first director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum, blue and white runs through his veins.
Prato, now retired from the University, still loves his Nittany Lions though he is deeply saddened by the turn the university has taken with the recent sanctions.
Prato, who has ties to the Juniata Valley, has written several books related to Penn State. And there's one on the brink of publication. Co-authoring the book with Dan Radakovich, Prato is set to release "Bad Rad: The Father of Linebacker U and The Steel Curtain."
The book was scheduled to be released by the start of the 2012 season. However, with the recent sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it is being put on hold until homecoming weekend.
But why put it on hold?
That's simple. Prato, along with Radakovich, decided it was best to not use Sandusky's name in the entire publication.
Many Penn Staters, mostly the younger generation, would give Sandusky the nod as the "Father of Linebacker U." But Prato, like many others, know it was Radakovich. Radakovich was the first linebacker coach ever at Penn State. He also gave Joe Paterno the recommendation for Sandusky to take the reins, Prato said.
As Prato stood in front of the podium wearing a blue blazer, his emotions were easily seen throughout the crowd. He said he's gone through the report by Louis Freeh.
"Misleading, lies and speculation," he said.
Prato went on to dissect the situation a little more. He said it goes all the way to the top. Yes, Gov. Tom Corbett.
"The governor is at the root of all these problems," Prato said.
Freeh was recommended by the governor to do the report of Penn State.
"This thing goes on and on," Prato said. "And we're supposed for forget about this? It's never going to be the same. We have a disaster ahead of us."
It's evident that Prato was a fan of the legendary coach. About a week and a half ago, a new poll was released asking a few questions about Penn State. One of those questions was about Paterno.
"Was Joe Paterno a child molester?," it read.
In a somewhat unbelievable outcome, only 55 percent answered no to the question. The other 45 said either yes or they didn't know.
"That's an astounding number," Prato said. "There are so many misunderstandings, lies and innuendos."
Prato's biggest injustice was how the media covered of the scandal. As someone who has authored books, taught in the journalism department at Penn State and has written basically his whole life, Prato did not take the coverage lightly.
"I don't like the media. I really detest the media," he said.
He said about 20 percent of the media does good. The other 80 percent? Not so much.
"This firestorm has come from the media and the administration," Prato said. "There are a lot of people to blame for all of this."
When Prato heads to just about every game this season, it will not be the same. The tailgating will be different. Neil Diamond will no longer grace fans with his "Sweet Caroline" lyrics. And there will be a different look to the Penn State squad for the first time ever - blue ribbons and names.
He doesn't have a problem with that. But he certainly has a problem with where the university is headed as a whole. Football in Happy Valley, which Prato said is no more, has a black cloud hovering over its every move.
"Is Penn State going to ever recover from this?," he asked. And then answered: "Not in my lifetime. No way."
As Prato finished with his microphone, an emphatic "We Are!" came screaming from the back of the room. The entire community center replied, "Penn State."