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Coaches Caravan: Day VI - Hartford and Scranton

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HARTFORD, Conn. and SCRANTON, Pa. - The second leg of the three-week Penn State Coaches Caravan ended with a great stop in northeastern Pennsylvania on Thursday.

A capacity crowd of more than 930 enthusiastic fans gave the Coaches Caravan a warm reception in Genetti Manor to cap off a superb week on the road for Bill O'Brien and the traveling Penn State coaches.  The modified Fullington bus made six stops in four states and drove more than 700 miles during three days.

Take a look through highlights of the final day on week two of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop XI - Hartford
As he has done at each stop on the Coaches Caravan, Coach O'Brien sat in a small conference room inside the Farmington Marriott Hotel for a media session.  At the time he was answering questions from a local reporter and national college football writer Dennis Dodd when a man appeared through the back door of the room.

Coach O'Brien stopped mid-sentence and said, "That is my uncle, John Murphy."

Murphy, a lawyer from Jamestown, R.I., surprised his nephew with a visit to the caravan stop on Thursday morning.  Clad in a blue "We Billieve" T-shirt, Murphy told the room how proud the family was of Penn State football's new leader.  Coach O'Brien attended Brown University with Murphy's daughter, Emily, and joked during his presentation that Emily had all the good stories about him from his college days.

Coach O'Brien polled the audience in Hartford to see how many New England Patriots fans were in the room on Thursday morning.  More than half of the 140 attendees raised their hand.

"As we get further north, I feel more comfortable," joked Coach O'Brien.

The first stop of the day ended shortly after 1 p.m., and the bus loaded up for a drive through mountains, across the Hudson River and Delaware River en route to Scranton for stop No. 12 on the caravan.

VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Talks About His First Four Months
While meeting with a local reporter in Connecticut, Coach O'Brien shared insight on what his first four months on the job have been like.

Hartford Photos:

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Stop XII: Scranton
After talking with Scranton Area Alumni Association President Jim Elliott at the Hazleton stop earlier this week, expectations were high for a big turnout during Thursday evening's dinner at Genetti's in Dickson City.  Without question, Elliott and his staff played host to the largest event on the caravan.

More than 930 Penn State fans seated at 94 tables crammed into the ballroom at Genetti's to welcome a great group from the Penn State Athletics family.  The list of attendees included Scranton native and Penn State team physician Wayne Sebastianelli, Acting Director of Athletics Dave Joyner, the voice of the Nittany Lions Steve Jones, current Nittany Lions and Scranton-area products Matt McGloin and J.R. Refice.

Prior to dinner, Coach O'Brien signed autographs for a throng of fans that lined up more than 90 minutes prior to the program beginning.  Among the hundreds of fans in a line that snaked throughout the building was a large contingent of the McGloin family.  In all, 27 members of the senior quarterbacks family attended the event, many of which posed for a family photo with Coach O'Brien during the autograph period.

Fan after fan walked up to Coach O'Brien for an opportunity to shake hands, take photos and obtain an autograph fore more than an hour.  Some offered advice.  Some told stories. Some even gave him gifts.

Women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who joined the caravan for the second-straight night, received a standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd.  Coach O'Brien received two rousing ovations, one when he was introduced and a second when he finished his presentation.

Simply put, the Scranton crowd was tremendous.

"I've got chills up my spine.  I'm ready to go play right now!" Coach O'Brien said during the middle of his speech.

"Every single day, I thank the people who hired me," Coach O'Brien said during his closing remarks.

Thursday evening's dinner was a terrific way to move into week three of the Coaches Caravan.  Coach O'Brien will hit the road on Monday morning with men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky and men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik for a breakfast stop in Altoona.

The final week of the caravan will also feature stops in Pittsburgh (Monday evening), Youngstown (Tuesday evening), Cleveland (Tuesday evening), Erie (Wednesday lunch) and Buffalo (Wednesday evening).  A big thank you goes out to all of the fans in attendance at the six stops on week two.  We look forward to seeing you on the road next week.

VIDEO: Coach O'Brien and Coach Rose Meet the Media In Scranton
Coaches O'Brien and Rose talk to the media in Scranton.  Coach Rose shared a story about interviewing Coach O'Brien before he was hired in January.

Scranton Photos:

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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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