UNIVERSITY PARK - The most emotional day in Beaver Stadium history came on Sept. 1, 2001 when Adam Taliaferro, recovered after nearly being paralyzed a year earlier, led the Nittany Lions out of the tunnel.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
But as remarkable as that moment was - and as inspirational as Taliaferro and his comeback were - it will not equal the emotions that are sure to choke up the entire Nittany Nation shortly before noon today.
Media members are supposed to be objective. But we're human, too, and I readily admit after 30-plus years on the beat, I will be among those having to swallow hard when the band plays the alma mater.
The last refrain, "may no act of ours bring shame," will hit home like never before - and, we have to pray, never again.
Seven days removed from the bombshell of the unthinkable sex-allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky that left a wake of destruction resulting in the firings of legendary coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier, it will be years, even decades, until this community fully heals.
If it ever does.
All week the entire country has endured wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage from the national news networks on the allegations and Penn State's coverup of Watergate proportions.
Senior Day is usually touching as deserving players who have gone through the ups and downs, often for five years, get a curtain call.
If the Nittany Lions can't generate many cheers after that, well, no one could blame them.
They're probably still in shock like the rest of us. Their coaching staff is minus Paterno and Mike McQueary, Tom Bradley has been named interim head coach, and multiple job descriptions have been scrambled.
But despite these catastrophic distractions, the Lions have plenty in their favor. Such as:
They have a very worthy opponent in Nebraska, and that will help get their full attention.
They still have plenty to prove since their 8-1 record is devoid of a great win.
The Penn State defense has stood tall all year and will be super-charged to play even harder for Bradley, who can win over everybody by just sticking with Matt McGloin.
They have been a program of character, even if the actions, or non-actions, of some of their coaches haven't always shown it.
There are times when the opponent has difficulty matching the intensity level of the home team, especially a home team with pride and an unprecendented level of collective frustration -- every ounce of which is justified.
Don't be surprised if Penn State wins this game because its home crowd, at least today, is worth an extra touchdown.
If, that is, it can get through the pre-game.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @neilrudel.