It is no secret that Penn State Football is quickly making its way up the ranks. It is also no secret that the team has recently gained a significant influx of national attention. Last Saturday night, ESPN announced it’s sixth return to Happy Valley for the long-anticipated white out Michigan game, which kicks off Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The last time College GameDay was on Penn State’s campus was in 2009 for the match up with Iowa. After a long eight years, ESPN will make its way to the Old Main lawn to report on the No.2 Nittany Lions at 9 a.m.
Prior to the Iowa game, College GameDay’s previous visits to Happy Valley date back to 1997 (Michigan), 1999 (Arizona), 2005 (Ohio State) and 2007 (Ohio State).
Of course, eight years is a lengthy period of time—certainly a lot has changed since then both within the university’s campus and with the football team itself. Between the construction, innovations and renovations, here are just a few differences about today’s Penn State campus compared to ESPN’s last visit:
VALLEY’s 10th Birthday!!! (Here’s the Fall issue from 2009)
This year’s Fall issue marks VALLEY‘s 20th issue and our 10th birthday. VALLEY‘s Fall issue back from 2009, when College GameDay was last on campus, looks quite a bit different from what VALLEY has evolved to today.
Penn State Football No. 2 ranking (their highest ranking since 1999)
With the sanctions gone and more athletic scholarships to offer, the team is making an unexpected comeback and has been playing some of the best football its played in years. Ranked as No.2, second only to Alabama, Penn State football has achieved its highest ranking since 1999.
New championship titles —2016 Big Ten Champs!!!
The team hasn’t won a Big Ten Championship title since 2008—enough said.
HUB renovations (2015)
The Board of Trustees approved the final plans of the HUB’s renovations in May 2013, while the construction wasn’t complete until summer 2015. This $44.6 million project included a 54,800-square-foot addition and 52,000-square-foot renovation, including the green grass roof-top above the student bookstore, into what is now Penn State’s beautifully spacious HUB-Robeson Center.
Pegula Ice Arena (2013)
With a generous donation of $88 million in 2010 from 1973 Penn State grad Terry Pegula and his wife, Penn State was able to begin it’s three-year project to build what is now a 6,014-seat multi-purpose arena—home to the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams.
New IM Building + IM Building renovations (2013, 2014, 2017)
Before the complete revamp of the Intramural Building in 2013, there was much less space—three gyms and six basketball/volleyball courts. The renovations in 2013 added an additional fourth gym and five extra courts, alongside the beautiful glass facade at the entrance of the building. Now in its third phase of renovation, the IM building has added amenities like a rock climbing wall, turf field, squash courts, Wellness Center, yoga room and a table tennis room.
Bio-Behavioral Health Building (2012)
The BBH building, with the almost entirely glass wall exterior that is hard to miss, located at the bottom of the HUB lawn, began construction in 2011 and was finished later the following year.
Joe Paterno to Bill O’Brien to James Franklin
Penn State transitioned from Joe Paterno’s legendary, record-breaking reign, to Bill O’Brien’s short-lived coaching days, to James Franklin’s quick and successful turnover. Hopefully Penn State football has a coach that is in this for the long run.
East Halls dorms renovations (2017)
Upperclassmen are a little bitter they never got to experience the luxury of brand new dorms for their freshman year. East Halls is starting its multi-year renovation project with already one brand new dorm complete: Earle Hall.
New University President (2014)
Following President Rodney Erickson, Dr. Eric J. Baron was named Penn State’s 18th president in 2014.
Penn State has initiated a lot of changes to it’s campus within the last 10, even five, years—and they are only getting started. It’s safe to say that ESPN, and all those watching, is in for treat on Saturday morning once they see what Penn State has done with the place.