There is joy in Happy Valley. Happiness is reigning in Happy Valley. Has Pharrell Williams come to Penn State? No. But it’s something even better.

Penn State is now out of the NCAA’s doghouse, so to speak. They’ve been let out of time out, so to speak.

The NCAA announced Monday that Penn State’s postseason ban has been lifted effective immediately and the school’s full compliment of football scholarships (85) will be restored for the 2015 season. Given the actions that the school took after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, which saw the former Nittany Lion assistant coach head to prison for child molestation, it’s not just good news for the Big 10 school, it’s great news. The lifting of the ban means that they can go bowling this year. The school had two positive reviews by the NCAA and the second review was the one that gave them their ‘Get out of Jail” card.

“Penn State’s commitment to the integrity of its athletics department and its progress toward meeting the requirements of the Consent Decree are clear,” said Northern Arizona President Rita Hartung Cheng, who chaired Monday’s Executive Committee meeting. “We thank Senator Mitchell for his meticulous and exhaustive work over the past two years. Mitchell’s efforts and the dedication of Penn State officials made today’s decisions possible.” There had been rumblings over the summer that the ban could be lifted based on a positive report from former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who is monitoring the school’s compliance to sanctions imposed by the NCAA following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
 
This year’s team is off to a 2-0 start, beating UCF in Ireland and Akron and should get to six wins to earn a bowl slot amd could be a force to be dealt with in the Big 10’s inaugural East Division. The Nittany Lions have a big game this Saturday at Rutgers. Knowing it is bowl eligible certainly will fuel enthusiasm among the team. The news could not have come at a better time. Franklin currently has 75 scholarships available. Soon, that will be up to the allotment of 85, leveling the playing field for Penn State as it continues to deal with depth issues that threaten to compromise the team. The linebacking corps and offensive line are especially thin. According to Rivals.com, the Nittany Lions currently have the No. 8 recruiting class in the nation with 19 commitments.

The dark cloud that hung over Penn State, State College and Happy Valley is gone. It was a cloud that they neither wanted or deserved. After all, it wasn’t the players that molested those kids, it was Jerry Sandusky. The same Sandusky that tried to drag Joe Paterno’s name through the mud. There was even talk that the “death penalty” could have been imposed on them. That would have been the end of the school and the community of State College, which sits in the middle of farm country in Pennsylvania, between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Granted, they do have the conference’s two major powers on their schedule this year, as they travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan in the Big House on October 11th and then host Ohio State at Beaver Stadium the following week. It’s not an easy schedule the rest of the way but if they can get through their schedule with no major injuries, a Big Ten title is not out of the question.

Penn State has missed the last two postseasons because of NCAA sanctions, going 8-4 in 2012 and 7-5 in 2013. The Nittany Lions last played in a bowl after the 2011 season, losing to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. Penn State was supposed to be at 80 scholarships in 2015 and 85 in 2016. Those scholarships have been restored, like a teenager getting their cell phone and car keys back after being grounded and then discovering it was someone else that did the deed.

Students and football players at State College can now walk with their heads held higher and walk prouder and with more purpose than they had when they were banished for actions that were not of their doing or their fault. Coffee shops, restaurants and hotels will once again buzz with activity, knowing that their team is off the hook.

Jerry Sandusky still sits in a prison cell wondering what would have happened if he had gotten away with his deeds and he would have gotten away with them “if it weren’t for those meddling kids.” There are still those that do not wish to hear his name uttered again and who can blame them. Students and alums can now say “We are Penn State” with purpose.

And with pride.

Happiness once again reigns in Happy Valley and they didn’t need Pharrell Williams’ help, although it wouldn’t hurt.

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