George Welsh was in attendance for Penn State's game at Virginia last week.
The 79-year-old Welsh, the former Nittany Lion assistant coach who led the Virginia program from 1982-2000, beat the traffic and didn't see the Cavaliers' late touchdown drive that won the game, 17-16.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a Virginia team win with 30 yards [rushing, actually 32]," he said in a phone interview earlier this week. "Turned the ball over four times, fumbled snaps."
Virginia announced in the fourth quarter that a strong storm was expected momentarily, another reason Welsh had seen enough.
Back in 1974, Welsh was involved in the worst-weather game Penn State ever played in. Then in his second season as head coach at Navy - the last time today's opponent came to Beaver Stadium - rain whipped through Happy Valley.
The Middies handled the elements better and won, 7-6.
"I remember talking to Joe [Paterno] before the game, and he said 'there's a bad storm coming in,''' Welsh said. "The next thing I knew, the wind blew and the hail came. It was one of those freak storms that lasted about a quarter. I don't know how we proceeded."
The field instantly became a muddy quagmire, and the wind was so strong that the scoreboard lights blew out, necessitating that the official time be kept on the field.
"I think Navy arrived in a submarine, there was so much water," retired broadcaster Fran Fisher, who called the game, said. "The field was in terrible condition."
Penn State fumbled five times, missed four field goals, including the 43-yard gamewinner - this was Chris Bahr, not Sam Ficken - and outgained Navy, 378-172.
Just as he was perplexed at how Virginia beat PSU last week, Welsh left Beaver Stadium in '74 practically in disbelief.
"I don't know how the hell we won it," he said afterward.
Navy entered the game as a 24-point underdog, and its victory stopped No. 8 Penn State's 21-game home winning streak.
After trailing for much of the game, the Lions scored with 4:40 left to pull within 7-6, but their 2-point conversion attempt failed.
When Paterno was asked if the weather affected the game, he told sportswriters, "It seemed to me it was raining over there [on the Navy side], too," and he seemed happy for Welsh, his former top offensive assistant who spent from 1963-72 on the Penn State staff under Paterno and Rip Engle.
"If you're going to lose," Paterno said, "it might as well be to a member of the family."
Welsh, a 2004 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, chuckled at the memory and said, "It was a different era then."
That's for sure and, given all that's changed, beating Navy today would be as meaningful to Bill O'Brien as it was to George Welsh 38 years ago.
And maybe here's an omen: Sunny skies are expected.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.