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Coaches Caravan: Day IX - Erie and Buffalo

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Photo Gallery - Erie Stop

Photo Gallery - Buffalo Stop

ERIE and BUFFALO - After traversing through seven states and the District of Columbia during nine days, the Penn State Coaches Caravan made its final two stops on Wednesday on the Penn State Erie campus and in Buffalo.

Nearly 150 enthusiastic Nittany Lion fans and alums greeted Bill O'Brien, Guy Gadowsky and Mark Pavlik at Dobbins Gazebo at Penn State Behrend for lunch on Wednesday.  Following a 100-mile drive on I-90, the Fullington Trailways motorcoach pulled into stop No. 18 outside of Buffalo, N.Y.

Take a look through the final two stops of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop XVII - Erie
The first event of the final day was held in a superb location on Penn State's Erie campus, The Behrend College.  Outlined with windows on both arching side walls, the luncheon was held inside a beautiful enclosed gazebo.  The trio of coaches addressed an attentive crowd that asked some of the best questions during the past three weeks.

Coach O'Brien has been asked several questions by fans during the Caravan stops about working under Bill Belichick.  A fan in Erie asked him Tuesday about the three best things he learned from the leader of the New England Patriots.

Coach O'Brien's answer:
1. Coach Belichick's ability to enable the assistant coaches the freedom to coach under him.  Coach O'Brien said there were obviously parameters, but the assistant coaches had independence.

2. Coach O'Brien said he learned how to build and evaluate a team under Coach Belichick.

3. The third item he mentioned was Coach Belichick's ability to get a team ready for a game, which included a great deal of situational football.

Coach O'Brien often says that nothing really surprises him.  But one thing has really stood out to he and the other coaches on the Caravan. 

"Having never done this before, all I can tell you is how impressed I have been with the turnouts," Coach O'Brien said.

Coach Gadowsky added the following.

"I am extremely proud to be a part of you."

VIDEO: Highlights from the Stop in Erie

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Stop XVIII: Buffalo
The first traveling Caravan of its kind in Penn State Athletics history began on April 30 in downtown Philadelphia, and it ended on Wednesday night outside of Buffalo.  From start to finish, Coach O'Brien and the entire roster of participating coaches contributed to make the nine-day stint on the road a resounding success.

When he took the job in January, Coach O'Brien wanted to get out on the road and meet as many Penn State fans as possible.  The Caravan provided that opportunity in 18 different locations across seven states and the District of Columbia.

It is impossible to count the number of fans the new leader of Penn State football met and shook hands with during the three-week journey, but the reception was tremendous at every stop.  The fans were engaged and enthusiastic day after day.  And Coach O'Brien went 18-for-18 delivering speeches.

On Wednesday night in Buffalo, Coaches Brandwene and Gadowsky spent time with Terry Pegula, whose $102 million donation enabled Penn State to begin Division I men's and women's hockey in the fall and build the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena.  Pegula, who also owns the Buffalo Sabres, spent time with both hockey coaches and Coach O'Brien in Buffalo.

The third week was highlighted by the humor from Coach Pavlik.  During all six of his speeches, the men's volleyball leader had a clever analogy for the other coaches on stage.  Wednesday night's centered on the other three coaches being rock stars, including "The Boss", Bill O'Brien.

Like The Boss often does on the road during the last stop on his tours, Coach O'Brien told the crowd in Buffalo that he will be back on the road again next year.

"I look forward to doing something like this every year," Coach O'Brien said.  "Maybe it won't be 18 stops in 17 days, but we will figure it out.  I'm sure every year we will get out and see everybody."

After 1,968 miles of travel, 18 events on nine days and six nights in hotels, the Caravan pulled back into the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot after 1 a.m. on Thursday morning to cap off a great journey.

Thank you to all of the fans and alums who attended the Coaches Caravan at every stop.  The 18-stop trip was taxing for the crew on the bus who attended every event during all three weeks, but results exceeded expectations for everyone involved, largely because of the outstanding fan base supporting Penn State Athletics.

VIDEO: Football and Hockey Talk in Buffalo
Coach O'Brien and Coach Gadowsky talk football and hockey in Buffalo during the final stop of the Penn State Coaches Caravan in Buffalo on Wednesday.

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For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can call 1-800-648-8269 (1-800-NITTANY) weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Ticket Center.

Follow Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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