Everything Comes Up Nittany in Folklore of Happy Valley

Don’t look for a Nittany Lion at a zoo. Penn State’s athletic symbol, chosen by the student body in 1906, is a mountain lion that once roamed central Pennsylvania.

Because Penn State is located in the Nittany Valley, at the foot of Mt. Nittany, the lion was designated as a Nittany Lion.

In regional folklore, Nittany (or Nita-Nee) was a valorous Indian princess in whose honor the Great Spirit caused Mt. Nittany to be formed.

No argument here.


Trivia time: Who holds the Rose Bowl record for most touchdowns in a game?

Food flap: A crisis was averted before the inaugural Rose Bowl game between Michigan and Stanford on Jan. 1, 1902, as reported in Joe Hendrickson’s book, “The Tournament of Roses.”

The bowl committee offered Michigan $2 a day for meal money, prompting Charles Baird, graduate manager of the Wolverines, to say, “We won’t come unless we can go comfortably and in reasonable style. We want $3 a day meal money.”

The raise was granted.


Turnabout: In 1955, after Ohio State defeated USC, 20-7, in the Rose Bowl game, Buckeye Coach Woody Hayes said: “Big Ten teams are better in the Rose Bowl because they are raised on tougher competition.”

At the time, Big Ten teams had won eight of nine meetings with Pacific Coast Conference schools. Since then, the Pac-10 has won 24 of 39 games.

Air raid: Alabama’s 29-13 victory over Stanford in the 1935 Rose Bowl game elicited this florid prose from writer Mark Kelly:

“Then like arrows from Robin Hood’s trusty bow, there shot from (Dixie) Howell’s unerring hand a stream of passes the likes of which have never been seen in football on the Coast.


“Zing, zing, zing! They whizzed through the air and found their mark in the massive paws of (Don) Huston and (Bear) Bryant, ‘Bama ends.”

Second chance: There have been many upsets in the Rose Bowl game and UCLA had two memorable victories, defeating No. 1 ranked Michigan State, 14-12, in 1966, after losing to the Spartans, 13-3, at the outset of the season.

The Bruins also defeated Ohio State, 23-10, in 1976, after losing to the Buckeyes, 41-20, in an October game at the Coliseum.

Phantom scores: In the 1979 game, USC defeated Michigan, 17-10, on Charles White’s disputed touchdown. He apparently didn’t have the ball when he dove across the goal line in the second quarter.


In a 1982 regular-season-ending game with Notre Dame, Michael Harper emulated White in a 17-13 Trojan victory, prompting Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler to say, “USC has really perfected that play.”

Trivia answer: Neil Snow of Michigan with five in the 1902 game against Stanford when touchdowns were worth five points.

Quotebook: Before lightly regarded Washington and Jefferson tied California, 0-0, in the 1922 Rose Bowl game, an anonymous sportswriter said, “All I know about Washington and Jefferson is that they are both dead.”